I talked a little about handlers a couple weeks ago, but I felt the subject deserved its own post.
I only learned about handlers for the first time a couple years ago, just after I met Jae. The day after, to be exact. She had dressed as Zatanna for the day, and it was... head-turning. As we walked around together, there were many photographers that came up to us, looking for a picture or to ask if she wanted to do a shoot at some point. Jae handed me her bag innocently enough, but then these strangers started giving me business cards, asking about Jae's (then nonexistent) cosplay page, and pointing out the best way for her to get in touch with them. It caught me off guard at first, but I warmed to it as the day progressed.
For the uninformed, Handlers are the amazing behind-the-scenes force that keeps cosplayers organized, moving, and not passed out from heatstroke. They are what a pit crew is to a race car, or the crew behind a small, mobile movie set. The background players that keep the machine moving without nearly as much recognition.
While wandering the floor, handlers have a wide variety of jobs. They're your jack-of-all-trades, adapting to whatever arises.
Can't get into your gigantic armor? They're the extra set of hands to get the job done.
Someone wants to take a picture with the cosplayer? They're a photographer.
How will you remember which photographers took your picture? Don't worry. It's covered.
A costume piece fell off or came loose? Emergency repair.
Have you been wandering all day without food or water? Your handler's got the snacks.
Who is going to save you from an impromptu picture that turned into a paparazzi-style crowd? Your favorite sidekick shepherd!
Handlers are amazing for all that they do, and they’re the unsung heroes in the community. They work hard to help cosplayers look good, drag their gear, and refuse to let them die from dehydration without any of the glory. So thank your handlers today for all that they do!