My main characters in All 'Ships May Sail (title taken from my many years spent on the House of Tucker Bulletin Board, in case you were wondering) bond over their fellow fandom, Xena: Warrior Princess, and their love of cosplay. In case you're curious about my own costuming street cred, I offer the following true story.
I'm a geek. In fact, I am a whole lot of kinds of geek. My friends and I started going to conventions in costume more than a decade before the term "cosplay" was coined. One of my many geekdoms over the years was, is Xena: Warrior Princess. "In a time of ancient gods, warlords, and kings" -- also known as the 1990s and early 2000s -- my friends and I went to several Xena conventions, usually in costume. Sometimes we participated in the fan costume competition. One year, at the big convention in Pasadena, we won.
Picture if you will, a hall full of some 3000 fans of the show. They're seated in chairs and standing along the back and sides of the room. There's a raised stage up front where we've watched the show's actors talk, tell stories, and answer questions over the past few days.
Now, it's Sunday. Things are winding down, and it's time for the costume competition. Three friends and I entered as a group. Xena, Warrior Princess, Amazon Queen Gabrielle, Amazon Wanna-be-Queen Velasca, and Amazon Queen-to-be Ephiny.
We lined up backstage with everyone else who wanted to compete their costumes and waited for our turn. Eventually, finally we were called up to the stage.
We didn't have a plan. We didn't even have a pose. I guess we figured we'd let our costumes speak for themselves. We'd worked hard and knew they were good. So we stood on stage letting the costumes do the talking. And after a few moments, we realized it wasn't just the costumes you could hear.
Somewhere out in the crowd, people had begun singing the Amazon theme music from the show.
Whoa. ... We need to respond.
We straightened up our line, raised our masks, and gave the Amazon salute.
The crowd went nuts. People were standing and saluting back. They're still singing. They're cheering. We were rock stars.
Now what? This is going to get awkward in a second. What do we do? We should go. Leave them wanting more. Yeah! Leave them wanting more.
So we lowered our arms, and with our heads held high like the fictional royalty we were pretending to be, we proudly left the stage.
I feel a little sorry for whoever had to follow that. Someone must have; I don't believe we were last to present. We were, however, the last ones called for the awards because they always announce the grand prize winners last.
The prize itself was a $100 merchandise credit. I don't even know what we spent it on. It doesn't matter. That wasn't why we did it. We did it because we're geeks and geeks love what they love unabashedly, unashamedly, unapologetically with everything they have to give. The best prize we got was that crowd, 3000 of our fellow geeks strong, spontaneously bursting into song. For us.