Call for Chapter- Entrepreneurial Cosplay

Call for Chapter Proposals: Entrepreneurship/Intrapreneurship and Cosplay

The Editors of Entrepreneurial Cosplay: Building Identity, Brand and Business Acumen seek to fill one chapter opening in their anthology, under contract with Routledge UK.

Overview of the project

The book will take: 

“a comprehensive and insightful look at the business of cosplay, exploring the ways that artists and fans engage in entrepreneurial and intrapreneurial practices to gain personal and professional success.

Centered around the concept of entrepreneurship and the newly emerging concept of intrapreneurship – using entrepreneurial principles to enhance or further an existing concept, organization or product – the book showcases the ways in which cosplayers create new ideas, new ways of working, and new ways of doing things, exploiting their knowledge to create new opportunities. By analyzing the numerous motivations driving cosplay behavior (self-expression, external recognition, and financial gain), this volume provides a unique view of current cosplay practice and its relationship to economic activity.  

Offering important insight into this emerging area, this book will be of interest to scholars seeking to learn how entrepreneurial and economic models may be used to understand the emerging field of cosplay studies, as well as students and scholars working in the fields of Entrepreneurship, Business Fan Studies, Visual Art Studies, and Gender Studies.”

The volume will be published as part of Routledge’s series: Studies in Media and Cultural Industries.

Placement of the chapter

The collection is divided into three sections:

  • Part 1: Ideas, Innovation, and Failure
  • Part 2: Intrapraneurship
  • Part 3: (Self)-Branding

The editors are currently seeking a chapter for the “Ideas, Innovation and Failure” section. We specifically seek chapter proposals from scholars working in the areas of entrepreneurship, innovation and iterative design. The focus of the section is on the entrepreneurial and intrapreneurial process, from idea generation, whether creating something new or evolving an existing idea, product, or service, to implementation, whether successful or not. This section also speaks to resiliency and perseverance, the ability of people to encounter failure and respond to it.  

The additional chapter will join two extant chapters titled:

“Entrepreneurial Cosplay: Success Maximization, Business Ownership, and the Entrepreneurial Mentality”

“Third Party Content Creators in Esport”

Details of length and scope

Proposals from all disciplines are welcome and junior scholars are welcome to submit.

Final chapters will be between 5,000 and 6,000 words and will be allowed no more than 3 charts, tables or images. Contributions must be original, not previously published work.

Authors in the collection will be expected to participate in peer review of other chapters in their section as appropriate.

Submission information and timeline

Interested scholars should submit abstracts of 1000 words (maximum) to the below address by October 1st, 2021. Contributors will be notified of decisions by October 15th 2021. Drafts of the proposed chapter will be due to the editors by March 1st, 2022.

Your abstract should describe your proposed chapter and the disciplinary len(es) you seek to take and the names of all planned contributors with a one or two line bio.

Submissions may be sent, with the subject line “Entrepreneurial Cosplay” to

Dr. Amy C. Lewis

Associate Professor of Management

Texas A&M University San Antonio

Identity, Entrepreneurship and Cosplay

It’s been a crazy couple of years, hasn’t it? Most of us haven’t been to conventions, and my local con, Visioncon went virtual this year. We followed the lead of cons like CasaCon, which has always been free- from your casa.

On Friday, June 25th, my colleague Dr. David Tomcyzk and I will be presenting at Casa Con on the idea of Entrepreneurship and Cosplay- if you’d like to check it out (12pm EST in the U.S.) you can register for Casa Con, for free, Here: Casa Con . The con will also livestream on Twitch here:

Can’t make it? But still hoping to see me present some nerdy cosplay goodness? Then check out the video from Virtual Visioncon- this one isn’t about entrepreneurship, but rather about the way we find, build and express identity through cosplay.


Virtual Cosplay Costume Contest!

Hello to all the great cosplayers out there- locked in, locked down and missing the cons.

I feel you.

The Convention that I volunteer with, Visioncon will be virtual this year April 30-May 2.

We will have one live, FREE, streaming channel via Facebook, that you can catch HERE.

There will be additional content, interviews, panels and nerdy fun on two additional channels (INCLUDING A LIVE PANEL ON COSPLAY BY YOURS TRULY)- all for the low price of $5 (US)

We will also have a COSPLAY CONTEST! Read more about it below and enter it HERE!

We will just take cost out of that, and give the remainder (the majority) to our charity, K-9s for Camo. You can purchase a ticket that will get you the passcode for all three channels HERE.

It’s a bargain! It’s for a good cause!

Visioncon is a not-for-profit, all-volunteer outfit that donates all post-cost earnings to a different charity each year. K-9s for Camo adopts rescue dogs and uses local prison inmates to train them to be service dogs for wounded veterans.


Sooooooo…… Back to the contest.

Do you have cosplay? (beginner, intermediate or master-level?) LET US SEE IT!

We are having a virtual contest, and you can enter HERE! From ANYWHERE in the world!

You will need to provide contact information (on the form) and be ready to send photo(s) and/or video of your cosplay, which you will send to the director of the contest. That’s it!

We will then announce the winners as part of Virtual Visioncon AND post photos and videos of all your amazing work!

Can’t wait to see cosplay from everywhere!

(as a bonus, if you’re interested, here is 2019’s Visioncon Cosplay Contest….the last year we were able to meet in person. Sigh.)

(Cos)Playing Warriors: LARPing at the Capitol Building

Cosplay/noun: the activity or practice of dressing up as a character from a work of fiction (such as a comic book, video game, or television show)

LARP/noun: a type of interactive role-playing game in which the participants portray characters through physical action, often in costume and with props.

It’s the day after the attack on the U.S. Capitol Building by armed insurrectionists.

Like so many others, I’m seeking to process the images of the insurgents storming the U.S. Capitol. And the cosplaymom/cosplay research side of my brain can’t get over how so many of them did so in costume.

They carried props. They carried weapons. They wore masks, and hats and capes. They used face paint and military symbols. They were cosplaying warriors and engaging in Live Action Role Play as revolutionaries.

Was it really just cosplay?

Why call it cosplaying/LARPing? Because they knew there would be no real consequences. They could not have had any real expectation of stopping the electoral count or the transition of power, and multiple sources (and video) show that they were literally let into the building without violent challenge. They weren’t there to fight. They were there to pose, and take selfies, and post on social media, playing at being warriors.

As my colleague Dr. Lori Morimoto suggests, it’s time to discuss hypermasculinity, identity and reactionary cosplay.

This isn’t just about wearing a superhero cape or giving a Wakanda salute: it’s about how men reach for the trappings of violent power and appropriate sacred symbols as they aspire to be “badass.”

It’s about a group of men who don’t want to be civil, polite or respectful of others’ opinions- they think they long for a day where they could just beat up or intimidate anyone they disagree with. They’re not happy that women or minorities can vote, and they are creating an imagined place where not only is their societal supremacy still challenged- but it’s also an imaginary place where they would be supreme in that society.

There is a lot to try and unpack here, so this will be part 1 of at least 2 posts on this topic. Yes, I know you’ve seen the guy below in his cosplay-tastic mish-mash of appropriated symbols. He (as Amy Jefford Franks and others have noted is going all out in his performance of hypermasculinity, notably through sacred symbols. He is an example of how white supremacist thought plays into this whole toxic stew, and that’s a topic for another day.

I’d like to leave that discussion for another post and focus and in this one focus on the use of military gear, uniforms, weapons and props as cosplay. Let’s return to the above quoted Major Mike Perry (retired)’s thoughts on militias, Proud Boys and other groups of playacting warriors.

Mob vs. Army: Look at Me! I’m Special Ops!

Following threads of international military veterans on twitter and in other social media, I see the types of men who participated in the January 6th attack often referred to as only “cosplaying” soldiers.

Here, a French veteran makes a similar observation:

Taken together, these two comments point to the way that individuals within the mob seek to perform the kind of masculine posturing that we all recognize from film, comic books and video games, but do so without the training or understanding of what the reality of military training and practice entails.

As with a lot of cosplay, the donning of fancy (and often inappropriate- please see the ghillie suit above) gear in order to “look tough” is the same kind of aspirational identity performance as showing up at a convention in an Iron Man suit. Decades of movies, television shows and first person RPGs have glamorized the idea of being the individual, indestructible hero, and made the “rogue cop/rogue soldier” a role to cosplay.

Exhibits 1-4 (Call of Duty, American Sniper, Gerard Butler in Olympus Has Fallen and Squad)

No, I’m not blaming video games for violence. Actually, the point here is that the mob at the Capitol knew they were never in any real danger. In fact, evidence suggests that the men participating would not participate if they were:

For the record: “SOF” is Special Operations Forces and “CAG” is the Combat Applications Group- which includes Delta Force. (I often have to use a lot of Google to understand the tweets of veterans).

This observation, however, highlights how the props and the costume for some men is part of a desire to play the role- to LARP. When, however, it turns out that the reality of what that means is painful and hard, they don’t actually want to do it at all.

Think of it this way- its as if the guy above spent a mint on an Iron Man Suit and then got mad when he found out that it’s hard and painful to actually fly with a jet pack. Or if a man bought a Spider Man suit thinking that it would be enough to let him climb walls. If he didn’t train in bouldering and climbing, should he be mad when he fell?

Cosplaying Strength, Inappropriately: Look How Big My “Gun” Is!

The costumes here are like the beards referred to above: an outward sign of masculinity, a desire to perform and display testosterone and outward symbols of strength without discipline or self control.

And that, I would argue is ok at a convention, at a photo shoot or in a location with rules governing behavior.

It is most decidedly NOT ok when the performance entails destruction of the U.S. Capitol Building- or in any other public place. Because of course this is not the only time we have seen this cosplay. It has played out in other locations, like Idaho and Michigan.

I have no idea what kind of gun that is, except “big” but would be willing to bet that the men and women trained to carry and fire it would find it ludicrous that this person is carrying it in a public place.

I’m sure these men felt very manly indeed in their cosplay, as they LARPed as Gerard Butler. But they were just cosPLAYing. They are, to quote Maj. Perry, “cosplay militia domestic terrorists.”

And as much as I love cosplay, this, this is not the way.

Call for Chapter Proposals: An Academic Reader on Cosplay!

YES, I’m a cosplay mom, but I’m also a scholar. As part of my academic and professional life, a fellow cosplaying academic, Dr. Amy Lewis and I have interest from several academic publishers for an edited reader on different approaches to cosplay!

If you are working cosplay as a scholar, or know someone who is, please share this call!


Call for Chapters

Discipline and Freedom: Social Norms, Social Identity and Financial Implications of Cosplay

Cosplay, as a worldwide phenomenon, draws fans of film, television, and video games to express different aspects of their identity through both amateur/hobby and professional performance of characters and genres. Cosplay is an increasingly important aspect of both fan practice/produsage and franchise control of intellectual property.

This volume will address two fundamental questions related to the practice of cosplay: Why do people cosplay? and How do they cosplay? This project is envisioned as an interdisciplinary reader viewing these questions though then lenses of various fields and approaches, and submissions should be targeted at a generalist audience. Several academic publishers have expressed interest in this proposal and the editors are working to finalize agreements with a publisher.

Editors Elizabeth Gackstetter Nichols and Amy Lewis will provide an introductory overview of some of the key concepts related to these questions in an introduction to the volume, setting the stage for individual chapters to take deeper dives into related questions and topics. We expect these topics to include (but not be limited to):

– Gender identity and cosplay identity

– Racial identity and cosplay identity

– Beauty work identity and appearance in cosplay

– Self-esteem, self-worth, and self-concept in cosplay

– Intra- and inter-group competition in cosplay

– Professional and amateur/hobby cosplay

– Benefits and drawbacks of fandom activity

– Fan perception of franchise “ownership” vs. Corporate and intellectual property view of “ownership”

– Fans’ economic investment in cosplay practice

– Entrepreneurial angles and aspects of cosplay

We seek proposals from an interdisciplinary slate of scholars working in the fields of fan studies, media studies, beauty theory and business among others. We particularly seek proposals covering the following topics:

  • Marketing and branding in the business of cosplay
  • Racial and ethnic identities for cosplayers and characters
  • Gender fluidity, sexual and gendered identities for cosplay and cosplayers
  • Permanent body modification as a form of cosplay

We invite potential authors to submit chapter proposals by October 5, 2020. Please submit a 1000 word (maximum)_abstract that describes your chapter proposal and the disciplinary len(es) you seek to take. Separate from this abstract, please also include a brief biography of all authors and a reference list of 3-5 key works from your discipline related to your proposal.

Submissions may be sent, with the subject line “Cosplay and Identity” to

Dr. Amy C. Lewis

Associate Professor of Management

Texas A&M University San Antonio

Accepted chapters should be approximately 4000-7000 words. Contributions must be original—we cannot consider previously published work for this project. Final selection of chapters will be determined through editorial review.

  • Our project timeline is dependent the editorial’s eventual requirements, but we anticipate notifying selected authors by December 1, 2020, with first drafts of chapters due by March 30, 2021.

Harley Quinn Cosplay and Fan Identity- THE VIDEO!

Greetings from self-isolation, friends. I’m wishing everyone health and easy days.

As professor, and as a volunteer for my local con- the Quarantine  Quarter has been a  challenge. Zoom classes, online office hours, and then eventually Virtual Visioncon!

I volunteer with  Visioncon’s marketing team and assisted, in a small way, while the amazing Zack Wilson hosted a panoply of guests, panels, and celebrities. Zack and the team did an amazing job in providing content on our original con weekend,  but of course, all did not go according to plan. When does it ever?

At one point,  one of our guests (sadly, the one that cosplay husband and I were looking forward to most) could not make it.  We had an empty slot and no plan to fill it. So…..into the fray I jumped, and gave a presentation on  Harley Quinn!

I happened to have a powerpoint ready,  but my delivery is, well,  less than prepared.

In any event, I provide the video here for you if you’d like to check it out!

It’s a bit more academic than my usual post, as it was prepared for the Fan Studies Network conference, and my actual presentation was thrown together,  but with those caveats, here it is!

Craft Stash JUSTIFIED!: Surviving the Pandemic as Artists and Crafters

So here we are. Are you all ok?

These are hard times.

Many are struggling financially, many are struggling emotionally and most of us are feeling trapped and stir-crazy.

I know I am. I am very privileged to not worry about having enough to eat or a place to stay. But I am still very stressed.

I miss my students. I miss my workout friends. Cosplay husband is at half salary. I worry about my high-risk friends and family.  I fight migraines every day. (This is not in order of importance).

So much I can’t do anything about. What can I do though? MAKE MASKS.

I sew! I’m a crafter! And what’s more, I HAVE A FABRIC STASH.

I, like my mother before me, like so many of us who costume, craft, and sew, have a hard time throwing out ANY supplies.

Especially if you cosplay! You never know what you might need or be able to use!

As I’ve shared here before, Kiogenic (cosplay daughter) and I started cosplaying as a financially-strapped single Mom and daughter. Thrift shops were our friend, and we reused EVERYTHING.

The shotgun shells for Yang’s Gauntlets here? Wine corks that Kiogenic painted red. (I drank the wine).

So yes, over time, the arts and crafts room turned into, well, a disaster area of a dump of all the things that “we might have a use for.”


Yeah. It was a disaster. But also an opportunity. I wanted to make masks,  and luckily, one of the sf/fantasy academics I follow on twitter had posted a great pattern and tutorial. All credit and love to CZ Edwards fro this great pattern! You can print directly onto printer paper and then there are step-by-step instructions, even for beginners. There is a simple double-sided mask with interfacing (or an extra layer of cotton) and an additional pattern if you want to make a pocket for inserting an additional filter (folks are using coffee filters, kleenex, etc.)

If the above pattern seems daunting, the CDC has a less complex (but arguably less effective) pattern and set of instructions here. 

It was exactly what I needed to make masks for myself, my family, and an increasing number of friends who want to keep themselves and others safe.

But first Kiogenic and I had to clean up the arts and crafts room. And we did (which turned out to be necessary anyway- Kiogenic is pursuing an art degree and ended up having to complete her  advanced painting class at home)

The artist at work

All best practices, as described by reputable sources, indicate that tightly woven cotton (quilting cotton) is your best bet for mask material.  The tight weave does as good a job as possible in providing a filter but still makes it possible to breathe. The room more organized, I found a LOT of cotton, saved from previous projects, and took the advice to hold it up to the light to see how much light penetrated. This is an easy way of picking the pieces with the tightest weave. Since I am leaving the house only rarely (grocery shopping for us, my parents and in-laws) I was grateful to have the stash of fabric AND a stash of interfacing! My pack-rat sewing/crafting habits were VINDICATED!

The room cleared out, we now had room for Kiogenic to paint AND for me to sew.

I made masks for me, cosplay husband and Kiogenic, as well as for our folks. Then, when former students and other friends asked if I could make them masks, I, of course, said yes (I still had PLENTY of fabric). Small problem: I was out of interfacing. Here, I was saved by my mother, who- though she has not sewn regularly for a decade, came through with her stash. I called, on the off chance she had interfacing. She didn’t think so, but she would “check” and call me back.

She had a bit.

Something like 15 yards.

And so, not only was my fabric stash justified, so was that of my Mom! We win!

So the next time someone gives you trouble about your fabric, or craft stash, tell them that it is just prepping for disaster, being ready for (if not the apocalypse) then at least big emergencies. If you keep things that can be useful, then you can help protect yourself, your loved ones, and others in the community.

Stay safe, friends. Wash your hands. Keep your distance. Care about others and WEAR A MASK!

Faces of Cosplay: The Porcelain Princess

To me, cosplay is a kind of therapy, a way of expressing my creativity in a way others might enjoy and appreciate.”

As I’ve mentioned before, Kiogenic was lucky enough to have an internship with a local armory that made awesome Mandalorian gear. That place has since (sadly) folded, but I’m still in touch with the great guy who was her mentor.  Recently, he shared that the intern that followed Kiogenic: Gabriella Ward, was seeking to get some exposure for her work in special effects makeup, and asked us all to take a look at her work.

Folks, her work is AMAZING. Gabriella, who uses the cosplay name Porcelain Princess, is seriously talented, and I’m delighted to be her honorary Cosplay Mom and present her to you. If you need costuming or SFX work done, consider hitting up Gabriella!

Name:  Gabriella (Gabby) Ward  AKA The Porcelain Princess

Age: 20 years old

Day Job: I am currently a professional freelance SFX makeup artist. Recently I graduated from Tom Savini’s Special Makeup Effects Program in Pittsburgh, PA. My passion lies in creating effects for haunted houses like from Springfield’s Dungeons of Doom, to Pittsburgh’s Hundred Acre Manor! I’ve created many effects for local theater and personal events such as A Class Act Productions and Thriller on C-Street. Cosplay really helped me get into SFX in the first place!

Why do you cosplay?:
To me, cosplay is a kind of therapy, a way of expressing my creativity in a way others might enjoy and appreciate. For a little while I’m not Gabby, but Captain Marvel or an elf from a forbidden forest, and I find joy through that. It’s a form of art and entertainment that almost everyone can try! And having a supportive and inspiring community around you really helps boost your confidence as a person and as a cosplayer.

How long have you been cosplaying?:
I’d like to think that I’ve been cosplaying all my life, Halloween is my favorite holiday, and any chance I got to dress up I would! But my cosplay adventures started officially 7 years ago with a character called HoneyBooBoo Klingon (it was just as ridiculous as it sounds😄). From that my first big cosplay was Harley Quinn from Batman the Animated Series.

How do you choose your characters?:
I usually choose characters that I adore from mixed media, whether I look like them (like Drew Barrymore’s character from Scream), or not (like Nightcrawler from Xmen)! I always do deep research into the characters, so that I can play the part as much as I can. It’s just as much fun making and wearing the costume as it is playing the role. I also like to have a mix of popular characters and more obscure characters, to keep fans of the shows on their toes!

Do you have a signature or favorite cosplay?:
Well, my first, fully handmade character costume was my first Harley Quinn, with her I really started my passion for cosplay! Another more recent cosplay that’s recognizable is my Nightcrawler from X: Men-Evolution. And my most used and social character is my Ghostbusters costume of Holzmann or just me as a Ghostbuster with the cosplay group Ghostbusters of the Ozarks! I love that group and we love to support our community and bring a little fun with us!

Do you make, or buy your cosplays?:
I do both! I try to make more than I buy absolutely. But sometimes I just don’t have the time or skill to make my own, that’s when I’m thankful for other costume artists to create awesome cosplays!

What advice do you have to other cosplayers?: ‘

Keep creating, and keep inspired! Do the best you can, keep practicing, and you can always improve!

What’s the best thing that someone has said to you about your cosplay?:
I met Stan Lee before he passed and he complimented my Captain Marvel cosplay, which meant the world to me! I’ve met animators, voice actors, and fellow cosplayers of the characters I’ve created, and they’ve all been so supportive, which is absolutely incredible!

What’s the worst thing that someone has said to you about your cosplay?:
I’ve only had one experience with someone giving negativity, and it was about my weight. But I’ve learned that I love what I do and, as long as I’m having fun and bringing joy to others than my weight doesn’t matter!

Do you attend conventions? Which is your favorite?:
I love to attend a lot of local conventions including Visioncon, Planet Comiccon, G.A.M.E and Librarycon at my local library. I found most of my cosplay friends and love for conventions at Visioncon! I’ve attended every year for about 5 years now, and now on my 3rd year hosting a horror panel called Fear Factory!

She met Stan. How cool is that?

Check out Gabby’s work:

Facebook @TheOfficalPorcelainPrincess

And if you’d like to see more of her makeup and SFX, or want to get in contact for her services, you can find her on Facebook or Instagram

The Badass Possibilities of Harley Quinn Cosplay

I love Harley Quinn.

I love how she, as a character, represents a combination of fun and mayhem, vulnerability and power, love and violence. Really, I love how complex she is.

I also appreciate- deeply, how her character, over twenty years, has moved from abuse victim to empowered survivor.  Yes, I’m VERY excited for the Birds of Prey Movie! (That’s the trailer. I just watched it again. CAN’T WAIT).

So, as you might expect, I also love Harley Quinn cosplayers.

Anyone who spends any time at conventions (or even looking at cosplay online) knows that Harley is one of the most popular (if not THE most popular) cosplay for women, and crossplayers. I have found this to be true in both the United States and Mexico- speaking to the very broad appeal of Harley as a character.

Part of what makes Harley so appealing, I believe, is that her overall evolution offers choice and agency to many cosplayers.

There are cosplayers, like The Batgirl Pierce, for example, who grew up watching Harley on Batman the Animated Series, and who love “identify with her happier, playful side.” Pierce shared with me that “I like to poke fun, but not in a violent way.” The version that Pierce cosplays is often referred to as the “Classic” version. 

Springfield, Missouri Cosplayer The Batgirl Pierce as “Classic” Harley Quinn

This is true of many Harley cosplayers, who identify with the comic, bubbly and mischievous characterization of Quinn in the animated series. This is, of course, a valid choice for cosplayers, and I love to see it.

This version, however bright, cheerful and geared toward comic relief, is also very sad. Her optimism and humor cover for her child-like vulnerability and a desire to love and be loved. She desperately seeks The Joker’s affection and he abuses her regularly and violently. As the authors of the DC Animated Universe Wiki describe her, Quinn is the “epitome of the battered wife syndrome.”

This is another way in which cosplayers often identify with Harley- with her pain and suffering, and therefore her anger.

This anger is on display in the more “Modern” versions of Quinn’s appearance- first demonstrated in the New 52 versions of the comics, and then continued through the Arkham games and Suicide Squad comics and movie. The dichotomy between classic and modern versions is clearly represented on the cover of the DC Comics omnibus special issue dedicated to Quinn.

Cosplayers who choose this version often identify strongly with a Harley who, in the words of Mexican cosplayer, Bernadette, remains ““fun despite the tragedy” of surviving an abusive relationship.

Bernadette at La Mole: Mexico City 2019

Harley represents a woman with significant trauma in her past, who escapes and becomes truly empowered. For Missouri cosplayer Raylene (pictured above as the featured image), this is key to her admiration for, and identification with the character. Raylene shared that “that’s why I like her. While she’s still hung up over Joker’s death it’s the first time in the Arkham series where you actually get to see what’s she’s capable of and how she’s able to organize herself and an entire gang just by herself.”

Raylene says that “I’ve always just really liked her and the depth of the character they portray in her. I’ve had a lot of issues in my own life and when I saw her grow as a person, whether it was in comics, movies, games, etc., it really helped me out in my personal life. When I saw her separate herself from certain situations and stand up for herself against Joker, or Deadshot, or even her own demons it was always so inspiring to me since I resonated with her on such a personal level.”

This is not an uncommon sentiment. Harley Quinn cosplayers in the United States and Mexico have expressed this feeling of resonance with a character who is abused, and mistreated, and then breaks free to find agency and self-empowerment.

That this agency is often violent is, I believe, cathartic. As French feminist Julia Kristeva noted, when women have been systematically abused and gaslighted for decades (and we all either have suffered this and/or have seen it happens to friends and family), it shouldn’t surprise anyone that the backlash against that abuse may be violent.

What Kristeva says is that a woman fighting to free herself from oppression by a partner (or a society), “may, by counterinvesting the violence she has endured, make herself a possessed agent of this violence” and that sometimes this violence and the weapons she uses may seem disproportionate, but are not so in comparison to the suffering she has endured.

I would argue that even women who do not become violent in their personal lives can find satisfaction in role-playing and cosplaying a woman who represents the chaotic energy of one who is fighting back against her tormentors.

Cosplay is perfect for this. It allows for identification, exploration and, in the end: creativity. Cosplayers can choose from various versions of Quinn to cosplay, depending on their experience and desire to play with the idea of being a “possessed agent of violence.” Given the nature of the practice, then, Harley cosplayers can even then invent their own, new versions of the character.

When I spoke to Mitsuko in Mexico City, she was cosplaying her original, steampunk version of Harley Quinn.

MItsuko at La Mole 2019

Mitsuko told me that she cosplays several versions of Harley Quinn, but this one is her favorite. In her creation, she sought to portray a version of Quinn who was “passionate, not afraid of anything,” as a way to express a combination of parts of the persona she identified with, along with the parts of the persona she aspired to.

Mitsuko appreciates the liminal, conflicted nature of Harley, saying that she saw her as a villain, but also someone who helped others.

And that, right there, is the badassedness of possibility in Harley Quinn. It allows for both villainy and helpfulness. Playfulness and mayhem. In Harley, we can identify our pain, and appreciate her revenge.

Cheers to all the Harley Cosplayers that I have met! (and those I haven’t!)






Desperately Turning 50

I turn 50 this year.


So does my best, oldest and dearest friend. We’ve been tight since 1981.  We agreed that we should do SOMETHING awesome in honor of our big birthday year. Not something appropriate, really, just something ridiculous and badass.

Let’s go to Vegas!

Let’s see Def Leppard!

Ah, the 80s. Hair and denim. Still love it.

Chess and I saw Def Leppard in…1987? The Hysteria tour, so what better way to celebrate our birthday year than to see them again?

We booked a nice hotel, planned a spa day, and purchased MUCH better tickets than we could have afforded in 1987. Such are the benefits of being middle-aged with a steady income.

Now, Kiogenic (aka cosplay daughter), has recently discovered the joy of 1980s rock. (Another post incoming eventually about her badass Motley Crue cosplay). She wanted to come too- and why not? Clearly, though, we would need appropriate attire.

What’s the point of doing something slightly ridiculous for your birthday if you wear boring clothes? (Ok, many people would, and did, wear appropriate and even classy outfits to the concert. Chess did. But she’s not a COSPLAY MOM.)  I decided that I would make……..the jacket from Desperately Seeking Susan. 

Haven’t seen it? As of Sept 2019, it was on Amazon Prime. Recommended! Super fun, circa 1985. And the jacket is both amazing, and a key plot point!  The costumers made at least two of these, (see photo below) one for Madonna and one for Rosanna Arquette. The one worn by Madonna in the film – and in her video for “Get Into the Groove,” sold at auction in 2016 for $70,000. (!)

Anyway, here I go. I do NOT have the sewing skills to try and tailor a jacket from the ground up, especially with the time constraints (and fighting terrible migraines- a joyful benefit of approaching menopause). It was a really rough summer, but I was DETERMINED to make this jacket.

I decided to the thrift shop and upcycle. (Thrift shops. Where would cosplayers be without thrift shops?- we sometimes say that the Macklemore song “Thrift Shop” is the cosplay anthem). I was also lucky that Kiogenic has moved back home, and was available for consultation and advice regularly! (Since going off to college in art and costuming, she has much better, and wider skills than I).

Step 1: Find a jacket that has the right general profile, and FITS.

In the first store I go to, I strike gold: the PERFECT jacket. I have wide shoulders, so finding a jacket that fits across the shoulders is hard. This fits, and while it’s not exactly the right color, that’s why we have RIT dye!

This will work- and IT COST $2!

Step 2: Tone that green down a bit and hack away

The canonical jacket is not only more olive but had gold flecks. Kiogenic was pretty sure she could get the gold effect with an airbrush, and time, but time was short. I cut off the collar and the flaps for the pockets (this gave me fabric scraps for testing the concentration and timing of the dye). I also needed to cut and hem the bottom for the tuxedo points in front and back.

This left me with a good base for adding all of the fancy extras that make the jacket amazing.

Step 3: The collar and cuffs

The auction site actually has the best and most details reference photos. Kiogenic also watched the film (she hadn’t seen it) to get a good look at the details. The collar and cuffs seem to be a brocade lining that doesn’t line the whole jacket, just as a strip along the tuxedo collar and cuffs. It’s got texture in swirls and arabesques. This fabric was going to be impossible to find exactly

Looking around the internet (I’m not the only one out there desperately seeking to make the jacket), I see that many other folks cheat, or make do with tiger stripes. Here’s an example that someone else made:

Credit to “Q is for Quilter”: she made this for her daughter.

Props to her for the gold in the weave on the fabric (and the fact that she made the jacket from the ground up!), but I wasn’t loving the tiger stripe look. I spent probably entirely too long looking at brocade to buy online. I found some, which had the right gold base and similar patterning, but would need some amendment ($8 on EBay). Kiogenic suggested fabric paint- and NOT a fabric marker. I painted with a brush.

I used newspaper to pattern the right shapes for the cuff and collar pieces, cut them out of the brocade and got to work. The silver needed to be covered in black.

This would get me very close to the original, and closer than a tiger stripe pattern. Once these pieces were done, I fired up Peggy (my trusty 1960’s vintage machine) and sewed the pieces on. That got me to here:

Step 4: The iconic pyramid on the back

Ok, so now the fun begins. time to take on the image on the back- which is the pyramid, eye, and slogan from the back of a dollar bill- only in 1980’s gold lame and embroidery. On inspection, I see that the pyramid and eye are outlined in red. I decided to applique the lame on the red for stability and to get that outline.

YIKES. Lame is a pain in the ass! It frays like a mofo. Ok, now using glue.

Once the lame was glued on, I dug out my embroidery skills, learned, oh, 40 years ago from my mother, and hand-embroidered the details. (Thanks mom!)

I cut the pieces out and then, again, glued them to the jacket.

Gluing these pieces to the jacket wasn’t laziness- Since I wasn’t building it from scratch, if I had sewed these on, I would have had to sew through the lining, and that would have made it hang funny.

Here we are before I add the extra embroidery details:

And now the ribbon. I am TERRIBLE at hand lettering. Thank goodness that Kiogenic is AMAZING at it. She lettered the slogan on the ribbon and I attached that. Now we are T-20 hours before the plane leaves for Las Vegas. I thought I was going to sew sequins around the ribbon, but Kiogenic swears that it’s a brocade trim. Crap. So I try to bust out an embroidery outline.

This is one of the two things I’m NOT happy about with this jacket. Before I wear it again, I’m going to pick it out and go with the sequin idea.

(You don’t get a close-up photo of that. I’m going to fix it.)


TA-DA!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! Ready to rock out at the Def Leppard concert!

I need to redo the outline of the ribbon and add some interfacing at the tip on the back, but really? In and amongst the health issues I’ve had? I’m pretty happy.

For the record, Kiogenic basically cosplayed Blondie / Debbie Harry for the concert:

As always, significantly cooler than I am. : )

We, all three of us, had a GREAT time.  And I WILL wear this jacket again!