Monday, November 5, 2012

Cosplay: The Love/Hate Relationship

Zoey (Left 4 Dead Photoshoot)
I began cosplaying at A-Kon 19. It was my first major con. Before that I had only gone to one other smaller "convention" that was run by the local university's anime club. A friend of mine invited us (plus borrowed my talking Pikachu for his costume) so we drove the 20-30 minutes to this backwater town's convention center. Now I think back on the memories, it wasn't that great. They had a drawing contest, a cosplay contest, a booth for low-quality cheongsams, kimono bathrobes, and display katanas. But it was new to me and interesting.
When the opportunity arose to go at the group rate for A-Kon, my boyfriend at the time and myself decided it would be fun. My friend who had borrowed my Pikachu said it was customary to cosplay for such events so I set about going through my meager anime collection to find something to base my costume after. I should Genjyo Sanzo from Gensomaden Saiyuki. He was my favorite character at the time and I had no idea I'd be "crossplaying".

There was lots of pulling of hair and gnashing of teeth to get Sanzo's monk robes done. I had limited experience in sewing (the most exposure to such domestic things was from my Home Economics class). My younger sister and my mother helped me with the pattern layout and alteration and I realize now my foolishness in picking canvas as my material to shove through an old sewing machine with the wrong type of needle. But in the end, it was done. I had even gotten around styling a wig (which turned out rather horrible) and making a paper "baka" fan.

We drove to Dallas and it was an adventure. I had a blast at the convention and participated in the hall cosplay contest. At some point during the weekend I had gotten fed up with the wig. It was constantly cutting off circulation and every time I pulled at the band to release some tension I'd get the pins and needles feeling. Figuring that for a bad thing, I tossed it in the nearest garbage can. Yeah I paid $30-$40 for it, but it was making me angry. I guess my head is too huge for certain wigs. *sigh*

A-Kon was a time of many firsts. My first fangirl squee (at me), my first received glomp (tackle hug), my first time allowing pictures to be taken of me without fleeing for my life. Later on in other A-Kons, I'd have my first ninja hug by Pedobear, my first received male glomp, my first stinky congoer hug (just a little deodorant please? PLEASE??), etc. etc.

Anyways, back to the present. A few things are different now that I'm a con vet. First and foremost I've moved from just anime conventions to full on geek conventions such as Dragon*Con. I've learned that purchased costumes can be acceptable if they aren't poorly-made (eBay!). Wigs don't have to be expensive to look realistic and good (more eBay!). And working with air-dry clay is a definite negative for making armor pieces. Just to add, I still try to make at least part of my costumes if I determine I must purchase a costume but I do try to make the majority of an outfit when possible. This last year for Dragon*Con I sewed the entirety of my Illuminati coat by myself. It was insanely frustrating and time consuming as I retaught myself on my newly acquired Brother sewing machine and I remember a cosplay work day where me, my boyfriend, my sister, and her girlfriend all worked on our costumes in the living room and managing to watch all three of the extended cut Lord of the Rings movies in one sitting. Blurgh.

Since my first con I've also discovered the joys of makeup. Such things as using non-SPF foundation can keep you from having the ghastly white face of doom in pictures, using false lashes and bright contacts to accentuate your eyes behind a gas mask, and contour can change your face to fit various characters even if you don't originally look like them.

I still do not have many pictures of my cosplays. I either forget or I think the costume isn't good enough to remember. Even though I've cosplayed Sanzo from Saiyuki, Airi from Those Who Hunt Elves, Lucy/Nyu from Elfen Lied, Nanao from Bleach, Zoey from Left 4 Dead, Ryomou from Ikkitousen, Seras from Hellsing, Ellie from Dead Space, Murphy from Boondock Saints, and a Illuminati soldier from The Secret World, I have only four pictures that I can show for my efforts.

One thing I am still learning is to try and be more confident about my hobby. I think it helps with people who share the same hobby and interests. One must surround themselves with people that are supportive. My boyfriend at the time of A-Kon 19 was very not into this "dressing up shit". He thought it was weird. But apparently playing EverQuest all day and night wasn't. Nor was playing Dungeons & Dragons or LARPing. Different strokes for different folks, my friend. What I say is if you want to give cosplaying a shot, go for it. It's a fun and rewarding experience. I may not be as popular or as outgoing as some, nor do I have any professional gigs on the resume, but it really is an experience all it's own that is totally worth it (after the pulling of hair and gnashing of teeth part).


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