By John Hertz: The 76th World Science Fiction Convention Masquerade was Saturday 18 Aug 18. I was one of the judges.
Decades ago the Masquerade, as its name suggests, was a dress-up party. By the 1960s it had evolved to its present form, an on-stage costume competition with lights, sound, and awards (not prizes – nothing of intrinsic value – just glory). Wonders appear.
At our conventions the Masquerade is a great event. At the Worldcon it outdraws everything but Hugo Night. The Hugos are our most substantial event, the Masquerade our most spectacular.
Like much else that we contrive somehow, it’s amazing we can do the Masquerade at all. There’s almost no rehearsal time; people are busy. This can be hard on the tech crew. People come from all over; how to bring costume pieces? Another incentive to do more with less.
Experience has given us guidelines.
An Original Masquerade entry might be from an SF story (but not an existing illustration), or myth, or wholly the entrants’ imagination. A Re-Creation, not meant to be original but faithful, might be from a book cover, a film, television, animé, a poster, video games; Re-Creation entries give the Masquerade Director documentation showing their source.
Novice, Journeyman, and Master classes let entrants compete at their own level – if they wish. If one has never won a major award (higher than Honorable Mention) at a comparable Masquerade, one may enter as a Novice; then until winning three major awards, as a Journeyman (the suffix -man isn’t masculine); thereafter one is expected to enter as a Master. Anyone may “challenge up”. Exceptions are made as needed by the Masquerade Director. The Worldcon 76 Masquerade called the most demanding class “Open” instead of “Master”.
The Judges sit in the theater, and see what the audience sees. Sometimes a Judge is posted at the back of the room to get that perspective.
Workmanship Judges look at an entry backstage before it goes on; workmanship judging is optional, and need not be for everything: “This space-ship, please, but not my bug-eyed-monster suit”, or “Only those green headdresses”. This allows recognition, if the entrants wish, of what may not be obvious to the audience.
Judges have and need a lot of latitude in giving and indeed naming awards. We’re always comparing apples to androids.
Usually we give Best in Show, sometimes also Best in Class, only to an entry that is particularly outstanding; no Best in Show might be given at all, or it might go to a Novice entry, or there might be both a Best in Show (Original) and a Best in Show (Re-Creation); an entry might be given, say, Best Workmanship in Class and nothing else. Such things happen now and then.
After all entries have gone on, the judges go off, to deliberate. Would you like it to be faster? We’d like that too. If there are three dozen entries, and we spend two minutes on each one, we’ve been out an hour.
- Karisu Wen
Master of Ceremonies
- Chris Garcia
- Laura Kelly-Freas Beraha, John Hertz, Derwin Mak, Sandy & Pierre Pettinger
- Jill Eastlake, Leslie Johnston, Jonnalyhn Wolfcat Prill, Kathy Bushman Sanders, Karen Schnaubelt
Honorable Mention, also Workmanship Honorable Mention for Proton Pack Perfection: “Raymond J. Stanz, Apparition Eliminator”, Zach Miles (this had been in the Midamericon II Masquerade (74th Worldcon), but won only a Workmanship Award; it was allowed to enter again)
Honorable Mention, also Workmanship Honorable Mention for Electronics: “Caelyn of Falconpeak in the Final Battle”, Melisa Kaye
“Kitty’s Meow” Workmanship Award for Attention to Detail: “Gandalf the Pink”, Gene Barrett
Workmanship Award for Use of Playing Cards: “Alice in Wonderland”, Kate Martin, Shelli Frew
Best Transformation, also Workmanship Award for Terrific Tentacles: “Vanessa”, Diego Gomez
Best Re-Creation: “The Plague Doctor”, Ben Reid
Best Presentation, also Workmanship Award for Excellence in Creature Construction: “Locusta, Displacer-Beast Thief”, Amanda Potter
Best in Class, also Best Workmanship in Class: “Knight Radiant”, Sky Corbelli
Workmanship Honorable Mention, “1870s Ursula the Sea Witch Mash-Up”, May Fendell
Best Television, also Workmanship Award for Best Attention to Detail: “Storm Mine Survivor”, Johanna Mead
Most Beautiful, also Best Workmanship in Class: “Silver Birch Dryad”, Megan Daggett
Most Dramatic, “Lady Mothra”, Denise Tanaka
Best Re-Creation, also Workmanship Award for Best Re-Creation: “The Three Fates”, Sharon Bass, Barbara Galler-Smith, Ita Vandenbroek
Best in Class, also Workmanship Award for Best Sculpting: “Alien Queen”, Karen Fox
Honorable Mention: “Star Wars Rebel X-Wing Pilot”, Sheryl R. Hayes
Best Television: “Demogorgon”, Janis Wright (worn by Paul Prange)
Best Mask, also Workmanship Judges’ Choice for Silicon Mask Work: “A Wretched Hive of Scum and Villainy”, John Coxon, Mette Hedin, Bryan Little, España Sheriff
Most Comical, also Workmanship Honorable Mention for Traditional Maskmaking (Codmother mask): “Lost in Translation”, Orchid Cavett, Theresa Halbert, Cate R. Siguenza, Janine & John Wardale
Most Evocative, also Workmanship Judges’ Choice for Excellence in Traditional Needle Arts: “The Queen of Halloween”, Jerry Corrigan, Bonnie Jones, Sam Paris, Jennifer Skwarski
Best Re-Creation, also Workmanship Judges’ Choice for Silicon Mask Work: “A Scene with Rocket and Baby Groot”, Vicki Glover, Lynn Kingsley, Greg Sardo, Julie Zetterberg
Best in Class, also Best Workmanship in Class: “Mummy for Nothing”, Phil Burgess, Lance Ikegawa, Kim Kwon
Best in Show
“Citizens of the Emerald City” (Open; also Best Workmanship in Show): Cheryl, Don, Drake, Logan, Marina, and Reef Serr
Note, the newsletter report (The Tower, Issue M) is incomplete and has some errors.
The photos above come from the Worldcon 76 photography galleries. (Credits not listed at the site, but File 770 will add them if provided.)
The first, second, fifth, sixth and seventh photos are copyright of Olav Rokne and Amanda Wakaruk (the posed photography team at Worldcon 76).
The photos are released under a CC BY NC licence, which means that they can be used for non commercial purposes as long as attribution is included.
Glad to see them used on this site. It was a pleasure to take the photos at Worldcon, and great to work with the costumers.
The full masquerade posed photo gallery is here: https://drive.google.com/drive/mobile/folders/1vgtxn7WHIGITE7cxYLo4mYKuFcYdi6lF
Thank you, Olav. I have amended the post to include your copyright notices.
My recollection (including from providing tech at a couple of Worldcon masquerades) is that the performance format was well-established by the 1970’s, but that lights and sound (other than handheld mikes, which were abandoned after several people abused them) weren’t significant until the late 1970’s. (Don’t ask me why MAC 1, which rented a theater for a play and the Hugos, put the Masquerade in hotel function space.) The quality of the costumes has continued to go up since then.
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