The Chicagoland Costumers’ Guild gives an occasional award at Masquerades for Outstanding Achievement in Costuming. Its inspiration dates back to the gangland days of Al Capone and the Chicago Mob and is composed of a Barbie, in a flapper outfit, with her feet embedded ankle deep in a cup of plaster-of-Paris. In the ‘20’s (the Roaring ones, not the present decade) Chicago was pretty much run by the Mob. The staccato burst of a Thompson machine gun was called the “Chicago typewriter” and rival gangs fought for ‘turf’ using this weapon so prolifically that it became synonymous with our city. — So synonymous, that when I visited Crimea in 1999, a kid in Yalta saw our group, asked me (in Russian) if we were Americans (I said “Da. Amerikanski!) and he asked me what city. When I said “Chicago” he made the ratatat noise and mimed mowing down enemies with a tommy-gun.  Our reputation precedes us–

Photo: Michele Jay Solomon

One of our founders, Barbara Wright, thought the Roaring-20’s MOB theme (our group is known as the Masters Of Bravado, or MOB) would fit well with our location, and her idea for the local award was in keeping with the way the Outfit disposed of the bodies of their victims. Putting the feet of the intended disposee into a bucket of wet cement, letting it harden, and then dropping the victim into the Chicago River or Lake Michigan was the preferred method of disposal. Whether dead or alive, the person thus dispatched was a message that you would be “in over your head” if you messed with the Chicago Mob.

The official pronouncement upon presentation is “This award is given in recognition that your work is so good, we’d be tempted to send you on a long walk off a short pier in cement overshoes, so we could STEAL YOUR STUFF.” Our CCG logo is a fedora hat. My Mom was a flapper in the ‘20s and said she would see Capone at Cubs games, always wearing a pinstripe suit and white fedora, sitting in the front row near home plate. He was a regular fan of the Cubs. Visit our website and check us out!

Michele Jaye Solomon, who fabricates the trophy for all of the events where it is awarded, is usually the official presenter. I have misquoted the exact wording she uses, but it was what I announced the one time I presented, at the Montreal Worldcon in 2009. (Sorry I mis-remembered that, M J !)