I just learned a few minutes ago that Marty Gear has passed away. Marty was our handler for the Eugenie entry at the Costume Con 26 Historical Masquerade. I had no idea who this guy was when we were introduced, aside from the fact that he was very tall and of a certain age, but everyone kept coming up to me and saying, “Wow, how’d you guys get Marty? He’s the best!” and “You’re in exceptionally good hands with Marty,” and most amusing of all, “Of course they assign a group of 9 women to Marty.”
They didn’t lie. He was calm, funny, flirtatious, and kept us all sane, which let me tell ya, was no easy task that weekend. I had friendships blow up over that one weekend, but Marty just weathered the storm of frayed nerves, hormonal meltdowns, and sudden bursts of hyperactivity with what can only be the very definition of grace and humor. He held our hands during the agonizing wait for the results of the competition, a bemused smile on his face as we got increasingly more agitated as we weren’t even called up for the silly awards like “Froofiest Presentation” and we felt that we were probably being passed over.
He admitted afterward, over cocktails, that he knew all along that we would win Best In Show that night. Never had a doubt in his mind. He’d seen untold competitions, judged untold competitions, participated in untold competitions… He knew from the moment he was assigned to our group that we’d be taking home the top prize that night. That confidence, laid-back attitude, and good-natured humor has forever stuck with me.
He was so much more than just a handler, obviously. This man has a resume thicker than most phone books when it comes to costuming and fandom. He was one of the first generation of costumers who started Costume Con, and he’d already had an extensive costuming/fandom resume at that point, being involved in god knows how many Worldcons, and other regional cons on the East Coast. I mean, this guy left an indelible mark on fandom. He touched so many people. I feel super lucky that I got to be one of them.
I stole a couple of photos from Kendra’s Flickr. Hope she doesn’t mind… They’re the only pics I could find of Marty with our group.