Hey Cool Kids! We’ll keep this short and sweet, because we’re sure you want to get past the crust and enjoy the creamy middle!
Please enjoy this little experiment in pictorials as we feature our first character cosplayer pictorial for our Up and Coming Cosplayers: Arkhamesque Cosplay!
So, what do you think? Should we do it again? Do you mind us covering character cosplayers? Did it even matter? Please let us know. We love to hear your input. It helps us think that we’re actually doing something worthwhile, and keeps us from taking swan dives out of buidlings. (‘Just kidding! …Or am I ? ;))
No, but seriously, Folks, please help us with comments. Also, Share, Follow, Like, and support the site and the cosplayers! We work so hard, and ask for so little…’just your engagement input! ‘A mere pittance of your attentive currency!
As always, thanks for checking us out. ‘See you next time!
For the first time, All Cool Things™ thought it might be fun to feature a character cosplayer as an Up and Coming Cosplayer. While we respect cosplayers for their ability to be different characters and bring the unreal to life, character cosplayers are a little bit of a contradiction. Character cosplayers play one character, but very well.
Where great cosplayers are chameleons that change into many different personas, with enough prep time, character cosplayers are more like superheroes with secret identities. Where character cosplayers are not as versitile in their cosplays, we expect them to be more of an experience. We expect the character that they portray that much more.
I think we all get how you came up with your cosplay name. I know that many cosplayers go through at least one other name before settling one. Did you have any other names before “Arkhamesque Cosplay?”
Yes, I was also considering “Arkham’s Angel” but A, I thought it was a bit generic and boring, and B, I felt it was a little TOO Harley specific, as ironic as that is. I wanted a name that both referenced Harley Quinn but could also apply to any other cosplays I might eventually want to do, so I chose “Arkhamesque”, as in reminiscent of Arkham.
Why did you decide to become a Harley Quinn character cosplayer? For the record, do you cosplay as anyone else? About how many other cosplays besides variations on Harley Quinn have you done? How many variations of Harley Quinn have you done?
Harley Quinn is very very dear to my heart. No other character sparks the same passion in me. Perhaps it’s because she was my first interaction with “nerd culture,” but I honestly think it goes deeper than that. All I know is that when I saw her character for the first time (I was 14 years old playing Arkham Asylum), it was like immediate infatuation. I had never cosplayed before, but my extreme passion for her led me to doing my first cosplay, a cosplay I still wear to this day.
I do cosplay a whopping ONE other cosplay, Juliet Starling from Lollipop Chainsaw, but, if we’re being honest, isn’t she just…Harley-adjacent? (I have some generic Halloween costumes, but I don’t count those.)
How many Harley variations have I done? Oh boy uhh…*looks at Facebook albums because I have no idea* Oh jeeze, I honestly haven’t been counting but it looks like 12 at the moment. That’s way more than I thought I’d done. That’s not counting Harley-themed outfits; just full actual costumes. That’s the great thing about Harley, though. I don’t think I’ll ever run out of new Harley costumes to wear!
You are the second cosplayer that I have encountered that has decided to become a character cosplayer for Harley Quinn, even though I have a feeling that that was a very common thing at one time. How many other cosplayers do you know that have chosen that same path? How many have you personally met? Are there any that stick out as especially good?
I personally have never met anyone who cosplays predominately Harley variations, or if I have, I didn’t notice. I generally just see one or two pictures of a cosplayer, so it’s not often I see their other cosplays unless I look into it. Doll Face Cosplay on Instagram is an amazing Harley cosplayer, as well as Sammy Jo.
On that same note, I don’t think there is another Harley Quinn character cosplayer that has tried to claim it like you have. Would you mind telling our readers to what lengths you have gone to be “The Harley Quinn Cosplayer?”
I am definitely not the best Harley cosplayer out there. I don’t even think I’m in the top 50, but passion wise, I gotta be close to the top of that list. Not to sound like a freak (I’m gonna sound like a freak regardless, but), It’s so much more than just a costume to me. Calling Harley a “lifestyle” might be a bit much, but she does certainly occupy a lot of space in my life.
I am a natural brunette, but I have bleached my hair blonde to look more like her even when I’m out of an elaborate cosplay. I know that sounds bonkers, but it just made me feel more confident in my life.
I actually have taken adult gymnastics classes to try to imitate Harley to an even higher level. The closest class was 45 minutes away, but again I wanted to better play her character. Also, I thought it would make me, as a Harley cosplayer, more interesting, and I’d stand out more. I’ve fallen out of the gymnastics routine, but I do plan to go back.
To a less impressive degree, I also own a few Harley internet domains such as harleyquinn.org, harleenquinzel.org, and harleyquinn.co. Each one leads to one of my social medias. I honestly can’t believe no one owned those!
Are there any characters that you have a strong urge to try? Do you ever think that you might want to stop being a Harley Quinn character cosplayer and expand to others? ‘Or do you think you might end up something like Real Life Peter Griffin, Robert Franzese, and be known for one cosplay, but also have maybe one or two others that you also specialize in?
I think I’m much more likely to fall into the latter category. I think Harley will always be my main muse, but there are some other characters I have my eyes on. When I was in high school, I did a very amateur version of Stocking from Panty & Stocking with Garterbelt. I’ve been thinking about cosplaying either Panty or Stocking again, but for real this time, in one of their sexier costumes now that I’m an adult. ‘But I can’t foresee a situation in which Harley isn’t my main cosplay. I don’t think I’ll ever be KNOWN for cosplaying her, but cosplaying her just brings me so much joy regardless.
I have a feeling that you do most of what you do by yourself. Most cosplayers have a lot of help getting started. They even have crews that they work and collaborate with. Do you pretty much cosplay solo, or do you have a person or crew that helps you? Was there a person in particular that helped encourage you, or got you into cosplay?
I do a lot of stuff by myself, but I do have an amazing crew called “My Grandparents!” They are my support team, and no matter what I aspire to do, they’re always on board! (Maybe a little TOO on board. Like, maybe someone should question me about some of these life choices! LMAO) Before I met my boyfriend, my grandfather shot the majority of my cosplay pictures, even when the rest of my family didn’t really approve. My grandmother is a natural creative soul and is amazing with innovative ideas. Any time I don’t know how to make something, she always has an idea I would have never thought of. She single-handedly figured out how to turn my hair into huge cones for my Dark Prince Charming cosplay. I went to my grandparents once day and said, “I need to make a huge mallet” and my grandfather instantly started directing me to what tools and materials I’d need to buy. He accompanied me to Home Depot to help pick out equipment. He instructed me on how to use a rotary tool to carve “wood” grain. Any time I have a cosplay I can’t figure out how to pull off, I hit them up for ideas. My grandmother once said comically, “Never did I think I’d be spending my late 60’s building a giant mallet, or taping my granddaughter’s boobs together, but that’s where I am!”
My boyfriend is also really really supportive of my cosplay. He’s the one who takes most of my pictures now. He really has a photographic eye, and is very helpful in telling me how to correct/adjust my pose to make the picture better, but more importantly, any time I ask for his help, he always has my back. Whether it’s dragging him to 5 Goodwills looking for the right item, or him learning how to use a curling iron so he could do my hair for me (Hair that won me a Bad Dragon dildo once but THAT’S another story.), I know I could ask him ANYTHING and he’d do it for me. (He wouldn’t right out admit that, but he would lmao!)
My high school friends really encouraged me to take the first steps towards cosplaying and going to my first convention. They were all really into that scene, and I thank them for introducing me to it and teaching me all about it!
What is “Geek Fuel,” and what is your relationship to it?
Geek Fuel is a monthly nerd merch subscription box who once sponsored me. They were a great support to me, even going so far as to offer my followers special deals and items. I no longer work with them, for I felt I couldn’t adequately represent their items, as my interests are very DC Comics-centric. Meaning, when they’d have items from Star Wars or Lord of The Rings, I couldn’t really relate to them
What does your family think about your cosplaying? Do they understand? Are they supportive and proud, or just kind of accepting?
As aforementioned, my grandparents are fully supportive, even when they don’t understand why I do what I do. They see it makes me happy, and that’s enough for them. They have even gone to conventions with me to better understand my interests. (They had a BLAST at Florida Supercon!)
My mother is a little more skeptical and wary. This may sound like I’m joking, but sometimes she says she fears for my mental health! LOL She worries that I might actually think I’m Harley Quinn, or something like that, but honestly, can you really blame her? Everything I’ve said here probably sounds NUTS, but I promise you, I am still Madison under this clown paint!
My cosplays can get a little (okay…a LOT) risqué sometimes, which doesn’t THRILL my mother, but she seems to take it in a “Oh well…what are ya gonna do?” kinda way. My grandmother also kinda feels this way, but understands that I’m a young adult and having fun. I think she puts on a front that she’s going “tsk tsk” but part of her is yelling “You go girl!”
Harley Quinn has her hyenas as her “babies.” Do you have any “babies” that you take care of? ‘Any pets?
We don’t have accommodations for hyenas, unfortunately, but we do have a pomeranian/poodle mix named Toby! He is a spoiled brat but he gets away with it because he’s too cute. He’s a weird dog sometimes. He’ll pick sweets over meat always. His favorites are cotton candy and jelly beans (we only give him a very very small amount though obviously.) He also wont drink water without ice, and needs to be tucked into bed. Even I don’t get that kinda treatment!
Which is a better relationship goal: Harley and Joker, or Harley and Poison Ivy? Why?
This is a trick question, right? I wouldn’t really call either of them a “healthy” relationship, but I’d say Ivy is MUCH less abusive than Joker. Don’t get me wrong, I like a little bit of Harley/Joker sometimes. I do love their “ride or die” attitude, but I feel like Ivy gives Harley the love and attention she deserves. No hate to whatever you ship! ‘Just my opinion.
How much are you about that “Con Life?” What are your favourite conventions you go to? What is the farthest that you have traveled to go to a con?
I love going to cons! I love the atmosphere. It’s honestly like there are no normal social barriers, and everyone is your friend. It feels like you could ask any random stranger for help, and they’d help you. You could yell, “HEY WHO WANTS TO PLAY A BOARD GAME!” in the middle of the convention center and BAM, meet your 10 new friends! There’s so much love and support going around. It’s nice to take a little break from the real world for a weekend. Also, I LOVE hotels. Honestly, you could just put me up in a hotel with no events, and I’d love it. I’ve never been to a con outside of my state (Florida), so no more than 2 or 3 hours. My absolute favorite con is Holiday Matsuri, in Orlando. I love that the con is in the hotel, so I don’t have to trek through the Florida sun in high heels, and the hotel itself is BALLER. It’s beautiful, has a mini grocery store in it, and the pool is like 5 pools. Also, it’s Christmas themed! It’s a great way to get into the holiday spirit and get some gifts.
Are there any cosplay or con goals right now? Are there any cosplayers that you want to meet, or are glad you did?
I’d LOVE to go to SDCC one day. They have a huge Harley cosplayer meetup there, I believe. I’ve never really met any big-name cosplayers, but hopefully ‘one day!
Anything to else to say to the “Puddins” out there?
Find your passion in life and follow it! You don’t have to be the best. You don’t even have to be GOOD. Just do you. Do happy, and as Harley says, “Be good to yourself! ‘Cause everyone else in the world is probably out to get you!” ��
So…what do you think..? No…wait…Let us know after the pictorial. We really want to know if we should have more character cosplayers like Arkhamesque Cosplay, but hold your judgement until you see the pictorial we put together.
Keep your eyes peeled for this Friday for the pictorial!
This Up and Coming Cosplayer is a remarkable woman. She reminds me a lot of Free Safari. She has overcome great odds and is a survivor. She also reminds me of AlliZ Cosplay. She is an Amazon with a great natural body honed by nature as well. She reminds me of FeistyVee. She is proud of her body and not afraid to share it. Who is she? Her name is Extraordinary Erika.
For the first time there will be more non-cosplay pcitures in a feature for an Up and Coming Cosplayer. Extraordinary Erika is one of those cosplayers whom’s life, interests, and passions rival those aspects of her cosplay life. We not only have a truly interesting cosplayer in Extraordinary Erika, but a complete and vibrant complete person.
Have you always lived in Hawaii? That’s quite a place to live. What do you love most about living there?
I actually grew up in Colorado, and lived there most of my life. I moved to Hawaii after I finished school for a job. I never thought that I would leave Colorado, but I also never thought I’d get an offer in Honolulu! My favorite thing about living here is the ocean. Back in Colorado I used to keep salt water fish tanks, but now I’ve upgraded to actual reefs!
For fun I ask Up and Coming Cosplayers what their superpower is, and you gave an interesting answer. You said you have two sets of DNA. Would you mind explaining? How did that end up happening?
I was diagnosed with leukemia when I was 22. After chemo failed to keep me in remission, I got a bone marrow transplant from a donor in Germany. The effect of that is that I now have her blood, since her stem cells were used to repopulate my bone marrow. So if a DNA test were done on my skin or organs, it would be me, but the DNA in my blood is from my donor.
Shameless plug, but being a donor is super amazing and easy, and it really saves lives. You can sign up for free at bethematch.org. I probably wouldn’t be here today without my donor.
You look like you keep extremely active. Were you like that before Hawaii, or is that just something you took advantage of? Does this active lifestyle help with your cosplay? #Cosfit
I moved to Hawaii for work, but I don’t think I could have gone somewhere where it’s hard to go outside and do stuff. Living in Denver I got very used to being able to hike, and snowboard, and kayak, so when I moved I had to make sure that there were new things to keep me busy. I just got freedive certified as a level 1 diver, so that’s been a really awesome new skill to learn. While I firmly believe that cosplay is for every body type, many of the characters that I play are of a fairly muscular and lean build, and I definitely prefer to emulate that where I can in my cosplays.
I’m really not into tattoos, but of the ones I have seen, I think your phoenix is one of the more beautiful ones. Is there a story behind it?
Phoenixes are all about rebirth by fire, so that was a huge factor in the design choice. I got this tattoo to commemorate my 5 year cancer free anniversary. Going through chemo and transplant was very much a trial by fire, so I thought that it was a fitting metaphor for my experiences.
I’ve mentioned before that you are very active and fit. You also don’t seem to be very shy about sharing it in nature. Is there something about exotic settings or nature that sets you at ease, or are you pretty much a free spirit?
I struggle with the societal concept that the human body is something that should be hidden or that we should be ashamed of. Nature is my happy place for sure but, it’s more that. I’m there a lot, so that’s where a lot of the photos are, but I’m definitely always trying to be at peace with my body, and I’m ok with showing what I am; no more and no less.
I’ve seen you in quite a few shots in full mermaid cosplay complete with a mermaid tail. I’ve always wondered: Is it hard to swim in one? How do you learn? How many tails do you own?
They’re really easy to swim in! I’m naturally a pretty strong swimmer, so they weren’t very challenging. I learned when we were at the beach and there were dolphins in the bay. Some friends decided to go see if they would swim with us (always better to go swim and let the dolphins come to you! Don’t chase animals!) and take photos. I didn’t have fins so I was offered a tail. The monofins are good propulsion so we hopped in and ended up swimming all over the place since the dolphins were so playful. Now I have two tails of my own: one fabric one and a partial silicone from Merrowfins.
Some of the things I’ve seen you do look kind of dangerous. Are you ever afraid on your adventures? Have you ever been hurt on some of them?
Some of the hikes in Hawaii can be dangerous, but we typically don’t go on those. I do a lot of bouldering in my free time, so I’m usually pretty confident when climbing up things. Freediving is really safe as long as you’re following basic rules, like diving with a buddy and doing a proper breathe up before a long dive. It’s not uncommon to get little cuts or bruises, (reefs are sharp) but I’ve been lucky to have never gotten seriously injured.
Are you an actual doctor, or do you just play one on TV?
I’m going to give you two random words, and I want you to tell me the first thing that pops into your mind: “fuck” and “cancer.”
Yeah, fuck that. I have a “Fuck Cancer” poster in my room with Jane Foster as Thor by @artlidawn. Cancer in young adults is a different beast, and there’s so little data or resources for it. If you are a YA Cancer peep, look into First Descents, they’re an awesome group and there are so many people to talk to, plus there’s adventures.
I know that you are a fan of Pokémon Go. That, plus where you live and what you enjoy doing probably means a lot of cool water Pokémon in a lot of awesome places. ‘Care to share the coolest examples of both?
We actually got a little screwed on PoGo. We’re apparently not part of North America, so we don’t get regionals from there or anywhere else. But there’s a really big community here, so we’re lucky because we can always get a good group for raids and community days are lit. That said, I’ve literally seen Charmander spawning out in the bay, so I think they got a little confused on our biomes…
Speaking of Pokémon, you’ve come face to face with some pretty awesome real animals! You’ve swam with sea turtles, kissed a shark, and picked up a hitchhiking octopus. How do you get to actually meet and swim with them? Do you just know and have access to these great places? Are they kind of secret?
Part of it is knowing where to go. You’re nearly guaranteed to find turtles at cleaning stations, and you have to know where to find octopodes, but a big part of it is just being out in the water a lot, and having a friend who is incredible at photography really helps too.
So with all of the things you do and activities you enjoy, how did you find the time to get into Cosplay? I think most of the questions I’ve asked have nothing to do with cosplay! You may be busier than FeistyVee!
I don’t even know anymore… I’m almost never not doing something. I find the creation process in cosplay to be really relaxing, so I’ll often work for a few hours on the weekend or after work. I hate con crunch, so I usually start making something as soon as my last costume is finished.
Are there any cosplayers out there that you think you would get along with, and might want to travel and go to cons with? (Personally, I think you would have lots of fun with AliZ Cosplay and FeistyVee.)
I love meeting new people and I really want to travel to some mainland cons! I’ve always been really inspired by Kamui Cosplay; her attention to detail is amazing, and she tends toward armor builds which are my favorite. Plus, she has really cute dogs.
Before you kick off into the Wild Blue Yonder, do you have any inspiring words for our readers and your followers?
Thanks for the feature! I’m looking forward to making some fun stuff in the future!
Well, by now you should know the drill. Friday we publish Extraordinary Erika’s pictorial, and we think you’ll like what we’ve done with it!
There will be a few cosplays, but it will be Extraordinary Erika in her second element: the beaches, reefs, and waters of Hawaii! Enjoy!
Every now and then an interviewer feels extremely privileged. He/She feels privileged that he/she thought of the interview subject. ‘That the subject said yes. ‘That he/she was inspired with good questions and the subject was inspired with great answers. Sometimes everthing all comes together, and a simple conversation can become something that takes some masters years to produce: a work of art.
The cosplayer and subject of this interview is an old school veteran of cosplay and a geek for the ages. Like so many gifted and dedicated masters, cosplay has served more than a means of expression. Sometimes it has been therapy. Sometimes a coping mechanism. Sometimes it has even been a means to give back to people that may feel that Life has short-changed.
In the time that he has set aside from his very busy and giving schedule, he has given us true pearls of knowledge and wisdom, plucked from his very bittersweet Life experiences.
Ladies and Gentlemen, I am extremely pleased to publish this interview I had with The True Aquaman.
Unlike the majority of people who cosplay today, I became involved in the Cosplay scene through a tragic turn of events, but given the way it turned out, although still heartbreaking, I have made the best of it. I did not choose cosplay. Cosplay chose me. I will go into greater detail of my beginnings later, but I have been an active cosplayer since 2005. I dabbled in costuming like a lot of people do for Halloween, as it was my favorite holiday, but today I joke with many of my fellow cosplayers, that Halloween is now considered “Amateur Night” to the cosplay community.
Just like cosplay, I did not actually choose to be Aquaman. In fact, I fought the idea for almost a year. When the idea was first brought up, I was cosplaying with a group of people who would do large group cosplays such as Resident Evil, MarvelX-Men, Road Warrior, etc. I was cosplaying Iron Man in an 85 lbs armored suit as was incredibly popular at conventions, as the Marvel film had come out the year before. It was really awesome being in the limelight with my fellow cosplay friends who were currently doing the Avengers characters from both comic book and movie versions. After a while, the group decided to change things up and try doing DC characters. This person jumped on Batman and Superman. This girl picked Wonder Woman, and another Black Canary. Then several of them turned to me and said I had to be Aquaman. I was not interested. I was getting a lot of convention love as Iron Man, and now these people wanted me to become a 2nd string Superhero that everyone likes to make fun of because of the cartoon Super Friends. It took about a year of constant badgering before I gave in and had a very talented seamstress who worked for Sea World, make me the classic costume. I even made sure that it was totally usable in the water. This was about 11 years ago, before Flashpoint and the New 52 reboot of most of the DC characters. So as I walked around the conventions, I got a LOT of people asking me if I was Mermaid Man from SpongeBob Squarepants. That was painful as it happened a lot. Or if our group was doing a group photo, the photographer would line up Batman, Superman and Wonder Woman and then I would get, “Ok Aquaman, I guess you can be in the picture too.” I stuck it out for a couple of years until one faithful day at MegaCon in Orlando, changed everything.
I was leaving the main floor of the convention to help a friend back to their hotel room as they were not feeling well, and was stopped by an old lady who asked if I would take a photo with her husband, I kindly obliged. I did a few hero poses next to the older gentleman as his wife used a disposable camera to take a few shots. As I went to walk away, the old man gently grabbed my arm and told me I was exactly how he imagined Aquaman would look. I thanked him and went to walk away again, he again grabbed my arm and explained that I was the living embodiment of his imagination. I told him I was humbled by his words and that I took great pride in bringing this character to life. He then asked me if I knew who he was, and I replied that I didn’t. That was when he told me he was Nick Cardy, the man responsible for the character design of Aquaman. His wife was escorting him to a panel for the Golden Age of Comic Book Artists, with Stan Lee, George Perez, and several others, when he saw me and had to have a picture. He then told me that he was in awe of how much I looked like the idea he had in his mind’s eye all those decades ago, and that I was “The True Aquaman” he envisioned, and that was how I got the cosplay name of The True Aquaman. That day forward, I took on becoming the best Aquaman cosplayer I could. Shortly after that event, DC released the series Flashpoint and followed it up with the New 52 Reboot that changed Aquaman from continuing to be a joke character as seen in the Super Friends, to a fierce and noble character of the Justice League, and a well-respected standalone comic book hero.
What other characters do you cosplay as? About how many variations of Aquaman do you think you’ve costumed?
I currently have over 40 different cosplay costumes in my various wardrobes and closets. I have various Star Wars characters, several Marvel cosplays, TV show characters, video game interpretations, and movie heroes like James Bond and Resident Evil Special Operations Soldier. Iron Man has always been dear to my heart, as I love the story of tragedy reshaping the mindset of the hero, as I can relate in a very personal way. As for Aquaman, I currently have 11 variations on the costumes, and am currently working on 2 new versions that I hope to reveal later this year.
You are actually more than the average character cosplayer. You have a lot of fandoms that you cosplay in. You’re a Trekker. You’re a Star Warsfanboy. You even dabble in…*gasp*…Marvel..!!! With all of those cosplay in all of those, and other, fandoms, can we still call you a character cosplayer?
I do dabble in a lot of different Fandoms because I am a true Geek at Heart. My first comic book hero cosplay was actually Angel from the X-Men. I had this beautiful set of giant white wings custom made, and developed a harness system inside a black X-Men movie leather biker style suit. It was impressive, but very difficult to maneuver inside of a convention. Even though my true start in Cosplay was Star Wars related, I have always been a fan of both the Star Wars and Star Trek worlds. Not only am I a geek, I am a total closet science nerd as well, so Star Trek feeds my nerdy side as the technology and science on the show is much more possible to believe. I grew up watching G.I. Joe, and so I have done a couple of those characters, with one being a direct farce from Robot Chicken’s character Fumbles/Trouser Snake. I am an avid video game player with FPS being my favorites, and so I have done Assassin’s CreedEzio from Revelations, and several characters from the franchise of Fallout. People say I have a resemblance to Daniel Craig (I personally don’t see it), so I have cosplayed his version of James Bond for several photo shoots. The list goes on and on, but I have been referred to as “The Hero with a Thousand Faces,” and I am extremely humbled by that title, as it is a reference to one of my favorite books by author, Joseph Campbell.
I am certainly a character Cosplayer. No matter who I cosplay these days outside of my Aquaman costumes, I am constantly asked, “Aren’t you that Aquaman guy?” I am always “That Aquaman Guy,” in or out of cosplay. It’s like being a firefighter (by which I was for 6 years). When you’re a firefighter, you are always a firefighter in or out of uniform, on or off duty; you are that persona. That is what it is like for me today. I am always Aquaman.
Looking at some of the younger and newer cosplayers coming up on the scene, would you say that there are different kinds of cosplayers? Are there different types, maybe even classes of cosplayers? What kind of cosplayer would you consider yourself?
‘Most defiantly. The new and younger cosplayers have access to technology and materials that have changed the whole face of costume construction. When I started, vacuum forming and mold making were the cutting edge. Today, 3D printing, and EVA foam & thermalplastics have made costumes that would have cost thousands of dollars and weighed a ton. (Costumes) now weigh next to nothing and cost a fraction of the cost. The newer cosplayers also have a wealth of knowledge at their fingertips with YouTube videos that explain countless ways to overcome any cosplay construction problem, where 8-10 years ago, you had to search forums in hopes of finding someone who had experienced the same issue and was willing to share their solutions. The other side of the newer and younger cosplayers on the scene is their attraction to characters from the Asian animation series and video game characters vs. Pop Culture comic book characters. The exception to this is if the character is in a recent blockbuster movie or TV show, and is the popular cosplay flavor of the month.
In my belief, there are several types of people who wear costumes. The first type is the fan of a fandom who wears a costume to show their love of a character or fandom. This is usually not a well-fitted or accurate costume, but allows the person to align with others that are fans such as themselves. The next is a costumer, this is the person who wears an outfit because they think they look good in it, but have no deep affiliation to the particular fandom. They tend to not know much about the character or it’s particular fandom. These have become even more prevalent since the popularity in the boom of superhero movies and TV shows. People want to be considered part of the “Cool Kid Club,” so they dress up like a movie or TV character to fit in at comic book conventions. The last is a true Cosplayer. The Cosplayer is the person who looks and acts the part of the particular character that they portray. If asked a detail question about their particular fandom, the Cosplayer can answer it, and do so as if they are actually the character. This is an actor-like representation of a character while you are in costume. That is my definition of a Cosplayer.
I consider myself a professional cosplayer. I don’t make a living at being a cosplayer, nor do I make a lot of money at all, but I do get all my costs for attending a convention covered and am expected to be at the events for a set amount of time like a job, so that makes me a professional. There are very few cosplayers that can make a living as a professional cosplayer unless they are also doing outside of convention means like Patreon, or as a commissioned seamstress/prop builder.
I am most certainly a Cosplayer. When I am in costume, I become the character in every way possible to make the other convention attendees believe they are meeting a real superhero.
With the DCU revamping Aquaman’s image, it adds a new sexiness to him, but in my opinion, takes away part of his old charm. What do you think? How has it affected your cosplay game with Aquaman?
WOW! This is a real hot topic for me. The DCMU casting for Aquaman did so much to make people’s understanding of Aquaman more than a little convoluted. By changing every aspect of the character’s iconic look and changing so many of the details of his origin story, fans are left having to go through great lengths to explain why the movie version is a farce to the almost 80 year legacy of what Aquaman is really like. I am beyond disappointed in what Snyder has done to the entire DCMU with his poor casting and deplorable execution of several of the films leading up to the release of Aquaman. So instead of a regal and deep character from decades of comics, the non-comic book reading masses, who only have seen the movies, believe Aquaman is a shallow beer guzzling and brawling barbarian-like character who is the butt of most of the movie’s onscreen jokes, and if you go through any toy isle and look at the DC figures, you have to ask yourself why there is blond haired and blue eyed Aquaman action figure, and another action figure calling itself Aquaman that looks like a barbarian. I understand the reason Snyder chose the person he did, as financially getting women to see a shirtless version of a person they loved in the HBO series, “Game of Thrones,” would increase box office sales, but in doing so, he crapped on the iconic nature of the artists that worked on making Aquaman an amazing and extremely complex comic book character for decades. My perfect casting for an onscreen actor for the part of Aquaman would have been Charles Hunnam from the series “Sons of Anarchy.” He has the natural look and build as well as the character acting skill necessary to pull off a regal, yet deeply conflicted character like Aquaman.
Princess Nova “The True Wonder Woman” as Mera
It has been a bit of a game changer in some ways and a hidden blessing in others. As I walk through conventions now, I get a lot more recognition from true fans that point me out to their friends and family as they tell them “That is what Aquaman is supposed to look like!” It has made Mera a popular character for females to cosplay, and so I now get a lot more opportunities to shoot with some amazing people while I am in one of my many incarnations of Aquaman. I have been asked if I would ever do a Momoa version of Aquaman, and I refuse to lower myself to that, but I have worn a movie version of the costume, but as a blonde haired and blue eyed traditional Aquaman look, and this has proven to be very favorable with fans. Those that know a little about Aquaman often call me out as “OG Aquaman” or “Classic Aquaman” when they pass me. I am okay with that. I congratulate any cosplayers I see who are cosplaying as Momoa, as it is a hot commodity due to the movie, but that’s just it, they are cosplaying a person, Momoa, and not truly Aquaman, because if they were true fans of the iconic character, they would not try to look like the movie. If you saw the film “Into the Spider-Verse”, there was a character called “Spider Ham.” This character is a real character in the multiverse of the Spider-Man characters, but is considered more of a joke then a serious version of Spider-Man. This is the same classification I give to Momoa. His is a farce version of Aquaman in the DC Multiverse. I know that my opinion is not always a popular one, especially with people who think the Sun rises and sets on Momoa because they are highly attracted to him, but I have a bias against his portrayal out of years of following the Comic book character, and learning every detail about Aquaman’s actual back stories.
You cosplay as lots of cosplays other than Aquaman. You even cosplay with heavier armour builds. What types of materials and techniques do you like to use in your crafting?
I craft in a lot of different mediums, and I am always looking to get into using new techniques, like 3D printing and thermalplastics. It is fun to learn new things through trial and error, but I am a perfectionist, so I will not display any of my builds until I believe it is the very best portrayal I can bring to the convention floor.
Arkhamesque Cosplay said that she met you during a school function for the kids. Looking at your Facebook, I can see that you donate a lot of time to charity. Do you know how many hours on average you donate a year?
I have been a part of Cosplay Charity work since my induction into Cosplay almost 14 years ago. Each year varies, as it depends on the opportunities that present themselves. I easily do more than a 100 hours a year donating my time and efforts to helping charities while I am in Cosplay.
Charity is very important to you. Could you please give our readers a glimpse into what motivates you to give so much?
Bringing happiness and smiles and children and those who are kids at heart is a major motivation to my life as a cosplayer. There is no dollar amount that can compare to the value of the smiles and the joy in the eyes of people in the photos taken with me in character. For some of those I visit and do charity work for, a smile is hard to come by due to their medical conditions or environmental situations, so the moments I get to spend with these individuals, I make the most of it by giving them my heart and soul so they know a true superhero cares about them in their time of need.
Are there any charities work with regularly? What are some of the more memorable charities that you have worked with? Are there any that hold a special place in your heart?
Camp Challenge is a particularly special one as they hold two Christmas events a year (one in the Summer and one in Dec). The reason they throw two a year is that some of the children in attendance will not live long enough to see Christmas, so it is important to make a big deal about the holiday events. The children are always so grateful to the presence of all the cosplay characters, and we are always turning on the charm and good times to make each event one of the child’s greatest memories.
I don’t want to bring up anything too painful, but as a journalist I ask things that I think the people would like to know, or that guests might want to share for a bigger picture. Would you like to talk about your son, and what geek he was; just like his father?
My son is the sole reason I became a cosplayer in the first place. I will not go into the whole story, as it is a book length in itself. In summary, My Son, Christian, was diagnosed with Leukemia when he was 7 years old. While going through treatment in the hospital, he became a huge Star Wars fan and believed his cancer battle was actually his Jedi Trials. I played into his belief by becoming his Jedi Master in full-on Cosplay fashion. About a year later, upon his death, I was introduced to the cosplay charity groups “The 501st Legion” & “Rebel Legion.” These dedicated cosplayers served as my Son’s Honor Guard during his Celebration of Life Ceremony. Three months later, I finished my first 501st approved costume and attended my first charity cosplay event in Miami, and that in turn, launched my life into the world of being a Bona fide Cosplayer.
Do you have a crew of like-minded cosplayers that you like to cosplay with? ‘Perhaps classic Super Friends, or cosplayers that donate a lot of time to causes?
Over the years, I have been a part of lots of different groups that were both just cosplay related and charity based. As I now travel so much for conventions all over the country and internationally, having a crew has become very difficult to maintain, as they hardly ever have the means to go to all the same conventions that I attend. Now, if I have the time at some of the larger conventions, if I see a posting for a DC group photoshoot, I try to break away from my booth to get in on the event. As for charity work, I was part of several groups, but in-fighting and egos made it an uncomfortable environment to want to do charity events in, so now I do a lot of private invite level charity events where an individual or an organization reaches out to me personally, and asks me to be there for their events. This has been a lot more fulfilling, and has given me a lot more great personal opportunities then I had with just about any group I was once affiliated with.
I see you like to hit movie screenings in cosplay, a lot. What kind of non-convention events do you like to go to just for fun? How often to you hit up random geek events?
Movie premiers are always a fun time as the fan base gets an added thrill to their movie experience when then find out that a character from the film is in the lobby for a fun photo opportunity. I am always booked at one, if not more stores for events like Free Comic Book Day or Comic Book Holiday events, and of course, charity events and personal meet and greets are highest on my list of things to do that are non-convention related.
Several times a year I will see something geek related that will be going on that is within comfortable driving range, and take time out of my schedule to go have some geek level fun and entertainment. Case in point, there was an event at the beginning of July up in St. Augustine, FL. There was a Creature from the Black Lagoon triple event at an art film theater. Those that know me, know I am a HUGE!!! Creature from the Black Lagoon fan, so much so, that I hope to Cosplay and do a major photo shoot as the creature at some point in the future. The event was a showing of the original movie, a performance by my good friend “The Kilted Creature,” followed by a showing of “Return of the Creature.” I have also been known to show up at Fringe Festival here in Orlando in my Aquaman outfits, and just have random fun with festival goers.
Are there any last thoughts that you would like to share with our readers, for this interview?
Being a cosplayer for the last 14 years has exposed me to some of the most amazing people and opportunities, but it has also shown me some of the meanest and most evil people in the world that use cosplay as a means to hide their true ugliness. I have had to turn the other cheek more times then I care to discuss. This community is supposed to be about the love of fandoms, and celebrating each other’s love of being a geek in an environment that is open to all walks of life. The number one rule of the cosplay and geek community needs to be “Don’t Be a Dick!” I got into this world under a very traumatic ordeal in my life, and so I try to make the most of every day I get the opportunity to be apart of, and help others enjoy it as well. A quote I often tell people about my involvement as a cosplayer is this: “My Son never got to grow up, so I have decided neither will I” I will forever be a big kid who enjoys playing dress-up as a means of my own coping therapy for the loss I have had to endure, so each and every smile I bring to the face of someone in my company while I am in cosplay is currency with a value that will be forever unimaginably precious.