Tuesday, January 3, 2012

My year of conventions

All right, so I’ve been doing this convention/cosplay/modeling thing for about a year and a half. I’m not a supermodel, and Dragon*con hasn’t sent me an email begging for my attendance. I made a bit of money this year, most of which went straight back into costumes and travel expenses. I moved twice, pulled off the most difficult cosplay on my “to do” list, got into a minor internet scuffle over an ill-conceived gaming company’s marketing scheme, and I did more paid photoshoots this year than since I started modeling. I met a lot of amazing people, and got to know many acquaintances better. Several people made artwork of me, including this badasslittle statuette I am now referring to as my action figure. I drove a 22 hour round trip by myself, I started selling my own pictures, and I began guesting at conventions.

I also made a mess of my personal life and my (now ex) boyfriend and I separated. I occasionally offended people by not knowing their names (names and faces have *always* been a weak spot of mine). I stammered at dinner parties when nice, normal adults asked me what I did for a living because "professional bikini wearer" did not seem like a respectable response (default answer: I do…freelance…sales?). I lost a few friends for not being more in touch.

So…what did I learn? Was it worth it? Should I keep pursuing this crazy career? Let’s do some Q&A, which is really just me talking to myself, and figure it out.

How many conventions did I do this year?
I’m counting any weekend-long event as a convention (so ren faires, pirate festivals, etc) – all in all, I did 14 shows this year, plus a bunch of one day events and a ton of photoshoots. And some dancing. 

Was it tough?
Hell yeah, it was exhausting.

Was it super fun?

What was the best part?
Too many to name – deepening friendships with people I met last year. The occasional celebrity moment when someone would yell, “hey, it’s the chainmail chick!” Getting to work with artists I admire. All the fun projects that I was invited to participate in, like the Beat Down Boogie and TrueDungeon videos!

Also, being Darth Talon at Dragon*con. That freaking rocked.

And the worst part?
The learning curve of being self-employed. So much stuff I blundered through, and now, in retrospect, feel like an idiot. Also, megacreepers at cons. They were very few and far between; most con goers are pretty chill and friendly, but every now and then I’d get someone doing something insanely inappropriate, like pulling my top away from my skin. As part of the learning curve, I now know the next time someone does this, I am within my rights to gently, firmly, respectfully…cram their head up their own asshole.
The learning curve of doing conventions professionally will get its own blog post, because there’s way too much to extrapolate on here.

What was your favorite con?
I really couldn’t tell you…they all had amazing highlights. It’s like trying to pick your favorite child.

Celebration V still tops my list though.

Is it super glamorous being a model?
It has its moments, but largely no, you’re probably thinking of a Victoria’s Secret commercial, and not “Allegra travels to random studios and is goofy and probably cold”. Modeling, as far as I’ve been concerned, is a lot of contorting, a lot of holding intense poses, a lot of shooting in bikinis/bodypaint in really cold weather, and a lot of trying to make a sexy but relaxed and natural looking face. (then a lot of photoshop) But any time I get to work with a hair stylist or mua, I start feeling kinda glam and fancy. 

And now some space for thanks and acknowledgements…

To my sister, Alyssa, you are my guardian angel, which is weird, because you are younger than me, but every time I need help with something, you are there for me. To our mutual group of friends, you guys are the best support team slash convention buddies ever!

To James and Kathy Hill, you two have been my convention mentors, you are amazing people and such a pleasure to spend time with!

To Organic Armor and Chained Elegance, your sexy costumes keep me coming back for more, and I couldn’t think of finer costumers to be addicted to!

To The League of Extraordinary Ladies, in an age of internet cattiness, you give me hope that women can be gorgeous inside and out, and that our friendships can be powerful and positive.

To all my con friends, artist compatriots, fellow nerds, robots, unicorns, members of House Targaryen:
Thank YOU for making the convention scene an awesome place to work and play – for supporting my fledgling artistic , modeling, and costuming endeavors – for never failing to provide me with a laugh, a good conversation, a shoulder to nap on, a place at your table, a spot on your couch. It means a lot to me – so cliché sounding, but so terribly true, because I couldn’t do any of this without you.

Looking forward to 2012!


  1. "I stammered at dinner parties when nice, normal adults asked me what I did for a living because "professional bikini wearer" did not seem like a respectable response (default answer: I do…freelance…sales?)."

    Just tell them that you model and that your modeling specializes in the areas of fantasy and sci-fi. You're also attempting to create a net marketing business. That least bit would seem to be true on the face of it as you're using the net to market yourself for modeling jobs as well as marketing any odd little things that come out of that (photos, "action figures," etc.) And aren't you also doing some independent film work now? If so, the first part of your answer would be modeling and acting.

    Seems easy enough to describe and, kept simple and direct, you might tell someone out there in the "normal" world what you're doing and working towards doing and stumble across someone who doesn't move in convention circles but has know how or knowledge that might be useful to help you out with your goals. But, yeah, professional bikini wearer doesn't seem to good an answer because you're doing a hell of a lot more than that and freelance sales doesn't describe what you do.

    "Modeling done primarily but not exclusively in fantasy and science fiction genre shoots, some acting and attempting to build a web based marketing and sales presence for my projects and myself."

    Sounds good and sound about accurate from what I've seen and what you were saying that you were working on during the brief chat we had at DragonCon a few months back about what you were looking to do.

  2. What you do totally rocks my socks. It's an absolute pleasure to know you and a pleasure to be thought of warmly when macarons enter the scene. :P

    Not everyone can do what you do. It takes something special and you've got it. :D

  3. I'm glad to hear you're doing ok. I was a bit worried for you from time to time as some things seemed a bit tumultuous, but I'm glad you're happy overall, Conker. Absolutely.

  4. Hi Allegra,

    Didn't realize that you were doing this full time now, but congrats for that. Sorry to hear about the difficulties in your personal life. We love you girl, just b/c you are you!

    Just wanted to let you know I'm thinking of and praying for you.

    Bill M