Next time I hit the Bristol Renaissance Faire I want to dress like Don Johnson as Sonny Crockett in Miami Vice: baggy linen or cotton pants with a matching, billowy jacket in either mint green or white; a sleeveless t-shirt; espadrilles; Ray-Ban sunglasses.
That might be the only look I didn’t see at the opening day for an event ostensibly set in a woodsy 1574 Elizabethan England port town, but where pretty much anything short of nudity goes – and I mean that in a good way.
For this is a place where you don’t have to worry about being politically correct when you say, “Did you get a load of that fairy?” – because you won’t be homophobic but actually bewildered by somebody dressed spritely.
Which is to say the faire is a nonjudgmental mix of dorky Doctor Who time and space travel, the fantasy movie of any patron’s choice, with Wisconsinites thrown in for good measure.
For the Bristol Renaissance Faire happens just north of the Illinois-Wisconsin border and not far from the fabled Brat Stop and runs weekends and Labor Day through Sept. 1.
You want to throw a pelt over your shoulders on top of your t-shirt, hang a knife and a chamois off your belt above your cargo shorts – go for it.
You like Teddy Roosevelt? Well, be him for the afternoon, dammit. And hangout with a chubby, sort-of pirate in a bright red kilt.
Many people don’t know that TR invented the Ren Faire and counted it among his top accomplishments, right up there with creating national parks. (They don’t know it, because it’s not true.)
If you’re over 6’ 5’’ read the memo and dress in red or maybe yellow, so the kids can see you coming and not get stepped on.
You wanna look like a 1970s hooker – well, if you have the legs for it, why not? And if – and only if – you have the belly for it, throw on a chainmail vest, pierce your navel, swivel those hips, and undulate your abs, sister.
Or dress like an African musician; a green version of the bumblebee kid from the 90s rock video “No Rain”; put on a jester hat with your kilt, sash, puffy shirt and sandals; be an indentured servant from a sugar cane plantation.
Bust out of that bustier, girlfriend; enjoy some deep fried cheese curds with your maiden in black as you pretend to be the Monty Python version of King Arthur.
Be a lost, lone Wise Man shopping early for the frankincense you give out each Christmas. Pile your hair like Marie Antoinette and have a hunchback in $100 running shoes carry your gear and the dragon statues you bought in a brown bag.
Bring your stuffed animal, and hang him on your back. Monk it up, and carry your 21st century stuff in a backpack. Steampunk away your afternoon.
Tie your sweater around your neck. Put on a big blue felt hat.
I tried on the latter – because they wouldn’t let me try on a bustier. In the hat, I couldn’t really tell what era I was or if I was a moonshiner or somebody who wanted to audition to be a host on “The View”. I’d be good at that job.
Either way, the hat clashed with my suburban ensemble so I put it back. The bib with the turkey leg on it was more fitting, anyway, even if it didn’t fit.
Anachronisms abound at the Faire, which is fine. If you try, you might even learn something about the Renaissance. Otherwise, take in the Dead Bob ventriloquist act, where a Junior Jeff Dunham – wearing a veil over his face – yucks it up with his skeleton pal.
Or get your hand cast in wax and your hair put up in a Ren bun. Or catch the mud show where one bit involves dirty guys kissing audience members.
That reminds – I have to get that sample piece of champagne soap out of one of my pockets.
For more information, see http://www.renfair.com/bristol/ or ask to visit my Facebook page to see more photos.