Friday 1 April 2016

Interview with Jaycee Cosplay

Pinup style, cosplay and burlesque have somewhat of an overlap. With burlesque the performers are creating a persona, a character to immerse themselves in with incredibly unique and detailed props and costume. Some performers actually do tributes too and style themselves based on another character already created rather than making up their own. Pinup style is creeping everywhere and I have noticed costumers taking a pinup spin to their cosplay outfits. This is stemming from comic book characters being drawn in this way and the strong female characters given sex appeal and great outfits on the big screen too.  I have an interest in cosplay which has been growing for a long time now. I personally do not perform burlesque. As much as I love it, I do not have the skill set nor the confidence and do not want to get my kit off! I am very happy behind the scenes. I am however very passionate about great costume and have always wants to have a costume created, although not actually perform. The idea of cosplay for me actually helps to feed that need to dress up! Some people love dressing up in costume, love Halloween and fancy dress parties and some hate it. I’m definitely a lover of dress up! I also am a nerd and proud. I have a love of Marvel, DC Comics, Disney, Star Wars, in fact many movies. I’m not a gamer myself; in fact the only games I loved as a kid were Sonic, Lara Croft and Grim Fandango. I love the idea of dressing up and taking on a character in their action, facial expressions, body language and for the day becoming someone crazy for a while. For me I imagine a lot of the fun isn’t just the finished product but the journey in creating your costume, props and building this character in your style. It looks a lot of hard work but a lot of fun making things, the trial and error, the make-up and attention to detail.

Now technically cosplay is a contraction of the words ‘costume play’ and is a performance art in which participants known as cosplayers wear costume and accessories to represent a specific character. It’s not unusual to see gender switched interpretation of characters. Favourite sources include manga, anime, comic books, cartoons, video games, live-action films and television series. Costumes vary from exact copies of comic books or film costumes to pinup style versions and personal own interpretations. Cosplayers usually attend cosplay events, conventions, charity events, private events and competitions.

As my interest grows I wanted to talk to those in the know, those who are well practised and learn about their experiences. So kicking of my series of cosplay related interviews is USA Connecticut based Jaycee Cosplay. Jess has been a cosplayer since 2011 and she mainly cosplays Pokemon gijinkas and comic heroines.

Jason Chau Photography - P5 Jean Grey Costume

Photo by Cantera Image
Gijinka of Samurott from Pokemon
Tell us how you got involved in cosplay…

I got involved 6 years ago because of my boyfriend. He went to a convention, brought back art, figures, model kits, and photos of cosplayers. I had NO idea that cosplay was a "thing" until he went to that convention. I researched some cons after that and one year later I started my cosplay journey. 

What do you love about cosplay?

I love the creative process of working with other people to create costumes. I also love the friends I've met from the hobby and the fact that I get to be my favorite characters - even if it's just for a few hours.

Are there any downsides you have come across?

Absolutely. I've come across people who think they're superior to others and treat others like they are below them. People forget that the mainstream considers cosplayers/geeks "weird" and outsiders. We're in this 
community to find people who share our similar interests, not to be bullied because a costume might not be considered "good enough". 

Tell us who your first cosplay character was and what drew you to them?

My first cosplay was of Shaymin from Pokemon. I cosplayed it because it was simple enough and I had absolutely zero idea how to craft a more difficult costume LOL

Photo by Cantera Image
Shot at Studio 95 Photographix
Pinup Captain America
What other characters have you dressed as and why?

Oh jeez, I've dressed up as quite a few! My favorites are my pinup Captain America (version 2), my 3 Jean Grey costumes, Samurott and Magneto. These stick out the most to me because they're some of my favorite characters and I love bringing them to life. 

Where do you get your cosplay inspirations from?

So many cosplayers I can't even list them all! But I'm so inspired by my friends and total strangers who put so much passion into their costumes. 

Do you create your cosplays from scratch; do you cobble them together from existing pieces, commissions or all of the above?

A bit of all of the above! I can't sew so i get help with friends when it comes to sewing, I try to make as much of my armor as I can but sometimes if I'm busy with life I get help from friends. I have a bit of a mini team to help me when I have more ambitious projects.

Who would you recommend for help with costume creation?

There are so many talented people out there it's really difficult to just pinpoint a handful. I always tell people to check out and do their research on sellers on Etsy,, or various Facebook groups specializing with commissioning/selling costumes. 

What’s been your most difficult costume so far?
Photo by Wongtwothree Photography

I want to say the costume that gave me the most headache was my Phoenix 5 Jean Grey. It was a team of 4 who had to make this costume a reality. So much wouldn't stay in place, the armor wouldn't attach right, it ended up getting severely damaged at a convention, so it's going to need a bit of re-work to get it the way it needs to be before I take it out again. However, it is in my top 3 favorite costumes to date. 

Who is your favourite comic book character?

Jean Grey from X-Men

Tell us about your gaming history?

I grew up primarily playing fighting games and of course, Pokemon and Mario. I'm not a huge gamer these days but I'm extremely loyal to the Mortal Kombat and Pokemon franchises so whenever there are new releases with those games I make sure to be the first person to purchase them. 

What are you playing at the moment?

Currently not playing anything, but the last game I played was "The Last of Us"

Photo by Studio 95 Photographix
Harley Quinn
What is the best and worst piece of cosplay advice you’ve received?

I've never received bad cosplay advice, but the best cosplay advice is HAVE FUN and DO NOT JUDGE OTHERS. 

What has been one of the coolest things to come from cosplaying?

Hands down, being interviewed by Marvel at New York Comic Con 2014.  

What other cosplayers do you look up to?

I adore so many, but my favorites are Abby Darkstar and Lisa Lou Who. They are such body positive women who encourage you to be who you are and be happy in your own skin. 

What’s the geekiest thing you own?

I own quite a few geeky things, but my favorite geeky item is my Jim Lee version Sideshow collectibles Jean Grey statue. 

What about the geekiest thing you would like to own?

Oh jeez...So much, I would love an authentic metal Captain America shield (for reasons...okay maybe to beat up people with it ^_^) and there's an amazing Sub Zero statue that I would love to own one day.

Photo by Cantera Image
Rogue Costume
For people wanting to get into cosplay, what advice would you give them?

Do not be discouraged by other cosplayers and do not compare yourself to the veteran cosplayers. Everyone has different skill sets and that's okay! Do not be afraid to ask for help or commission your costumes. I know I wouldn't be cosplaying if it weren't for my friends who help me. Also, it's extremely important to remember that this is a fun hobby, so go out there and make some friends. Last but certainly not least, do not belittle, judge, mock or bully others. Seriously. Again, this is meant to be a fun hobby, not a popularity contest. 

Besides cosplaying, what else do you get up to?

I work full-time, my work hours are absolutely ridiculous but I love the people I work with. When I'm not working or cosplaying I love to edit photos, take photos and cuddle with my dog :)

What are you most looking forward to for the rest of the year?

Finishing up my current cosplay plans and New York Comic Con - literally my favorite con ever! 

Jason Chau Photography - Magneto
I would like to thank Jaycee with her time for this interview. Check out more about Jaycee on her Facebook page. Stay tuned for many more interviews coming soon!


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