Happy New Year 2008!
OK, got that out of the way, now to some interesting posting!
I recently caught a reply to a post I left this spring on an article covering the Civil War reenacting scene in California. The article mentioned the use of staged blood and gore, which seems to have virtually vanished from the East Coast events. I whipped out a comment that inspired me to write a little more about my feelings on the subject.
We all reenact for different reasons, and with differing viewpoints of how an event would be best pulled off. Some of us are into the look of the forces moving about, others like the use of period tactics, and still others are into the look and feel of the event itself. This where the use of props makes an entrance.
One kind of prop in particular seems to have a controversial reputation in the hobby - stage blood and gore. Now, to be clear, I'm not talking about its use in a surgeon's demo, but rather, on the reenacting battlefield. Although I've been the field off and on many years, I haven't seen too much of it to formulate a passionate opinion one way or the other.
I have heard of some interesting stories about using props that were pretty humorus though. When I was doing WW1 reenacting, a couple fellows that I rode with told me a story that either had to be a reenacting urban legend or it was squarely a rippin' true reenactor tale. It concerns the SPAM dummy.
The SPAM dummy was a prop that a devious mind with artistic ability, money and a sadistic bent came up with. The dummy was a life size representation of a fallen German soldier that was in the later stages of decay. To "accentuate" the experience, the dummy had small washable areas that SPAM could be dabbed into. Then the dummy was thrown into a shell hole and left to ripen in the sun. On Saturday and Sunday, the SPAM dummy was doing it's job of adding a little extra realism when a hapless Allied or German soldier slid into the hole for cover and had to take a whiff of putredness. Afterwards, some clean up and a tolerant nose would get it back home. But the real story was when the SPAM dummy's handler was going home...
Apparently, the SPAM dummy was pretty realistic too. Being that it was life-size and had to fit into a small car with reenacting gear, so the SPAM dummy was buckled into the front seat on one trip. Needless to the say, the trip was interesting. After many stares, and a look of horror on a little girls face as her car passed the SPAM dummy, someone took it on themselves to alert the local authories of a man transporting a dead body on the interstate. Minutes later, SPAM dummy handler was pulled over explaining to the police about his "friend".
As for props, my advice is: don't let them get the best of you. :-)