A Cosplayer’s Look at RuPaul’s Drag Race

I have been cosplaying for over 10 years. At least 5 of those years, in my opinion, have been good. I also happen to love RuPaul’s Drag Race. Now, one would think there’s little intersection between drag and cosplay, but really, cosplay is drag for nerds and drag is a gateway for many to get into cosplay. Really, we’re doing similar things. Selling illusion and essence, punishing our bodies to fit impossible standards of beauty and expressing ourselves with fashion. 

But cosplay and being surrounded by talented fashionable people means that the drag competition show for me is at times a conflicting mess of what I like most about drag and what I hate most about cosplay.

Let’s get a few things clear off the bat. I started cosplaying in the mid-2000s and I am a person of color. So, my brand of cosplay has always been detail oriented, mostly concerned about characterization and about having fun. I’ve never been a huge prop-smith (though I’m working on it) and I’ve never been one for giant builds like a Kamui Cosplay or the like. I much rather have bought a piece than immediately be clocked. As far as drag goes, well my favorite season is probably 7 and my favorite queens are ones that hold rather rigid standards of female impersonation like Trinity the Tuck and Katya. Not that I can’t appreciate more gender non-conforming queens or less fishy queens but when it comes down to taste, I’ll take a Brooke Lynn Hytes over a Scarlet Envy any day. 


I started to give thought to how cosplay and drag intersected when watching Fashion Photo RuView with Aquaria (of season 10) and Raja (an immortal wine-drinking, pot-smoking alien goddess here to make us all better people) were discussing the runway looks of Season 11’s episode involving fringe (Willam’s favorite color). Raja clocked Yvie Oddly’s look which was a jellyfish-inspired number and Raja commented on her having seen this look before and it looked a little pedestrian for a look that was mostly body paint and a modded umbrella.

On the runway, Yvie got a lot of praise about bringing something to the runway that no one had seen before. And while I was reading the comments of mostly newer fans of Drag Race giving Raja a hard time for having an opinion, I couldn’t help but agree with my one of my favorite winners. It is pedestrian. I have seen this done before and I’ve seen this done before better. I’ve seen someone attach scrap fabric from Jo-Ann Fabrics to an umbrella: it isn’t high fashion. If a Pinterest Mom can do it for a last minute kid’s Halloween costume; a drag queen can certainly do it; and thus, it does not earn a great deal of praise to me.

This feeling of a lack of awe while watching Drag Race is not new. I remember feeling it while watching The Future of Drag episode of All-Stars Season 2. Phi Phi O’Hara decided that cosplay was a good way to bring back her fading celebrity and make her likable and when she entered All-Stars 2 as a “cosplayer” I mostly rolled my eyes. Her Riddler look was good but nothing I haven’t seen at convention and her looks were increasingly mall drag as far as I could tell. The Future of Drag runway though featured Phi Phi in a skin-tight suit and an over-sized gun. Now, I would be a contrarian if I didn’t admin that she did look cool.

And I was a little shocked about how she brought that prop with her. But again, it was nothing I have not seen from Plexi, Kamui or IBlue.  It was cool but if you’ve seen a costume contest at a big convention, you’ve seen that look. 

Now, let’s be honest, I couldn’t make that gun. I couldn’t pull off that look. I’m not bashing Phi Phi, I’m just saying my wig was not gone, I was not snatched, I was not gagged. It was a look, it was a look I’ve seen before for years now. That doesn’t make it any less artful or beautiful, just that it takes a little of the luster off the diamond from my point of view. 

Another example of where cosplay knowledge meant that certain aspects of Drag Race were a little less than stellar was with Nina Bonina Brown. Nina was famed for being a makeup artist and could transform her face using makeup and paper.

Now, she’s talented and sickening in her own way but again, after years of being on the con circuit and seeing makeup tutorial after makeup tutorial…a paper peach does not rare talent make. After awhile, her gimmick wore thin for me, especially as other parts of her drag became repetitive: again I found myself agreeing with Raja and Manila when they said, we see what she can do and now a skull or a painted face is not enough. I, like the two immortal fashion goddesses, wanted more from her after seeing what Nina had to offer week after week.

Drag Race also echoes a lot of conversations said in the cosplay community: questions around whether you’re still a cosplayer if you don’t “make” your own costumes. The argument that if you don’t make every part of your costume thus invalidating your work is very real but I do think when it comes to Drag Race it’s a little different. I remember that talk on Season 9 with Farrah Moan and Kimora Blac being on one side of the “ugly girls make their own clothes” argument and Trinity and Shea and literally almost everyone else asserted that it is important to know how to sew to be a drag queen. I think once you make it to the show, you should know how to sew. But if you’re fine being a showgirl, I’m not here to judge. I know I don’t sew that well and you could not pay me to sew a dress from a pattern but that’s okay, that’s what online shopping is for. However, if I were to enter a cosplay contest, I would make as many pieces as possible. 

This can be said about a lot of the looks on Drag Race for me. I particularly notice when bodices don’t fit because not all queens wear breastplates anymore or when boy body is showing because not all queens pad or cinch in their waists as aggressively as others. Makeup, too, catches my eye but in a funny way. I find that I bring more makeup skills from drag queens into cosplay. For instance, I started wearing a lot more highlighter to really catch the eye when appropriate. I also contour more and I’m more aware of blending my wigs with a nice line of concealer. 

I’d be a liar if I didn’t mention that Drag Race inspires me. Seeing drag as the elevated and mainstream art form that it is makes me want to be better. Seeing costumes and wigs and makeup done so masterfully makes me want to be better. Seeing people living their authentic life in such an idealized and colorful skin makes me want to be my very best. 

But when the judges fawn over looks and hair and trends that I’ve been seeing from my brothers and sisters in craft for decades, I can’t help but feel a little disappointed. RuPaul is a beacon of excellence in drag but to see her so out of touch at times when it comes to fashion (just in regards to fashion in this post) is sort of tragic. She has to see some of the looks at conventions across America. She has to see Instagram. She has to be aware that fabric on an umbrella avant garde does not make. 

I will never discredit the work the queens of Drag Race do. I will never knock the work my brothers and sisters in craft do. But being aware of the parts of the reality TV show that are a little less than gag-worthy after seeing so many talented people for so many years was an exercise worth going through.

AichiYume’s Facebook Page!

I finally did it. I finally made a Facebook page! This page will act as a central hub for panel videos, costume progress, costume work and more!

It’d mean the world to me if you gave it a “Like”.

https://www.facebook.com/AichiYumeProductions/

Thoughts from A-Kon 29

_This is obviously Kamoshida's castle. Look at those doors that go to nowhere. This is clearly a castle from Persona 5_.png

I’m back from another A-Kon. Another 500 miles. Another whirlwind weekend. Another set of memories with thoughts and feelings attached to them. Let’s discuss.

  • The drive gets a little easier every time if I get to make a stop.
  • Now that we’re at this place…let’s talk about the hotel:
    • This has to be the jankiest hotel we’ve ever stayed in. It was super expensive for the night and every time we overturned something there was a stain. WiFi didn’t work (bad for a panelist), shotty television (also bad for a panelist), stains everywhere and it was all just bad. Roaches in the stairwell, elevators that didn’t work but the only light was a man named Joshua. He upgraded our room (which was still stained but had a kitchen) and did his best to keep me and Carlos. But the crappy room really weighed heavily on both of us. Me as an introvert rely on the hotel to recoup and relax after how intense and draining con is and that just didn’t happen. I think it all left me even more tired than I should have been.
  • The hotel pool was weird, including two doors that seemed to go nowhere and the pool was an unnatural blue color: I can tell, my swimsuits are both Iwatobi blue and it matched my Iwatobi suit.
  • Hotel breakfast was awful but I do love me a Texas Waffle.
  • Remember last year’s A-Kon when I complained about the layout and the walking? Let’s touch on that.
    • I still had issues with the layout but this year it seemed to flow a lot better. I didn’t care so much that I had to wander far to get to places, it just seemed to flow better. But the heat was unbearable. I also got to take some awesome photos in the Water Gardens this year. Except for the bad 12 dollar Chinese food. That can go to hell where it belongs.
  • This con was absolutely THOT-con, like the amount of scantily clad cosplayers was intense. I’m old, y’all. We just didn’t do things that way.
  • It was AMAZING meeting people that I’ve only known online.
  • Apparently using a setting spray means nothing, I still got makeup everywhere.
  • Revolving sushi is amazing.
  • Daiso did not have apple gummies. My heart is still broken.
  • Lonely God may be the best chip brand ever.
  • Gen Korean BBQ is still amazing but it’s not great when you’re tired and dehydrated.
  • I still love Chicken Express and Taco Bueno. No one will take that from me.
  • Fun fact, I still don’t really understand e-sports.
    • Carlos got to do a big tournament at a huge e-sports arena and it all just seemed sort of silly to me. I get that I’m a cosplayer and too much of my brain is taken up by anime trivia but hey, it all just seems like a lot of fuss for a game.
  • I also learned that I don’t like losing.
    • Fun fact, I’ve always known this but Carlos and I sort of discovered why and it was all over a fighting game. So I love Naruto Clash of Ninja and in comparison to Carlos, it was for once, something I was good at. But Carlos is good at fighting games and he rather quickly learned how to beat the game and beat me. The same happened in Castlevania another game I thought I was okay at. It upset me because I suddenly felt like I wasn’t good at something and Carlos had to tell me that there are lots of things that he looks at me and sees as things I’m good at. It was sort of frustrating because in that moment, it didn’t matter. It’s a feeling that I’ve felt most of my life and it actually is really well illustrated in Free!. Haruka, in the first episode, talks about the pain of being almost an adult after being a child prodigy for most of his life. As a child, he was the best and as a teen, he’s just above average. That inferiority is something I’ve felt most of my life and it manifests in an inability to lose at something as simple as a video game or card game.That was something Carlos got to learn this weekend.
  • Bar Rescue may be the best thing on TV.
  • Live P.D. is also some damn fine television.
  • Just Dance for the Switch is evil and I am still winded from Applause by Lady Gaga.
    • Also, I’d love to do a Persona 5 group cosplay and do the Numa Numa routine. It’s very on-brand for a few of the best boys.
  • Flex-Glue is a strange thing that Carlos thinks is wonderful based on the advertising, so I suppose advertising does work.
  • Carlos is still surprised at my ability to choke down pills.
  • Honestly, Anthony Bourdain’s death hit me hard. Those of you who know me know that Bourdain was one of my idols and knowing that he lost his battle with mental illness brought me down a lot. It was nice though having friends that checked in on me and know that I am always here for you, dear readership. Together, we are never alone.
  • Packing alternate costumes was the best plan I ever had and having one go to hell was annoying after all the work I put into it was irksome but it felt good being out of costume.
  • By the time we reached the last day of con and my panel day I was really low energy and down and I felt like I couldn’t get that energy from the crowd or from Carlos; he was tired too after being in a crappy room and that was worrisome. I’ve always struggled with my friendships and I worry that I rely too much on and don’t get enough from those I care about. I worry that I lean too much on Carlos but also that he is not able to accept when I need to lean on him. That’s no one’s fault, just a realization.
  • Paneling on Sunday was really disappointing but this ended up being one of the best panel experiences of my life.

I will never forget getting to huge a young woman after telling her that she’s going to be okay after she expressed concerns about coming out to her family. I’ll never forget spotting friends in aisles and buying things that I’ll treasure forever. I’ll never forget swimming in a pool that was clearly out of Persona 5 and watching Carlos’ mind work through the mechanics of very broken fighting games.

This A-Kon was a lot, I’m happy to be home and happy to be finished with it all.

Till next year.

A-Kon 29 Cosplay Announcement!

A-Kon 29 Cosplay Announcement!.jpg

 

I’ve for sure kept everyone waiting long enough! This year at A-Kon I’ll be doing Tony Stark, a redo of PomPomPurin and bringing back Bak Chang because I love being The Great Golden Director. And that cape? Oh, that’s a secret project. If you ask nicely, I may be willing to share more about it.

I haven’t quite figured out which day will go to which character but I’ll figure that out once I get there and establish how oppressive the heat and humidity is.

The Case for Gatekeepers

We build too many walls and not enough bridges. (1).png

I come from a darker era for comic book fandom and really, general nerd-kind. I remember being told over and over again that I wasn’t a real fan because I was biologically female. I was told that I couldn’t be that into comics. I was clearly just doing it for attention. I was clearly just there because I only thought the covers were pretty. And psychologically, that’s really hecking damaging. It’s frustrating having to constantly prove that you are a fan of something. I was quizzed, questioned and dismissed so many times that I just came to accept it and now that we are in a halcyon era of comic book movies and nerd acceptance but maybe… just maybe gatekeeping wasn’t so bad in places.

Let’s take a minute to go over some vocabulary. Gatekeeping is a sociology and recently appropriated fan term that essentially means more “experienced” fans act as, well, gatekeepers and use their knowledge in a certain property or fandom to keep novice or newer fans out. We see this sort of phenomena in a lot in the cringe-inducing comic book guy in most television shows. Think The Simpsons or the literal entire cast of The Big Bang Theory or literally any other popular thing. They all have the same comic book dude who can’t hold a conversation about anything real but will be mad at you if you don’t know exactly what shade of pantone pink the Star Sapphire uniforms are. The normal avatar for this sort of person is usually a white, cis, hetero male and because of that, the view of any other fan that is of color, queer, or female (or a combination of any of those things) is somehow immediately less of a fan. This is also sometimes called fan-gating but that term makes me giggle so I’m just going to use gatekeeping.

The problem is that Gatekeepers think they’re doing a good thing. They think they are protecting their beloved media and often times, they are. Comic books were not always as mainstream as they are now and the knowledge so many comic book fans had (have) was not always valued and was often a source of ridicule and persecution. I was often teased for being able to recite Etrigan’s spell from memory. (I still can, don’t judge me.)

Now, let’s be clear. I am in no way advocating for the gatekeeping of ye olden days. That gatekeeping meant to keep women, queer folks, POCs and others out of comic books, videos games and the like because it was a white man’s hobby. And while, no, that isn’t the view of every comic book fan or generalized nerd human it certainly was the driving force for many of them in the comic world in the 90s and early 2000s (when I was a young impressionable comic book reader). To this day, there are still men who insist that girls only read comics for cosplay and that POCs simply don’t read comic books (It’s almost like black people didn’t make their own comic book line or anything like that…).

Here is also where I’ll pause for all the folks who think that me being quizzed over the canonical order of the Robins in Batman is a valid thing to do as I try to purchase a comic book from a store. (Real thing that happened: ask Carlos.).

I’ll wait.

Glad to have you back. This chapter in Moon Knight was getting a little intense.

So after all that talk about how dehumanizing, exhausting, racist, sexist and miserable gatekeeping was and is…why would I possibly ever say that maybe it isn’t so bad?

Remember that statement I made about comic books and other geeky, nerdy things now coming into mainstream popularity? That was not a thing even 10 years ago (back when the first Avengers movie was barely a concept and we were all still angry at Joel Schumacher for ruining Batman.). And there were plenty of people (me included) who have now found themselves in a curious place. Suddenly, the things we love(d) are now very popular. And that means those folks that teased many of us (me included) now suddenly very en vogue. I’ve had old high school friends suddenly claim that it’s so cool they know a cosplayer: the same folks that 10 long years ago was a sore subject and the butt of many jokes towards me. Now the jock that used to make fun of me for liking The Green Lantern is very excited about Guardians of the Galaxy movies.

Now, can people change? Sure. Am I being a little petty? Always. But I think it brings up a valid point. With the influx of new fans, the conversations can be a little strained now. Now we have plenty of folks who say they know comics based on the movies but likely couldn’t tell you much beyond that. Now, casual fans are fine and I love them but most casual fans don’t claim to be experts. It’s the folks that will step to other fans and say they know comics but only do because they’ve seen Captain America: Civil War three times. In so many other fields, I am a dirty casual. I’m a casual gamer, pretty novice with RPGs and while I used to be a strong tournament contender in a few things, I’m by no means as good at Street Fighter as I used to be.

“Stay in your lane.” is a shorthand for that kind of thing I use a lot and a few of my friends have picked it up, too. When Carlos and Ricky are talking stats in Tekken, I tend to shut up and let them. If they ask about stitches, well, it’s my time to shine then.

Another aspect of gatekeeping is one close to my heart and a topic we’ve tackled before. It’s the topic of having convictions, discussions and not being reduced to name-calling when someone doesn’t agree with your ship. During many a gatekeeper’s conversation, I’ve had to defend which Lantern Corps I was in. Which Harry Potter house I was sorted into. I had to explain why I liked a comic and had to prove my knowledge of it frequently. And sure, it was demoralizing and exhausting but it made a fan with iron-clad convictions. When I was on my dear friend Heather’s show ( seriously, listen to it and enjoy several minutes of us fangirling over each other. ) we discussed this sort of phenomena and it comes down to attachment styles. Because I had to constantly fight and prove what I loved an why I was a fan: I have now been able to form secure attachments to my fandoms. Newer fans that have not had to constantly prove themselves have formed insecure attachments often times because they are not being challenged. Because of that, any challenge is perceived as a threat on their person rather than an often times valid criticism of the piece of media they wish to defend.

Now, that doesn’t mean that I wish for the same horrible experience I had as a fan to happen to newer and casual fans. No, not at all. But there is something to be said about challenging a fan. I have this problem a lot with recent film criticism where Internet critics will bash a thing from a comic book movie even though it is likely the most authentic part of the film.

There’s something to be said about being challenged from time to time. There’s something to be said about having to defend your ship. There’s something to be said about being proven right or wrong. And there’s always room for a good, spirited conversation that doesn’t devolve into racial slurs and casually calling someone a homophobe.

In the comments: I’ll be answering questions and ranting about how amazing Damien Wayne is.

Thanks for reading!

 

At the Intersection of Fish and Fab

 

“And now, I'm just trying to change the world, one sequin at a time.” ― Lady Gaga.jpgThis may be a surprise to literally no one but I love drag culture. And while I have my issues with the LGBT community and even my issues with RuPaul’s Drag Race, I am proud to call Ru “Mother” and I love the roots and history behind what drag is today. I love the steps between Tandi Dupree and Sasha Velour. I love that when faced with a mainstream culture that would not yield that so many LGBTQ folks just built their own culture. And while drag culture has been influential it has only recently been mainstream. All of that mainstream limelight has now become an influence to so many other creators. So today I want to talk about cosplay, fashion and how I connect to being a better cosplayer and person through drag, music and high art.

I love fashion. Clearly. I cosplay. You don’t get into cosplay and not want all eyes on you. And that being said I also do love fashion in general. It’s no wonder that Paradise Kiss is one of the few shojo animes I can tolerate. I love watching a good garment come together. I love the styling and the efforts people have to do so an outfit comes together. I’ve been watching a lot of Marco Marco shows online. Marco Marco is a designer who specializes in men’s underwear and leggings but that also extends to conceptual dresses and avant-garde body pieces. If you’ve never seen a Marco Marco show, you should. Like seriously, it’s all on Youtube. Just watch one. I’ll wait.

Are you done? Awesome, back to the show. I love the way that Marco Marco plays with gender, body shape and uses elements so foundational to the LGBT culture like voguing and ballroom couture as parts of his show. The way music plays into every show and every look is pivotal. But you already know that since you watched at least one show now, right?

But let’s take a step back. Let’s go back to a simpler time. Let’s go back to the 70s. Voguing in the drag community is a dance style. Depending on who you ask Madonna did it first but most drag mothers will say she took it from the drag scene. And it’s exactly what you think it is. It’s serving fierce looks and fierce dancing mostly with your hands and arms but a good Vogue routine should be a full body experience. Think disco ParaPara. And being able to pull a look together that you could lip sync and serve face to was vitol and influenced drag culture for decades. Things didn’t get impractical until the Club Kid era in the 80s-90s. And that has continued even now. We’ve seen mainstream fashion take cues from drag and LGBT icons like Grace Jones and RuPaul. We’ve seen fashion shows become pop culture spectacles again as opposed to these haughty affairs for the upper crust. The way music plays into fashion is huge for me and as a kid who grew up with things like DanceDance Revolution and ParaPara where your clothing can actually impact your score. ParaPara is what got me to always end in a pose when it comes to cosplay and having to remember that your gender affects your score in ParaPara links it back to music, fashion and form. There’s nothing like cosplaying while dancing and having your friends cheer you on or egg you on so you either graciously succeed or comedically fail.

Fashion’s a tricky subject for a girl like me. At my smallest I was still plus-sized and I did my best to dress my body and dress to my tastes which is always something in between sailing in Martha’s Vineyard and prep who probably took your boyfriend in sophomore year to androgynous vaguely edgy but somehow still preppy bog creature. My style has evolved some from high school to college to young professional. But drag has always inspired me. Playing with shape and proportion. And despite how plain my exterior can be, I do have a serious passion for fashion. I love Project Runway and shows like it but more importantly my heart always comes back to RuPaul’s Drag Race.  The way big girls dress themselves and the way the majority of these biological men can use the power of clothing and makeup to transform into women that are not gonna lie prettier than me.

Needless to say, I watch a lot of Drag Race when I’m working on costumes. It’s good background noise and the beats of the music and the sounds of men as women fighting over who wore it well. And all the while RuPaul’s encouraging words keep me steadily sewing and painting within the lines when required. And when I have to sit down and think about it, I am so inspired by these fashionistas and trendsetters when I work on my costumes. I want to be a better makeup artist because I can see what Kim Chi can do. I want to style and put pieces together because I know Latrice Royale can style her body so well. I want to conquer my anxiety and perfectionism because I know Katya can and did get over hers. I look up to Violet Chacki and Raja for how well they can serve face and I think about that every time I overdraw my highlight line or don’t go far enough with my eye shadow.

We all have plenty of different inspirations and drag and fashion happen to be two of mine. I work hard to be a better cosplayer because I know Mother Ru would want me to. RuPaul is like my patron saint of fashion, a statuette of her sits on my mantle that I have to provide offerings of thread, lace, ribbon and glittered candles. Drag motivates me to try dyeing fabric and painting my nails even though I’m wearing gloves. Drag motivates me to be more aware of my accessories in and out of cosplay. And when you look good, you feel good. And when you feel good, you let that light show to the rest of the world.

 

Imperfection Perfected

 

Perfectionism kills art. (1).pngIt probably surprises no one that I am a bit of a perfectionist. I’m an aggressive editor of my image and how people see me. I’m worried about how I’m viewed and making sure things look just right. Which is why my history as a cosplayer is a fraught one. I spent more time making costumes than wearing them and my desire to be comfortable while walking around and moving around on stage all day often overrides my desire to look like a convincing Yuki Eiri (though for my Writing Female Characters panel at A-Kon 28 I DID stay as Bak Chang during the entire panel. You can see the video where I spend 1 hour moving my heavy front fringe from my eyes so I could answer questions and see people.).

So today in the spirit of cosplay, OCD and perfectionism: I wanted to talk about when it’s okay to accept flaws and when your desire to get things just right can hide beauty.

I started fabric dyeing late in my cosplay career. I’ve been able to luck out in finding fabric and pieces that were the color I needed. Recently, I’ve had to dye fabric and it is not fun. On top of the sweater that would not be dyed (no, seriously: I used 4 different bleaches and then any dye that did stick ended up dripping onto the floor leaving a mostly undyed red sweater) I’ve had moderate success going from light to dark. For an upcoming costume, though: I had to go from what was in my mind white to yellow. Sounds easy enough, right? I found the perfect item at Forever 21 for a cheap price, got my dye and settled into going home. Immediately things went well and then I forgot to seal the dye. For those unsure, dye sealant is a product that keeps the dye in the fabric and not on other clothes or on your skin. So I in all of my years of common sense and wisdom decided “I should be able to just spray on the sealant to a piece that was already dried and perfect from last week.”

Dear readership, I was a fool.

The sealant ruined the dye and left splotches all over the piece. Then when I finally tried the piece on, what I thought was a dress was actually a high-low t-shirt. So not only was it ruined, but it was way too short to wear as a dress and with non-opaque tights, it was a mess. So I tried to re-dye the shirt: didn’t work. Tried to get shorts: those are fine but I actually hate yellow so I have no idea what to do with them now. So I swallowed my pride and bought another dress but the dress was grey. So I bleached the dress and dyed it the yellow I needed but I was certain that I had failed. I was certain that I had failed in getting the color right since it’s difficult to go from grey to white/not white to yellow. I was miserable, felt like I had failed and was down on myself for weeks. I dyed, redyed and tried to fix these pieces over and over and over again until I nearly ruined a perfectly good t-shirt and ignored a good dress that I assumed was a failure.

Dear readership, I was wrong.

As I stressed and was anxious over 2 failed pieces, I had forgotten something. The dress that I had dyed the second time around was drying in the back of my closet and had been left for dead. Until I pulled it out while doing laundry only to find it was perfect. For the character I was working on, the yellow it had taken on was perfect. It looked just fine and if anything the splotches of brighter yellow only made the piece look better and feel more homemade and authentic. It looks like work was put into it and dammit with my yellow for days fingers, there was work put into this.

Sometimes, in costume work it’s easy to ignore all the hard work you’ve done when things don’t look just right. It’s easy to do this in life with projects and I am more than empathetic to the need to always look and do your best. But my perfectionism, hastiness and inability to see good in what I can do cost me time, money and moments of my life without yellow-dyed skin.

When working on things, it’s important to be critical but not condescending: to yourself and to others. Be kind to yourself and your work. Things almost always work out in the end.

Happy cosplay, everyone. I’ll be posting some cosplay progress photos and be doing a convention announcement very soon.

I promise.

Thoughts from A-Kon 28

-This entire weekend has just been me complaining about Yuri on Ice, making pterodactyl noises and non-sexual grunts and running away from my problems.--Said in the Hotel during A-Kon 28.png

It’s always surprising how I feel leaving convention. Sometimes I’m excited to get back on the road and return home and sometimes I never want the weekend to end. Here are the thoughts and feelings I had before, during and after A-Kon 28.

  • I for sure don’t mind the 4 hour drive so much when I get to take breaks.
  • Sometimes hotel breakfast is a trap.
    • No, seriously. Carlos and I were both super sick after hotel breakfast and we didn’t eat it again. And we all know how seriously I take hotel free breakfast so this was very disappointing to me.
  • There’s nothing quite like seeing your ex check into the same hotel you’re staying in.
    • Especially if you didn’t break up with that person on good terms.
      • No seriously, it was a huge emotional burden dealing with those feelings and seeing this person over and over again after such a painful break up was difficult to say delicately.
  • Gen Korean BBQ is still an amazing place.
    • And I get all the banchan since Carlos doesn’t like it.
  • Daiso is still the most magical place I’ve ever been to and they have fantastic candy.
    • No, really. I got 5 bags of apple gummies. Please send more apple gummies.
  • 85C may replace Mozart Bakery as my go-to place for breads.
    • Please don’t tell Mozart. I can’t have them know I cheated on them.
  • Bringing in stuff for a care package reminds me of how extra of a friend I am.
    • I made the boys (Carlos and Ricky) a mix-tape and badges for their service.
      • That’s right, reader. I made a damn mix-tape.
  • After the last few hotels rooms that gave me my own bedroom and bathroom, I’ve grown spoiled to that.
    • I’ve also grown spoiled to having a kitchen.
      • I love Carlos to death as a friend but I need my own bedroom.
        • He snores.
  • I found out about Adam West’s death while at Kirin Court with Carlos and it really messed me up for days.
  • So real talk, I hated A-Kon’s new layout.
    • Ft.Worth is not Dallas. Parking was a nightmare. Finding food was  nightmare and walking even a half a mile in costume while bound, padded, in a wig and in a heavy layered costume is a miserable sort of hell. And spreading it around 3 hotels made the organic fun of “falling” into a place out of the question. We had to plan everything because everything was blocks away. Nothing could be spontaneous. And all the things Carlos and I do, our traditions,  were so far away we could barely enjoy them. Normally 10-20 minute drives because 45 minutes to 1 hour long slogs across I-20. That really ruined some of my fun during this convention.
  • Less jokey panels are fun but interesting.
    • Normally, I’d never try a new panel at such a big con but it was important to me. 150 people saw me over 2 days and I’m proud of them. I got many compliments and people seemed engaged. Now I can workshop them better and be a better panelist. That’s how I grow.
  • It’s difficult being surrounded by media pieces you don’t like.
    • I still dislike YoI and it was everywhere. Literally. And it did upset me once or twice. But the hatred did dull after day 2 of seeing poorly-dressed Victors running around.
      • Fun fact though: I feel really tsundere about YoI because I should love this series and I did finish it but the fandom..god, the fandom hurts me.
  • Really this whole con was just about things that were popular: it was Zeitgeist the Convention.
    • Maybe that isn’t all bad.
  • The 90s Dance Music channel on Amazon Prime music was fire!
    • Nothing like Carlos and I dancing and singing to Barbie Girl.
      • Don’t judge us.
  • I do love cosplayers of all kinds, shapes and sizes but I’ll always rail against shake and go cosplay. Details are wonderful and they make me so happy as a fangirl and cosplayer. I do sometimes wish people cared a little more about these details sometimes but I’m from a different era of cosplay
  • I’m really shaken by the lack of routine we were able to have at this con with it being in Ft. Worth.
    • I’m still disappointed in this days later.
  • I’m upset I didn’t get my tea and cake after a good panel.
    • I did get ice cream, though.
  • I realize now having lived in San Antonio for some years that I seriously miss Taco Bueno and Chicken Express.
  • I’m disappointed in myself that I let people take my joy away.
  • However, Carlos did learn that you can easily melt my heart with a Rowlet.
    • No seriously, I freaked out over my sweet birb son.
  • I worry a lot about Carlos and I as friends.
    • We’re very different in nearly every way and sometimes I wonder why we’re friends and what can come of it. And then he’ll say “Let’s play DDR. I know you like that.” and I’m less worried.
  • Apparently, every Free! cosplayer was at the literal pool at convention.
    • I regret not visiting that pool.
  • I’m realizing that I’m not a huge fan of official merch and I much rather spend my money on original art pieces.
  • RuPaul’s Drag Race is one of the few things Carlos and I can agree on so we literally watched that all weekend.
  • Sometimes, you wear so much highlighter that you get compliments about it.
    • No really, Carlos has never seen me with that much makeup on and I loved living my best Farrah Moan fantasy.
  • There’s nothing like meeting webcomic artists that you follow.
    • Special thank you to Rem of Devil’s Candy and Ru of Saint for Rent and letting me squee over them so much.
  • If a hand fetishist asks for your gloves, do not let him take them for free.
    • Try to auction them off for $50.
      • Then immediately take them off and feel dirty for the rest of the day.
  • Somehow, it’s impossible to run from the things you want to avoid. They will always find you.
  • Sometimes, being the bigger man isn’t rewarding but it’s necessary.
  • I do still love being able to come down from the stage and talk to people. Answering questions is amazing.

I have so many feelings about this A-Kon. I cried in the parking lot for several minutes before driving away and my music choices after driving away didn’t help (I got KanshaBrothers and Wind back to back and I couldn’t help but be emotional, don’t judge me.). Normally the last day of con is a ceremony. There’s cake, there’s tea, there’s time with a friend I only see a few times a year. This time, he had to go to work and I had to drive back home. We didn’t get to live our traditions. We didn’t get to claim the time we had. I let my emotions get to me and that I’m not proud of. But for every moment of being annoyed by poor cosplay choices there were four or five that I loved being able to spend time with friends, fans and idols. A-Kon and conventions are my bread and butter. They’re my life. And I’m glad I went even if it was less than perfect.

Thank you for all of those that saw my panels, asked me questions, asked me for photos, let me take photos of you and all the delicious food I ate and all the fun memories I did make.

See you next year.

Meditations on Welcome to Night Vale After Seeing it Live

“Exit, pursued by a bear.” ― William Shakespeare, The Winter's Tale

So I was fortunate enough to go to the Welcome to Night Vale tour while it stopped here in San Antonio. I went with my friend Amber and went in costume as Night Vale Community Radio’s favorite host, Cecil. And as many of you know I’m a big fan of the show and have written about it before at least once and probably will again at least a few times. I had an amazing time and I loved the show so here are a few thoughts on fandoms, waiting in line and headcannons. I’ll do my best to keep this spoiler-free because I respect that many may not have been able to see the show yet but one or two may leak out in my excitement for the show and the fandom so blame the zeitgeist, I suppose. So let’s get started, dear listeners.

  • Body paint is almost never worth the trouble. No amount of tutorials will make it worth it. I do not care. No third eyes, no nothing. Concealer is already too much effort for me.
  • Parking downtown is a nightmare. That’s not even hyperbolic. It was a nightmare.
  • Suspenders are not made for people with busts. They are though, cute as hell. I now need more excuses to brave the discomfort and wear suspenders.
  • People drove from several states away to see this show: while walking out from the parking structure Amber and I met a group of women one from Austin, one from San Antonio and one all the way from Oklahoma.
  • Getting compliments on my costumes is always great but it does sometimes make me a little insecure.
  • Though getting a compliment on my “radio voice” and the fact that I have good enunciation is always fantastic.
  • Hearing that people support my unpopular headcannons is always fun.
  • The Aztec is amazing when it comes to lines and despite the long lines we did not wait long.
  • HOWEVER: Aztec, get your seating together.
  • Also, sitting while short is a problem. Luckily, there was a space between tall between and I had the perfect short person’s window.
    • Please feel free to take “Short person’s window” for your own. SHORT PEOPLE ARE PEOPLE. Just smaller people.
  • Night Vale is if anything an amazingly written podcast and I admire Joseph Fink and Jeffery Crannor as writers.
  • Costuming while having no cannonical descriptions are fun.
  • Sentient patches of haze are pretty intense.
  • Night Vale Community Radio interns are in fact delicate and we should all treasure them a little more.
  • I sometimes forget how big the Night Vale fandom is: it’s a podcast. We don’t all hang out. But this show was PACKED.
  • Always stick around for the Horoscopes.
  • Continue your well-suited disappointment in Steve Carlsburg.
  • The weather was good.
    • Fun fact: this is probably one of my favorite fan artifacts. I wonder how that will be read in the distant future. A bunch of cyber archaeologists going on about “Why is everying commenting about the weather!”
    • Though there are not many artists that get to babble at me incoherently for several minutes.
    • ALSO: my clapping is just fine, lady. You don’t know me or my life.
  • Cecil Baldwin’s kinda hot…
    • Okay, he’s very hot. And well-dressed.
  • But seeing Cecil Baldwin BE Cecil Palmer confirms a few things that were a part of my headcannon including that Cecil is very expressive, gestures a lot and does genuinely love his job. He also is very much not aware of how dangerous Night Vale is making him a precious cinnamon roll who needs to be protected.
  • So this isn’t really a spoiler but I need to say it: I was NOT expecting that ending and it ended up making me really emotional but in the best way. In the way that all writing should. When you connect. When you feel. When you become the story and the story becomes you and suddenly then, only then, it isn’t a story: it is your life.

Night Vale is a sleepy town on the edge of the desert but there are thousands, millions of virtual citizens. We are all citizens of this strange little town with mysterious lights, unsupported oak doors and 6-legged cats that hover in the men’s bathroom of the local radio station. Night Vale is a fandom that is close to my heart. I love Cecil, my radio host. I adore his relationships. I fear greatly The Dog Park and want justice for the literal 5-headed dragon in prison. We as a fandom have a community: we have opinions. Some of us love Carlos. Some don’t think Kevin is so bad. Some hate Desert Bluffs, some hate Desert Bluffs more. I couldn’t imagine that Night Vale would end up meaning so much to me. I never liked it when it first came out: I didn’t understand the love of this strange fictional land but now I listen in regularly. I listen to Cecil as if Night Vale is my hometown and the nightly community radio broadcast is my public radio station. Welcome to Night Vale is TPR for nerds like me. Imagine: people sitting in their cars, sitting at home, doing chores all while listening to Welcome to Night Vale. Just as I’m sure the creators intended. This is our radio. This is our show. Night Vale is our hometown: well at least, it is if you can survive the Glow Cloud and avoid the Shape in Mission Grove Park.  So I highly recommend the Night Vale live show. It’s engaging, funny, dark, twisted and thoughtful. So enjoy the show. Listen. Tune in. You won’t regret it. 

And as always: good night, dear readers. Good night.