In a recent show, I talked about Cosplay, I love cosplay, and embrace the fact it has become more mainstream. I follow a few cosplayers on line – I love seeing the process and the costumes they come up with. There is a different level of interaction with different artists, and I approached a couple to gain some insight to their experience of cosplay and the community. One of the cosplayers I approached was Mistress Zelda. (yes, yes there was some serious fan girling going on!)
I first became aware of Mistress Zelda through Geek Girls and have since followed her Facebook Page and her website, Geeky Freaky. Mistress Zelda is always there for amazing modelling shots, kinky and quirky costumes (not nessasarily at the same time) and intelligent debate. She shares progress of her work – which to be honest, when you get over the skill involved, it just inspiring. I remember one of the first photos I saw of Mistress Zelda, saw her dressed as a drow, and I love the work she puts into the Waste Land weeks – this year she is even customising her car 🙂 Mistress Zelda is a massive geek and I love her for it ! But again, I am waffling, I will hand over !
- How did you first get started in cosplay
I have loved dressing up my entire life. Of course like all kids I dressed up for Halloween, but often as pop culture figures (Xena when I was 12, Morticia Addams when I was 9, etc). I also dressed up any other chance I got, for every holiday, and dressed very oddly in my daily life. I grew up outside San Diego and started going to Comic Con in 2001 with the intention of people watching. I had never heard of cosplay but saw it in action for the first time there and immediately fell in love. In 2002 I did my first ever cosplay – it was terrible, but it was a blast, and I haven’t stopped since.
- Why do you cosplay?
I’ve been cosplaying for 14 years and have made an average of 10 cosplays a year during that time, so I’ve cosplayed a ton of characters. My preference is for video game, cartoon, comic book and sci fi characters in the darker fantasy and Gothic side of things. I have done: Dr. Mrs the Monarch, Triana, and Hunter Gathers (Venture Brothers), Daphne and Velma (Scooby Doo), several versions of Lydia and Beetlejuice, Crysta (Ferngully), Judy Funnie (Doug), Dr. Zoidberg, Hexadecimal (Reboot), Ariel (Little Mermaid), Jessica Rabbit, Krang and April O’Neil (TMNT), Carmen Sandiego, Tank Girl and Jet Girl, several different versions of Harley Quinn, Poison Ivy and the Joker, Red Sonja, Vampirella, Death and Delirium (Endless), Ms. Marvel, Black Cat, Mystique, Black Canary, several versions of Phoenix/Jean Grey, Dawn (Linsner), Ms. Frizzle (Magic School Bus), Charzin (Poison Elves), Zatanna, Harle (Chrono Cross), Zelda, Saria and Sheik (Ocarina of Time), Bloodrayne, Aerith and Selphie (Final Fantasy), Chun Li, Cammy, Poison and Akuma (Street Fighter), several versions of Morrigan and Felicia (Darkstalkers/Marvel vs Capcom), Cortana, Pikachu and Misty, Zero Suit Samus, Judy Nails (Guitar Hero), nuns from Hitman, Elizabeth (Bioshock), Meru (Legend of Dragoon), Darth Vader and Slave Leia, Leeloo (Fifth Element), Amane Misa (Death Note), Bulma (Dragonball), Sailor Moon, several versions of Alice, Queen of Hearts, and Cheshire Cat. Right now I am finishing up Joel from MST3K, Mera from Aquaman, Ursula from Little Mermaid, Number 6 from The Prisoner and I also own one of the original costumes from the Iron Sky movie I haven’t photographed yet. My big cosplay for this year is going to be Dream from Endless.
- What are your favourite aspects of cosplay
I enjoy connecting with people who have shared passions, creating something that didn’t exist before using actual physical skills, bringing characters to life that I love very much, and allowing myself the chance to experience childlike wonder and play.
- How do you find the community
There are a lot of aspects of it that I enjoy. I’ve been in cosplay for a long time – so I’ve watched the community grow and change, and even age! A lot of us have been involved in 10 years or more, and our interests have matured. Living in LA it’s neat to see things like Club Cosplay, cosplay themed events at fetish clubs, cosplay themed educational courses, cosplay themed burlesque shows, cosplay themed TV shows, etc. I miss the intimacy of it that I used to experience – but the fact that there are so many ways you can have fun inside the hobby (and even make money at it) is pretty neat. We always knew it was cool, so it’s quite the trip that the rest of the world has caught onto it now. Even the materials are more advanced.
- How do you select a costume – do you go for ease, comfort, do you consider your body type
I select my costumes in a lot of different ways. Sometimes I find a piece of the costume and am inspired to build around it. Sometimes I just really like their outfit, even if I don’t know much about the character. Sometimes a costume utilizes a new skill I want to work on. Sometimes I am part of a group or have a neat location in mind for the costume. Most of the time I just get inspired to work on one specific piece or find something cool thrift shopping. I also resell costumes after I am done, so I don’t always pick costumes that are specific to my interests or body type, although I’m more likely to put more work into those ones.
- Do you design and create your own costumes? And do you stay true to the source material or ‘inspired by’ designs?
I prefer to do original designs based on characters, but a lot of characters have already really cool designs. People tend to prefer the content that as closely relates to the original as possible – and that represents its own set of challenges – but I usually enjoy the design aspect a lot more. I still like to be myself in the costumes. Most people like to transform completely. Sometimes people take offense to you not being an exact representation of a character that have a very personal relationship with and are unwilling to accept that others might have a different viewpoint. People get so invested in the characters, it can be hard to share.
- Have you ever faced any negativity while in costume or in the wider community?
Oh – I guess I just answered that above! I am a nude model, and also very heavily tattooed, so sometimes people take issue with the fact that I don’t cover my tattoos for cosplay or I shoot the characters naked. I don’t take it personally. I enjoy who I am, and the problem is theirs J
- Have you ever faced or found yourself in an unsafe situation?
I mean, there are creeps. But I think I encounter more of them in my daily life than I do while in cosplay. I know my way around a fight pretty well.
- Tips for staying safe and having fun while in cosplay?!
Make sure someone you trust always knows where you are. Report anyone who acts against the outlined code of conduct to staff. Don’t be afraid to tell someone when they are being inappropriate – most sexual aggressors enjoy the power trip of making someone feel unsafe and uncomfortable, of overstepping lines and aren’t well equipped to deal with a woman speaking up. Likewise, if you see someone else being harassed, say something. We all have a duty to keep each other safe. There is a girl code within the cosplay community that if someone is stalking you or harassing you, that you can go up to any other group of girls and act like you know them and they will help you ditch the creep. Don’t allow anyone to treat you differently than you would if you weren’t in costume. It is important to set boundaries, both for yourself and the people around you. Some people just really don’t know any better and aren’t malicious…so we have to do what we can to correct their behaviour.