Phoenix Fan Fusion 2019: A Masquerade Story

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For the Phoenix Fan Fusion 2019 Masquerade this year cosplayers were asked to sign up and submit their WIP (work in progress images) by March 29th. This sent quite a few cosplayers into a tizzy as they rushed to complete 75% of their costume so they would qualify for the event. March 29th came and went and as one of the competing cosplayers I wondered why I had not received any rejection or approval notifications. On a hunch, I ventured to the Phoenix Fan Fusion website and discovered the submission deadline had been EXTENDED. This may sound like a blessing but it lead to a registration snafu which irrupted into the day of masquerade itself. So, without further adieu, here is my PHXFF 2019 Masqueraade Story!
NOTE: If you want a quick synopsis check out our Masquerade Video Discussion below otherwise, please continue reading.

Registration: To be or not to be that is the question

As someone who enters masquerades annually (and has done so for 5 years now) I expected there to be some slight confusion. Sometimes it’s the wording in a confirmation email while other times its determining the day/time of the event. Whatever the case I knew this masquerade would have its ups and downs I just did not expect them to be as disorganized as they were (especially considering this convention is 15+ years old). Registration dates moved, confirmation on judging was delayed, the confirmation email was ambiguous (at best) and check in instructions were formless. Despite these issues, the staff (not staff members, just ONE staff) who assisted me was as congenial as could be. She seemed stressed and a bit overwhelmed but ready to serve to the best of her ability.

Check In and Judging: DISTRACTIONS ABOUND

The masquerade was on the programming schedule so finding the room was easy. We were told to meet in the adjoining Green Room by 6 PM. Unfortunately, a celebrity panel let out around the same time so actually navigating to the Green Room (much less finding it as it was UNMARKED) was quite difficult. Once I found my way there (I was with another competitor who was just as lost) I wandered around chatting with cosplayers until I noticed some had little paper numbers. Apparently there was ANOTHER check in they announced when the room opened. There were NO signs explaining this and the person with the Check In book was moving around the room which complicated matters. Typically check in is done at a designated desk so it’s easy to find AND it usually has a CHECK IN sign on it.

After check in we waited for our number to be called. I expected to be judged but I did NOT expect to be judged in front of ALL 90+ competitors. When the judges made comments about things people would chat around me and distract me from my train of thought. Two judges were also constantly distracted by the people around me as they continued to look away. Judging usually occurs with the judges’ backs to the competitors so they focus on only one person at a time. I am used to it being in a quiet room but I have been in a public space before so the judges face a wall to avoid distractions in these instances. That was NOT the case at PHXFF. It made me VERY uncomfortable when my skirts were being lifted for inspection before nearly 100 people.

STAGE TIME: NO light Control, NO Stage Stereo

Before we went on stage the Masquerade Director notified us that they did not have control of the lights. They could not dim them so we would all walk on with props or stage setups live. Ok, that sucked and we all snorted but were ready to deal with it. By the time I got on stage I realized another issue: I COULD NOT hear my audio. There were NO speakers facing the stage. All were facing the audience which means I started my skit off beat and had to play catch up. I wasn’t the only person having trouble with this (several others commented on how quiet the audio was from the stage as well). As someone who HAS competed at Phoenix before I was VERY upset. In years past their AV crew easily manipulated the lights and always had proper stereo setup. This year felt…haphazard and sort of like after thought. Again…you’re 17 years old Phoenix Fan Fusion, what were you thinking?!

THE FINAL STRAW: Winner Announcements

Per the usual, post masquerade there are winner announcements. The first category was Novice (as youth were judged early so families could leave). The first winner was for third place. They announced this BEAUTIFUL Kida cosplayer…

But Wait! They SCREWED UP. Apparently they wrote on the SAME PAPER that they used to ANNOUNCE STAGE ORDER for the performance. The Emcee was utterly embarassed and rather than take the poor cosplayer off stage to discuss the matter they REJECTED HER IN FRONT OF EVERYONE. They took her trophy from her and forced her to cry ALONE on stage. It was HORRIBLE. The crowd was in shock. After 5 minutes the Masquerade Director FINALLY figured to take the girl back stage and the remaining announcements commenced without a hitch.

In summary: THIS WAS A HORRIBLE MASQUERADE. ONE PERSON cannot run a Masquerade. The load of a MASSIVE event was placed on ONE WOMAN’S shoulders because the con owner is too cheap to hire more help. I am SO ANGRY at this event. Competitors stood for HOURS back stage during the Masquerade WITHOUT WATER or CHAIRS. We had our music timing messed with, we had no way to introduce drama as the lights were on, we had registration confusion, our judging was a joke and the awful false announcement for third place Novice was INEXCUSABLE. I REFUSE to compete at this event again.

I DO NOT blame the Director. Mary worked REALLY HARD to get the event on its feet. I BLAME THE CON OWNER. Since his decision to go Enterprise and work without volunteers this convention has floundered. An event this size requires A LOT of staff. I saw THREE STAFF the entire weekend. As someone who loves this event I am disheartened by the path it’s taking. Please, please, please give your Directors the support they need. PLEASE allow them to hire or acquire barter positions for 2020. It is SO SAD to see Staff work so hard only to struggle in the quick sand of poor leadership.

To support the AMAZING COSPLAYERS who competed check out our gallery here: https://www.facebook.com/pg/FangirlNationMag/photos/?tab=album&album_id=2455235248038513

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