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
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
And sometimes, it ain’t pretty.
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
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.
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.