Frankly, I can't even explain the why. I like making costumes, I like wearing them, and I like having my obsessive attention to detail appreciated by others. But I still experience a level of total embarrassment upon walking out of my hotel room. Hell, I even experience it as I strap on my guns. I can't believe I'm doing this. Last year, it clung throughout the two days I spent in costume because the responses to Croft and Queen Gorgo were so tepid -- but this year it vanished as soon as I walked in and was mobbed. (Ok, it didn't entirely vanish -- meeting the lovely Lena Headey while dressed this way was pretty cringe-worthy. I wouldn't exactly want to meet Hugh Jackman or Gerard Butler while sporting those implants, either.)
But I can tell you that it is utterly exhausting. If you go to SDCC in costume, you have to devote the entire day to it, because you can't go more than five feet without being stopped for a photo. And if one person stops you, you will soon be surrounded by ten, fifteen, twenty. You'll be holding a pose for ten or twenty minutes -- maybe longer if individuals are disappointed because you weren't looking directly into their camera. You can't tell who is snapping you at any given time, so trying to give one person a deadly Croft stare is quite hard. An hour into my day, my cheeks were already hurting from smiling for photos. You can forget going to the bathroom, calling anyone, or meeting new friends. I finally got to meet the cool Rick Marshall from ComicsMix, only to be interrupted every other sentence with "Lara Croft! I love you! Can I take your photo?" I felt so bad -- and frankly, wondered for the first time what I had unleashed on my hapless colleagues.
Not that I'm complaining, mind you. It's a blast. I wouldn't dress up if I didn't want people to appreciate it. As I joked with two girls who took my photo, "It's my own damn fault! It's not like I'm incognito!" And everyone you meet is so cool, so friendly, and so thrilled to see you. About halfway through a photo-filled day, I realized that it starts out being about me and my costume, but very quickly becomes about your "fans." People love your character, and therefore they love you because you've embodied him/her so well. This is a huge rush for me, because when I'm getting dressed, all I can think about is how much I physically differ from Lara Croft. I'm shorter, my legs are fatter, my chest is much, much, much smaller (Weinberg's first comment upon seeing me was "Where'd you get the boobs?"), and my muscles hardly boast a tomb raider definition. But when one woman (who was a con professional of some sort) tells you "It's nice to see a Lara Croft who has the build to pull it off!" all you can feel is a warm glow of delight.
There's a few downsides to the playacting, of course -- the professional photographers who pose you all sorts of ways, keeping you pinned to a wall for twenty minutes as they shout "Left gun higher, now look over your shoulder, now cock an eyebrow," which is all well and good if you're paid as much as Angelina Jolie or Rhona Mitra ... not so much otherwise. (Although one professional was super cool about it, and even gave me a bunch of the GameTap dogtags!) One photographer just kept taking all sorts of really "interesting" photos, to which one of my friends quipped "Don't be surprised if you end up on a dirty site!" I was even photographed by Hustler. Despite all this, the majority of male fans are complete gentlemen, and even ask before laying a hand on you. It's so much less sleazy than one would think.
Despite the lack of bathroom breaks, the freezing temperature, the lack of water, and losing both Desert Eagles in a mysterious accident, I had a blast this Saturday. I always jump at the chance to be Lara Croft for a day, and the reactions it garnered was thrilling. But almost as much as I like wearing my own creations, I like seeing what other attendees have put together. Not only that, but I relate to them. I get why they've done it, how good it feels to receive a compliment, and how badly they probably want a Starbucks or bottle of water. With that, here's some of the best or most unusual costumes I encountered at the convention -- and I apologize for my own face being pervasive in them, but that's what happens when my mom is behind the camera!