Hall Costume Award Duties PDF Print E-mail

Costumes have been a part of science fiction conventions since Forrest J Ackerman attended the first Worldcon wearing a costume from the movie Things To Come.  Looking around a Loscon about 20 years ago, and seeing that there were only three or four costumes, Anne Calpurnia Morrel , a dress maker and occasional costumer, commented "This has become a dull place.  We need to encourage fans to get back to wearing costumes again."  Costumes are one of the hallmarks of a Science Fiction Convention.  They're fun to create and wear, and fun for others to look at.  Anne took charge of the LOSCON Hall Costume Awards as an independent operation of LOSCON.  She wrote down the rules for giving them out, something that had been forgotten over the years and even now keeps being “rediscovered” or lauded as a “new” idea.



A hall costume is clothing patterned after, copied from, or inspired by a science fiction or fantasy source.  This can be an imaginative picture or story or dream or an outfit from a T.V. show or film.

It must be capable of ordinary wear and not fall apart at inappropriate moments.  It can be removed without (much) outside aid or risk of being destroyed.  One old definition is that if you can go to the bathroom without help, it’s a hall costume.

The outfit should be a complete costume.  Just an exotic hat or fancy cloak, or bare breasts,  (male children and animals usually excepted) does not constitute a costume.  Rotsler’s Rule applies:  No costume is no costume.

Every item of the costume should look appropriate to the outfit.  (This means no pirates or elves with tennis shoes.)

The over-all effect should be visually pleasant.  (This means no 300 pound fans in spandex, etc.)

Every time a person shows up wearing a different costume, they can get another award.

It's the person wearing the costume, not the one who actually made (or bought) it, who gets the award.

It's important that the costume wearer spend some time in the halls or the Dealers' Room or Con Suite or other similar public place.  Otherwise, there's a very good chance the award staff will never be able to find them.


These rules are not hard and fast.  We cut some slack for children, dogs, and those who obviously put thought and effort into the costume, even if it is not complete or doesn’t quite work right, or a little overweight but having fun.  We don’t cut slack for people who are just showing off their body.  That’s an unrewarded, but appreciated extra. 


The staff of this department must have a MORE than casual enjoyment of costumes and costuming.  They must know something about the subject, and have good taste.  They must have worn costumes.  They MUST be willing to wear something distinctive during the convention to mark their office. The person must be willing to forgo most of the convention activities and meetings and stay around the hallways and general areas of the convention.  This specifically includes, of course, the halls, but also the huckster room, the Art Show, large meeting rooms before and after events, lines for events, the Con Suite and various lounges.

They must be aggressive about giving out the awards.  They must seek out costumes and people deserving the awards.  They must be a polite, well dressed individual that quietly says “Pardon me”, compliments the costumer, appreciates the costume, offers the award, tells the person how much the convention likes to encourage costuming, asks if the person has other costumes they are planning or willing to wear, smiles happily, AND THEN GOES AWAY. 

The staff must NOT be a leering, drooling fan, that hangs around trying to get a date.  AT MOST they may smile, shake their head, say “Wow!”, and then turn away.  Depending on the policy of the convention newsletter, they may ask the costumer’s name, and the name of the costume – for publication as a list of the Hall Costume awards given. 

People at the conventions have alerted staff members about great costumes, but when one searches for them they are gone.  People have reported conversations that went:

     That’s a great costume!  Why haven’t you got a costume award?”
     “I didn’t know they were giving them out.  How do I get one?”
     “You ask Bill or Anne.”
     “Who are they?”

As a result I wear a very distinctive hat.  One covered in sequins that can be seen 100 feet away, and that in the sunlight is blinding.  I have also worn the Mad Hatter's hat from Disney’s Alice in Wonderland, but it wasn’t as effective.  Now the last sentence in the conversation is:

“Find the guy in the sequined hat.”


Since Anne ran the department, she decided on the award.  It had to be inexpensive, since we are going to hand out 100 – 150 of them at a typical LOSCON.  Anne decided that the award would NOT be a simple bar style ribbon, or even JUST a long ribbon.  To be effective, to encourage costumers wearing costumes, it had to be special and separate from the Convention Badge.  The Convention Badge gets stacks of bars and ribbons attached to it.  The Hall Costume Award would be lost midst all the clutter.

The LOSCON Hall Costume Award is a 2 1/4 ” button with a 6 inch vertical ribbon attached.  The button says “LOSCON ## Hall Costume Award” with a logo on the same theme as the LOSCON logo, but different.  The logo should be in good taste and, if possible, slightly humorous.  It should not be pornographic or suggestive or horrific or something you would not wear proudly.  We will be giving these awards to children.  They may not object to the logo, but their parents will.  They may not say anything, but they will not return to the next LOSCON.

For example the LOSCON 38 Convention logo was a flying car.  The Hall Costume Award showed a Ford Model A wheel with yellow “flying red horse” style (Mobil Oil) wings attached.

The ribbon is also special.  A ribbon of a particular color or set of colors might clash with the costume’s colors.  Anne decided to use a “rainbow” colored ribbon that gradually changed into a blend of colors as you look down it.  Each ribbon has hundreds of colors in it, so none clash, but the ribbon is distinctive. 


The permanent equipment* we used for the job was:

A color ink jet printer
2 ¼ “ Badge-A-Matic Semi-Automatic Machine
Company: Badge-A-Minute
Model/Item No.: 2800 (or earlier)
Cost: $500 new  ($100 - 250 used)

2 ¼ “ Automatic Cut-A-Circle
Company: Badge-A-Minute
Item No.: 2800 (or earlier)
Cost: $180 new
Extra blades (2): Item No.: 2400  $7

* Other equipment makers claim to have faster, easier to use equipment
We have not explored the field.
The expendable supplies for the job are:
Button blanks to make at least 200 buttons;
Manufacturer: American Button Supplies
Item: BAM* 2.25” Pin Back Button Sets
250 sets $39; 500 sets $65; 1000 sets $100

Manufacturer: Dr. Don’s Buttons
Item: Badge-A-Minut* Pin-Back Button Sets
50 sets $16; 100 sets $20; 250 Sets $40; 500 sets $60;
750 sets $75; 1000 sets $90; 5000 sets $420
* Badge-A-Minut (BAM) blanks are actually 2 3/8 inches in diameter.
– A deliberate special size incompatible with other standard sizes.
Ribbons to put on 200 buttons.  A typical order :
Manufacturer: ribbonsgalore.com
Ribbon: Custom Ribbon 2x6
Title(s): Rainbow
Quantity: 200
Cut: Pinked
Adhesive: Front
Costs: Ribbons $98.00; Shipping: $8.27 (UPS Ground);  Total: $114.51
Delivery time:  2 – 3 weeks
Information on the ribbon
Scroll # B272 (a separator design)
Note that the LOSCON number or date is not included, so any overage in ribbons can be used at the  next convention.

A Unique design for a new Hall Costume Award button is drawn on an 8 ½ x 11 sheet of paper.  This is currently done by Anne, myself, Tony Benoun, the Convention Guest Artist or some combination of us.  As required, a paste-up of the final version may be made.  Talent and patience is required.  We may buy software to help.

The design is reduced in size by an inkjet printer to fit inside a 1 7/8 “ circle to provide room for alignment errors when cutting and making the badge.  Reduction in size also hides minor and even major, flaws.  Five copies of the final design are made and pasted in the four corners and center of a page master.  Forty pages are printed (200 copies), so we don’t run out of buttons.

Cut out 150 circles for buttons at approximately 3 minutes/page.  (1 ½ hr.)  A sharp blade and some skill is required.  Expect to waste some circles.

Make buttons at approximately 2 minutes each, including setups. (5 hr.)  Rest is required after each 25 buttons are made.  Expect to waste some buttons.

Put the ribbons on the buttons at approximately 5 per minute.  (½ hr)  Butt the pinked top edge against pin assembly.  After the first 100 are assembled, make the rest at the Convention.

Distributing Hall Costume Awards requires someone working the whole Convention from 9 AM to 6 PM or later.


At some Conventions we have been given surplus bar ribbons appropriate to the Convention theme to distribute, since otherwise they would be trashed.  From the reception we get from new Convention attendees when we hand them out, this is an important Public Relations task.

A large number of attendees have had NO previous contacts with any convention, and NO idea how to get the ribbons.  The program booklet doesn’t help, and those giving them out don’t volunteer to just hand them out.  The newcomers are afraid, or too embarrassed to ask for or about ribbons.  Not having one, while everyone else has a flowing line of them, is a source of frustration and annoyance.

The objective should be for all attendees to have at least one ribbon.  Since we are one of the few functions actively circulating through the attendees and actively approaching them, we believe handing out ribbons to those without any is an important PR task that should be done.  We had fun handling it.  The ribbon could be as simple as “I will visit www.LOSCON XX.ORG” or “I Loved LOSCON”, or “LOSCON knows I’m SPECIAL”.  The idea is to get them to come back.

We look around for attendees without ribbons, and approach them as the “Committee to Clothe Naked Badges” or some other silly context to put them at ease.  Even though we greet them with friendly smiles and a silly name, they take us seriously and are happy to get the bar ribbon. They are relieved to have us explain how the system works.   When we tell them we hope they’ll attend the next year’s LOSCON, they agree. 


Throughout the years of working the LOSCON we had one enduring motto.

     We're looking forward to giving YOU a Hall Costume Award ! !

William B. “Bill” Ellern
Revised for LOSCON 39
Submitted to LASFSINC.INFO, so the loving care she gave to 15 years of the Hall Costume Awards would not just be lost.
Edited 23 April 2016
Last Updated ( Tuesday, 26 April 2016 )

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