How I got to be Nightcrawler for a summer...

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How I got to be Nightcrawler for a summer...

Postby Saint Kurt » Sun Dec 12, 2004 6:05 pm

I'm posting this to keep from hijacking Thayr's thread about his costume. This first bit is kind of legend by now so I'm going to hit the highlights. If you look around Nightscrawlers you'll find threads where it's actually happening...

Before I started veterinary school I paid my bills by making costumes for people. I also liked to make costumes for myself - usually things that were too weird or complicated to do for a customer. Then, through a friend I've been able to make appearances in costume - usually as "local color" at charity events, but I've been to children's hospitals and done things like that as well. I never thought that all this would add up to the coolest summer "job" on the planet.

After X2 came out I really wanted to do Nightcrawler's costume for myself, but kept waffling for months. I committed to the project December of last year when in a fit of finals studying induced madness I turned out a stack of schematics for the tail armature. By January I had a working tail which was basically the green light to finish the project because if the tail didn't work, the costume wasn't going to work. I completed the costume the first weekend of July.

Since its completion I must say that Nightcrawler is the most fun. The best thing however has been the "museum gig".

My friend Kathy organizes appearances of costumed characters for charity organizations. Technically her group is all about Star Wars, but occassionally folks ask for other movie characters as well. Right after I finished the costume she was contacted by the Museum of Science and Industry who wanted some stormtroopers to add interest and excitement to their "Action: Adventures in Movie Making Exhibit". Kathy said she could not only provide the stormtroopers, but Darth Vader, Boba Fett and other movie characters including Nightcrawler.

They booked us for a Saturday to see if things would work out and of course we were totally professional and great with the kids. After that the museum booked us for every weekend we could be available. Here's a typical promo:

Museum of Science and Industry Promo

I picked this one because I got top billing. Usually Captain Jack got all the attention. But it was Halloween so I guess they gave it to the scary character.

So, I got to be Nightcrawler every Saturday at the Museum and it was totally fun.

There was this fantastic life imitating art aspect to it too because once I was in my makeup, I was stuck that way until I went home. (It requires special solvents to remove.) So while I was "performing" in character it was no problem, but it was always funny when I needed to be off duty like to eat lunch or go to the bathroom. I'd come out of the stall and everyone would scream. Stuff like that.

We carpooled since parking was kind of limited in the employee lot at the museum so occassionally on the way home we'd want to stop to eat or have a drink together. And yeah, I was still dressed as Nightcrawler since I couldn't take my makeup off. So besides the fun of working at the exhibit and giving tours, I have all these hilarious anecdotes of just being out in the world as Nightcrawler and having to deal with people's reactions to me.

The Action exhibit is about to go on tour so we're having our 2 final appearances on Sat 12/18 and I think Sat AND Sun the weekend of 1/8 - 1/9. I'm totally going to miss it. Working at the museum was so much fun and they gave us so much in return.

I have literally hundreds of pictures collected from our appearances. I'm planning on sorting through them and I'll update this thread with more pictures and stories.

-e
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How I got to be Nightcrawler for a summer...

Postby HoodedMan » Sun Dec 12, 2004 9:01 pm

That sounds like a lot of fun, zamweasel! Those anecdotes sound hilarious; I'm sure we'd love to hear them sometime. Sometime I must post about the adventures of the Backstage Grim Reaper and Ferret Maniac. ;x

I'm always impressed with those who do costuming for a living. Being on technical crew for so long I really get to notice that those who do costuming, lighting, soundboard, and all the other backstage work are the real geniuses behind the show (though I'm not running down our amazing actors). It takes a lot of talent to be a costume designer and from what I see, you are an excellent one.

Keep up the good work and always make sure to have fun!
ACHTUNG! Alles touristen und non-technischen looken peepers! Das computermachine ist nicht fuer gefingerpoken und mittengrabben. Ist easy schnappen der springenwerk, blowenfusen und poppencorken mit spitzensparken. Ist nicht fuer gewerken bei das dumpkopfen. Das rubbernecken sichtseeren keepen das cotten-pickenen hans in das pockets muss; relaxen und watchen das blinkenlichten.
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How I got to be Nightcrawler for a summer...

Postby DoomInABox » Mon Dec 13, 2004 7:48 pm

Heh, trust someone to actually have to dress as Nightcrawler and go out in public to figure out how the world reacts to him ... you got a first-hand experience at being Nighty and I'm SOOOO jealous!

It was kinda like that when I walked into a McDonald's Halloween night dressed as a biker with a sword strapped to my back (don't ask, I was some kind of biker-demon-hunter-thingy ... the best I could throw together from my unfinished Callisto costume). And I mean, that was Halloween, for crying out loud. My boyfriend was standing beside me dressed as the Grim Reaper, but some guy still made a snide remark to me.

I swear, uncreative people are ruining our right to dress in crazy outfits and wander the streets at will. I'd have given anything to have gotten that gig in your place, zam ... but I can't deny you worked uber hard for it. Go you!
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How I got to be Nightcrawler for a summer...

Postby Saint Kurt » Wed Dec 29, 2004 8:20 pm

So I said I would post stuff to this thread and then promptly forgot about it.

Here's a list of questions I get asked regularly...

The top 3:

How long does it take to get ready?
How long does it take to take it off?
Why?

The answers:

About 3 hours with the scars, 1 hour without.
An hour to an hour and a half in the shower using some solvents, but mostly friction.
Because Nightcrawler is cool.


I also get asked the following with shocking regularity:

Are those your real teeth?
Is that your real eye color?
Are your ears really pointy?
Do you really have blue skin?
How did you get your hands like that?
Can you feel this? (They're yanking my tail. The answer is yes. The harness transmits everything.)
Can you disappear?
Can you change into something else?
Can you teleport?

For the last question I usually play along and offer to teleport. Then I shut my eyes and when I open them again, ask them if it worked. They say no of course. We try a few more times and of course if never works. At this point I tell them that that part of my costume is broken and I have to go in the back and fix it. Or, if it's too busy for something like that, I just explain that the museum is a "designated no powers zone". Whatever that means...

The most awkward moments are when I am approached by teenaged members of Nightcrawler's female fan base, who I am sure, would be most disappointed to discover that person they have been whispering and giggling about for the last half hour is a 33 year old woman. For their sake I usually smile awkwardly, speak in broken German, and say as little as possible so not to ruin it for them. (I feel bad enough about the time I surprised a member of Nightcrawler's male fan base who, while posing for a photo decided to, err, grab for the tail and clearly didn't expect the feminine shriek that ensued.)

So there you have a little bit about Nightcrawler crowd control. :)

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How I got to be Nightcrawler for a summer...

Postby HoodedMan » Thu Dec 30, 2004 12:04 am

Originally posted by zamweasel
Are those your real teeth?
Is that your real eye color?
Are your ears really pointy?
Do you really have blue skin?
How did you get your hands like that?
Can you feel this? (They're yanking my tail. The answer is yes. The harness transmits everything.)
Can you disappear?
Can you change into something else?
Can you teleport?


That's hilarious. The trick is telling whether they're secret or being truly wide-eyed innocent. :p

Originally posted by zamweasel
(I feel bad enough about the time I surprised a member of Nightcrawler's male fan base who, while posing for a photo decided to, err, grab for the tail and clearly didn't expect the feminine shriek that ensued.)


ROFL. I can just see that happening too. It doesn't disappoint them, zamweasel (if they're smart); it just surprises them! :p
ACHTUNG! Alles touristen und non-technischen looken peepers! Das computermachine ist nicht fuer gefingerpoken und mittengrabben. Ist easy schnappen der springenwerk, blowenfusen und poppencorken mit spitzensparken. Ist nicht fuer gewerken bei das dumpkopfen. Das rubbernecken sichtseeren keepen das cotten-pickenen hans in das pockets muss; relaxen und watchen das blinkenlichten.
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Postby psychonaut » Sat Nov 11, 2006 3:07 pm

I too am jealous! I still get dressed up every Halloween but nothing nearly as fancy.

Was it hard to go to the bathroom in costume??? Trying to keep your coat out of the toilet while having your tail banging around the stall... I imagine the handicapped stall was your best friend at the museum!

Could people really not tell you were a female? Or could they tell once they got closer? Do you do a decent German accent? Were there any other X-characters to hang out with?

Glad you got to get a lot of good use out of the costume! That right there is a good reason not to eat too many fattening foods!
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How I got to be Nightcrawler for a summer...

Postby Saint Kurt » Sat Nov 11, 2006 7:47 pm

Originally posted by psychonaut
Was it hard to go to the bathroom in costume??? Trying to keep your coat out of the toilet while having your tail banging around the stall... I imagine the handicapped stall was your best friend at the museum!


I definitly was friends with the large handicapped stall and while I removed my coat to ... 'go', I had to sit on the toilet sideways in order to fit. The only problem I had was that kids would figure out I was in there and lie in wait for me on the other side of the door.

Could people really not tell you were a female? Or could they tell once they got closer? Do you do a decent German accent? Were there any other X-characters to hang out with?


Alan Cumming always seemed a poor casting choice for a guy who was supposed to be an ex-circus acrobat at peak physical condition, but it certainly worked out well for me. It's one of my few costumes without a padded body suit inside to bulk me out. I have a background in circus, dance, and snowboarding (which can be like gymnastics at times) so I'm just a naturally tiny person.

I went in knowing no German and came out with about 20 stock phrases like "Good afternoon, my name is Kurt Wagner, how do you do?" and "Welcome to the museum of Science and Industry". I have kind of a deep voice but I definitely don't sound like a guy so I tried not to speak at all.

Glad you got to get a lot of good use out of the costume! That right there is a good reason not to eat too many fattening foods!


Actually my problem is keeping weight on rather than off. It's a challange for me to eat enough each day, it's just the way I am.

I'm glad you appreciate the costume so much. It was certainly a sad day for all of us when the exhibit closed down and was packed up to tour to a different city. Here's how I looked on an average day.

-e

[editted to add link. duh! --SK}

[Edited on 11/11/0606 by Saint Kurt]
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How I got to be Nightcrawler for a summer...

Postby psychonaut » Wed Nov 15, 2006 1:38 pm

Originally posted by Saint Kurt

I definitly was friends with the large handicapped stall and while I removed my coat to ... 'go', I had to sit on the toilet sideways in order to fit. The only problem I had was that kids would figure out I was in there and lie in wait for me on the other side of the door.

Alan Cumming always seemed a poor casting choice for a guy who was supposed to be an ex-circus acrobat at peak physical condition, but it certainly worked out well for me.


"Lie in wait for you" LOL! At least it was all girls, right? Thank goodness you weren't a guy trying to whip it out for the urinal, surrounded by herds of rugrats wanting to see if you were blue, um, "all over." HEE! In college I was in one of those "Medieval clubs" and had a dress with the floor-length sleeves. You had to be extra careful around toilets with those, as well as when pumping gas! So I can really appreciate having to put up with a (four foot?) tail and everything else. Did you have to take off the hands to go to the bathroom and eat?

What would you have looked for in the actor who played Nightcrawler? I think you are saying he was too thin and not beefed up enough. You actually have circus experience so I guess you would know better than most people!

I enjoyed the pictures very much! Thanks for sharing. What state was the museum in? Were you Nightcrawler for Halloween this year? Or would you be afraid of scaring little kids?
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How I got to be Nightcrawler for a summer...

Postby Saint Kurt » Wed Nov 29, 2006 12:24 pm

Actually - there were always all kinds of kids in the ladies bathroom. It wasn't gender specific because everyone is in there with their moms. I'd just see all the feet outside my stall and hear them whispering "he's in there" (they usually didn't know my gender so it must have been baffling to them that I used the ladies...). And I'd be on the other side of the door thinking "do they think I don't realize they're all out there?"

(and I didn't go to the bathroom in my prostetic hands but that was mainly for hygeine's sake. I was touching people all day with them... And that's kind of a TMI.)


On a note about me as a costumed performer - I don't like to been seen with pieces of my costume off when I'm in public. I find it is really jarring for people to see say... Nightcrawler, but with long blond hair, or me in full make up and wig but wearing different clothes. I usually came to the museum fully dressed and made up wearing everything but my feet and hands (but with my under gloves on) so I could carry in my makeup case and the case with my tail in it. When I ate I ate in the back or after I appeared because I had to take my teeth out and stuff.

The one big concession was that I often drove several people and so I drove around dressed as Nightcrawler with Oakley sunglasses on. This was my "Excalibur Pimped out" look.

The Museum was in Chicago Illinois.

As for what circus acrobats really look like - they are generally small and thin with 0 body fat and every single muscle is visible - especially the aerialists, men and women. (That is the flyers or solo trapeze artists. The porters are different since they are catching the flyers and they need to be able to catch a moving 100+ pound object and hold onto it. They're buff.) The reason for this that just about all the aerial equipment, whether it's the trapeze or silks is a work out just to stay up on them, and then doing anything is extra. I'd come down off a trapeze after about 5 minutes with just about every muscle in my body burning if I was trying to work on anything new. The silks are a little better because they have "rest" positions, but I would always end up lower and lower until I was practically working on the floor if I got too tired as I worked out.

And I was just an amateur. A performing circus acrobat who does that as their livlihood is at it for hours a day plus performances. So you can imagine...

Alan Cumming was charming and scene stealing and all. And he certainly was small. But he didn't look like an acrobat. I'm more toned than he was in that movie. :)

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How I got to be Nightcrawler for a summer...

Postby psychonaut » Mon Dec 11, 2006 5:26 am

Thanks for answering all my questions, St. Kurt. Your responses are always enjoyable and conjure up a host of amusing images. After "just five minutes" on the trapeze? Heck, I'm impressed! I don't think at any point in my life could I even make it across the monkey bars!

I'm sure I'll think of more questions to badger you with soon. Thanks :oops:
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How I got to be Nightcrawler for a summer...

Postby Marzbunny » Wed Feb 14, 2007 1:42 pm

Did you like being blue? I always thought it would be sort of weird. Though it would be funny if people started running around with their skin turned different colors. I was also wondering what people said when they knew nothing of X-men. That would be sort of surprising seeing a demonic-looking blue figure and having no idea what movie he came from.
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How I got to be Nightcrawler for a summer...

Postby Bamfing_Bob » Thu Feb 15, 2007 12:53 am

Yeah, odd colored skin would be weird, but there are people with entire body tattoos of puzzle pieces, tiger stripes, and scales. I'd never do it but it sounds pretty fun.
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How I got to be Nightcrawler for a summer...

Postby Jolinare » Sat Feb 24, 2007 8:57 pm

phooey, the links dead now.

i saw the pic you had on your ff.net profile, and it looked pretty awesome.
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Postby Daycrawler » Fri Apr 06, 2007 5:12 am

Oh this sounds soo cool. i wish I could see the pictures of you in costume ^^. I envey your costume making powers!
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