A lady robot walks among us

James Fenton The Daily Times
The Daily Times

AZTEC — This is the droid you're looking for, Aztec.

She's director of the Aztec Senior Center and runs a summer camp that pairs special needs kids with horses. Last weekend she won top honors for a handmade robot costume she made that Tim Burton would adore.

Familiar to many as Cindy Iacovetto, in recent months she's taken on a new persona, that of a pregnant robot, aptly named Robusta Rita.

Iacovetto is constantly chin-deep in artistic endeavors, now adding prize money, trophies and a touch of newfound celebrity to her name.

Last weekend, Iacovetto won best of show honors for her robot costume at the 2013 ACE Costume Contest, part of the Albuquerque Comic Expo, a comic book, pop culture and entertainment convention.

"My car is always crammed full of pieces of a project I just finished and others for something I'm headed to next," she said. "I'm an admitted workaholic, especially anything artistic."

In April, Iacovetto attended the Denver StarFest Convention. The theme was "robot invasion."

"When I heard the theme and I heard the word 'robot,' the gears started spinning in my head and eventually Robusta was born," she said.

Intending to merely attend the convention in costume for fun, she decided at the last moment to enter Robusta. Surprised, she took home a first place trophy for best costume.

Comprised of wholly recycled materials that Iacovetto collects, Robusta resembles Edward Scissorhands' dream date.

With cereal bowls for breasts, dryer duct tubing for arms, small spools for wire connectors, glowing lights, electrical panels, a dome belly (custom ordered online), and a skirt made of screening, the costume took Iacovetto, with electrical wiring assistance from her friend Everrett Brooks, an Air Force telescope technician, more than 100 hours to complete.

Over a Halloween mask, a bent picture hanger forms a mouth. Small keys make eyelashes. She added gears for eyes and a soup can for a hat. The whole thing is anchored by a plumber's strap atop a frenzied nest of hair made of bailing wire.

Just before she got on stage, a part that was supposed to produce sparks failed.

"I cried but my robot kept her composure," she joked.

She opted for smoke from dry ice instead.

In 2011, Iacovetto took home best of show for costume workmanship for her witch at Bubonicon, the largest science fiction convention in the state. Her witch costume featured a steam-powered broom, with a spinning web and bubbles blowing out from her back.

Anne Cottrell, board member of the center and Iacovetto's sometime costuming co-conspirator, accompanied Iacovetto to Durango for a "steampunk" benefit in March. Steampunk, a sartorial synergy between Victorian and dystopian futuristic style, channeled Iacovetto's love of lacy top hats with watch parts and jewelry.

"I don't know where Cindy gets her ideas from, but she has an seemingly endless ocean of them," Cottrell said. "A lot of people think of all kinds of things, but she can actually carry them out."

James Fenton covers Aztec and Bloomfield for The Daily Times. He can be reached at 505-564-4621 and Follow him @fentondt on Twitter.