Tuesday, July 25, 2006

My Friends Are Stunt Dressers

I couldn't be at Comic Con this year (next year makes more sense anyway because my book will actually be out). But I just found this article in my inbox:

A Los Angeles-area sextet danced away with the Best in Show award for its skit, "Dancing with the Celebrities from the Stars," at Comic-Con's campiest, vampiest event, the annual masquerade contest.

I know those people. I know them well. You see, my friends are stunt dressers.

Now, those of you who don't live in LA have probably never heard this term. Actually, those of you who do live in LA probably haven't heard the term, either, because I'm fairly certain I made it up. But stunt dressing is the only way I can properly describe the phenomenon I'm talking about. And those of you in the SCA, World Con, World Fantasy Con, Comic-Con, StellarCon, AnyCon crowd (you know who you are) know exactly what I mean.

Los Angeles is, after all, home to thousands of professional special effects wizards, costumers, the Renaissance Pleasure Faire, narcissistic histrionics, and actors (oh, wait, that last is redundant. KIDDING. Some of my best friends are actors.).

And in LA, event partying is a competitive sport - literally. Costume contests abound, and some people I know make a very nice auxiliary income from them, around October, especially.

Arguably some even more outrageous stunt dressing goes on in San Francisco, where most of my friends have also spent at least half their lives. Try the Castro on any given Halloween (I'll never forget the life-sized walking convertible with JFK and Jackie... well, all right, never mind that.).

Put all that together and you have what I call stunt dressing. Parties where costumes are NOT optional - not if you don't want to stick out like a wallflower with a sore thumb.

Theme parties used to scare the s - stuffing out of me because I don't think of myself as an crafty person. (You know, craft as in sewing, not all that OTHER stuff, which is another post entirely, but inevitable.) But I do love excess, and after attending a few parties like oh, A Restaurant at the End of the Universe, Voodoo Magic, Survivor (yes, that Survivor), Gilligan's Island, Under the Sea, any number of the requisite Moulin Rouge and Pirates of the Caribbean and Lord of the Rings and Mardi Gras and Tiki parties... well, I started to think about it. I started thinking about what to actually wear to some of these things. I started to think - isn't costuming just as much an artistic expression as words?

And that's how I released my inner Stunt Dresser. I love dressing up as an Elton John song and having people guess which song I am, preferably with touchable clues. I love sequins and feathers and masks. I love a RED party where everyone and everything is - you guessed it. Have one some time and see what it does to the libido - yours and everyone else's, in every possible combination.

Every thrift store is now an opportunity to collect cheap frothy things that will one day make the perfect drop-dead costume. I have hats. I have Victorian opera coats. I have a menagerie of corsets and boas and headgear. I have chain mail I have every possible net garment you can think of. I have more sequined gorgeous confections than you can shake a stick at. I've also recently started on props.

The thing about stunt dressing is that it gives OTHER people so much pleasure. You don't have to make much of an effort to make so many people truly happy that you're wearing part of the party. That's what's so great about it - and if you're shy, I suggest you think about it that way - in terms of how much others will enjoy that you've done it.

My stunt dressing inspiration - I might as well say mistress - is Sa Winfield - costume designer, belly dancer, choreographer, ceramicist, best hostess on the planet, artist of living, mermaid, and stunt dressing diva, just to name a few of her charms.

Those are her thighs in the winning photo, third from the left.

Congratulations on the well-deserved award - and thanks, Sa, for opening up a brave new world. You'll always be Best in Show to me.

And the rest of you? Go ahead. Unleash your inner stunt dresser. There might just be an Elton John song in you that's dying to get out.


Tasha Alexander said...

I love costume parties, but never get to go to them. Where did I go wrong???

Alexandra Sokoloff said...

Well, that's the thing I'm saying. LA is a city full of exhibitionists (actually you could make a pretty good case that CA is a state full of exhibitionists) and there's always a costume party to be had.

But I hear the Romantic Times convention is pretty great for the dress up thing. A bunch of us ITWs are going - you definitely should!

Richard Lewis said...

Just read your interview.

We have the same agent.

What's the literary equivalent of the six degrees of Kevin Bacon?

Anyway, I'll keep an eye out for HARROWING when I'm in Singapore next (no good book stores on this here island where I live)

Alexandra Sokoloff said...

Richard - do you mean we share Scott, or Frank? Because, you know, both those guys get around! ;)

I adore them both.

THE HARROWING in Singapore. I like the idea of that!