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How to vamp out for Buffyfest in St. Petersburg

Published Sep. 19, 2017

Who's your favorite superhero? I always answer Buffy.

The seven-season Buffy the Vampire Slayer aired its last episode in 2003, but spins on Netflix (no longer available) and Hulu (still streaming) have kept the show bingeable for super fans and newcomers alike. Early seasons are a fun trip back to the '90s, and the dialogue is sharp and punny until the end. There's romance, heartbreak, awesome fight scenes, witches, demons and, of course, vampires. Something for everyone.

So when St. Petersburg's Palladium announced the Florida Björkestra's Buffyfest, I bought tickets and started planning my costume.

The Palladium plans to turn Hough Hall into the Bronze, a nightclub on the show that let high school students in and was regularly attacked by vampires. The Side Door will be transformed into the Magic Box — which is exactly what it sounds like — with Emerald City Comics and Serenity Games selling their wares. Expect Buffy cast member James C. Leary, who played the friendly, loose-skinned demon Clem.

For the Florida Björkestra — a 20-piece alternative-classical ensemble that tributes groundbreaking pop artists — founder Jeremy Douglass said Saturday's concert will be the biggest show they've ever done, staging eight vocalists for Once More with Feeling, the Season 6 musical episode of Buffy. They'll cover all the songs from the episode and even one from a flashback in Season 7.

And they want the audience to sing along and have fun.

"If everyone in the audience was louder than us, that'd be great," Douglass said.

Attendees are invited to dress up like their favorite character from the Buffy universe, which is pretty easy to accomplish.

"Everyone on that show was really a normal person," Douglass said.

The Palladium and the Björkestra are fine with people showing up with prop weapons like stakes so long as they're foam or otherwise safe. No guns, of course.

Douglass hopes that Buffyfest will become an annual event, a la a Rocky Horror Picture Show performance. Most Buffy cast members were already booked at fan conventions across the country this year, but Nicholas Brendon, who played Xander Harris, has expressed interest in attending next year and singing his part on stage with the Björkestra.

While you don't have to dress up, why not accept the challenge and get in a little practice for Halloween. Me? I'm going as Dark Willow.

How to slay

Here are 10 ideas on how to see the Björkestra while dressed like a character from Buffy the Vampire Slayer.

Easy

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Buffy Summers

This is even easier if you're blonde, but all you need is a spaghetti-strap tank top, pants and to carry around a stake. It's hot on the Hellmouth, and Buffy needed to be able to kick butt. Bonus points if you add a cross necklace and chunky shoes. She ends up saving the world with a scythe, but that's less likely to fly at the Palladium.

Spike

Again, to really commit, you've got to bleach the hair blond. Spike had a pretty predictable wardrobe in most seasons: tight black pants, tight black T-shirt, unbuttoned red button-down shirt covered by a long black leather jacket. If you don't already have the jacket, skip it and do the rest. You probably didn't kill a slayer in the '70s and steal her jacket, anyway. It's Halloween season, so vampire teeth should be easy to come by. #TeamSpike.

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Angel

As Buffy's original love interest, Angel's primary uniform was brooding. He also generally wore black pants and a black overcoat, not always leather. Again, vampire teeth. Had I mentioned #TeamSpike?

Xander Harris

Another easy-peasy costume for, say, a reluctant husband. Khakis, Converse or work boots and either a tropical shirt or anything that fits at least two sizes too big. Buffy's best guy pal and the only powerless member of the Scooby gang, poor Xander suffered every indignity. If you're going for Season 7 Xander, add an eye patch.

Scary

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Dark Willow

"Bored now." Dark Willow, the alter ego of Buffy's best friend and eventual witch Willow Rosenberg, makes a memorable appearance in Season 3 that foreshadows character development to come. When Dark Willow comes back in Season 6, she is terrifying. Dark lipstick, black pleather leggings and a black coat over a black tank will get you there. Add some eyeliner veins for extra evil.

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The Gentlemen

A Season 4 episode called Hush garnered the only Emmy writing nomination for the oft-snubbed Buffy. Fairytale creepers steal the voices of everyone in town. Also, they're the stuff of nightmares. Black suit with a white hankerchief and white face paint. Bald head, please.

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Cowboy vampire

This guy chased Buffy when a villain had a bounty on her head. Also, it's easy. Vampire teeth and a cowboy hat. Done and done.

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Oz

Oz was Willow's boyfriend when she was still into boys. He also was a werewolf. Cargo shorts, a T-shirt and patches of hair glued to your face.

Funny

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Bunny

One of my favorite characters, Anya, had a centuries-old fear of bunnies. Told to dress in a scary costume for Halloween, she showed up as a fluffy pink bunny. She also has an awesome solo in the musical episode about the loathsome creatures. If you're not prepared to go full furry, grab a pair of bunny ears and call it a day.

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This guy

In a flashback, this chaos demon with awesome slimy antlers is stuck in the middle as Drusilla's new love interest. Suit, antlers and some slime. Requires knowing no lines, just looking uncomfortable.

Contact Ellen Clarke at eclarke@tampabay.com.

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