Playing Dead

Another year, another expo, another costume. This year’s colour? Red. Because seltzer water and lemon juice just doesn’t cut it. Also I learned some lessons from going Green last year. First, faux leather is hot. I forgot this one. Bad Tom. Second, as an extrovert I’m much more comfortable getting out amongst the crowds in some sort of costume. Even more so if it’s a full body costume with complete face mask.

You really can’t breathe in a Deadpool mask. There’s no mouth. This was pointed out to me by a little girl when I tried to steal her candy floss when we were posing for a photo together. ‘You don’t have a mouth.’ Sure, rub it in why don’t you.

Driving to the expo is fun. Not. You feel super awkward on your own, in your car, with a bag full of guns and swords on the seat next to you. As you get closer to the event you see more and more people dressed in costume, you start to relax more, then you remember you need to find a park. And make the long walk from where you eventually did find a park to the gate, without wearing the mask because you don’t trust yourself not to step into oncoming traffic on the way and the sun is out and you really don’t want to cook any more than you’re already going to in the sweltering heat.

Then you have to go through security. This means getting your prop swords and knives checked out and marked off with cable ties as ‘non-lethal.’ Immediately behind you is a guy dressed as Negan from The Walking Dead with a barbed wire wrapped baseball bat. It’s made out of plastic and the wire is foam. The security folk gush over it.

You slip off to the side to don the gloves and masks, it’s not coming off for a while. The guy dressed as one half of Daft Punk with an LED helmet nods sympathetically. You share a moment of understanding.

Halfway down the hall and you’re immediately accosted by another guy in a similar costume. A Deadpool in a morph suit. There’s only one thing for it, run for the guy and hug it out. ‘Gently, gently!’ he cries out seconds before you collide. Next moment he’s caressing your chest. This is weird right, is this what being a girl is like, the unwanted groping? Or is this self-love?

‘Ooh, rich Corinthian leather,’ he exclaims. Ah, movie reference, topical. That makes it ok.

Time to hit the crowds. This is the point where you’re glad to spent a week trying to rig the mask so the eyeholes were covered and had the right look but you could still see out of them. For anyone who’s interested the answer was a reincarnated laundry mesh bag for delicates cut into strips over the eyeholes and secured with double-sided tape. It works a treat, eyes were only a little bit sore at the end of the day.

A few feet inside the first exhibition hall before the first guy stops and asks for a selfie. Assume the poses you’d carefully studied up on beforehand. Get to an intersection and get waved down by a woman standing on a chair. She has a fairly substantial looking camera in-hand and a white X taped on the floor. She wants you to stand there and assume the position.

More photos, in fact it’s pretty much just all photos. Photos with the casuals not dressed up and a few with other costumed cosplayers. There are two sorts of costumed people you want to get your photo taken with, anyone who looks pretty awesome and obviously knows what they’re doing and anyone who fits your canon. So any Marvel character is fair game, bonus points for Spiderman, ooh, look there he is. Right by those two other guys dressed like Deadpool. Group hug! And here’s Harley and the Joker. That doesn’t make sense but we’ll roll with it. Deadpool#2 tells the Joker to lie down on the ground, he seems to have taken charge or maybe that’s just the voices? Does this count as a fourth wall break? Three Deadpools pointing and firing down at a prone Joker. Problem solved. Really Bats, was that so hard?

That’s pretty much the whole day, five or six hours of doing laps around the halls. I probably posed in over a hundred photos. Easily. Sometimes with my alter egos. I think I counted five all up, two guys in morph suits, one in a business suit (Deadpool, the funeral, he confides) and one gender bending female version. Half of these photos are with adults, dozens of high fives are delivered, and the other half of the photos are with kids. Kneeling down in full leather is a little awkward. It squeaks and stretches. A crisp high five gets a smile from most ankle-biters. Failing that, steal their cap. It looks better on Deadpool anyway. I only walked off with that once, completely forgot I was wearing it on top of the mask and wondered what he was going on about. And Iron Man’s mini me complete with face mask struggled to get it on, turns out he couldn’t see through it? I know how you feel kid. I knows. Once I even got tracked down by two guys and a kid for a second photo after the kid had acquired a Deadpool pullover mask. ‘He’s ready now,’ they assured me. Good Deadpool mini-me! Where’s Iron-brat got to now?

I didn’t buy anything, didn’t take a single photo myself. I might regret that but it’s a hassle when you’ve got no one with you to hold the camera. Touch screen cameras don’t even work without taking your gloves off and you know what most costumes don’t have? Pockets. Yeah, it totally ruins the lines of your outfit when they do. But I made at least fifty kids smile that day. I don’t know what kind of parents are letting their kids watch films about Deadpool, I mean sure there’s the cartoon and comic versions but I bet they’d all seen the film. The number of times I was high fiving and waving to little girls in princess outfits who definitely knew who I was even if mom didn’t. And the look on my workmate’s kid’s face when he worked out his dad knew Deadpool, totally worth the sweaty borderline gimp suit. Good Deadpool!

You know who wasn’t good? Guy who did a run by and stole my freaking sword on the walk home. He brought it back after I drew on him but do you know how awkward those things are to get back in? Awkwardly awkward. Awks.

The crowning moment? Walking down the hallway in front of the halls towards the end of the day, you know what comes screaming down towards me? A Dalek. A freaking, authentic, full sized, jet black motorised Dalek going about as fast as your average punter can run (bearing in mind average punter may fit the description of Comic Book Guy but that’s still pretty mobile) and on its drive-by it shouts out in its Dalek voice, ‘Exterminate Deadpool!!’

I just have time to spin in shock, reach for the sidearm and point ineffectually at the fleeing Dalek, hearing the trigger click, again and again. A spectator asks what happened, you could absolutely have taken him. All you can do is look over and admit the truth.

‘Out of bullets.’

But that’s what swords are for. Have to do this the hard way. Maximum effort.

Come here Mister Dalek!

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