Okie dokie kids it’s time to talk about my most/least favorite aspect of cosplay: competitions in convention masquerades/costume contests.
I’ve always been a competitive person (I am very, very, very much a Type A personality) so competing in my hobby seemed like a logical jump. I’ve been cosplaying since 2007 (just a wee 12 year old bab) and 2008 was the first year I “competed” (the first two years my groups were just “exhibition” skits, so not judged); I had to drop out of one competition in 2013 and took a gap year in 2014 before deciding to compete again in 2015. It’s 2016, I’m 22, I’ve been cosplaying for 10 years, I’ve been in six “legit” competitions, won two minor awards, and I still have no idea whether or not it’s a good idea for me to continue doing this.
I won a minor award for Sheryl Nome & Ranka Lee (my first from-scratch cosplays) in 2011 in the Novice Division, and a minor award for Princess Small Lady Serenity in the Journeyman division in 2016 – SLS Photo by Sumiko.foto Photography.
****DISCLAIMER**** COMPETITION AIN’T FOR ERRYBODY — YOU DO YOU & WHAT MAKES YOU HAPPY AS A COSPLAYER.
So, without further ado, tips for entering the Masquerade:
- Do it for the right reasons. Do NOT be like me and place your self worth as a person and a craftsman in someone else’s hands (be that judges, the audience, or the peanut gallery on social media). I’m trying to get better at this but it’s difficult for me. You should be doing this because you want to have fun, meet other people, and enjoy a little bit of friendly competition.
- Don’t do a skit if you/your group does not have the time to commit to practicing. I’ve made an ass of myself more times than I can care to remember (thankfully under a different pseudonym!!!) on Anime Boston’s Masquerade stage because my group wasn’t committed to practicing. If improv is your thing, check out other cosplay events like Chess or the Dating Game, or consider entering a walk-on if you still want to compete without the hassle of a skit (what I do now).
- Do pre-record your audio. It sounds better and makes your life easier because you only need to half-convincingly lip sync your lines. 🙂
- Do be on time! For everything! Meeting script deadlines for the coordinator, judging, rehearsal, check-in, etc… don’t be that guy that keeps everyone waiting, if you have an issue (like getting stuck in a security line), keeping open lines of communication is key!
- Don’t be a jackass backstage. Little 12 year olds (such as my past self) think that over-used memes are funny and they will use them in their skits. They’re doing their best. Eventually, they will grow up and realize in horror what terrible mistakes they’ve made in their youth, and will make better skits as adults. Making snide comments about others’ skits just makes you look like a nasty person; don’t pretend that you never once thought costume satin was a legit fabric choice…we’ve all been there.
- Don’t freaking cheat!! This goes without saying! The judges will know! The con will find out, your rep will be ruined irrevocably because the internet never forgets, and even if you do somehow manage to get away scot-free, your victory will be a LIE.
- Don’t be afraid to drop out– seriously. Me making an ass of myself three years in a row all could have been avoided if I wasn’t such a baby about quitting when I know I’m beat and when I know I’m not going to put out the best performance I possibly could. If a skit/con/deadline/life circumstances or what have you are making planning and prepping for the Masquerade more miserable than fun, you should seriously consider dropping out. THIS IS SUPPOSED TO BE FUN. I know cosplayers like to procrastinate and joke about “all aboard the suffering train” but it’s not worth spending the entire con miserable (because when you inevitably lose, Sunday is that much suckier) just to do the Masquerade.
Image credit Meguca is suffering but Masquerades don’t have to be!
- Remember: losing is not the end of everything. Losing doesn’t always mean your costume/performance sucked; it just means judges liked someone else’s better; and honestly a lot of these competitions are very tight (especially in the lower craftsmanship divisions)! Cons are limited in funds, which means not as many people that deserve awards can go home with them. Don’t take it to heart, and use it as motivation to do more complex costumes next time!