In case you haven’t been following me over at Duck of Indeed (which would be weird), I recently made my very first costume. I very badly wanted to cosplay as the most awesome Kefka from “Final Fantasy VI” at the upcoming comicon, but there were really no good costumes I could buy, leaving me with no choice but to make it myself. As a result, I decided that, if I was going to put so much effort into making a costume, I might as well show it off in a costume contest. And so I did. But, more on that later. Well, I am quite disappointed to say that the comicon is now over and done with, but it was a wonderful experience that I am most excited to share with all of you. Let’s start from the beginning, shall we? (And this post is going to be a long one, but there were so many details I didn’t want to leave out. This is also doubling as a bit of a journal entry, so I can remember it in my soul for all eternity.)
I got up early in the morning, as always, and what a busy morning it was. I played some hardcore “Final Fantasy IX”, ate some French toast and bacon, courtesy of my mom’s cooking, and then not long later, it was time to get ready. I was leaving at noon to give myself plenty of time to get there for the prejudging at 2, and so I began getting dressed at 10, which was good, considering it took me far longer to get ready than I was expecting. (Just imagine how long Kefka must take to get ready in the morning.) My hair took absolutely forever, as Kefka has a short ponytail, and since I have long hair and am currently unwilling to cut it, I had to work on kind of folding it in half to make it a bit closer to how it should be. (The feathers stayed in beautifully, though. I just put the ends through the hair bands, and they stayed in super securely.) Then, the makeup took a good deal of time (you need several layers to get the white really white, I found out), as well, and since I didn’t want to practice with the white too much ahead of time and risk running out before the comicon (as I need much more of it than the red), I didn’t know how difficult it was going to be putting the red on over the white (because the white kept flaking off when I did so). But, it still turned out pretty good, nevertheless, and now I just know I want much better quality body paint for next time, as I know there are types out there that are much cleaner and don’t dry out nearly as much.
I got to the convention center around 1, an hour before prejudging started, which was good because I didn’t realize how bad the lines were going to be. This particular comicon has seen a huge amount of growth in recent years. It has since spread to three buildings, and while there was no line to get our badges (for once), there was an enormous line wrapping around the building the comicon itself was housed in (which I don’t recall ever being that long before), and I don’t know how kind the heat was to my makeup. By the time I finally made it inside, however, there was no time to fix anything up in the bathroom, as I had to rush upstairs and get into line for prejudging (yay, more lines). It was fortunate I got there fairly early, though, because I later found out that the earlier you get in line, the earlier you perform in the masquerade. (And the wait wasn’t entirely boring. At one point, someone in this big, fluffy suit was acing goofy, but I couldn’t tell whether or not she was looking at me, so I decided to start moving about myself, which only confirmed that she was indeed watching me when she started bobbing about more than ever and then extended a hand. That was fist-bump number 1 that day.)
Once in the room for the prejudging, there were a bunch of rows of seats to sit in, and I had quite a nice chat with Sailor Jupiter as we waited for our turn to see the judges, all the while taking notice of some pretty impressive competitors, including one girl with huge wings that opened and closed. (She later went on to win second place in the novice category, which was no surprise.) They then started having us get in a shorter line by the wall, starting with the front seats and on, where we gave our audio CD (as a backup in case the version we sent by email didn’t work) to the guy that would later be announcing our names at the masquerade (I believe this is his 11th year doing this, and he, too, dresses up during the masquerade, as a Storm Trooper from “Star Wars”.) I was given number 26 in the masquerade, and after a little more waiting, I saw the judges behind this curtain, who seemed to be happy with my costume. I gave them my references, and I told them about how my costume was all hand-sewn, and they specifically asked to see the inner details of my cape. Then, I got to leave and enjoy the comicon until 7, as we needed to arrive at the green room an hour before the masquerade starts at 8.
But, before I could enjoy the comicon itself, I first went about on a, for a while, fruitless hunt for the green room, including going completely the wrong way and asking many people who worked there where it was, most of which had no idea. It turned out to be located in this hallway for employees only, that seemed to be largely used by the people working at the food court located just outside those doors. No wonder no one knew where it was. But, with this most important of rooms finally found, at last, (as I wouldn’t have wanted this search to take place around the time I actually needed to be there), I then got to head on over and enjoy the comicon, which is located in this absurdly huge basement level. (I want a basement that big. Though, to be quite honest, I just wish I had a basement.)
Well, to summarize, the comicon was a lot of fun, made so much better because this was the first time ever that people knew who I was and wanted my picture. I actually had people asking me for my picture before I even got into line to get into the main convention building, and this one boy said my name when I was waiting in that crazy line to get inside. And I mean, I can’t even tell you quite how awesome it all was. People actually knew who I was. I was famous. Well, not me, of course, but Kefka, but for that day, I was Kefka, so that still counts. Really. It does. (It’s a surprise he’s still so popular after 20 years. That just proves how awesome he really is, then.) People of all ages were saying my name (one girl sitting by the wall seemed rather excited to see me, so I waved at her, even though, if I really was Kefka, I don’t think she’d be excited at all) and lots of people were asking for pictures, including a man that implored me not to destroy the world (he does like this world, after all), or him for that matter, to which I replied, “I don’t kill people who take my picture.” Not until my good mood wears off, that is. Which is any moment now… Hee hee hee… I also heard someone make mention of a “miniature Kefka” (I’m short…) before two people called me over to take my picture (while explaining to their friends who I was), and there was another person who didn’t even know who I was, but simply thought my costume was “awesome”. (That’s right. I am awesome. Don’t I know it.) I also ran into another Kefka at one point. I saw him first and was just pointing him out to my mom when he turned around and caught sight of me. He was accompanied by Freya of “Final Fantasy IX”, and he asked if I was going more for the “Dissidia” version of Kefka, and I largely was, while he said that his own design was based more off the look of the original Kefka from the Super Nintendo, including a pixelated ribbon in his hair. Nice touch. It’s not everyday that you meet your doppelganger. And from two different times, too.
I saw some other pretty cool stuff at the comicon, as well. There was this big animatronic Balrog (that’s that monster Gandalf fights in “The Lord of the Rings”, right?), which I took pictures of and a video (I’ll put pictures of it up over on my blog, but I don’t know if I’ll be able to get the video to work or not), and I also took a video of R2D2 (I’m not telling you what he’s from, because you ought to know), and I also stalked this Dalek (from “Dr. Who”, of course, which you should also know, if you don’t want to get exterminated!) whilst recording a video of it, as well. I also caved and bought some fries and a soda, even after I promised myself not to eat or drink anything but water, lest I run into the danger of stains. Fortunately, no stains occurred. Or I’d have to take my Kefka-rage out on other people. Because it would probably be their fault somehow, not mine. It’s Cid’s fault for doing those experiments on me to begin with….
I also got three “Zelda” posters (there was a discount if you got three, so I really didn’t have a choice, plus they were cool posters, something I discussed with Sailor Jupiter later on…) and I got a big, huge Vincent Valentine figurine. I actually went to this one place to get the Hylian Shield, as I have the Master Sword, and that would complete the pair, but then I saw Vincent (the “Advent Children” version) who is awesome, so I just couldn’t pass him up. (They also had Rufus Shinra. Who would want him?) Sorry, Hylian Shield. Perhaps another time.
At 6, I decided it was time to head back to the green room, but I got rather lost. They wouldn’t let me up the stairs I came down, and so I went up a different set of stairs that somehow took me to an entirely different building across the street. Rather than cross the road and risk the possibility of being forced to stand in even more lines out in the heat, I then went back downstairs and up a different set of steps, and after lots of walking, I found my bearings and returned to the food court outside the green room. I cleaned up my makeup in the bathroom (I hogged that sink for a good 20 minutes, perhaps more) and fixed up my clothing (the cloth around my waist has a habit of going up and letting my tights show where they shouldn’t), and then I returned to my wait in the food court, where it was confirmed that I was in the right location, as my fellow performers were all starting to congregate here. (If you ever wander around the comicon and wonder where all the good costumes are, just head on down to outside the green room just before a contest, and you can take pictures of some of the comicon’s best costumes to your heart’s content).
We were allowed into the green room around 7. There were actually two rooms, one room where the people with bulkier costumes went and another room with more manageable costumes, like myself. The room I was in was quite small and had few seats, so I can only assume that most people actually had to wait out in the hallway. I didn’t get a seat, which was fine, as sitting might have messed up my pants (I hadn’t sat once since getting out of the car), though I do wish we didn’t have to show up so early because my back was killing me from standing still for so long, which only made the wait feel that much longer. (Again, that’s why you want to show up to prejudging early, so you can perform sooner and spend less time in the tiny room that’s not green.)
Even though the wait was boring, and I had a performance to worry about, it was kind of cool, nevertheless, being there with the other people that were going to perform and that were passionate about the same things as I was. And I, at least, got to spend my time listening in on conversations and getting tips on how to make things (they can make some pretty realistic-looking armor out of foam, and it still looks nearly like real metal). And this one guy dressed as those blue feline-people from “Avatar” (he had full-body paint, which looked amazing) took a couple of group pictures of everyone to put on Facebook, and I’m pretty sure I ended up in one of them, and this group of guys dressed as female superheroes showed up later and sang various songs (including “I’ll Make a Man Out of You” from “Mulan” and “Don’t Stop Believing”, if that’s the right title, which I sang along with whenever I could remember the words), and that served to make the rest of the wait go by much faster.
Before I knew it, numbers 19-30 were called, and I left the room and was directed to walk down this long hallway, where we lined up by the wall outside this open door, and I was reunited with Sailor Jupiter, who was number 25 in the masquerade, and we did some more hardcore chatting, including me telling her about someone else in the masquerade who was dressed up as a character I really liked, to whom I yelled “hi” at several times over the course of the day, only to receive a rather bothered look in response. I won’t say who it was, but they know who they are. They know. (Probably ambushing them in the bathroom wasn’t a good idea, though.) And during our wait, one poor girl somehow managed to cut herself, and someone working there insisted she put on a band-aid before the performance, but she refused to blemish her arm with such a thing before going out on stage, as expected, while I commented “It’s only a flesh wound!”, which got laughter and fist-bump number 2 from Ms. Jupiter. Because I’m hilarious like that.
Eventually, we went through the mystery door, and little did I know that it, in fact, led to the back of the ballroom. It was dark in here, and we became silent as we lined up beside the stage. This was it; the big moment was almost here. I watched the performances of the people going on before me (not only could you see them on stage, but they had these big screens showing the performances behind the walls, or whatever you’d call them, on either side of the stage, as well), and while it was pretty intimidating knowing I’d be up on that stage myself in a few minutes, I was not nearly as nervous as I thought I’d be. I was nervous earlier, but once I entered the ballroom, I guess I kind of just realized that it was too late to be nervous anymore. I got closer and closer, and eventually Sailor Jupiter was on stage for her performance, and I was told to wait halfway up the steps, and once the announcer called my name, I was supposed to walk on stage.
Her performance ended, and my name was called, several people in the audience already wooping at the mention of Kefka, and I started walking, and the music started playing, and I did what I had rehearsed. (It was surprising how little you actually see the audience when you’re up there looking right at them. Yeah, it was dark where they were, but I also think my eyes simply didn’t want to focus on them. There were seriously at least 1,000 people there. No joke.) Early on, I did this kind of gesture with my hand to my nose while I made a face at the audience, kind of like something a child would do (because Kefka is rather childish), and it seemed like it was a good call, because I could hear people laugh, and then I went about strutting around and posing. I didn’t really know what to do, though, as while I had indeed practiced for my performance, it just seems to me that posing is pretty hard to plan for. It feels like it should be more something that’s done in the moment, you know. And then it came to the part of the music where I knew it was time to do the next phase of my performance, and I got down on the ground to lay on my side and pose, just the way Kefka poses after he wins a battle in “Dissidia” (plus, no one else poses on the ground, so I thought I might as well), and it wasn’t long before the cheering really picked up. Delighted to hear such an obvious sign of their approval, I got up and paused a short while before my planned bow, to take advantage a little bit of their extra cheering. They cheered a lot as I bowed, as well, and then I skipped off stage (with my fists to my waist, just the way Kefka skips in “Dissidia”; I kid you not, he does actually skip). Once I stepped down off the stage, the announcer said it was a “dandy performance”, boosting my ego further, as he doesn’t make comments after every performance. Many of them, yes, but not all, and I had actually hoped long before this day that he would say something about it. And here’s the video of my performance, which was recorded by an audience member. The other links in this post are other videos they’ve put up, as well.
Video from Youtube User: Blao9
There were reserved seats in the front right of the audience just for us, and Sailor Jupiter scootched over so I could sit next to her, and I found out that getting to perform early also had the added benefit of allowing you to see much more of the masquerade. I also learned that performing on stage gives you a bit of an adrenaline boost, and not only was I wilder after that, but so were the others who had performed. I think much of the ruckus that night was, in fact, coming from us, including many of the comments yelled at the announcer (the reference to “Let it Go” from “Frozen”, quite a common reference that day, was screamed out by none other than Sailor Jupiter herself).
The masquerade was much fun to watch, and I alternated between watching it on the big screens, which were easier to see, and watching it on stage, which is more “official”. There were some talented performers and amazing costumes, including a woman in a Malificent costume that could have been movie-quality and the guy from “Avatar” that I had already mentioned earlier. There were also some pretty funny ones, too, such as the lady in the “furry” outfit whom I had met in the line outside of prejudging earlier, who did a rather entertaining dance. Also worthy of mention were two people dressed as Jessie and James of Team Rocket from “Pokemon”, who did the little spiel those two always do, which wouldn’t have been complete without the Meowth plushie at the end, and another performance with this guy dressed as a princess, who danced around all happy before eventually tripping (on purpose, so don’t worry, he was fine) at one point in the performance and who then proceeded to just lay there on his face while the other performers that were part of the act watched in shock. I laughed so hard at this one, especially when the camera focused on him lying on the floor several times to find him still just as motionless as ever.
His performance later started a joke that lasted the rest of the masquerade, when the announcer put on the crown he had left behind. From that moment onward, every time something was left on stage, the audience would yell at him to “put it on”. Usually he obliged, including putting several frilly pieces of blue fabric through his belt. (He refused, however, when people screamed at him to put the trophy on when he was telling us about the prizes.) People also freaked out when contestant number 69 was called and then proceeded to go wild over almost every other number that came after.
There were 75 performers that night, I believe, and afterward, as the judges thought about their decision, we watched this guy perform the “one-man-Star Wars”, which was quite humorous. Then, the winners were announced, and well, I didn’t win, but that was fine. Despite not winning, I still loved that day. It was seriously one of the best, if not THE best, experiences of my life, and I learned two things.
One, I love attention. I never thought I was the type, but I absolutely loved standing out from the crowd. I loved people taking notice of me and saying my name (well, Kefka’s, but we’ve already been over this) and stopping me for my picture. And while I’m one of the quietest people I know, I loved performing on stage, something many people say they wouldn’t be able to do. I loved putting my heart into a costume and getting to have people love what I made and want to take pictures of it, and I loved bringing to life a character I love and that other people love, too, for all the Kefka fans out there. (I do this for you.) I know that I love when people dress as characters I like, so I can only imagine that they must, too.
But, most of all, I loved being a part of something. I loved being with all those other cosplayers through each stage of the process and waiting with them in the green room and watching their antics, which no one else got to be a part of. It was just us and only us. We were the ones who were going to put on a show. I loved seeing things no one else got to, the behind-the-scenes of the masquerade. The prejudging process and the green room and what the stage looked like from behind and getting to have those seats reserved just for us, because we were the important ones. Without us, there would have been no masquerade. And winning didn’t matter. What mattered was getting on stage and entertaining the audience. I loved making them cheer for me and knowing they enjoyed my performance. I was just one small part of that night, but I was a part of it. I was a part of that masquerade and a part of that group of people, even if I had never met any of them before that day, and that was better than winning, as corny as I know I must sound right now, but I mean every word of it.
On my way out, I did get a little more attention from a few people who seemed to enjoy my performance, including some nods and one man telling me that he doesn’t get to see people dressed as Kefka very often. And even when I was outside walking to the car, yet another man stopped me for a picture (by then, I had become quite good at posing for the camera), and it was great to get some more attention even after the masquerade had ended (which helped to ease the pain of defeat). It was just such a wonderful day, and I want to get into this kind of thing more. I want to make more costumes and perform in front of people again, and so I am currently planning out how best to make a new costume for next year’s masquerade (more on that on my own blog…).
Anyway, I plan on sharing more pictures (and videos, if they work right) over at Duck of Indeed, and I will share the link, as well, for when the whole masquerade is up on Youtube. Last year’s was, so this one should be, as well. And you’ll get to see that it was quite a big affair. They had professional cameras and everything! Cosplay is not something to be taken lightly, it would seem. So, thanks for reading my rant, and if you ever get a chance to go to a costume contest, by all means, check it out. It’s a really great experience. Then again, I was one of the main attractions, so go figure.
A Performing Duck