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Vortex Cosplay Expo

All week, Austin's masters of theatrical fantasy show you how to make an out-of-this-world look

By Robert Faires, Fri., Aug. 8, 2014

Melissa Vogt-Patterson as Octia and Eryn Gettys as Karnika, from <i>Octia of the Pink Ocean</i>
Melissa Vogt-Patterson as Octia and Eryn Gettys as Karnika, from Octia of the Pink Ocean
Courtesy of Sergio R. Samayoa

When you have Syfy running a reality series about fans creating costumes for conventions and CNN covering cosplay at Comic-Con, it's safe to say this once-fringe pastime has hit the mainstream. And when the marketplace is working overtime to turn a buck on the popularity of people fashioning fantasywear, the announcement of a "Cosplay Expo" might warrant a bit of caveat emptor. Unless, that is, said Expo is produced by Vortex Repertory Company. The Vortex was cosplay before cosplay was cool. For more than 20 years, it's been conjuring fantastic worlds peopled by humans and transhumans wearing extravagant, artfully crafted outfits in musical fantasies such as Sarah Silver Hands, The Dragonfly Princess, Pythia Dust, and the cybernetic operas Elytra and The X & Y Trilogy.

The artists behind these productions have considerable knowledge and skills to share – which is just what they'll be doing nightly Aug. 10-16. Evenings begin with Cosplay Happy Hour (5pm), followed by 90 minutes of workshops and presentations with artists such as composer/imagineer Chad Salvata and Vortex Artistic Director Bonnie Cullum (6pm). Then comes a look at a new operatic fantasy from Salvata and Cullum, though this one has taken the cybernetic cinematic: Octia of the Pink Ocean is an 80-minute film exploring concepts and characters from the epic ethos universe. After each screening (8pm nightly, also 10pm Friday-Saturday) will be a Q&A with Octia's creators.

In addition, the Cosplay Expo includes an opening night party (Sun., 10pm-12mid), a special Heroes/Villains/Cosplay Edition Trivia Night (Tue., 7pm), the Kids Kostume Parade (Fri., 7:15pm), a live music and East Austin handmade arts market (Sat., 11am-5pm), the Ultimate Cosplay Costume Contest, judged by Christopher Meador (Sat., 11:30pm), and a closing party (Sat., 11:30pm-1am). Naturally, participants are encouraged to attend in their favorite cosplay attire. Admission is $25 for unlimited access (film included), $50 for a VIP Unlimited Pass, and $15 for one-day attendance.

Workshop Schedule

(all start at 6pm unless otherwise noted)

Sun: Karnika the Elytra of GoldSun Sex (Eryn Gettys, Salvata, Cullum)

Mon: Making Leather Gauntlets (Justin LaVergne)

Tue: Fantasy Makeup Design and Application (LaVergne, Melissa Vogt-Patterson)

Wed: Fantasy Genitalia (Salvata, Helen Parish)

Thu: Green Screen Stories (Cullum, Tamara L. Farley, Jason Amato)

Fri: Worbla Wonders (Vogt-Patterson)

Sat: Cybernetic Movement (cast of Octia) (5pm); Headgear for Heroes (Vogt-Patterson, Salvata)

Nightly: The World of Octia (Salvata) (7:15pm)


The Cosplay Expo takes place Aug. 10-16, nightly, at the Vortex, 2307 Manor Rd. For more information, call 512/478-5282 or visit www.vortexrep.org.

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