...I have no idea how to start this post.
My real introduction to Marty was the day of janusaries's 50th birthday party. We were trying to surprise her, and it was a day of maneuvering around varied challenges. Marty was helping me get food for the party; when we returned, we found that his wife, Bobbi, had fallen and hurt herself, and so he was off, taking her to the hospital. This was perhaps the only time I met Bobbi.
My primary connection to Marty was through janusaries and the other costumers I met during my years at Castle Blood, and so my memories of him are..well, as unique as everyone else's. :) I helped him get into costume by gluing on his ear tips for his Vladeratu costume. We worked together on the haunt during the off-season. I remember, fondly, meeting up at the local diner, where all the out of towners used to go for meals in October. He never seemed too tired, or too cold, or disinterested, or anything except engaged and excited to see What Comes Next.
He was the kind of man that was multifaceted in unexpected ways. He told stories about running away with a circus in his younger years. He had been a horror host in the early years...so early that he's one of those that did the job but had no real record of it, like so many others. He donated much time, energy, and money into that backyard haunt in Pennsylvania because he loved it, he believed in it, he wanted to give back to the haunt that gave him a chance to perform in front of hundreds of people a year. I think alone says volumes about him. He attended haunt education seminars because he never seemed to want to stop learning, to find new ways to contribute to and create his performance space.
He's most known for dressing as a vampire and for coming up with new ways to interpret the look. But not surprisingly, his passion went to the literary vampire as well. He could discuss the topic at fascinating length - not a surprise. I don't think he did anything timidly.
He mentored so many costumers. He MC'ed at conventions all over the east coast (and in Canada, I believe). While working for him at the Balticon Masquerade one year, I found I hadn't been put on the volunteer list. The Balticon staff person looked at me and said, "Well, no one uses Marty's name without permission, so I'll add you to the list." But to see him walking around the halls, you'd never know how much the people around him respected him. Not really. He was always busy - most of our con time was limited to a quick hug as he headed off to his next job - but he was always approachable, always interested, always engaged.
He was an active and frequent bidder at sci fi con art shows...which gives you an idea of how varied his influence of support could be. He was active in Techno Fandom. If he worked for your con, if he believed in what you were doing, you couldn't ask for a better spokesperson.
In the end, I knew Marty from the edges of his life..and even that tiny bit enriched my life.
And so, speaking about the edges...let me tell you about Marty's patches.
Marty had a rather fabulous embroidery machine. He loved doing custom work for his costumes, and during one of my earlier years at Castle Blood, he showed up with a gorgeous patch that featured a bat emblazoned across it. Underneath, he had stitched his character's name.
I love bats. And I shyly asked him could he maybe possibly maybe maybe make such a patch for me?
I was probably not the only person that asked, and he didn't give me a definite yes or no...but on Halloween, he presented every cast member with their own bat-decorated name patch. We're talking..maybe 30 or more patches, a few inches wide. Fairly detailed work. And he did it as a gift, and he did it for new cast members after that.
He created '13th anniversary' patches for us. He even, at my request, came up with a few steampunky "Castle Blood Labs" patches for me to choose the one I wanted to add to my lab coat for my scientist character.
I'm sure I have no idea how busy the man was. And we weren't close friends. But this is the kind of generous soul he possessed.
He inspired in many ways...either by mentoring, or by being tirelessly enthusiastic, or just by being quietly generous and supportive.
He will not be easily replaced.
Rest well, Uncle Vlad.
More memories of Marty:
Marty Gear finding fandom
RIP Marty Gear
Farewell, and Fangs for the Memories..
Interview with Marty at Anime 2012
An example of Marty participating in a Masquerade presentation
A clip of one of Marty's bad vampire jokes (this was for a segment he did for "Midnight Monster Hop" and is one of MANY MANY MANY jokes he told over the years at the varied sci fi con Masquerades he MC'ed)
and an online memorial may be found here.