My Other Life: Wendy Carlson, Costumer

Dressed to Thrill: “I was costuming when most people thought it was just for Halloween,” says nail tech Wendy Carlson of Designing Lines Salon and Spa in Kokomo, Ind.

“I was costuming when most people thought it was just for Halloween. Now there are TV shows about it and it seems to be catching on,” says nail tech Wendy Carlson of Designing Lines Salon and Spa in Kokomo, Ind. While most of us leave the dressing up for the last day of October, for Carlson this is a year-round passion that began around 10 years ago when she decided to throw her first Halloween party.

“I wanted to be a Star Wars stormtrooper. So after some searching I found the armor — it was $1,200!” she says. “In all that searching, the armor makers said ‘501st approved.’ I had no idea what that meant. When I found out, it changed my life forever. The 501st is the world’s largest costuming organization with chapters on every continent. The group is made up of people who love Star Wars and has more than 6,000 members. The club centers around all the villains in all six movies. We do parades, children’s hospitals, and TV appearances — I even marched in a Disney World Christmas Day Parade.”

And Star Wars was just the beginning. “When I started wearing costumes I did a very sassy pirate, hence my nickname, ‘Pyrategirl.’ I’m now sculpting and creating my own prosthetics. My best by far is my Cornelius from ‘Planet of the Apes,’” she says. “I do trade shows a couple of times a year. I did ABS in Chicago and went to Premiere Orlando, but costumers also have their conventions or ‘cons’ as we like to call them. The big ones are Comic-Con in San Diego, Calif., and Dragon Con in Atlanta.”

Carlson’s hobby has also produced some unexpected dividends. “I met my husband at a chapter meeting of the 501st. At our first event together we were both stormtroopers. We went to a convention together and we have been together ever since.”

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