Faces of Cosplay: Daniratoe

“don’t let anyone else tell you that you can’t cosplay a character because of your looks. You go rock whatever dang costume you want.”

raven 2

It was 2015 and I was dropping Kiogenic at the local Christmas parade- where she was set to march with the fabulous Springfield Cosplay Group.

sgf cosplay Xmas

such a great group. Kiogenic in “casual Hiro” wiith Baymax. Daniratoe on the right as Daenerys.

As per usual, she ditched me pretty quickly, and I ended up chatting with the stunning Daenerys cosplayer (who was mildly peeved that she kept getting identified as Elsa). I didn’t blame her. Daenerys is WAY cooler. She has DRAGONS!

This was Daniela, and we became Facebook friends after. That meant that I got to see ALL her amazing make-up tutorials and the odysseys of the Raven and Muffet cosplays.

(She was also super nice to Kiogenic and I when we went to the fabric store where she worked!)

Daniela has amazing style and class everyday, and she’s an exceptional cosplayer. Originally from Ecuador, she’s also our first International cosplayer, so a special welcome to Daniratoe here!

Name: Daniela Perdue (Daniratoe)
Day job?: Currently moving out of state, but I was Fabric Store Sales Associate in Springfield, Mo
Age-ish?:23 years old
Home base? Moving to Ft. Sill, OK (Lawton)

Why do you cosplay?

I’ve always thought of myself as a very creative person and cosplay gives me a way to create and play with my artistic abilities. I love sewing and other different types of crafting, and cosplay involves a lot of craftsmanship and handwork. It is a very fulfilling hobby and it makes it even better when the things I am creating are based in the fictional characters that I resonate the most with in many different levels. It is a lot of fun to go through the process of constructing these costumes and props and its even better when I see the reaction of people when I am finished with my projects. It is worth every moment, from start to finish, and it has helped with my self esteem a lot throughout the years.

How long have you been cosplaying?

I started cosplaying in 2012 back in my country, Ecuador. Back then, the resources were very limited: high quality wigs, for example, were not easily available and needed to be imported from overseas, as well as other small accessories. We have a wide variety of fabrics (A whole area of the city I lived in was nothing but fabric stores that covered 2 or 3 blocks of downtown) and other utensils and materials, like craft foam, fiberglass, EVA foam, etc. At the same time, the hobby was a growing giant, so events were scarce at first, and not very many people were aware or participating in the craft.

I came into the hobby when it was starting to gain more attention from local media and more events were being held and were open to the public. I am not fully familiar of how the Geek movement really started, but the people who did cosplay were few when I started. Back then, as well, many cosplayers relied on seamstresses  (and from what I am aware of to this date, still do) to make most of the costumes, and other craftspeople who knew how to fabricate proper props, but today, the community has become larger and things have become easier to obtain, so the quality and quantity of costumes has improved a lot.

How do you choose your character(s)?

I personally don’t have a strict set of rules. A lot of the costumes I’ve done have been chosen either because I felt compelled and related to the character, or because I was included in cosplay groups, or simply, because their character design was absolutely perfect in my eyes. I do admit that a big influence for me to choose my next projects has a lot to do with the character’s popularity overtime and mainly stay away from Anime characters, not because I dislike the genre, but because I prefer western animation, designs and entertainment (for the most part).

betty boop

 

I’ve cosplayed many famous characters from different shows and video games for these reasons, such as April O’Neil (TMNT), Betty Boop (1930), Daenerys Targaryen (Game of Thrones), Raven (Teen Titans), Lydia Deetz (Beetlejuice Tv Show from 1989) and more.

I feel like I’ve evolved as a cosplayer since I started. Back in the first couple of years, my approach to designing the cosplays was to stick to the original designs. I am still fond of keeping the costume accurate, but I like to make them look more realistic and less cartoon-ey.

Early Raven

Raven cosplay, 1.0. Her style evolves.

Do you have a signature, or favorite cosplay?

Raven has definitely become my signature cosplay, and she’s always been my favorite, just because I love Teen Titans and I love Raven herself. I’ve remade her costume recently and I am super happy with the result. The difference is stark, too.

raven 1

Raven cosplay 2.0

Another staple and big favorite is my Muffet cosplay from Undertale, mainly because it was my very first time making big props (2 sets of extra arms)

muffet 1

Muffet from Undertale

 

and the first time a makeup test was the definer for me to make Muffet my project, haha.

muffet 2

LOOK at this amazing make-up work!

Do you make, or buy your cosplays?

Most of my Cosplays were made by a seamstress back when I lived in Ecuador. When I moved to the States, costume making became much more expensive for me, and I didn’t know how to sew, so I no longer come up with 2 or 3 new costumes a year like I used to. The benefit of it though is it pushed me to actually learn how to make the costumes myself and to problem-solve a lot of the crafting process.
What advice do you have to other cosplayers?

To the new victims of this fun addiction: Don’t get intimidated by cosplay and the crafting process or by those who have been doing this longer than you. That doesn’t matter. You’re here to have fun and to use your imagination to create great things. If you commit yourself into making it happen, no matter what the result is, own it. We all learn new things and hey, lucky you, a lot of more experienced craftsmen and women have many good pointers and tutorials all over the internet. Also, don’t let anyone else tell you that you can’t cosplay a character because of your looks. You go rock whatever dang costume you want.

To us more seasoned Cosplayers: be nice to those who are learning to do this new craft. You were there not too long ago, and you struggled. You also have awful projects that maybe didn’t come out as planned, and you also put hours, days, and weeks on them, and wore them proudly. This is not a contest of “who did it better.” Share your knowledge and help others improve. Cosplay is way more fun when you can stand beside someone else who has done the same character without finding their flaws.

What’s the best thing that someone has said to you about your cosplay?

People comment a lot for my choice of fabrics, and for my makeup. I appreciate it a lot when people notice these details, because they are usually the ones I’ve worked my hardest on.

betty boop 2
What’s the worst thing that someone has said to you about your cosplay?

That I am either not the right skin tone for the character I am representing, or that I have the wrong body type for it. Just go away and be the miserable person you are somewhere else. I’m having fun over here.
Do you attend conventions? Which is your favorite?

I’ve attended to a couple in the US. I really wished I could attend more, but traveling costs can make or break you!

My first con in the US was Naka-Kon in Overland Park, KS thanks to the clubs I was part of during college. I attended for 3 years in a row until I graduated from school.

My favorite one though has to be A-kon in Fort Worth, TX. Much bigger and many many more talented people attend, and I had a blast getting to know so many of them.

I spoke to Daniela via Facebook Messenger. 

Advertisements
By cosplaymom

Breasts and Penises, Armor and Beauty: Superhero Genitalia- Part II

By far, the most well-read blog post that I have written here discussed the issue of superhero- and more specifically, MALE superhero private parts. 

If you haven’t read that entry, and would like to, go ahead. Follow the link above. I’ll wait.

maxresdefault

Ok. That post was a meditation, and consideration of the way in which comics, movies, and then, inevitably cosplayers, promote the idea that muscles and violence are for men and sexualized body parts are for women.

While female superheroes, and therefore female superhero costumers and cosplayers have to work to enhance their cleavage and make their boobs look bigger, it is a clear and both written and unwritten rule that male superheroes in film and in cosplay have to work hard to make their genitalia not just smaller, but invisible.

hide vpl

This is from a handy tutorial on youtube: “Male Spandex Cosplay Rules” Our host is displaying penis-hiding underpants.

That original post speculated about the origins of this differentiation in costuming.

I’ve continued to think about both sides of this equation, especially in light of both the new, and massively successful Wonder Woman (and James Cameron’s) comments on it, but also in light of some great panels I went to at a conference on gender and media called “Console-ing Passions.”

The Wonder Woman discussion merits its own post about women, beauty and power, so I’ll focus here on the men, with similar musings on appearance, beauty and power.

At that conference I heard a lot of great research and work being done on gender and representation, especially of superheroes. (I went to panels on everything from Orphan Black to Batman). I love my research.

One panel was devoted to the way in which media entities interact with fans in the production and advertising of films. The paper focused on both Batman vs Superman and the latest (2017) Spiderman reboot.

As the presenter was demonstrating the way in which much promotion surrounded the development and the technical specifications of Batman’s armor, I couldn’t help noticing the difference in the current armor from earlier iterations of the suit. Specifically, in the codpiece.

batman-v-superman-armor-image-comic-con

This is a fan-taken close-up of the Batman armor from San Diego Comic-con.  Apologies for the reflective glare. 

As you can see here, the armor from Dawn of Justice has the kind of enhancement of the genital area that you see in medieval armor-

codpiece

This is the kind of gear that is clearly designed to draw attention to and enhance the image of a man’s penis (and suggest great size).   That, to be honest, is what I was expecting when I first started thinking about superheroes, men and power.  As I observed in the last post, if male genitalia is the most masculine of body parts, and superheroes are designed to be uber-masculine and super-male, why would you hide it?

A discussion at the aforementioned Console-ing Passions offered some insight and led me down a different path of theorizing.  In a body suit, such as that of earlier Batman, or Spiderman, the suit is understood as soft.  

 In a costume such as the 2002 Toby McGuire Spidey-suit, there is a notable effort to diminish the VPL (visible penis line) and de-emphasize that area of his body. It is also clear that the suit is not armored, but rather a form-fitting body suit (that in many origin stories we see the hero sewing himself, clearly with no armor):

spider-man

And this may be the key: protection. While the penis and scrotum is of course the most masculine of body parts, it is also, obviously, the most vulnerable. Making these body parts visible in a costume that is clearly not designed to protect them does not communicate power, it communicates vulnerability.

And when it comes to appearance, as the brilliant Erynn Masi de Casanova observes in her study of men’s clothing and masculinity , men’s aspirational appearance is about power: looking invincible, capable and ready for anything.  Spidey can only carry that off if the (presumably male) viewer doesn’t have to worry about the vulnerability of his crotch.

The armor of the Batman suit above, however, can safely boast both about the size of Batman’s penis, but also the invincibility and invulnerability of it.

Which brings me back to the idea, discussed in the previous post, about how a VPL is “inappropriate.”  One sees this in many cosplay forums, much discussion about how “no one wants to see that” or “PLEASE tuck and tape for decency’s sake”.  I originally thought this was some sort of sexual prudery: the idea that it was inappropriate for either women to see, and therefore think about men’s penises, or for men (who were possibly, GASP, homosexuals) to do the same. Clearly, the desire to hide genitalia comes from social squeamishness.

However, I now wonder if the “inappropriate” nature of the VPL isn’t about sexual prudery (or at least not completely) but more about how it’s inappropriate for a superhero to show that kind of physical vulnerability.  

While we may be ok with Batman (or certainly Deadpool) showing some psychological damage, they must continue to be relentlessly invincible in their physical selves. And so I leave you with this last image, which I think sums up this particular theory of superhero genitalia:  It’s an add for the Chris Pratt Deadpool movie that is a very focused crotch-shot, and that even makes a not-so-subtle sexual reference to sexual potency.

Note, however, that while again, there is not an emphasis in the suit on Deadpool’s penis itself (obviously tucked and taped), he’s holding not just armor, but an actual weapon over that area as a phallic symbol of violence, power and strength.  The gun stands in, armored, weaponized and ready, as an invincible VPL.

deadpool-12-days-crotch

 

By cosplaymom

Faces of Cosplay: Dr. Crossplay

One of my favorite cons is Cosplacon- a friendly, well-run affair that focuses specifically on cosplay and cosplayers.

This year, I went with Kiogenic (cosplay daughter) and friends to the annual event.  Once they were ready to hit the floor, we went down to the atrium for photos:

P1000905

this is Kiogenic’s “Lego Batman” Robin.

When we were done and they had run off to meet up with friends and other people much cooler than I am, I sat in the sunny, 1970’s lobby and watched the show.

I love Cosplacon because just about everyone is in cosplay (it’s a cosplay convention, after all).

There were assassins and pokemon, monsters and anime princesses. A sea of happy, excited and excellent cosplay.

But as I sat there, my attention was most drawn to an stunning, statuesque cosplayer in fishnets, top hat and a tailcoat.

Dr Crossplay Zatana 2

Dr. Crossplay as Zatanna Zatara

When he worked his way around the floor, I asked to take his photo and we struck up a conversation. This is how I met the eloquent, elegant Edward Johnson, aka Dr. Crossplay.

Name: Edward Johnson

Age-ish: 48 Years Old Be 49 this August

How long have you been cosplaying? I have been cosplaying four years now.

Why do you cosplay? I cosplay for fun along with the recognition and respect from other cosplayers and fans. I’m able to bring my favorite comic book characters to life and I love the positive attention I get from fans,other cosplayers, friends and strangers.

How do you decide what to cosplay? I get a lot of my choices from Google, Bing, Facebook, and Deviant Art.

Do you have a favorite, or signature cosplay? My favorite cosplays are and have been Zatanna, Harley Quinn, and Poison Ivy.

Dr Crossplay Harley

Harley Quinn.

Do you make or buy your cosplays?  I tend to make my own costumes.just not exactly from the fabric or from the first sequin and stitch up. I throw together my costumes from other clothes and some other costumes I buy locally on the cheap or from thrift and do some hemming here, and adding more style there, to make my costume the way I want it to be the best I can make it to be.

What advice do you have to other cosplayers? Start out small. Go to the nearest con or comic event nearest to where you live. Don’t be afraid to buy a costume and do some modding or fixer-uppers to get the costume to fit how you want it to. Many cosplayers start out for the first time will go with something simple and build up for there as they progress. If you go to a convention, you’ll see a lot of different types of costumes, from store bought to homemade, from simple to complex. Some people aim to look as much like the character they’re portraying as possible. Others don’t. It’s all a matter of personal choice. The key to not being intimidated by other cosplays is to remember, it’s just for fun and those cosplayers are having fun just as much.

What is the best thing someone has said to you about your cosplay? Most people will say “That’s a great cosplay. Did you make it yourself?”

What’s the worst thing that someone has said to you about your cosplay? The worst I’ve had to endure a few cat calls and some homophobic slurs. Most of the slurs were online. I will sometimes confront them online and put them in their place and or just block them all together.

Do you attend conventions? I most certainly do attend conventions,Yes. So far it has been Cosplacon in Jefferson City, Dodecacon in Columbia, Visioncon in Branson, Missouri.

 

Please Don’t Be an Ass- Nothing but Love for Fans and Cosplayers

I’ve been thinking a lot about how easy it is to encourage and give hope, but also how easy it is to injure and beat down.

I’m like a lot of us- I carry around compliments and nice things people have said to me like little pieces of precious metal- to pull out and look at when I’m low.

And I also carry around insults and jabs- some from when I was a child. And really, they feel heavier.

This is true for most of us. In work or in relationships, researchers estimate that it takes between 5-10 compliments to offset every insult.

For every negative thing you say to someone, especially a child, you need to say ten positive things.

I knew this intuitively, but as always for me, it helps to see it in scholarly or research form.  I knew this not just because of my own experience, but in what I see in cosplay and at conventions. I love this drawing, because it is so true:

encouragement

Cosplay changed my daughter’s life. The people she met at our very first convention were so kind, so encouraging and so very positive that she left that event saying “I wish I could live at the convention.”

These are the first people that we met. I am sad at how bad this photo is, and very much wish I could tag them, but I want to at least give them credit and love and appreciation here

2013-08-24 13.20.18

I went to a panel led by the gentleman in the top hat the next day, and he even spent some time emphasizing just how important it can be to a young person to be accepted. Steampunk might have generally accepted rules and conventions, but you should never smack somebody down for their effort.

He said, “you might see a young cosplayer, and their whole costume might be just a pair of goggles.”  “And that is GREAT.”

I’m so grateful to him, the ladies in this photo, the artist Eric Burton, who we met at the same convention, and the so many other cosplayers and artists and creators who have been kind to us. Thank you.

I think most people don’t know how much of an effect they can have, even with one small compliment.

But they do, and they can help someone overcome a devastating insult or attack.

We’ve had overwhelmingly positive experiences in cosplay, but just this month, at RTX in Austin, Texas, one of my daughter’s heroes was, well, an ass.

She chose RTX, the convention for the production company Rooster Teeth for her senior trip.  I would have taken her to England or Japan, but she wanted to go to Austin and meet the men and women who make her favorite programs.

It’s her dream job to work for them.

We spent extra money on a VIP pass and she worked for weeks on cosplay and on making art to give as gifts to the celebrity folks to make the shows.

and the vast majority of them were LOVELY and fantastic and complimentary and everything we’ve come to expect and hope for at a convention.

RTX 1

Cosplay Daughter’s Felix  (RvB) Cosplay. These guys were GREAT

 

But one of the people she was hoping to meet was mean. And that’s really sad.

She stood in line for hours to meet the star of a show she likes (she wouldn’t want me to say which one), and when she got to meet him, she expressed what a big fan she was.

He then proceeded to quiz her on, “well did you see X episode”?

and when she faltered and wasn’t sure, he mocked her, because it was a “trick question”. “We didn’t do an episode about that.”

WTF dude.

Is this because she was female? Young? is he just mean? Who knows.

but out of all the stories she told me after her experiences, including fantastic ones, it was the experience she told me about the most. It hurt. It made her feel small and stupid. It crushed her.  Words like that are even stronger from someone you respect or admire.

Cosplay daughter used to want to code, until I sent her to a computer camp where she was outnumbered by insulting and abusive boys. This reminds me of that.

I’m just glad the positive outweighed the negative at RTX.

I don’t know why someone would behave like that. Arrogance. Misogyny. Damage. I don’t know. But it’s a very strong and valuable reminder to me about how much power both positive and negative feedback and interactions have.

I talked to cosplayers at the convention, mostly working my way down lines of people waiting to get into events. I met lots of wonderful, creative, supremely talented cosplayers like these

RWBY at RTX

All fantastic gender-bent RWBY cosplayers!

Most of the cosplayers were open and happy and proud and ready to share. We would chat, and I’d take photos, and we’d talk materials and characters and backstories with the surrounding crowd.

But as I worked my way up one line, I saw two young Camp Camp cosplayers ahead trying to make themselves smaller and smaller. They couldn’t have had clearer body language that they didn’t want to talk to me. They drew down into themselves and tried to disappear.

So of course I left them alone.

But at the time, I wanted badly to just walk by and say something nice. And now I’m just so much hoping that they didn’t stand in line to meet the nasty celebrity. I hope they had a good and positive convention.

and I hope, very much, that I always remember this lesson. And say nice things. And be positive.

I want very much to be one of the 5 to 10 compliments that helps counter any insult a cosplayer receives.

 

Faces of Cosplay: Sarah Harris

Sarah and I are cosplay moms.

When I first started on the odyssey of helping my cosplay daughter (Kiogenic) craft and construct (without going broke), I started a thread on cosplay.com called “cosplay parenting.”

parenting

This isn’t us, obviously. But great cosplay parenting!

While it seemed to me that there were a good deal of parents who supported their children in costuming (and who cosplayed themselves), I hadn’t found anywhere we could share ideas.

Sarah was an early contributor to that thread. She was helping teenage sons in England as I was helping a daughter in the U.S, and we shared ideas and celebrations. I watched the elaborate process of the construction of her cosplays from across the pond.

We became Facebook friends, and talked politics and life events, family and comics.

We started as fellow cosplay moms, but now she’s more than that: my super-cool English friend- cosplayer, artist, and best-ever tour guide……

Because when Kiogenic and I were in London this summer, I finally got to MEET Sarah in person!

18671220_10100109128662668_4754454666771658719_n

She was lovely and warm and friendly, and had organized the most fascinating street art and counter-culture tour of Camden- ever. We wound around the market and through alleys, looking high and low at the work of many of Sarah’s friends.

P1000884

This was my favorite.

She showed us the places the cool kids hang out and showered cosplay daughter with comic book gifts.

As she and Kiogenic browsed comics and graphic novels at a small, locally-owned shop, I chatted with the guy behind the desk, who was interested to learn how I knew Sarah.

18698369_10100109128722548_37769638184596190_n

“It would have been awkward if you hadn’t gotten on” he observed.

He was right. I suppose it would have been. But I hadn’t really worried about it. Sarah was already a friend before I “met” her in person. Fascinating, brilliant, talented and delightful.

So today I’d like to offer a profile of my cosplaymom, artist,  costumer and maths-whiz buddy Sarah:

Name: Sarah Harris
Day job: statistician for a marketing agency
Age-ish: 50 (ouch!) (Still not quite come to terms with that!)

Why do you cosplay?

At the moment I’m not (although never say never!), but when I did it was for 2 reasons…for something fun to do with my sons, and because I just love making things. The construction side of cosplay tended to be more fun to me than the actual dressing up part.

How long have you been cosplaying?

The first cosplay I made was 3 years ago. The first I wore was 2 years ago.

How do you choose your character(s)?

The only costume I ever made for myself was Rocket Raccoon. I thought he looked like a fun construction challenge and I wanted to make it for one of my boys but neither were keen…. so I made it for myself instead! The boys’ costumes were always characters they chose themselves from computer games.
Sarah 2

Rocket Raccoon. The tail. And the GUN!

Do you have a signature, or favorite cosplay?

Favourite is probably the Lich King armour from World of Warcraft that I made for my son Connor. It took over a year!
Lich King

Sarah has SKILLZ.


Do you make, or buy your cosplays?

Everything made from scratch. Making is the fun bit for me.

What advice do you have to other cosplayers?

Blimey…..people don’t usually ask me for advice! just have fun with it I guess! And if you aren’t having fun either change the way you do it until it IS fun, or find something else you enjoy more.

What’s the best thing that someone has said to you about your cosplay?


Best reactions are always from the little ones. “Rocket I love you” is probably the best 🙂

What’s the worst thing that someone has said to you about your cosplay?


This is going to sound horribly smug but I don’t think I’ve heard any negative comments! Closest I guess is “oh it’s a CHICK in there!” when someone heard Rocket talk in an unexpected lady voice 🙂

Do you attend conventions?

Yes, around one per month. Comic books are my first love so I tend to go to the ones which are comic content heavy.
Which is your favorite?
ooh, hard to choose. the best I’ve been to this year so far was a bit of a one off, a convention to celebrate the 40th birthday of the British comic 2000AD. I’ve been reading it since I was 9 🙂 So that was a real blast.

Check out Sarah and the rest of the Implausible Cosplay Gnus of her family at: https://www.facebook.com/implausibilityofgnus

Roosters, Gorloks and Costume Dreams

This is a big week for the cosplay fam at my house. This week we roadtrip to Austin, Texas for RTX.  Cosplay daughter just graduated from high school and this is what she chose for a senior trip.

She’s an anglophile, my daughter, and I several years ago I began saving money to take her to England in the summer before she went off to college.

When the time came to plan a trip however, she wanted to go to RTX in Austin- because that’s really her dream. To work for a production company called Rooster Teeth.

rooster teeth

Rooster Teeth makes most of her favorite shows- RWBY, Red vs Blue, Achievement Hunter and Day 5.  She’s taking her Yang Cosplay from RWBY

yang pro

and also a Felix (from Red vs Blue) cosplay. She finished painting the jacket for that cosplay yesterday:

IMG_0637

It says “aint no rest for the wicked”. My poor photo skills are responsible for the illegibility here.

Her dream job is to work for Rooster Teeth in costuming and digital art.

And I know I’m her Mom, but seriously. She has skills. She can sew and construct and paint and digitally render.

She’s made this digital print to give to the cast of Achievement Hunter

off topic

and will be hoping to make some good contacts.

She’s going to the Webster University Conservatory of Theater Arts in the Fall to study costume design and construction with professionals. She’ll be a Gorlok.

gorlock-mascot

It’s a mythical chimera of a creature that the students at Webster invented that has the paws of a speeding cheetah, the horns of a fierce buffalo and the face of a dependable Saint Bernard

To be honest- the mascot helped sell the school for her. “It’s a Harry Potter mascot!” she said, when we visited.

That, and the fact that it’s the kind of art school where the university team with the best uniforms is the Quidditch team and where students randomly wear cosplay to class.

She’ll both fit in and learn important skills. I’m envious of the required classes in her major- which includes things like “advanced corsetry” and “millinery.”

It’s very exciting for me to see how she’s making her dreams happen.

I helped early on with advice on sewing- pleats and puffed sleeves. Esposo (her stepdad) helped with bondo and plastic forming. He gives her power tools as gifts  The amazing guys at her internship at the Eternal Armory  taught her CAD and sculpting and 3-D modelling.

But in the end, she’s the one who is making her dreams come true.  Constructing her own artistic visions. Making contacts and building a resume.  Exploring and trying and learning from those around her.

She may end up working for Rooster Teeth. Or a film studio. Or on Broadway. Or for television.

I’m excited to see how her dreams unfold, and how she’s already making them happen.

We had business cards made- because as you all know, she is already quite skilled. Let me know if you need any design or costuming work done!!!!

see the cards below or contact her at @kiogenic on twitter or tumblr!

business card

Faces of Cosplay: Average Asian Cosplay

“Always strive for more but never stop learning. Ask questions. Reach out to the cosplay community. Other cosplayers are usually willing to help.”

Paul fire

As I read and research and write about cosplay, I’m continually encouraged by just how diverse and interesting the cosplay community really is. With that in mind, I’d like to widen the scope of this blog to showcase the work and stories of other cosplayers of all ages, gender identities and backgrounds.  This week we will kick off with an award-winning cosplayer I met at the Arkansas Anime Festival in the spring of 2015.

Cosplay daughter had brought her Hiro supersuit and I was cosplaying his aunt. Our first stop was a Disney meet-up and panel down the dim hall of the Springdale Holiday Inn. As I stood outside the room, I saw my “nephew” Tadashi approach and squealed in delight: “TADASHI!!!!!”  and he replied, in perfect character- “Hi Aunt Cass.” That’s how we met.

Hamada family

Name: Average Asian Cosplay

Day job: Graphic Designer and Sales at a sign shop

Age: 29

Home base: Wichita, Kansas USA

Why do you cosplay?

The joy of bringing a fictional character to life. Being able to take something that is two dimensional and bring it to the real world.

How long have you been cosplaying?

I have been cosplaying since 2010.

How do you choose your character(s)?

I choose a character depending on how they look and act. I usually want ones that I don’t need to change my own look too much. Also characters that people could easily recognize.

Do you have a signature, or favorite cosplay?

My main cosplays are Mako from Legend of Korra and Spark from Pokemon GO. Both of these cosplays are comfortable to wear for long periods of time. Spark is fun because I also made a large Zapdos that stays perched on my arm.

Paul Pokemon

 

Do you make, or buy your cosplays?

I buy and make my cosplays. The ones I compete with are made. The ones I just want to have fun at a con with are usually purchased.

What advice do you have to other cosplayers?

Have fun with cosplay. Don’t worry about what other people think about you or your cosplay. If you are competing and do not win, it isn’t that you didn’t do well, it is because someone just did it better. Always strive for more but never stop learning. Ask questions. Reach out to the cosplay community. Other cosplayers are usually willing to help.

What’s the best thing that someone has said to you about your cosplay?

I always enjoy it when kids want to take a picture with me and then want to brag to their sibling about it.

What’s the worst thing that someone has said to you about your cosplay?

It would have to be someone who asks why I cosplayed a certain character even though I don’t look like them or don’t have the correct body type.

Do you attend conventions?

I attend multiple conventions throughout the Midwest with the occasional con outside the region.

Which is your favorite?

My favorite convention would have to be Tokyo in Tulsa because it was my first convention and where I’ve met many of I’ve met many of my cosplay friends.

Safe Spaces and Complex Identity(s)

Hi all!

I’m back to blogging and DETERMINED to write more frequently!

Sitting in front of the laptop, however, I find myself lost in a sea of possible topics: I’ve been living and observing the cosplay universe, and have a tremendous backlog of stories to tell.

As I sit and consider all the places and people and relationships- I realize that one of the things that I both appreciate and wonder at the most is the diversity of the stories, the great variety of cosplay and cosplayers and the joyful exploration and celebration of fluid identities.

Yesterday I was at cosplacon in Jefferson City, Missouri with cosplay daughter, bonus daughter and their friend Allen.

P1000905

The Joker, Gender Bent WWE Wrestler Pete Dunne and Dick Grayson (Lego Batman-Style)

The best convention sites are the ones with large open floor plans that function as stages where you can watch the show go by- or find a group of new friends by virtue of joining the group dressed as one of your favorite fandoms.

The venerable Capitol Plaza Inn in Jefferson City has one of these spaces.  A 1970’s vintage hotel- the building boasts a central atrium with old-school neon track lighting and the remnants of a several story waterfall (now dry and decorated with tropical plastic flowers).

As the glass elevators slipped up and down, I sat on a nondescript convention-center chair, parked on the trippy, pseudo-celestial carpet, listening to the happy noise of a whole mob: the prerecorded screeching of the bright-red parrot wearing claws and black jeans.  The giggling of groups of anime cosplayers skipping by while holding hands. The clanking of metal and plastic as a gang of well-armed assassins traipsed by to claim a central locale in the atrium, manspreading weapons, legs and arms in a territorial pose.

There were families, some with children cosplaying (but not the parents) some with parents cosplaying (but not the children). Some wore full, elaborate costumes, others only a hat, a sword, or a tail.

A pair of young sisters scamper by, one dressed as Ladybug, the other gender-bending Chat Noir.

P1000895

They were all on the stage of the con floor, practicing what the sociologists call dramaturgy: (sort of) exploring their self and selves in a space designed to encourage creativity, diversity and play, presenting a self to others (as Mythbuster Adam Savage has noted):

This is cosplay: we are, all of us on that floor, injecting ourselves into a narrative that meant something to us, and we are making it our own. We are connecting with something important. And the costumes are how we reveal ourselves to each other.”

            -Adam Savage

I say this is “sort of” dramaturgy, because that theory generally sees society as a stage to be performed upon. A cosplay convention is something different- it is a safe, participatory and interactive entertainment experience without a detached performer-audience relationship. There is posing, certainly. And applause in the form of glomping or encouraging “I love your cosplay!” words. But each viewer of each cosplay feels free to talk to the performers, and those in cosplay generally love to talk to fans.

In this way, it is a safe space.

I know that “safe spaces” have  a bad rap in some circles. (That’s a link to the very angry urban dictionary definitions of the idea).

What I mean when I say it, however, is the perhaps older version of the idea:

In most cases, safe spaces are innocuous gatherings of like-minded people who agree to refrain from ridicule, criticism or what they term microaggressions… so that everyone can relax enough to explore the nuances of, say, a fluid gender identity.”

-Judith Shuleivitz

In the words of the fabulous Dr. Crossplay,  who I spoke to in the lobby, it’s “healthy creativity.”

I like that. Healthy Creativity. Healthy exploration and celebration.

In the coming weeks I’d like to showcase some of that creativity and fluidity by showcasing cosplayers on this page- extending the space where we can relax, explore and celebrate the healthy melee of ideas and images that is cosplay.

By cosplaymom

Moms and Daughters- And Fangs

15894451_961065595268_6857646976642691777_n

So there are two posts that I’ve been wanting to write for a while now. Thinking about them today, I realize that they go together.

I wanted to write about Carrie Fischer. About playing dress up and running around the playground pretending to be Princess Leia.

I wanted to write about Princesses, generally. How I was as girly, “wearing my Mom’s old nightgowns to be a princess” as you can get, but how Leia made it ok to be badass AND and a princess. In a dress.

But I also wanted to write about how my daughter is NOT girly. Never liked barbie dolls. Owns one dress total. And how it is both challenging and wonderful to have such a talented, individual girl in the house.

The kind who leaves fangs on the kitchen counter instead of barbie shoes.

(and there is a separate post upcoming on “you might be a cosplay Mom IF…..” you find random fangs on the kitchen counter….)

There are expectations- societal and familial, and then there are individuals seeking to find their way.  My Mom negotiated this with my Grandma, I had to do it with my Mom (and the world around us), cosplay daughter does it with me.

img_0641

here we are. four generations circa 2005

And Carrie Fischer had to do it with her mom and with her daughter.

And she did it with fangs. (Bear with me)

I think fangs (and the freedom to wear them, hide them, display them, etc.) are a gift we can give ourselves and our mothers and daughters.

To be brave and honest (like both Leia and the real Carrie Fisher), to be sassy (like my grandmother) independent and strong (like my mother) and artistically adventurous and free (like my daughter).

Carrie Fisher gave us a princess who KILLED the slug who put her in that gold bikini,

killing-jabba-590x900

and also wrote terrifyingly honest, brilliant and eloquent books about mother-daughter relationships that must have driven her mother to distraction.

My kid drives me to distraction. Often. And whoa nelly I KNOW I did to my Mom.

But I’m so very proud of my daughter and her fearless fangs.  We all give a gift to each other as women when we accept the fangs with the princess dresses, the honesty with the manners and the things that we see in each other that are different-alongside with the things that are the same.

here’s to Carrie, and Debbie. To Hillary and Michelle. To Amy Schumer and Isabel Allende. To all the gorgeous, strong, imperfect, loving, nasty women out there who love and support each other.

lightsaber-tribute

Wear a lightsaber AND a gold bikini if you want. Rock those fangs.

Be you.

By cosplaymom

The Future Wears Kigus

The future isn’t just above the Arby’s sign: it’s wearing kigus  and glomping. 

kigu

Cosplay daughter has two- One kitty and one Baymax

It’s been a while- life, the day job, and all of cosplay daughter’s activities have made the time fly.

Lots has happened, I finished (and co-finished) two books about beauty, we’ve been working on university applications, and you may have heard that we had a presidential election here in the U.S.

Between the cosplay club and my the university students that I teach, I’ve seen a lot of confusion, sadness and concern about the results of that election.

…and anger. Lots of anger.  Students where I work keep sticking their phones in my face, showing me the map that demonstrates how young people 18-29 said they would vote.

blue-map

Guys, this map, like my experiences as a teacher and a Mom is anecdotal. But I see something that makes me happy. The future, our future here in the U.S. is filled with young people who embrace difference, non-binary gender identities and people from anywhere.

My students and my young cosplay friends glomp anyone, regardless of their immigration status.

As the kigus demonstrate, everyone deserves to be comfortable. To be safe and warm. Accepted as part of the tribe. And the young people I know are deeply, passionately committed to those values.

I know not all young people are monolithic in their thinking. I know that cosplay daughter is a blue dot in her deep red high school.

But I also know that in her school and in her community,  cosplay daughter is part of a network of young people who support each other, encourage each other and help each other.  That network is Christian, Jewish, Muslim and atheist. It is heterosexual, homosexual and asexual. It is Anglo, Hispanic, Asian and Afro-descended.

and Furry.

springfield-cosplay

Cosplay Daughter’s Cosplay Club- http://www.facebook.com/sgfcosplay

And when I am discouraged by the hate and and insensitivity and ignorance that drives the fear of many in the United States, I’m counting on the love, inclusion (and glomping) of these great young people to save us.

No pressure kids.

love

By cosplaymom