Rostler's Rules

A special thank you to Pierre and Sandy Pettinger for providing the original list.

  1. There should be a weight limit on the purchase of leotards; i.e., design for your body type.

  2. Every contestant should first see himself/herself from the rear; i.e., take a realistic look at yourself. Keep in mind physical limitations and advantages and choose a character that will suit you, both your body and your personality.

  3. Consider carefully before going nude or semi-nude. Get an honest second opinion. (A photograph can help.) What looks good in the bedroom or bath may not be spectacular on stage. A costume should never be embarrasing -- to you or others. Check convention policy on nudity, and remember, "No costume is no costume."

  4. If you are going to try a costume cliche', you must either do it better than even before, or have a good variation -- preferably amusing.

  5. No name tags on costumes.

  6. Thy shoes shall match thy costume. In other words, pay attention to details.

    Pettinger Corollary:
    Thy underwear shall match thy costume. In other words, even the hidden parts of your costume can make a difference.

  7. If your costume is so difficult to walk or crawl in to the extent that you are slowing everything down, at least think of something to have happen as you cross the stage.

  8. Parts of your costume should not be edible or smell. Parts of your costume should not tend to fall off, brush off, or snag on other contestants, or be left lying on the stage. (Also known as the Peanut Butter and Jelly rule.)

    Fran Evans Corollary:
    Thou shall have more than a nodding acquaintance with soap, water and deodorant.

  9. Remember, some people can grow a good beard and some look silly.

  10. Learn to manage your props, music, and accessories. Practice so that veils, capes, swords and other items you may want to take off get all the way off and do not hang up on this or that, including other masqueraders. Music tapes should be cued up to the point you want the music to begin; do not have a long blank space in front while you --- and the audience --- wait.

  11. Carry a repair kit with appropriate tools and materials. Do not count on the masquerade committee having a repair table.

  12. Numbers alone do not make a coherent group.

    Bjo Trimble's Corollary:
    A group is only as good as its weakest costume.

  13. Keep all presentations short. Actions are better than words.

  14. No fire, explosives, loud noises, untidy messes, or dangerous weapons or devices without full, proper and prior clearance from the masquerade committee/director.

    Bjo Trimble's Corollary:
    You may surprise the audience, but do not surprise the commitee, ever.

    Bjo's Second Corollary:
    Don't ever underestimate the power of a fire marshal.

    Marjii Ellers' Corollary:
    Effect is everything.

  15. The simplest costume can be very effective and is often a prize-winner if it has a humorous aspect, a good switch, can display some unique aspect or hitherto unseen quality of a well-known someone or something.

  16. Whether prince or pauper, act like it. Stay in character...always.

    Adrienne Martine-Barnes' Corollary:
    It is not an acting competition, it is a costume presentation.

    Barbara Schofield's Corollary:
    Match movement and gestures to the character you are portraying. Practice your walk or run, crouch, crawl, dance in a mirror (until) you look real and natural in the costume. To your character, this isn't a costume, it's reality.

    Kathleen Sky's Corollary:
    Multiply the discomfort of the costume by the number of hours you must be in it.

  17. Hand in a legible entry card, even to the point of writing out phonetically any difficult or unusual words. Do not assume either the master of ceremonies, the judges, or the audience know all the words or references.

    Barbara Schofield's Corollary:
    Find out what the convention registration policy is, what the rules are, and obey them if you plan to be in the masquerade.

  18. If you have something for the master of ceremonies to read, keep it brief, eliminate as much as possible all unpronounceable and incomprehensible made-up names and terms. Do not duplicate on microphone what the narrator has already said.

    John Trimble's Corollary:
    Putting information on the card allows you to concentrate on your presentation, and the narrator--probably being more used to public speaking--can possibly do a better job of saying it.

    David Gerrold's Corollary:
    When I can't read 'em, they come from the planet Fred.

  19. Presentation can "make" a mediocre costume and break a good one.

    Barbara Schofield's Corollary:
    Simple presentations can work well. You can't be subtle when you only have 60 seconds. With a standard type of costume do a special presentation. Create a presence and use the whole stage. On a first run-through "give it all you've got" and do a beg presentation. On the second run-through "keep it short but don't run off the stage."

  20. Have something new for the second time around. (Although lately, the masquerades are so long, there is less time for second showings.)

  21. If you are thinking of doing something you intend to be humorous, try it out on some honest, critical friends.

    Craig Miller's Corollary:
    Short is better than long; funny is better than non-funny; short and funny is best.

  22. Speak distinctly, but not at length; or at all. Unless you have a naturally good voice -- i.e. loud and understandable -- use the microphone, or lip-sync to a recorded tape. (Which you will, of course, practice.) Do not confuse living room loudness with auditorium acceptibility. Know the difference between projecting your voice and screaming. Projection is putting power into your voice. If you don't know how, don't do it until you go get help.

  23. Make your costume into clothes.

    Barbara Schofield's Corollary:
    Wear your costume around the house in advance and find out how it will feel on stage. Practice walking. If the costume involves a mask or head covering, be sure that you can see where you are going.

    Barbara's Second Corollary:
    Take photos of the costume ahead of time or videotape it to spot possible problems. Rehearse poses in front of a mirror so you can pose naturally for photographers. This is also important for a group.

  24. When you get to a punchline, STOP!

  25. A little of what you are doing goes a long way. Keep it tight and learn when and how to get off.

    Old Show Biz Maxim:
    Leave them wanting more.

  26. When in doubt, keep your mouth shut.

  27. Be prepared for foulups, i.e., the lights go out or don't go out; the tape recorded music is wrong, late or absent; a prop disintegrates according to Murphy's Law. What would you do? You CARRY ON, that's what you do. And you do it in character.

  28. Do not lecture your audience. This is show biz, gang. You are not there to make long statements about your particular passions, but to entertain youself and others, to show off, to exhibit a character and/or costume, to display your various talents--not to convert or harangue, and certainly not to bore.

  29. Be aware of and play to ALL parts of the audience; i.e. show the costumes to all sides, as well as to the judges.

  30. Give the judges sufficient time to examine your costume from all angles, giving special attention to a particularly interesting aspect, to design, construction or function.

    Bjo Trimble's Corollary:
    Give the judges every chance to be fair to you.

  31. Learn to use the microphone PROPERLY...or not at all.

    Barbara Schofield's Corollary:
    Mime is better than a hand microphone. Sound systems can fail and ruin your presentation. Some conventions are eliminating microphones and going to cassettes. Keep obscenity out of your speech.

    Pettinger's Corollary:
    While some small or local masquerades might allow use of a mike, almost all specifically prohibit any speaking on stage by the contestant. Always have a tape.

  32. If you have the slightest doubt that your costume--based on a cover or illustration, a story description, or media origin--might be unfamiliar to the judges, do not hesitate to supply them with visual materials or a copy of the passage in the text. In other words, how do they know you've done it right?

    Pettinger's Corollary:
    You should always assume that every single judge has been imprisoned in a dark box for at least the last 500 years with no access to anything. No matter how obvious, popular or well-known you think your source is, there will be a judge, perhaps several, who have not only never seen it, have never heard of it!

  33. Give credit, if possible.

    John Trimble's Corollary:
    It is not required, but it is nice to give credit for design, assistance, etc.

    Bjo Trimbles's Corollary:
    To the audience it is of no consequence how long you worked on the costume, it is the effect that counts. If it doesn't swing when the costume is on stage, it doesn't matter how long, how hard, etc.

  34. Remember what you, as a member of the audience liked and what bored you... and use that information to design and plan in the future.

    Pati Cook's Corollary:
    Try helping to run a masquerade to understand the problems. Write to the masquerade committee and ask how.

  35. For future reference, pay attention to the audience--they will tell you in no uncertain terms what you are doing right or wrong.

  36. Do not forget the one unforgiveable sin: DO NOT BE BORING!

  37. Rehearse! Rehearse! REHEARSE!

    Len Wein's Law:
    Those who think these rules do not apply to them are wrong.

Page maintained by Carole Parker

Valid XHTML 1.0 Transitional