American Idol Judges Costume

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From a distance, I spotted the Transformer.

My costume contest arch-nemesis friend Scott Holden had arrived, dressed in a Starscream costume. He looked very cool! I don't know if it comes across in this photo, but his costume was really made of steel.

We congratulated each other on each other's costumes, and together sized up this year's competition. I was brimming with confidence, but in the back of my mind, I knew that on stage, in a competition judged by a feisty audience, anything could happen.

Of the 24 contestants in the costume contest, this witch, and winged demon-riding-another-demon combo were the only other super-sized competition in the contest.

We climbed onstage in four groups, and each of us got our moment on stage, a moment to elicit as much applause as possible from the huge crowd. Dulled by overconfidence, I was unconcerned with where I was in the lineup. Scott and I ended up standing right next to each other in an elimination round!

I got a nice round of applause, but my threesome of mortals was easily overshadowed by his thunderous footsteps. The crowd loved the transformer!

That was the end for the American Idol Judges costume. Only one costume in our round could advance to the finals, and it was Scott! Damn!


I moped down the backstage ramp.

The contest continued without me, with Scott taking the top prize. The riding demon and witch took second, and a stilted Frankenstein took third. 

Ah, rats! 

I made a final circuit through the crowd, and headed out to the parking lot to disassemble my giant costume. Randy and I drove home in silence.

A few days later, it was actually Halloween, so I wore the costume to work at EDS. There, you'll be happy to hear, I won. First prize in the Halloween costume contest: One paid day off.

With my confidence back, I scoured the News and Review for other contests. The Empire Club looked promising. They offered a $1000 top prize.

Arriving about a half-hour after they opened, the line of people waiting to get it was incredible! The line went down the block and turned a corner, then the line crossed active Sacramento light rail tracks.

The club ownership recognized this hazard and, with Herculean effort, broke the line at the tracks, and re-formed it across the street, where it grew for another half-block.

Oh, it could have been bad. No one wanted to be out there, and the broken, scattered line had to be managed by no less than 8 bouncers. Miraculously, they did it. 

My oversized costume attracted a lot of attention in line, and before long, one of the club's hosts came by with concerns that I might not be able to fit inside. The place was apparently packed full.

I assured him that it would work out fine, and we came to a quick settlement. I would leave my costume backstage, and bring it out when it was time for the contest.

I was in! I stashed the table backstage, and stood around, looking a little like Paula Adbul.

The entertainment for the evening was Brooke Hogan. She was introduced by her father, Hulk Hogan.

Hulk Hogan came on stage, and OWNED the stage. He was like three arena rock front men rolled into one. Every camera and camera phone in the place was immediately out and flashing. 

There were so many flashes exploding that I didn't even have to use one. As you can see in the photo, Hulk Hogan is illuminated by someone else's flash, and he is casting a gigantic shadow on the back wall.


Then his daughter Brooke emerged and sang a few songs. She had a headset, hip-hop dancers, and the sweetest voice of all the Hogans.

A while after Brooke finished, the costume contest began. I had been advised that I would be the last contestant announced onto the stage, which is just where I wanted to be.

Everything started out just as expected, with the introduction of the scarecrow and then Flavor Flav. Then a dude dressed as a booty-dancing girl scout transformed the costume contest.

The crowd loved him. It went crazy.

Supersperm was up next, and he danced even more furiously than the girl scout, finishing with a head-to-toe dry-licking of the the female emcee. The crowd went crazy again! Crazier, even!

Who could follow that? I'll tell you who.

It was Philip and Carlton Banks, and Will Smith from the Fresh Prince of Bel Air. Immediately, they launched into a furious crunk robot centipede freak show. The crowd went berserk.  Game Over. 

My costume contest had evolved into a talent competition, and I didn't stand a chance. I received a round of dignified applause, but the night belonged to the Fresh Prince.

The American Idol Judges costume was an adventure to build and it was unbelievably fun to wear.

How can I outdo it with next year's costume? I'm thinking "Ocean's Thirteen".


part 1 | 2 | 3 | 4 | 5 | 6 | 7 | 8 | 9 | 10 | 11 | 12 | 13 | 14

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November 9th, 2006.  

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