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Dragon*Con 2005: Best of Show
© Kevin Pezzano
October 18, 2005

Dragon*Con 2005 Coverage
From the oldest of old-school Trekkers to the newly-minted anime fangirls, the impulse to dress up in costume crosses all genre and fandom boundaries. Nowhere is this more obvious than at Dragon*Con, where Lil’ Slugger from Paranoia Agent rubs shoulders with a Colonial Marine as they both stand in line behind F’lessa the Dragonlady to hear a panel delivered by some guy wearing a Dr. Who scarf.

While many of these excessively-dedicated personalities could be seen wandering the halls of the convention hotels, the most dedicated gathered for the annual Masquerade on Sunday night. Hosted by the celebrity du con, the Masquerade is an opportunity for those proud of their costuming work (justified or otherwise) to display their talents in front of a thousand of their fellow geeks.

And sometimes, it ain’t pretty.

This year’s Masquerade featured the usual array of elaborate costumes, imaginative ideas, and really, really lame skits. There was a musical intermission by The Great Luke Ski, performing a Star Wars parody of Grease that was nothing short of brilliant, and a shorter musical interlude by some guy from something called The Tribe, where he sang a lot of mopey college alternarock and totally wussified the Firefly theme.

As for the aforementioned lame skits, I think there were maybe two or three good skits out of something like fifty total entries. The only one that was really good, as opposed to merely inoffensive, was the replay of the final duel between Obi-Wan and Anakin in Episode III as a bratty sibling fight, performed by a real-life kid brother and sister. Fortunately, this year there was a handy stormtrooper in full armor just offstage, ready and more than willing to cut short any overly long or overly lame skits. The audience especially appreciated the efforts of the Emperor’s Finest to keep order, often shouting out “Stormtrooper! Stormtrooper!” whenever things got too grating.

But the audience wasn’t at the Masquerade for the skits. They were there for the costumes. And to be honest, most of the costumes on display were pretty good. There was a lot of originality on display, with a lot of costumers creating something unique rather than simply mimicking the designs from their favorite shows/cartoons/books/whatever. There were several people in hand-forged real metal armor, or elaborate monster outfits like a dark warrior astride a winged dragon. Even the costumes based on pre-existing characters often had an original spin, like the aforementioned Episode III kids or a Sith Band featuring Palpatine on lead guitar.

Among the costumes based on pre-existing characters, the Best of Show was, in my opinion, a tossup. The violence-loving adrenaline-fueled male geek part of me was impressed by the jaw-dropping Space Marine armors, from the Warhammer 40,000 universe. I’m not sure what these costumes were made out of, but they were full-on armor suits, totally encasing the wearers and towering at least seven feet tall.

The other big winners had to be the crew dressed as the entire Island of Misfit Toys, from the classic Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer claymation show. These were full-sized costumes, and even included Charlie in the Box and the polka-dotted elephant, and were easily the crowd’s favorites.

But, after all was said and done, the best costume and skit of them all had to have been the guy dressed as General Grievous, who performed a little spoken-word ditty on stage. Complete with four arms and a pack of unfiltered smokes. It really summed up everything about the Dragon*Con Masquerade: people with too much time on their hands making overly, almost insanely elaborate costumes based on minor characters from fading genre franchises so they can perform in public — and yet they don’t take themselves seriously. It’s all fun.

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