Meet the real superheroes of FanX: The cosplay repair team

With thread, glue guns and duct tape, this crew aims to help anyone having trouble with their costumes.

(Bethany Baker | Salt Lake Tribune) Trisha Holmes works as a volunteer at the Cosplay Repair Lounge at the FanX Salt Lake Pop Culture & Comic Convention, sewing an arm back onto a costume at Salt Palace Convention Center in Salt Lake City on Friday, Sept. 22, 2023.

A pirate, Cinderella, a wrestler, Ahsoka Tano from “Star Wars” and a gaggle of demons from the animated series “Hazbin Hotel” can all gather together in one place — broadly at FanX Salt Lake Pop Culture & Comic Convention, but more specifically at the Cosplay Repair Lounge.

The lounge is tucked away in a corner of the Salt Palace Convention Center, near the ADA entrance. The crew that runs it — around six to eight people at a time — might be the real superheroes of the three-day convention, helping fans who worked weeks or months on their cosplays fix last-minute issues so they can wear them at the event.

“Our goal is, even if we can’t fix it permanently, to allow them to stay at the convention for the day, because there’s so many out of town,” said Trisha Holmes, who has worked in the lounge for seven years.

Jasena Frisby, another member of the crew, said the lounge started when a vendor sponsored it nine years ago. Over time, she said, FanX saw what they were doing and asked them to keep going. Now, FanX sponsors the lounge. Some people leave tips, or sometimes treats. Some call them angels.

Sometimes the fixes are simple, like cutting a wristband or covering a wire that’s poking the wearer. The tools available, scattered across the tables, include safety pins, bobby pins, scissors, spools of ribbon and thread, hot glue guns, and duct tape in every color imaginable.

The fixes may seem minor, but for people whose biggest compliment is being asked to be in a photo because of a cosplay, the fixes go a long way.

Kali Myatt is in her third year, making repairs at the lounge. She estimated that they see between 200 and 300 people a day. On Friday, the convention’s second day, she said there was a steady stream of people since it opened at 10 a.m.

(Bethany Baker | Salt Lake Tribune) Two fencers from Society of Creative Anachronism fight in front of a crowd during FanX at Salt Palace Convention Center in Salt Lake City on Friday, Sept. 22, 2023.

“Some of them are pretty run of the mill, ... but there are others that you really have to think about. What do we have on hand that’s going to fix this?” she said. “There’s definitely a lot of opportunities to use that creativity and just think through, like, ‘OK, we have these things available and this thing is broken. What are we going to do?’”

A lot of the work at the lounge is problem-solving, Myatt said. For example, someone came in with a broken sword, and the team created a splint from tongue depressers to hold the sword in place, then wrapped it all in duct tape.

Sometimes, Myatt said, people will know exactly what they want to do to fix their cosplay — which reflects the time and creativity they took to make it, she said.

Myatt helped Kuren K, who was dressed as the wrestling legend “Macho Man” Randy Savage, fix a fanny pack that was shaped like a title belt. It was the second time that day he had visited the lounge, and he said it was reassuring that the fixers were there.

“It broke at a spot where I tried to Gorilla Glue it many times,” Kuren said. He’s from Ohio, and he said FanX is something he looks forward to every year. In fact, he said, it’s the only convention to which he travels.

“I tried some hand-sewing,” Myatt said, “but he put it on, and it ripped immediately in a different spot.”

Frisby ended up reinforcing it with a denim patch, and Kuren, clad in red and yellow plastic and spandex, was on his way.

(Bethany Baker | Salt Lake Tribune) Vance Parks, left, and Kuren K, both dressed as American professional wrestler “Macho Man” Randy Savage, pose in Vendor Hall during FanX at Salt Palace Convention Center in Salt Lake City on Friday, Sept. 22, 2023.

“It doesn’t matter who you’re dressed as,” Kuren said. “[Cosplay] can be well-experienced, store-bought or from the closet. As long as you can know it and you pull it off real well. Everybody loves it.”

The service is free, which is something else Myatt said she loves about it. “They already paid to get in, let’s give them this for free,” she said.

“They walk up with a frown and they leave with a smile,” Holmes said. “Even if we can’t completely fix it, it’s still that relief because it’s stressful when things fail ... even if it’s not a fantastic fix, it’s good for the day.”

FanX Salt Lake Pop Culture & Comic Convention concludes Saturday at the Salt Palace Convention Center. For tickets and information, go to fanxsaltlake.com.