October 24, 2011 by The Belated Nerd
This post is even more belated than usual since the 19th World Science Fiction Convention (Worldcon), also known as Seacon, was held September 2-4, 1961. Held at the Hyatt House Hotel, Seattle was a fortunate site for a Science Fiction convention since a year later the city would host the future-themed Century 21 Exposition (better known as the Seattle World’s Fair.) Only a few blocks from the hotel was the unfinished Space Needle, still missing its flying saucer-shaped top.
The guest of honor at the 19th Worldcon was Robert A. Heinlein, who gave a speech titled “The Future Revisited”. The Toastmaster was Harlan Ellison and the convention chairman was Wally Weber.
The following Hugo Awards (named after Hugo Gernsback) were presented for the best science fiction or fantasy works of 1960.
Best Novel – A Canticle for Leibowitz by Walter M. Miller, Jr.
Best Short Fiction – “The Longest Voyage” by Poul Anderson
Best Dramatic Presentation – The Twilight Zone (TV series) by Rod Serling
Best Professional Magazine – Astounding/Analog edited by John W. Campbell, Jr.
Best Professional Artist – Ed Emshwiller
Best Fanzine – Who Killed Science Fiction? edited by Earl Kemp
Other notable attendees… You know what? Let’s skip the rest of the program and get straight to the good stuff. Fifty-year-old cosplay!
Category Fandom, Science Fiction | Tags: 1961,convention,Cosplay,Hugos,masquerade,science fiction,Seacon,Sylvia Dees,WorldCon | 2 Comments
July 17, 2011 by The Belated Nerd
They call it cosplay now days. A portmanteau of the words costume and play, cosplay was coined in the 1980s to describe the act of dressing up as a character or even an idea plucked from a favorite fantasy novel, motion picture, TV show or comic book. You will find these cosplayers standing in line at the openings of films and at any number of Science Fiction and comic book conventions. Just do a Twitter search for #cosplay during the San Diego ComicCon this weekend and you will be treated to thousands of pictures uploaded from the phones of attendees. About 2/3 of these will be of women dressed as Slave Girl Princess Leia from The Return of the Jedi.
So, you might ask, why would the Belated Nerd, consistently a full half-decade behind the times, be writing about cosplay of all things? …No, you wouldn’t ask that. You know damn well I’m going to dig up a whole bunch of 50-year-old Polaroids of fans doing the exact same thing in the early ’60s.
The best I can figure, masquerade balls were a common event at Science Fiction conventions in the ’50s but for some odd reason it doesn’t appear that any of these highly imaginative people thought to dress up as anybody more otherworldly than Henry VIII or Friar Tuck. The idea to dress up as aliens and other characters from Science Fiction and Fantasy seems to have finally hit its stride in 1960 at the WorldCon in Pitsburgh (Pittcon). Proto-Trekie Bjo Trimble
came as a unicorn. Fanzine editor Earl Kemp
came as an alien-come-to-Earth to steal all of our gold lame. There was a Giant Eye Ball Warrior
, a Tusked Boar in PJs
, Captain and Mary Marvel
, and…a Space Princess
. A Space Princess to make Debbie Reynolds’ teenage daughter look like…well, a Tusked Boar in PJs.
The Space Princess returned in 1961(Seacon) as a sword-toting pixie and again as a more modestly dressed space princess (below) in 1964 (Pacificon II). Her name was Sylvia Dees and she was the bride of SF writer Ted White. Ted White is seen with another woman described as his wife at conventions in the late ’60s. I don’t know if Sylvia Dees participated in any other Worldcon masquerades, but if she did, I’d love to see the Polaroids.
Pacificon II 1964
Category Fandom | Tags: 1961,convention,Cosplay,masquerade,science fiction,Sylvia Dees,WorldCon | 2 Comments