Getting there in one piece was the biggest hurdle, since my costume has a lot of accessories with fragile components, and my corset doesn't make for a comfortable car ride. We ended up ducking into an empty corridor and putting most of me together after we arrived at the convention center.
I planned to dress up Friday because the crowds are lighter then than the weekend. That said, even at its most crowded on Saturday SWCVI still had plenty of space on the perimeters of the hall and beyond to get away and take a break. It's also HUGE. Here's the main floor on Saturday afternoon, just above the droid race lanes:
Anyway, within ten steps of donning my mask and goggles I was stopped for photos, and all that practice posing was immediately put to the test! I was stopped about every twenty feet or so, on average, which set a nice leisurely pace.
I've had a lot of people ask about my anxiety combined with the mask & goggles, and whether or not I felt claustrophobic in it all. The truth is I found the head covering extremely calming. It's a kind of sensory deprivation chamber, which allows me to feel pleasantly detached and safe from my surroundings.
That said, the mask does limit my vision, and I have almost no peripheral. I compensate by turning my head a lot, which made my hair a snarly mess. I'm planning on wrapping the top of my pony tail with ribbon at Dragon*Con to keep it together better.
There weren't too many steampunks there, but we found as many as we could:
Actually, these steampunk Rebel Pilots found me - and quickly surrounded me for a photo.
Steampunk Jedi (on the right above) and Storm Trooper.
Another thing about having no peripheral vision is that I never knew how close someone was beside me. And if both of us had helmets on, this resulted in some pretty funny spacing issues:
After we'd been on the floor about an hour on Friday, I found myself standing in front of a backdrop and surrounded by a small crowd with cameras. Flashes went off all around me as about 8 or 10 people took my photo all at once, and I stared out at it all, wide-eyed, and thought, "Ok. This is surreal."
A little over an hour later, my mask lights went out. (ACK!) It turned out the condensation from my breath collected in the cracks, and the moisture shorted out the wires. John and I were both pretty disappointed, and so decided I would come back again in costume on Sunday.
After that I felt edgy and uncomfortable, so within a few minutes of donning the mask I took half a Xanax to calm my nerves. It's the smallest dose possible, but happily that's all I needed.
From there we set out to get all the photos we missed on Friday:
I had to stay in the seat an extra few moments after John was through, for all the other cameras.
This one is fun; it makes you look like an action figure!
Or in my case, a really short action figure. :)
The reactions I encountered were, without a doubt, the best part of the whole experience. So many people took the time to really look at and appreciate all the details in my costume, commenting on each in turn, and the sheer delight in some of their faces was the best compliment of all.
I also discovered that no one thinks I can hear in that helmet, which meant I caught all KINDS of private remarks as I passed through the crowd. Not a single one was negative, though. Most were along the lines of, "Ermahgerd! STEAMPUNK!" and profanity-laced compliments. I might have walked a little slower to hear them all, and with a giant grin on my face. :)
I was especially nervous around members of the 501st, since I figured if anyone might be the kind of purist to find my invention insulting, it might be them. At one point early on John & I were walking down a long narrow bridge, and there was a single Storm Trooper coming towards us. I braced myself as he was passing, but instead of a cold, disapproving silence, instead I heard the click of his microphone and, "Nice costume!" The next Trooper we passed gave me a thumbs up with a head nod.
It was a special honor to get compliments from other cosplayers like that, and by the end of the day my cheeks hurt from smiling so much. (I also kept forgetting no one could see my face, so I'm pretty sure I smiled for every single photo. Ha!) I even had the famous "Pirate Pimp Vader" & Boba grab a photo with me:
This gal also insisted on a photo together when we approached to ask her for a pic:
We look kind of perfect together, right?I thought I might scare the kids, but instead I had a bunch want their picture taken with me. One little girl was so excited to see "Darth Vader's wife," and when I made a point of waving at every wide-eyed kid I passed, I got a lot of shy waves and smiles in return.
And then...this happened:
I was standing in the aisle posing for photos, when suddenly a woman with a clipboard appeared in front of me and asked if I would do a quick introduction on camera. I recognized her as the same woman who'd been directing Jennifer Landa the day before. "Sure!" I said. I'd just had a guy record me wishing his wife a happy anniversary on his iphone, so I guess I was feeling confident?
I had about one minute to reflect on what I'd just gotten myself in to (and start to shake), and then there was a microphone in my hand and a camera panning up my costume to pause about 8 inches from my face. "This is Lady Vadore at Celebration VI," I squeaked, "And you're watching Star Wars dot com!" A pause, and then the sound guy asked if we could do it again. This time I tried to squeak lower. Then they thanked me and moved on, while I looked around in a daze and realized my friend Tony had been filming the whole thing, and John had taken tons of pictures, and Steampunk Boba Fett John and his friend Lauren (the steampunk lady Han Solo I posted on Thursday) had also been standing there watching. (You can just see them behind the camera.) Of all of them, I definitely felt the least qualified to be on camera.
But I'm not gonna lie - it was so darn cool to be asked.
Ok, moving on...
I had a lot of you ask for a back shot of my costume, so here 'tis:
Oh, and I got to give out plenty of calling cards from my handy-dandy belt buckle! Anyone who stopped to gawk and ask questions got to see my "extra feature." (Whoah. That sounded dirty...)
K, I have to brag on John now:
Through all of this, he was constantly at my side, leading me through the crowd, making sure I was comfortable, watching all the guys who put an arm around me like a hawk (ha!), and basically taking care of everything around me so I only had to focus on what was directly in front of me. He even organized my costume pieces each day ahead of time, packing them up and helping me get dressed once we arrived. And the crazy part is that he claims all of that was fun.
John couldn't stop saying how proud he was of me, and how happy it made him to hear all these people praising my work - although I was quick to tell them it was our work. He would stand to the side, watching everyone take my picture, and just have this huge grin on his face. I never would have made it through either day without him, and I'll never know how I ended up with a guy this awesome.
(Plus, today is our 14-year anniversary!! Before you ask, I married at age 12. ;))
So... that was my big cosplay debut, guys! A little nerve-wracking, but a whole lot of awesome.
Next stop: Dragon*Con!