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Before my brain goes melty

When one is walking around in a frumpalicious woolen dress with what looks like an air filter on one's head, it's really nice when the first four people you encounter actually recognize the period artwork upon which it is based.  It's even MORE surprising when, while walking around in a 16th century Irish dress, someone you've never met spies your name on your convention badge and says he hopes to attend your workshop on Japanese costuming!

I roomed with the lovely joycebre for the weekend. She is a most excellent roommate.

Jinyu (100 Poems) has knocked Rihaku Wandering Poet out of the number one spot on my sake favorites list. Pricy, but worth the splurge. I'm not just sayin' that because it's got Ono no Komachi in karaginu mo along with one of her poems on the box either. Besides, I wanted to bring something nice to share with bovil and kproche who worked their butts off to put on the convention. After the Victorian Underwear party, we went a couple doors down to the Pretty Pretty Princess party that Sarah and Trystan and their friends were hosting. It got loud and crowded pretty fast, an environment I don't generally enjoy once I am reduced to lipreading and nodding like I actually heard the conversation, but I feel like I coped with it reasonably well. I ended the evening up in the guys' suite after that for a bit where  there was a bit more elbow room and things were a little more relaxed.

The Tosenin kosode worn with travel accessories (the "small" hat over the voile kazuki), was a big hit as a hall costume. I got stopped a number of times for pictures.  (I saw the photos didjiman took today and he made me look great.)

Only made it to one workshop all weekend and that was on Chinese opera costumes. The teacher was enthusiastic, the costumes were pretty. I used part of the afternoon to attack my clothing with the steamer for the masquerade the following day.

The Fantasy/SF masquerade started very late and had nearly fifty entries. It was worth seeing the presentations, but I went straight and dutifully to bed around 1 AM.

Dressed as "Saionji no Spike" in my kariginu and eboshi, I reported for my class at 10 AM, only to find that while there was a projector, there was no laptop, although I had requested one when I registered to teach. Thanks to Tara and bovil for resolving the technical foo and allowing me to present my pictures about 15 minutes into the lecture itself.  I was tickled to death at the turnout - about 25 people showed up, were genuinely interested and asked good questions. I feel like it went pretty well, even though I had to start trying to describe garments and their evolution before I had visual aids to do it with.

Because I've never done one of these......After a lunch break and a little downtime in the room, I climbed into my kosode, nagabakama, and most of the robes and carried my mo and karaginu via the "overland route" along the 2nd floor balconies above the pool area to report for the pre-judging and tech rehearsal. (Despite multiple groups of small steps, it's actually easier than going across long expanses of carpet in nagabakama.) I knew I was going to need to be in as much of my outfit as possible to see how it behaved on the stage, so I figured it was just as easy to wear it over. The pre-judging was running late, the tech was running fast, so they sent me to the stage area first.  As soon as I got up into the wings (with wary spotters at the stairs eyeing my slow progress up the steps), I knew how I could cover the stage and show off the clothing. I got it in one shot.

They'd read my docs - you know, the ones I was whining about the other day. They examined what I had on while it was on me. I shook out the mo - it is darned  pretty. I showed them the unusual (for Japanese clothing) V in the back of the collar of the karaginu. Then back to the room to take it all off, have a shower, put my feet up and get a little down time before what I knew would be a very long evening.

Got my face put on. (Never blacked my teeth - I couldn't get the lid off the bottle and nobody was going to see it anyway.) Used a TON of setting powder for the fat lot of good it would do me. Put back on kosode and nagabakama and carried the rest of it back to the green room at the opposite end of the hotel all over again.   I walk in the door and see a maze of chairs laid out and think "Oh fuck, whose idea was THIS!" I am informed at the door that I am in "Den #5." I see Den numbers on groups of chairs so I start shuffling towards #5. I am mortified that I cannot remember the name of our "den mother." She took one look at me with my armload of stuff and pointed me at a chair at the end. She said she'd ferry snacks and water to me upon request and arrange an escort to the restroom to help me in/out of costume if needed. Maral (who I know from Immortal Geisha), dressed in lots of glittery bits as Mata Hari came over to admire as I started pushing myself into seven sets of sleeves thinking there's no WAY I can get anywhere near the full length mirrors to arrange my collars. "YOU know how this is supposed to look!" I cry. The first golf-ball sized drop of sweat rolls down my spine.  Bless her, she helped me arrange them and get a himo around it all over the uwagi. Karaginu next. With safety pins just in case. Then the mo, with helpful hands of my Den Mother threading the ties under my weighted arms. Shuffle out to the hallway for the professional photographers. Shuffle back inside for registration photos. Shuffle to chair. Sit.

Then the wait. (Crap, am I the only ethnic entry? Does this mean some kissing-your-sister prize just for showing up? I don't know how they're going to judge this thing.... Oh, pretty Venetian. The hoop skirt convention is in town. There's Sarah.) Sweat. Lots of sweat.  We're told the house is open. More waiting. Den Mother appears with a plastic cup. I drink. Den 5 is told to queue up by the stage door. I take a half a dozen shuffling steps behind a bishop in the same colors I'm wearing. Hm, nice beadwork on the miter I think, and do a face plant on the carpet. "Are you OK?" says the mortified gentleman behind me.  "I will be as soon as you remove your foot from that red bit of fabric so I can get up again." Den Mother picks up the hem of my mo and stations herself for the duration at my back so this will not happen again.

The bishop and I chat quietly. Waiting. We can hear the announcements, the music, the audience response, but we can't SEE the presentations, which isn't much fun. There's a pause for the video tapes to be changed before the bishop's entry. I wait at the bottom of the steps, then carefully climb up after him, spotters on both railings and DM holding my mo. As entry 16 is announced and the bishop enters, I move up closer to the stage and DM and the spotters spread out my mo behind me. Entry 17. The plaintive, breathy skreel of the ryuteki, the tap of a kotsuzumi. Left foot. Gong. Right foot. Left foot. Now the sho and hichiriki come in. Right foot. Raise the fan to hide my face (and keep the lights out of my eyes until I can see better). Left foot. Turn the fan slowly and draw it in an arc across my body. Work that fan. Step. Step. Step. Diagonally across the stage into the lights. Turn right and cross the front of the stage. Continue the arc towards the curtain, showing the mo to the audience. All I hear is Etenraku. Step. Sway and turn over the fan, extending right arm. Step. Step. Pretty pictures, I keep thinking. Show off those sleeves.   Turn right. Left foot. Right foot. The sho fades as I reach the wing, lights go down. I don't remember hearing the audience. I reach the stairs. I see catchers at each railing. I step down.  I'm on the floor. I drag my 70 yards of clothing down the back hallway and plop in a chair in the green room.

More water. Last entrant goes. Halftime act goes on while judges deliberate. We go outside to the photo station. didjiman and the others snap away. I find a spot near a wall, hoping to avoid further train wrecks. Some fans come past the photo station and snap pictures of us. We wait. We geek over each others' clothing. Jaida comes by and tells me how great I looked and gets me some water. "Nine layers, not counting the train and trousers," I find myself saying over and over. I find myself saying "Thank you," a lot  too and posing for pictures. If I only dared to scratch my nose.

Judges come back. I shuffle back into the green room cursing the friction coefficient of nagabakama on industrial pile carpeting.  People start being called to the stage.  "Carry-ginoo Moe. Where's Carry-ginoo Moe." People paste themselves to the wall as I hem-kick my way back behind stage. As unseen hands steer me to the steps I hear, "If you recall, she can't move very fast, but she's worth waiting for," from the podium. Lights. I turn. The announcer says, "For documentation in the Journeyman class." Docu-frigging-mentation! I bow, inferior to superior, accepting the certificate and ribbon, then shuffle towards the other entrants, then back off stage.

FINALLY Best In Show is announced. We are free to move about the con. All I want to do is get it all off, but I have to get through that damn milling crowd first. Cynthia grabs my mo and I just start marching. "Overland," I say as we get close to the stairs. "Are you sure?" I stop, bend down and start pulling my nagabakama legs up until I find my feet. Holding wads of nagabakama hem with Cyn behind me, I start slogging across the outside terrace. Back to the room. Door closed, I start shedding clothes and run for the toilet. A glance in the mirror reveals the damage of four plus hours of sweat and 49 years worth of crows-feet.  Ick. 

Face washed, changed into my Chinatown silk dragon caftan and cotton leggings, I take a Hornsby's out of the cooler and wander over to the Hospitality suite. bovil turns up in short order with a couple of bottles of sake, I run back to my room for the Choya umeshu and we start pouring for people. Being Sake Fairy is a good way to end up talking to people you don't know. The guys took me along to a party being hosted by a contingent from the Seattle area upstairs for awhile and I spent some time chatting with the lady who won Judges choice with her generational wedding dress presentation. Then back to the guys' suite for a bit.
kproche decided to try mixing absinthe with sake. The result was better than it had any right to be. I begged for mercy and stumbled off to bed around 3 AM.

Up this morning at a reasonable hour, had breakfast with joycebre and callistotoni. Packed out. Picked up a copy of the historical masquerade video, got press-ganged volunteered to help move stage equipment from the upper ballroom to the lower for about an hour. Now I can put roadie on my resume. Ordered a couple of photos from didjiman - he got some beautiful closeup shots of me - unfortunately, they include the craptastic beta-test ceremonial fan, so I'm gonna have to pass on those and stick with the full body shot. Ran into bovil and ended up having lunch with him and kproche and some of their friends before heading home.

Came home. Watched the DVD of the masquerade. Some of the presentations were very inventive. Maral's dance as Mata Hari was amazing, as was the one by the woman who did the Loie Fuller homage. The Empress Eugenie portrait group that won Best in Show was very clever, even though the camera work on the video didn't show the final tableau very well before the lights went down.  In other cases, simplicity works well. I am stunned at how good mine looks. I had a lot of people asking if I'd ever studied Japanese dance and now I know why - the only flub is when I completed the turn towards the wing and involuntarily tossed my head a little to get some hair out of my eyes.

I'm sure I've forgotten stuff, but all in all it was a long, fun, tiring weekend.


( 7 comments — Leave a comment )
Apr. 29th, 2008 03:10 am (UTC)
I can't wait to see more pics and hopefully a video of your and Maral's entries! And super congrats on the documentation. ^_^

I was looking for Maral's Mata Hari, but didn't see it anywhere yet. If you're looking for her LJ/IG name, it's sarcasm_hime.

Edited at 2008-04-29 03:11 am (UTC)
Apr. 29th, 2008 03:29 am (UTC)
Bijin Bijin Hime just doesn't have the same ring to it.... just turned up. Not sure WHY I'm smirking. Maybe it was something the photographer said to me....
Apr. 29th, 2008 03:53 am (UTC)
Re: Bijin Bijin Hime just doesn't have the same ring to it....
I think that's from Lionboogy's LJ... yup, that's his! I saw his photos this morning - I went thru all 34 pages looking for people I know, and I think this was the only one of your wonderful garb! The colors just pop.

You might also end up on, as there was a photographer for that website at the convention as well, and there's lots of photos, too (mostly of people in their historical underwear, though!). I'll try to keep my eye out there for pics of you and direct you to them.

Thanks for writing a big post about it! I like hearing about the conventions from other people.
Apr. 29th, 2008 10:33 am (UTC)
Sounds like you had a great time. I was looking at the pics you posted in your other entry--wow, some of those costumes were absolutely amazing!
Apr. 29th, 2008 05:13 pm (UTC)
I haven't been to a Costume-Con in *mumble* years. Now I wish I had been there; it sounds great. I'm so proud of you and your kick-ass documentation.
Apr. 30th, 2008 10:35 pm (UTC)
LOL. When he announced what I interpreted as "Carrie Ginomault" I was utterly baffled (thinking "I don't remember a French-Canadian person...")until I actually SAW you and realized it was just bad pronunciation.

Speaking of which, my bellydance troupe is called "Shades of Araby" but we were once announced as "Shades of a Rabbi". XD

I didn't get a copy of the DVD but will have to watch Kaijugal's one so I can actually see your presentation! :)
Apr. 30th, 2008 11:33 pm (UTC)
[Grin]. There was a time when I didn't have a clue how to attack pronunciation of Japanese words either - and I'm still learning. The nice man who MC'd for us took a stab at it when I showed up at the tech rehearsal and had the emPHAsis on the wrong sylLABles until I repeated it for him a couple of times. I think he did pretty well the night of the competition.
( 7 comments — Leave a comment )