We speak to designer Mike Marino about working with the model, why he sees Mark Zuckerberg as culture’s real parasite, and the interstellar destiny of his beloved worm

Oh, forbidden Pepperami! Bewitched with movement and a Hollywood smile, body glistening with mucus, flesh seared by the lines of a barbecue grill. Oh my love, what are you thinking? Where have you come from? And why can I feel your presence worming through my intestines? You first appeared at the opening of a Manhattan restaurant earlier this week, slumped onto the red carpet like a discarded organ inching its way off an operating table, and the timeline was left horrified. But when reporters huddled and crouched beside your meaty prison, an angel spoke: “Hi guys,” you said, earnest and timid. “Happy Halloween!” It was at that moment that I saw through your rancid exterior and felt love.

Encased within the thickset member was, of course, Heidi Klum, a woman known just as much for her uncanny Halloween costumes as she is for her bombshell appearances on the catwalk. People have since commented on the galvanising nature of a conventionally beautiful woman presenting herself as a turd-like pupa – a juxtaposition that many have found to be inspiring. And though her arms were bound, she was dressed in a blinged-out bodysuit beneath, ready to emerge from the chrysalis like a twisted Victoria’s Secret model. It was the seventh time that Mike Marino – an FX designer in New York – had collaborated with Klum, compounding the ogres, aliens, and Jessica Rabbits that she has previously inhabited. 

“Heidi had the idea of being an earthworm and I immediately said, ‘I’m not sure if that’s going to be possible’,” he tells Dazed. “I said let’s think of something else, maybe something more manageable, but she wouldn’t let it die, so I did a little sketch on a Post-it Note, we laughed, and said ‘all right – let’s just go for it.” Having transformed Colin Farell into a bloated gangster, made a corpse out of Toni Colette, and aged The Weekend by about 50 years, Marino’s powers gave consciousness to the worm, which has since taken on a life of its own; a haunted dummy with a heart of gold, the Pinocchio to Marino’s Giuseppe. Below, we speak to Mike Marino about the collaboration, why he sees Mark Zuckerberg as culture’s real parasite, and the future for Heidi Klum’s beloved worm.

Hey Mike! Can you talk us through how the initial idea came about? Why did you decide to encase Heidi Klum in a massive worm costume?

Mike Marino: Well, we were on the phone, thinking of things to do, and Heidi had the idea of being an earthworm and I immediately said, ‘I’m not sure if that’s going to be possible. It’s a really big job and I’m not sure I can pull it off.’ I said we should think of something else, something more manageable, but she wouldn’t let it die. So I did a little sketch on a Post-it note, we laughed, and said ‘all right let’s just go for it.’

I read that you didn’t originally want to encase Heidi Klum in a massive worm costume? Why?

Mike Marino: It was just the amount of work it took to build. To do something of that scale is a big task. Nothing else was really on the table! 

When you were a child did you ever imagine that you would encase Heidi Klum in a massive worm costume?

Mike Marino: Something like that! Actually, my dream was to be like my idols Rick Baker, Rob Bottin, and Stan Winston. They were famous for putting actors in crazy creature suits like Harry and the Hendersons, Predator and RoboCop… so I’m just following in their footsteps.

Why did it take two years to make?

Mike Marino: It didn’t really take two years, more like three months. But we were thinking about it for a long while – ever since the world basically shut down. What with Heidi having her party again we knew we would need something really, really great.

Are there any public figures you think are particularly worm-like?

Mike Marino: Mark Zuckerberg is a perfect real-life worm – censoring artwork all over the Internet. Maybe he should be stepped on?

Well, legs are coming soon so you should be quick with that. You’ve worked with Heidi on a couple of her Halloween costumes before – what’s she like to collaborate with?

Mike Marino: I think this is our seventh costume together. I love working with Heidi. She’s a dream to work with since she lets us do anything we want as far as creativity goes.

Do any anecdotes stand out from creating the costume?

Mike Marino: We didn’t just want to put glue all over Heidi, and in approaching the costume in this way it was a little easier on her – we pre-built a lot of the suit for comfort. The funniest part was just putting slime all over her so that when she goes near anyone they get slathered in disgusting worm juice.

Can you do the worm?

Mike Marino: Oh, I’m an expert breakdancing artist. Sculpting tools in my hands and all.

What celebrity would you like to turn into a worm next?

Mike Marino: I think only Heidi Klum can be the worm… on to other ideas!

It’s really horrified people, with some describing the look as a turd or a bit of offal.

Mike Marino: I wanted to create something that was both scary and funny. That’s why I deliberately left Heidi‘s white teeth. I thought it would be funny to have her smile in the costume. I think of it like a big scary Muppet.

The sweaty shine was particularly off-putting, wasn’t it?

Mike Marino: We lubed her up with something called methylcellulose, which is basically concentrated jelly donut juice.

What’s the most disgusting thing you’ve ever created?

Mike Marino: This is definitely on top of the list – along with Colin Farrell as a slimy gangster in The Penguin.

There was something quite food-like about the creation. After the apocalypse, would you consider eating worms for protein?

Mike Marino: I would never eat worms! And if anybody forced me to do so they may need to get stepped on as well. 

What’s next for the worm? Where is she now? Is she happy?

Mike Marino: The worm went on to create her own planet. Some of us will be traveling there soon.

And finally, Mike… would you still love me if I was a worm?

Mike Marino: Let’s not fool ourselves, we *all* love the worm!