(Originally Published October 8, 2019)
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.
Arkhamesque Cosplay suggested that you would be perfect for our Up and Coming Cosplayer series. You are only the second character cosplayer that we have interviewed in this series, or at all. Why did you become a character cosplayer? Why did you choose 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, Marvel X-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 Wars fanboy. 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 Creed Ezio 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.
(Originally Published October 6, 2019)
Cosplay Name: The True Aquaman
Base of Operations: Orlando, FL.
Years Cosplaying: 14
First Cosplay: Jedi Master/Clone Trooper
First Con: FX Con (no longer around)
Cons per Year: 12-15
Make Your Own Costume: a few
Make Your Own Props: Most of them
Do Your Own Hair: Yes
Do Your Own Makeup: Yes
Do Your Own Wig Styling: Yes
Makes Your Own Wigs: No
Bodypaints: Others apply it on me.
Favourite Cosplay: King Aquaman
Number of times you have been to Dragon Con: 11
Patreon, Ko-fi, Etsy, and/or Support Link: N/A
Lewds: a few
More than Nudes: Nope
Domain of Your Own: None
Secret Super Power: I seem to truly be unstoppable.
This started out as a hybrid article in the “What’s Cool Now” and “Guilty Pleasures” varieties, but I realised that if this really was so cool, I wouldn’t feel so guilty enjoying it. There is a cheesiness to it. I obviously don’t mind proclaiming my love for things I consider a little tacky or weird; those of you familiar with the older version of the site will remember my old “Guilty Pleasure” series. I just don’t want to be one of those folks that lies to himself thinking that just because I like it, it’s cool.
With that being said, join me as I take a small voyage of the senses, and introduce to you several artists that I think fall into the category of “Weird Rappers.”
I remember seeing this guy’s stuff maybe 10 years or more ago. I came across one of his videos, White Slavery, by accident. From what I can remember, it began with Necro in gimp mask giving shout-outs to some folks before he began rapping and eating a hot Italian meal in an aluminum takeout pan, on the ass of what looked like a sex-slave in distress. It was definitely unsuitable for YouTube.
At that time I thought he was just some creepy, weird internet gangster with delusions of grandeur. Who would be afraid of this guy? Who the fuck is this guy killing? How is he enslaving women and bitches? Who the fuck is he?
Well, for better or worse, that was my first impression. The atmosphere of the video is meant to illicit a strong response, but then Necro also opens his mouth…Holy shit…some of the most disgusting shit I’ve ever heard in my life poured out. This guy has imagination and problems…but it doesn’t stop there! The boy can rhyme!
Richard Pryor’s supposed words of wisdom come to mind: “You can’t just have no curse show!” In other words, Necro wouldn’t have amassed his cult following on just being some disgusting weirdo with the manners and vocabulary of some MARTA dweller. The boy can spit! Necro is so witty and inventive with is rhymes, with the sick and evil shit he says, you actually start to feel ashamed of yourself. You have to acknowledge the skills. Your body is moving a little without your permission.
Necro is definitely a gimmicky and dark themed rapper. I’m not saying that he really is a gangster that kills people, sleeps on mattresses full of money, and has a dungeon full of hoes like he raps about, but the darkness and inventiveness is there and real, nonetheless.
Tyler the Creator
Tyler the Creator is probably the most famous featured name on this list. He’s one of the founding minds of Loiter Squad, a group of dare stunt lovers in the same vein of Jackass (associates and producers). (Loiter Squad also created skit and prank comedy.) Who he is as a rapper is more complicated because of what he was.
Tyler the Creator was a young, brash, and irreverent well-spring of energy, testing the limits of taboo, his own creativity and powers of expression, and senses of daring and adventure. A lot of his style that I brushed off as just childish gibberish was kind of a clever camouflage for other issues. However, like anyone that puts such cryptic allusions in their art, Tyler the Creator wants you to follow the bread crumbs to his secrets. He’s just not going to make it too easy or apparent for the average person that can’t handle them. He wants you to crack the code. He wants to be caught…Also, I do honestly think that some of weirdness was just for weirdness sake. (Yeah, that’s snarky youth for ya.)
Tyler the Creator needs to push you away three spaces for every one that he lets you in. I also think that in his creativity there is a mad scientist curiosity and amusement in seeing how people will react to aspects of his being, both what he presents and what they assume.
Okay, I just went a lot more into the person than his rap style, but that’s only because my ideas of him changed in listening to him and learning about the person. I think that you will always find the strange in his work. He is a stranger person. However, the average person often mistakes the strange, eclectic, or misaligned with goofy, immature, or mentally skewered.
Oh, BTW, if you haven’t seen any Loiter Squad, see you some. As a big fan of weird comedy, I whole-heartedly endorse them. If you like Eric Andre, I think you’ll like this; it’s comparable, but not exactly the same.
As a character, Oliver Tree is a weird vaping, bowl-cutted scooter boy with huge skateboy bell-bottoms, Physically, he a mash-up of the same version of the same weird boy circa 1991, 1998, 2003, and 2018, but that’s not all that’s so familiar about him. Oliver Tree also has so many aspects that are almost frankensteined from some of pop culture’s best weirdos. His bowl cut would make Moe Howard proud, not to mention Doc Ock, who would probably sign off on his specs as well.
Oliver Tree is sort of famous and I didn’t even know it. He has a song, Hurt, that has been getting good regular airplay for about a year now. Calling Oliver Tree a weird rapper may be a stretch. He is definitely weird, but he is one of those singy rappers. He’s got a unique voice that lends itself well to singing, rapping, and that weird place in between that his songs tend to live in half the time.
Oliver Tree’s musical style is almost two styles. Some songs he straight up raps. Most of his songs are actually songs complete with chorus, but in which he sort of rap-sings the verses. It all fits together, though.
As far as what Oliver Tree raps about, each song is like a conversation with someone that he is apologetic to for some sort of weird misunderstanding. Sometimes his songs feel like the confessions of an alien weirdo pleading his case to a jury in the Court of Normalcy. Other times they are upwellings of emotions from not being good enough.
I actually discovered Shakewell in a video that he did with Fat Nick (also featured in this article), for a song called Pemex. While I thoroughly enjoyed the combined efforts of the two, when it came time to examine Shakewell on his own, I was disappointed.
He’s all over the place. Sometimes he’s a redneck nobody. Sometimes he’s playing gangsta. Even his rapping style is inconsistent. Sometimes he’s a mumble rapper. Sometimes he goes T-Pain and sounds like he has a synthesiser shoved down his throat. It’s like he primarily uses hip hop to fuel his fantasies.
How does that make him different from a lot of hip hop artists or rappers? It doesn’t. I suppose that I expect a little bit more from indie artists; I think we all do. We expect a little more substance and integrity because these indie artists haven’t “made it” yet, but sometimes we underestimate the allure of fame and even near-fame. I think Shakewell likes playing the part of a rapper.
Maybe I’m being hard on Shakewell. Maybe I just don’t like his work. Maybe he’s just not so good. *shrugs shoulders*
Fat Nick is pretty much an extension of Shakewell. Both of them are a part of the group “The Buffet Boys.” They do a lot of collaborations and appearances in each others’ videos, and their styles are similarly all over the place. However, if Shakewell is a trailer park gangsta wannabe, Fat Nick is the the Mexican kid that watched too much Dragon Ball Z and Sailor Moon and enjoys the image of Thug Life.
Of the two, I would say that Fat Nick is the more lyrically talented of the two. Visually, he also more entertaining, plus he exudes a weird sort of rainbow-enema aura of positivity.
SonReal is a pop rapper. If I had to describe him, I’d say that if Weird Al Yankovic could do the fusion dance with Justin Timberlake, you’d get SonReal. I wouldn’t say that he seems very deep or has something to say. He just makes semi-witty rhymes that are catchy and easy to bob to.
I wish I had more to say about him, but he really didn’t strike me as much else as what I’ve said. He’s very polished. His strangeness is mathematical. His oddness is well rehearsed.
Before she was the wisecracking funny actress pigeon-holed into Asian comedies, Awkwafina was an internet personality that went viral in her response to Mickey Avalon’s own viral opus, My Dick. (My Vag)
‘Awkwafina’s rap style? In comparison to some of the folks mentioned here, her flow is much more natural. It’s also effortlessly clever. This could be because she’s just a cleverer rapper, but I think there’s a bit more to it. She raps like someone that not only listened to rap her whole life, but as someone that grew up in the culture that cradled and gave birth to it.
I know that Shakewell is this guy that messes with the guns and has boys around. I know that Fat Nick is a person of colour, and one of Shakewell’s Buffet Boys, but Awkwafina strikes me as more genuine. This little woman with the nasal voice of Asian mother complaining about why you don’t call home enough, and a Yiddish mother that does the same, actually has more authenticity in her being. It also helps that her rapping voice tends to me a silky smooth and laid back version of her speaking voice. The differences between Awkwafina and Nora Lum, besides voices, are probably very few.
With all of this said, I almost forgot to mention my favourite thing about Awkwafina: She’s really funny. I always get a laugh. She doesn’t have to be weird or goofy. She doesn’t have to try too hard. Awkwafina is a straight up clever, funny, New Yorker with some street in her bones.
If anyone else on this list could possibly rival the following that Tyler the Creator has, it would be Die Antwoord. Die Antwoord is the crazy South African rap duo of Ninja and Yolandi. Die Antwoord has a musical style to go with their lifestyle. Die Antwoord can be described as ranging from experimental electronic to heavy incorporation of both traditional Native African and contemporary African styles; a rapid-fire techie tinny, drum bassy, African sound blast that is Die Antwoord’s music, with words to match.
I wish I could be cool and say that heard about them because of their music, but I was introduced to Die Antwoord in Chappie. Supposedly their characters ended up taking shape very closely to the musical identities Ninja and Yolandi portray.
On a personal note, I don’t know what to say about Ninja and Yolandi’s life together. I remember Ninja being very insistent that He and Yolandi were merely best friends to the point of family. Then I find out that not only do they have a daughter together, but they are married, and adopted three more children together.
There’s something in how you choose to describe yourselves, and perhaps the important part is that they consider themselves best friends that became family before any other definitions.
I’m sure that there are more weird rappers that I could list, but these are the ones that really stuck out to me at the moment I decided to write this. With the way that rap is evolving, and becoming more and more accessible to everybody, I think that many of the mainstream rappers would have been eligible for this list 10 years ago. Some of them I’ve only heard of, like Post Malone. Some of them, are actually very talented like Lil Nas X. This explosion of variety is to be expected with so much new blood coming from so many new places; the genre and its norms becomes that more fluid.
Here’s to weird rappers: for better and for worse. From serious to ridiculous, may they continue to be a guilty pleasure and not an embarrassment.
Got any breath left? I know mine almost got taken away a few times posting these pics!
Don’t forget that cosplayers like Cree Nicole share their art with you, and usually have jobs and classes they go to support themselves which also takes time away from their art. You can help tremendously by becoming patrons or even just following and subscribing to them on their social media. Just following and subscribing lets them know you support them.
Well, we’ve been going on for about two months, now. Are we doinig as well as you expected? ‘Got any concerns? Is there something we’re missing?
Comment! Share! Let us know! Command us! Tell us what to do! We want to help! We need to help! We LIVE to help!
Until next time…
(Originally Published March 6, 2019)
This cosplayer was an absolute pleasure to chat with. Not only is she very talented, but charming as well. In this day and age of wannabe overnight celebrity cosplayers that seemed pressed out of the same cookie cutter of wigs, fake boobs, and insincere Patreon/Ko-fi pages, it is a breath of fresh air to find a cosplayer with not only personality, but feeling and heart as well.
Always willing to pump up her fellow cosplayers when they need an ego boost, I am thrilled to introduce to you all: Cree Nicole!
I think that everyone gets into cosplay for their own reasons, but there some of us that start cosplaying because we need it more than others; it is like therapy. Would you mind telling us what cosplaying means to you?
It might sound a little melodramatic, but we all wear masks everyday. You have to really get to know someone to ever get past the practiced surface that they decide to show the world. Cosplay is a shortcut through all that. By choosing a favorite character to portray and wearing it to a convention you may be saying, “This is an aspect of who I *really* am.” Social anxiety is a pretty big deal for me, and sometimes it boils down to the fact that I’m not really being myself in the wider world. I can’t. I can’t be weird and neither can you. The more layers of social filters I pile on, the more anxious I get.. Somehow cosplay is an added layer that makes all the other layers acceptable to my anxious brain. Also… it’s really fun.
Before we get into your cosplay, I just wanted to tell you that you have one of the prettiest smiles I have ever seen. It does all of the things that a smile should do. It even portents more than happiness. It reveals experience and fortitude; a sort of toughness out of necessity, but not at the cost of heart. I know that that is not a question, but I really wanted to tell you that because I thought you still might have something to say about that.
Wow! Thank you! That makes me really happy. I’ve never had a knack for hiding my emotions. I did have a few rough years in my twenties, I lost both my parents, and I’m the only person left from my immediate family. Maybe what you described kinda comes from that experience? Things have been much better recently, I’m really on the mend and I’m very thankful for what I have now.
You have a Bachelors in Fine Arts and a Masters in Art Education. What is the goal with those achievements? Does cosplay have a place in it?
I’ve always made costumes, and I did take a costuming class while getting my Bachelors, but I didn’t know what “cosplay” was then. While working on my Masters, I was getting heavy into cosplay, but at that point I was sure I was going to go straight into teaching. I didn’t, and dang! I graduated a few years ago, now. Things have never seemed to go the direction I think they will, but that’s life, eh?
Oh my playlist is all over the place!! My favorite bands/artists include the Deftones, AFI, Aesop Rock, The Prodigy, Fever Ray, Megadeth, Rancid, Stevie Nicks, and Run the Jewels. Bands like Anti-Flag, Subhumans, and Against Me! really set the tone for my style and politics, but I need slightly chiller jams while I’m working on creative projects. Massive Attack, Grimes, and Lorn all fit that bill nicely, or Stoned Jesus and All Them Witches if I’m feeling stoner metal that day. Getting ready for a photo shoot I might put on Nicki Minaj, Billy Eillish, or Missy Elliott for the right vibe.
Okay, I’m going to go out on a limb here: …You like Harley Quinn..? Why do you like Harley Quinn so much? While you’re at it, could you please try to shed some light on why so many women love that character?
It’s hard to describe what place Harley takes up in my brain. Mostly, she really sparks my creative streak. I would not even go so far as to describe her as my favorite fictional character, but here I am with 10 or so various costumes of her; the most I’ve done of any character. Who knows, man, she’s a phenomenon! She’s relatable for women because she turns her vulnerability into a strength because she suffers and survives. I think a lot of people who at some point have tried to “fix” someone also relate to Harley. To believe in someone and their potential just to have them break your heart? Most people can relate to that and it’s one of her biggest themes. Also there aren’t a preponderance of anti-heroines, and that’s a shame because so many people are crazy for them. Maleficent is an example and another character I see at every con!
I gotta admit: I hate Harley Quinn! ‘Not because of her character, but because every woman/girl/person with pigtails does Harley Quinn! However, I’m beginning to think that every man has a Harley Quinn that they could fall in love with, and I found one in your variants…’Your Klingon Harley. How the hell did you come up with her?
I think you can tell a lot about a person based on their favorite portrayal of Harley Quinn and whether or not they like her at all. You could really be into this character and be a terrible person, or vice versa. Love Harley or hate Harley for the right reasons, and you’re good in my book. But Klingon Harley, yeah!! I learned (and forgot) a lot of Klingon a few years ago. I just really wanted a shirt that said, “Daddy’s Little Monster,” but in Klingon. I translated it (poorly) and made the shirt. It all went from there. I already had the forehead prosthetic. It was a lot of fun.
Is Quinom an actual cosplay or is it CGI?
It’s a costume! I did add a bit of Photoshop, mostly focused on the hammer. I tried to leave some without as much Photoshop, but here we are. If you had to ask I must have overdone it!
In one of your Harley Quinn cosplays, you pose with a hyena…Was that a REAL hyena? If not, how did you swing that shoot? ‘Got any “puddins'” in real life that you are a parent to?
Just one! My doggo, Dingo, is real wild looking, 12 year old mutt with a heart of gold. She posed with me and made it really pretty easy for me to photoshop this. I changed the shape of her muzzle and tail, added spots and darker colors. Voila!
You really look like you have fun in your cosplay portfolio. Do you get into your characters at conventions as much as you seem to in your cosplay shoots?
I depends a whole lot on the character. When dressed as a Klingon, I go all out. It’s too much fun not to. Video game characters have a lot of lines and inside jokes that are fun. With characters children recognize, you have to get into them or you might disappoint them, and that’s no fun.
Actually, there seems to be a theme of fun and humour with your cosplay shoots. Would you say that also goes with your characters that you pick for cosplay? Harley Quinn alone is a character based on humour, crime, and insanity (cute insanity, but still insane!). Have you every done a more serious cosplay?
I have a Scarlet Witch that feels more serious when I wear it. She’s a fairly sad character across all her incarnations. Oh, and Rogue, she is one of my absolute favorite characters, and she’s no touchy, all punchy, all sass, and quiet smiles. Daenerys is super serious. She almost never smiles, and it can really break character to smile while cosplaying as her. Besides that, I think you’ve hit on something there, though I just don’t cosplay a lot of serious characters!
How much time out of serious living do you get to indulge in cosplay? Do you get to travel a lot for cons?
I was traveling out of state a lot for cons for a few years, I can’t afford to right now. But I get to set aside a couple hours a day to work on cosplay stuff, I’m a lucky ducky!!
There’s a theory that sometimes it is bad for two people with the same passion to be together, kind of like two intense and competitive gamers living together and fighting over games and bragging rights. Could you ever see yourself dating another cosplayer? Have you, or would you need a more serious person to compliment your passion? How much does “cosplay dating” happen, in your opinion?
Oh I see it work a lot! ‘Depends on the personalities involved, I’m sure. I can’t imagine living in a small apartment or house (like I do) with someone else who takes cosplay as seriously as I do. There just wouldn’t be enough storage. lol!
Are there any cons that the people can count on seeing you at in 2019?
Any last words for the readers and admirers?
Just a bunch of crazy love and well wishes! Be safe and kind out there!
(Originally Published March 3, 2019)
Cosplay Name: Cree Nicole
Base of Operations: Albuquerque, NM
Years Cosplaying: About 6
First Cosplay: Lenalee, D. Gray Man
First Con: Albuquerque Comic Con
Cons per Year: About 5?
Number of Times to Dragon Con: 0, sadly!
Make Your Own Costume: Yes, minus a piece here or there that I’ll find cheap somewhere else. Also, I don’t want to sew a corset, that’s brutal, so I buy those and retrofit them.
Make Your Own Props: Always!
Do Your Own Hair: Yeah!
Do Your Own Makeup: Oh yeah!
Do Your Own Wig Styling: Totes!
Makes Your Own Wigs: Not from scratch but I have taken wigs apart and put them together in new ways.
Bodypaints: Mehron? But I’m no pro at body paint.
Favourite Cosplay: Of mine? Maybe Winged Victory Mercy. Someone else’s? Anything Leah Stevo does.
Patreon, Ko-fi, Etsy, and/or Support Link: Patreon
Lewds: Yes,’ here.
More than Nudes: Nada
Domain of Your Own: creenicole.com
Secret Super Power: I’m really good at filling two glasses with the exact same amount of liquid. It’s mostly only impressive if you’re pouring wine or something alcoholic, cause that’s the only time people pay attention?
Otherwise a completely useless natural talent.
How about a few modeling pics?
‘Seeya in two weeks for the next Up and Coming Cosplayer!
(Originally Published July 4, 2019)
I get to meet a lot of interesting and talented people doing what I do. ‘Many talented men and women that devote a good portion of their time and effort to an art that does not profit them, for a person to truly profit in the cosplay world, it takes more than dedication, talent, looks, or charisma. It takes a sense of business savvy and the ability to deliver what people want. All of these things I think are present in this Up and Coming Cosplayer.
All Cool Things™ is extremely proud to introduce to you, Miniilay.
In this business I’m in, I come across some unique cosplayers with unique cosplay names. How did you come up with yours?
It’s nothing special. I was just making a YouTube account when I was young, and couldn’t think of anything related to me but “small” and my last name… Someone took “Minilay,” and I just added an extra “i,” so I’ve had “Miniilay” stuck with me since then.
I can tell that you are building a brand. If I had to compare your brand to anyone else’s that has become a big success, I’d compare you to Jessica Nigri. You are both very sensually beautiful women whom’s looks probably cause people to discount your costuming and crafting abilities. Do you find any conflict in the tempering of your brand? Do you ever want to concentrate on one thing, but feel compelled to pander to “fan service?”
I don’t find any conflict in tempering my work. I don’t care what others have to say or think. I just do whatever I want to do. I usually try to have an open mind for myself and check off my bucket list of things to create. I don’t think of “fan service” or what’s trending everyday. I just do anything that comes to mind on days I feel more inspired.
How do you feel about the more “fan service” aspect of your brand? Is it as much a part of you as your artistically creative side? Is there a melding of both that appears in each aspect of your brand?
I think the “fan service” side of my brand is fun; it’s still me. It can be anything, and I’ll bandwagon along too if I actually enjoy what I see is trending. These “fan services” can range from casual cosplay, boudoir shoots, fashion, character(s) that are hyped, etc. Of course there is a mix of both of my brand! Even if I do or don’t intentionally do these “fan services,” I do what I do because I want to do it for my enjoyment. If I don’t feel like I want to do a certain “fan service” trend that is going on, then I will not.
Cosplay is a great way to introduce a person into modeling, and vice versa. I can tell that you love the camera and the camera loves you. Was modeling ever a plan for you? Is it a plan, now? Is that yet another aspect of your brand?
Modelling was always on my mind ever since I was young. My mom, was and still is in the fashion business, and I was always her little model! Even today, I help with her business everyday and she still needs me to model her designs. I’ve never thought of modelling as a serious job. It’s just something for fun on my free time. It’s not just “strike a pose” with clothes on. You can be anything when it comes to modelling, and that’s where my range of creativity comes into play; such as cosplay, fashion, makeup, boudoir etc… The list goes on, and will grow on!
When it comes to costuming, you started with sewing and tailoring. How did you get into armour crafting?
I knew how to sew my whole life, but im not perfect, and continuing to learning new tips and tricks. I loved playing video games ever since I was young, and admire how badass characters are created. At the time I first started cosplaying, I would only choose characters that have clothing, but I wanted to challenge myself and see if I could also bring more to life. I was obsessed with League of Legends, and loved crafting in art class in school, so I gave crafting armour a try because I wanted to be my favourite character from that game at the time.
I have to say that I am very impressed with your armour work. How long have you been working and crafting armour?
What materials do you like to work with? Do you find them difficult? Are they the same that you started out working with? Do you see any promising materials for the future?
Almost all of my materials come from Dollarama; mainly EVA foam and contact cement glue. Those two work so beautifully! At first it was hard to work with EVA foam; I didn’t understand how to work with it, but once I did my research, it was so easy to cut, mold, stretch etc. EVA foam surprisingly can do a lot! When I first started, I thought hot glue was good enough because I used it my whole life in school. Its super easy to use and fast to dry.
The only down side was it’s just hot. Theres annoying glue web strings left behind, and if you don’t hold your pieces together long enough it leaves lots of gunk, and you have to redo it again. Most of the time there will always be hot glue sticking out on the outside surface. Even if you wipe it clean while it’s still hot, you will still see it in the end of your project.
When I swtiched to contact cement glue, my work had never been so clean! The only down side would be the smell.
After I did my research, things are just a lot easier to understand why things are, or aren’t working out. I think EVA foam will always be worked with. I can’t think of any other material that could replace EVA foam. You will always need it. From a base structure to a full finished build, it’s always used.
There is a cosplay of you with these huge gun arms attached to you. How did you swing that? What were they made of? How much did they weigh?
That was Gun Goddess Miss Fortune from League of Legends. It was pretty heavy for me, even though it was made out of EVA foam and pink insulation foam. When everything added up in the end, it weighed me down. I’m not exactly sure why, but I also rushed it in the end. I just wanted to get it done with, and never think of it again! It had handlebars, but it was still heavy to keep it up and swing around.
I’ve only been to Youmacon in Detroit, Michigan. I’ve been going there for 5 years now, but compared to Candian conventions they’re basically the same. The only difference would be money: CAD to USD is so expensive, so that is really my only problem with US conventions. People from both sides are very friendly, energetic, and helpful! I’ve never dealt with any negativity at any cons so far.
What are the top five things you love about cons?
I absolutely love the cosplay part, looking at people’s cosplay, whether bought or handmade. It brings everyone together because we all freak out on our favourite characters! It gives them, and yourself, a great feeling.
That leads into meeting new people. I’ve met new con friends through cosplay by asking for pics, or just simply complimenting them. Even if we don’t become friends, its still a positive energy between the two of us, and the enjoyment keeps going on!
With many people brought together, we also try to help each other. If someone sees that I’m having a difficult time with my cosplay they will help me. It’s honestly such a blessing when someone offers a helping hand, and of course I do that to others too. Surprisingly walking in ANY cosplay can get frustrating!
It is worth all the struggling because people love your character and ask for a photo! Even a simple selfie together illuminates me. It’s memories to keep, and remembering those moments gives me a smile on my face to look back. Meeting new photographers, to casual con goers; looking back at silly photos to beautiful shots just takes you back to the moment, and you have this thought, “Wow, that’s what I really looked like?” and you can see and remember how happy you truly look.
Even though it’s a long and frustrating process, planning and building cosplays is absolutely my favourite part. I’m not sure why, because I do get tired the more I build, and once I wear it at a con I’m so exhausted; However, when the con is over I reflect back, and overall, I have this relief of accomplishment and think, “I cant believe I pulled it off,” and do it all over again!
Who are the top three people you have met at cons that you were excited to see? Are there any more people you hope to see?
The first and only person that I’ve met is, Jessica Nigiri. I havent been able to meet a lot of people at cons, but I was able to make many friends, and it feels like home when I see them again every year, at the same con. I honestly hope to keep seeing Jessica Nigiri! She is one of the sweetest people I have ever met! She was very patient with me and accepted all of these requests that I wanted her to do for me when I met her. It was very silly but she loved every bit of it and her boyfriend, off to the side, was laughed and kept everybody else company.
Are there any cons that our readers or your followers can count on seeing you at in 2019?
Are there any parting thoughts for our readers and your followers?
Cosplaying is a hobby; no matter how you start, it will always be fun. To full armour builds to lewd looks, it’s your character to cosplay; do whatever YOU want to do because YOU LOVE it, and YOU WANT to do it.
People will have their own opinion about everything. Whether it’s negative or positive, the only thing that matters is what you think about yourself. Don’t compare or put yourself down. You will always be you, and in the end results, someone/people are going to love it.
Are you excited to do that look? THEN GO START! ��
So what do you think? Does she have what it takes? Were you impressed by her work and work ethic? Well, in case you aren’t quite there, yet, in a couple of days you get to see the pictorial.
As you’re reading these articles, we at All Cool Things™ hopes you’re sharing them. We also hope that you’re following or featured cosplayers on their social media and supporting them on their support sites.
Hell, do the same for us! ‘Wanna donate to us? There’s a link on the front page…Oh, all right. Just click >>>HERE<<<.
As always, thanks for reading about our Up and Coming Cosplayers. ‘See you next time.
(Originally Published July 1, 2019)
Cosplay Name: Miniilay
Base of Operations: Windsor, ON Canada
Years Cosplaying: 6 years
First Cosplay: Mikasa from Attack on Titan
First Con: Youmacon 2014
Cons per Year: 1-3
Number of Times to Dragon Con: 0
Make Your Own Costume: yes
Make Your Own Props: yes
Do Your Own Hair: yes
Do Your Own Makeup: yes
Do Your Own Wig Styling: yes
Makes Your Own Wigs: no
Favourite Cosplay: Fran from FFXIV
Patreon, Ko-fi, Etsy, and/or Support Link: Ko-fi
More than Nudes: no
Domain of Your Own: no
Secret Super Power: mind control