Adventures at DragonCon, September 2-5, 2005
After months of preparation and work on the costumes, DragonCon finally came, and I was ready with 6 different fun things to wear. I have many more costumes than I have occasions to wear them, so when DragonCon comes around it's time to pull out all the stops. Really it's my one chance a year to wear some of the cool stuff I've accumulated! Not to mention it's a geekfest, and I never denied I am a geek...
If you don't know what DragonCon is, I'm sorry, but my descriptive powers fail to encompass it. About 25000 people descend on these hotels, and madness ensues for 4 days. Mostly well-behaved madness, but still. It's not just Star Wars and Star Trek, but just about anything you can imagine, from obscure movies to Japanese anime, comic books to fiction writing, Dungeons and Dragons to art competitions... And a huge number of people dress in costume. At night it seems like a good half of the people are in costume! This is of course the main draw for me, but I like the other stuff too.
The plan to use a camera failed miserably, so I am relying on the photographs and generosity of some of my fellow con-goers to illustrate the following.
Checked into the hotel, the Mariott Marquis in downtown Atlanta. I am certainly not the only local to go to the bother and expense of staying at the hotel. It really adds so much to the experience. I consider it well worth the (somewhat extravagant) expense, and plan to do the same thing next year. With staying at the hotel the con really turned into a vacation. It felt like I was in a different city (except I knew where all the good restaurants, parking decks, and ATMs were!)
Photo by fieryredhead
Views of the lobby of the Mariott.. looks like the inside of a spaceship!
Friday I spent the day getting my ass into the hotel, and going to one panel, an interview session with a cool artist, Tim Bradstreet. He does a lot of art for roleplaying games and comic book covers. I love his high contrast, gritty cyberpunk black and white style. Unsubtle, punch you in the face artwork! Tim was a really cool guy and seemed like somebody I'd have a blast hanging out with.
Friday night I went to "An Evening in Bree", which was a strange combination of Lord of the Rings costume contest and a folk music concert (I forget the name of the band). I entered the contest in the green elf dress. I was probably the only contestant who wasn't overheated, since the dress is made of chiffon. Everyone else was sweating under their heavy brocades. (Of course they looked good, but I was comfy!) The LOTR costume showing was a little thinner than last year, but we did have some cool entries, most notably several Haradhrim (the guys who rode the elephants). Bree got boring, though, so I left before the winners were announced and made an early night of it (in DragonCon terms, anyway - meaning I went to bed before midnight!)
Photo by Brian Egendorf aka Mainfragger
Though at first I had planned on having the hotel room all to myself the whole time, this was the only night I didn't have guests! My luggage sprawled out all over the room. It was nice.
Saturday morning I woke up feeling sick, and laid around in the bed for a while. (Is there such a thing as a 4-hour virus?) Getting sick at or just after conventions is so common there's a nickname for it - Con Crud. It's not surprising, considering there are over 20000 attendees, and everyone is running on very little sleep, drinking a lot, and not eating right. But lucky for me -- I was back to normal by about 10:00, just in time for the parade! The highlight is always seeing the 501st (big stormtrooper unit) marching down Peachtree! I do not have any pics of this, sorry... Many other cool costumes were also to be seen.
I wore my Gothic Lolita outfit, custom made in China. It's actually a designer knockoff, the original design is by the Japanese label Atelier Boz. A few people took pictures of it (most memorably a shy little girl dressed like a princess, who tugged my sleeve and asked if I'd pose with her.. her parents snapped the pic! She was adorable!)
I sat in a couple of panels for LOTR stuff - one guy discussed his techniques for casting rubber elf ear tips. Spencer should have been there for that - he was going into which brands of plaster and latex to use. Unfortunately Spencer didn't get there til Sunday.
I also got to hear part of a panel with John Noble, who played Denethor in the movie. He was a charming speaker. I missed part of it, though - my aunt Betsy, cousin Lisa and her boyfriend Brett arrived! They got settled in the room and went to buy their tickets. By the time they were done, it was time for the big Star Trek panel, starring 5 actors from the different series. I came to see Marina Sirtis (Counselor Troi) and LeVar Burton (Geordi LaForge), who were part of the cast of Star Trek: Next Generation. I have fond memories of Daddy and I battling Mama to watch ST:TNG during suppertime. Marina is still looking gorgeous, and she was pretty funny during the panel. She and LeVar are obviously good longtime friends. They had a lot of anecdotes about fun they had on the set of the show. LeVar comes off as a really cool and intelligent guy. The other three actors appeared on different series I have not watched.
For dinner we ate in the room - Betsy brought a stew pot which turned out to be a good idea. We ate and got ready for night time. Betsy and Lisa wore the Orchid costumes Betsy made. They were cute and a damn sight more comfortable than I was! I wore the 18th century burgundy corduroy suit. I finally completed the breeches. The custom Clearwater hat came in the nick of time, and so I was able to roll out The Suit after all these years! It was hot, it was sweaty, and nobody could figure out who or what I was supposed to be, but I was so happy to finally wear the thing.
Photo by Brian Egendorf aka Mainfragger
People assumed I was a man all night. It was weird how people in a crowd react to a man versus a woman - all the guys who were taller than me would shove in my way instead of letting me go ahead of them. This one guy came up and pulled a face at me, but when I laughed at him he was shocked that I was female, apologized for his rude behavior and then spent 5 minutes trying to get me to take my mask off. Of course that would have ruined the androgynous illusion, so too bad!
I met a lovely local couple into Baroque dance - but didn't get any contact info for them!
We had a good time that night (even though our costumes got a pretty quiet reception!) When the crew got tired I stayed around for a while, meeting up with some of my college friends. Good times, and the best part about it was that the same huge party was going to happen tomorrow night!
(Daytime outfits: homemade Gothic Lolita and storebought Lip Service fetish-uniform getup)
Sunday morning I did a lot of wandering around the dealer's rooms and the art show exhibits. There was some cool stuff, but of course everything really cool was way more than I wanted to pay.
I sat in on more LOTR stuff - this time a discussion of the details of Sam's costume. One lady gave the story of her Sam costume and some tricks and shortcuts she used. This sort of discussion can be useful, but it seems to me it's often more interesting to the person who did the work than it is to the listener. Forcing the fabric to make the thing you want is a one-man fight!
Midday there was a shift change. I called Spencer in the morning and convinced him to call in sick to work and come to DragonCon. He did not regret it. Betsy, Lisa, and Bret's passes were no good anymore, and they headed back to the Hamiltons' house for some horse riding.
Spencer and I wandered around for a while, and I took a nap. (NAPS ARE GOOD) When Daddy and Susan arrived, it was time to see the Miss Klingon Beauty Pageant! This was a combination of total planning disaster, hilarious improv, and Full-Bore Geek madness. These guys (and girls) are way into being Klingon. But they seemed to be having a lot of fun. Each contestant paraded across the stage, and then performed in the talent portion. The talent ran the gamut from poems recited in Klingon to flashy weapon-flourishing, to sappy ballad singing. All I can say is, we had to leave before the swimsuit competition portion!
We had dinner at a nice restaurant that Susan knew about. Spencer spotted Lou Ferrigno hanging out in there! Susan knows the places to go! Then it was time to get ready for the evening's big last-gasp party.
We watched the yearly Masquerade costume contest on the live feed in the room while getting ready. Susan wore some of my 18th century clothes - the new hat, the read waistcoat, and some other components I made back in the day, too small for me now. She looked dashing! Spencer (Saaaack!) wore his raggedy t-shirt and shorts. Daddy and I spent an hour+ doing our opera makeup.
Then we voyaged out into the crowd, knocking faces and the tops of doorways with our ridiculously over the top costumes. I had figured on a good reaction, since I at least think these costumes are fucking kickass, but we were really unprepared.. We were mauled by paparazzi the entire time we walked around in the costumes, caused traffic jams in the lobby and got yelled at by the Fire Marshal and hotel staff for blocking the way! I was totally floored. I think the Chinese-American people at the con were floored too, because they all took a lot of pics of us. I guess you don't see Chinese Opera very often in the US! Also one guy cosplaying in kabuki makeup came and had his pic taken with us for a while. That was cool - but I am not sure what character he was supposed to be!
Susan tried in vain to show off the costume I had made, but nobody paid her any attention, and she says she soon forgot that she was in costume!
Photo by darknbitter. My stepmother Susan is on the left modeling my red sleeved waistcoat and awesome new custom Clearwater hat. The lady with her back to the camera in a light green sack-back gown is a local! Her husband (I asssume) is hidden from view here. That's two local couples into 18th century that I found at Dragoncon.
Photos by sarcasm_hime
Photo by fieryredhead
Photo by Gabriel Cooper - BIG image
Of course Daddy was making weird faces all night
Spencer went off and found the drum circle and proceeded to be the lead instrument. Susan and Daddy headed home after costume exhaustion set in and we went back to the room to dismantle. I changed back into a lolita outfit and wandered around for a while longer (we were up til 4 actually!). Spencer stayed the night. It was good to have him and next year he'd better be going for the long haul.
The con continued until about 4 pm on Monday, but I was definitely not up to it. I checked out in the morning and made it back home with the car brimming w/ costumes by midafternoon. The crush to get out of the hotel before noon (checkout time) was insane, and the bellman and I ended up taking the service elevator down. Some guys piled in with us who said they'd been waiting on an elevator down for over 30 minutes. Note to self - next year get the luggage out on Sunday somehow and just take the stairs down on Monday!
I took Tuesday off from work to recuperate, and what an excellent idea that was. I didn't do much except nap and chill at the house, but it was definitely needed after the wild weekend! It's time to start planning for next year!