Frequently Asked Questions by Masquerade Entrants

Download the 2010 MASQUERADE – Rules & Information (Word .doc file).

Q: How much does it cost to enter the Masquerade?

A: Zero, nada, nothing.  But you must have a Dragon*Con registration badge and show it to the Masquerade staffer who registers you.

Q: How do I enter the Masquerade?

A: Stop by the Masquerade Registration table in the Hyatt in front of the Centennial Ballroom and fill out a registration form before 3PM on Sunday. We will be staffed Friday through Monday, 10AM to 3PM.  Registration for the Masquerade will close Sunday at 3PM. We need time to prepare the entry forms for the emcees, and we will be completing the tabulations for the Hall Costume Contest.

The staff at the table will log you in as an entrant, read your form, and help you (if necessary) to compose the best announcement for your entrance. The staff will also check whether you have planned to use a CD for audio music or dialogue; if so, the CD will be tested to verify that the track is acceptable; then it will be retained by Dragon*Con staff and loaded onto our equipment.  You must remain at the registration table to learn if your CD will be able to be played during the show. Your entry form will be kept by the staff, and we will enter all the forms into a computer and print them so that the emcee will be able to read your announcement.

We need your real name on the entry form, not your con nickname. You will be given a ribbon that says “Masquerade.”  This will get you into the backstage area of the ballroom. Do not lose the ribbon.

Q: How is the order of contestants determined?

A: All children go onstage in the first group of the evening. The children’s winners are determined and announced; then, the children and two family members for each child will be seated in a reserved area of the auditorium to enjoy the rest of the show.

The first item of business for the Director during the backstage prep will be to ask if anyone has a pressing legitimate need to be in the first adult group to go onstage. This will happen at 6:30PM, so if you need to be among the first contestants to go onstage, be at the prep area before 6:30PM. A legitimate need is defined as a physical limitation or a costume that is too hot or uncomfortable to be in for more than two hours or so.

All other contestants will be assigned sequence numbers for going onstage at the discretion of the Director, using a time-tested scientific method: pretty girl, monster, skit. (Hey, it works.)

Q: Why can’t I use a microphone?

A: The Director has made the determination that no mikes will be given to contestants due to problems in past Masquerades. Note: Do not try to project your normal voice into the audience; it is too large a room and will have too many (living, breathing) bodies. We have found that contestants who try to address the audience directly cannot be heard, not even by the judges at their table in front of the stage. If you attempt to address the audience directly, you will be escorted off the stage.

We can use CDs with any music, dialogue, etc. that you wish—so long as there is no profanity. This is a family show. We will not accept tapes due to problems playing them in the past. The CD track must be approved by a Masquerade staffer at the contest registration table when you register (before 3PM on Sunday).  Your CD will be retained by our staff and loaded onto our equipment.  Our staff will make sure that your assigned contestant number for the show is put on your CD, and the CD will be given to the tech crew as backup in case our primary equipment fails.

If you want your CD back, you can go to the tech station in the ballroom immediately after the contest (it is located on the wall across from the entrance into the ballroom), or pick up your CD at the Masquerade Registration table on Monday after 10AM. We will not be responsible for CDs left after the end of the convention Monday afternoon. They will be discarded.

Q: What’s a “den mother” and what does she or he do?

A: During the pre-Masquerade setup, the Director will assign a Masquerade staffer to a group of contestants. We try to keep the numbers manageable, so there will be approximately 10 to 12 people in each group. This may be six individual entrants and one skit of six people, or a similar mix. The den mother will be responsible for reviewing registration sheets with the assigned numbers, verifying that the contestants understand the rules and will abide by them, collecting contestants’ tech sheets (all contestants must have a tech sheet whether or not they have turned in a CD), and turning the tech sheets in to the staffer collecting the data for the Director and the tech crew.

The den mother will then make sure that the contestants get processed through photography, stay comfortable, get water, keep as quiet as possible in the backstage area, and get up on the stage when the time arrives, and then help them to get backstage after their performances.

Q: The registration form asks me to categorize myself as “Novice,” “Journeyman,” “Master,” or “Child”—Why?

A: We will have all of the children go onstage first at the Masquerade—and each child receives a certificate. It is helpful to have the names of the children before the Masquerade so the certificates can be ready for distribution at the conclusion of their performance.

The other categories help us create a level playing field. If an entrant has won “Best in Show” at a previous convention, he or she is considered a “Master.” Then all the “Master” category entrants compete against each other for a “Best in Show – Master” Award.

We award a “Best in Show – Novice” award for the best scoring first-time entrant (someone who has never entered in a contest before).

We award a “Best in Show – Journeyman” award to the best competitor in the Journeyman category (someone who has won a category award previously).

We award a “Best in Show” to the best non-Master entrant. In any future Dragon*Con Masquerades they enter, they will then compete in the “Master” category.

Q: How are the award categories determined?

A: As stated above, we will have “Best in Show – Master,” “Best in Show – Journeyman,” and “Best in Show – Novice” awards. The top-scoring entrant who is not a Master will win an award entitled “Best in Show.”

We will also have awards for other categories, depending on the entrants. In years past, we have utilized the following categories: Skit, Humor, Horror, Fantasy, Star Wars, Star Trek, Babylon 5, Historical Recreation, Farscape, Lord of the Rings, Comic Book, Fantasy, Sci-Fi, Audience Favorite . . . the list goes on.

Basically, the judges score all entrants, the scores are logged into a spreadsheet, and we check the tallied scores for the highest total scores. This is a very quick process (thank goodness for computers!). The contestants with the highest scores are then checked for category. If there were two Star Wars contestants who scored equally well and we had six or more Star Wars entrants, we might break the category into Star Wars Hero and Star Wars Villain. However, if you are the only Farscape entry, it does not necessarily mean you will win Best Farscape; you may be moved into a general Sci-Fi category. It all depends on the number of entrants, what they do on stage, and the scoring by the judges.

Q: How do the judges score the contestants?

A: The judges (three to five Dragon*Con guests) award a score of 0 to 10 for each of three attributes for each contestant. The attributes are:

Originality/Adaptation: Is the costume the most original concept the judges and audience have seen, or the best adaptation of a known concept? For example, a contestant made a “superhero” costume out of gold lame placemats; another contestant had a completely authentic Alien costume, down to the dripping mouth drool. Note to contestants: Describe the inspiration for your costume in your emcee announcement.

Composition: Did someone go out and buy the costume, or did the contestant spend hours gluing, sewing, welding, etc.  Is this a labor of love or dollars? For example, a contestant who hand-sews thousands of yards of lace to make a beautiful historical costume or another contestant who hand-hammered hundreds of metal rings for chain mail will get more composition credit. Note to contestants: Tell us how long it took and the craftsmanship required in your emcee announcement.  Blow your own horn.

Presentation: Did the contestant stay in character (or do something completely out of character) that grabs the audience? Some examples: the Alien who made a little sign that read “Ripley Sucks” to whip out after he menacingly advanced towards the emcess; two contestants in historically correct medieval attire who slowly crossed the stage while giving the royal wave and nod to their subjects—and we all felt like their subjects; the group who came out in Klingon makeup—with Kiss makeup on top and declared themselves to be a Klingon Kiss rock band. Note to contestants: Get into character and stay there, or find a way to exploit or turn your character into the unexpected. Grab the audience. Humor helps.

Q: What do the winners win?

A: There are plaques for Best in Show – Master, Best in Show, Best in Show – Children, Best in Show – Journeyman, and Best in Show – Novice; the rest of the category winners get a nice certificate suitable for framing. Winners may receive dealer bucks. Dealer bucks are tokens accepted in the dealers room for merchandise. Dollar amounts have not been announced for this year. In years past, it was $50 for Best in Show – Masters and Best in Show; other category winners received $25.

Q: Can I use pyrotechnics, flash paper, smudge pots, or smoke machines?

A: NO! We cannot risk the Atlanta Fire Department shutting us down.

Q: How big will the stage be?

A: We can’t say for sure at this time but will get back to contestants who have a specific concern.

Q: How do I get up and off stage?

A: We have a ramp on the entrance side of the stage, screened from the audience with pipe and drape. We will have staffers to guide contestants up the ramp; the director will be at the end of the ramp to help you on stage. On the exit side of the stage, there will be either: a set of stairs or another ramp—and two Masquerade staffers to help contestants down and direct you to the backstage area.

Q: Can I have someone take pictures of me in my costume?

A: We will have a professional photographer take pictures of all contestants for Dragon*Con backstage before the show. After the Masquerade, the photographer will take pictures of the winners. We will have a “photo op” in the Centennial Ballroom for all con attendees who would like to take pictures of all the contestants. We suggest you have pictures taken prior to your arrival backstage.

Q: Can I have friends backstage with me?

A: No.  We do not have adequate room backstage for anyone who is not directly involved with the show. If you have a large prop, you can have a helper or two, but they will have to be approved by the Director prior to the show on Sunday, and they have to have Masquerade ribbons.

Q: What happens to contestants who break the rules?

A: We will have stormtroopers at our disposal, and the offending contestant(s) will be removed from the stage.  Be sure you understand the rules listed above, and be aware of the most important rule all contestants should understand: Do not bore the audience.

We hope this answers your questions.  If not, please stop by the Masquerade Registration table at the Hyatt in front of the Centennial Ballroom.

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