Cosplay is a weird hobby. There, I said it.
No but seriously, jokes aside – whenever I tell new people what it is I like to do in my spare time, I can quickly judge where the conversation is heading from just how high their eyebrows go as I explain I spend a ridiculous amount of my time, money, sweat and tears on this hobby, making fictional character costumes so that I can spend a day at comic con pretending to be said fictional character. The word “cosplay” alone should be enough of a clue to begin with as it is literally an amalgamation of the words “costume” and “play.”
Although, to be honest, when you break down any activity or hobby like that, they can all sound pretty damn strange.
“Hello! I like to strap planks of wood to my feet, climb to the top of a mountain and then let gravity do the thing.”
“I like to throw myself into a sweaty crowd of people where there’s music playing at such an extreme level I can’t actually hear it that well and then we all just throw ourselves violently at each other until the song is over.”
“I like to watch men kick a round product made of thick animal skin in between two posts at opposite ends of a field… No, I don’t like to actually PARTAKE in this activity, I just like to watch and cheer them on.”
“I collect various versions of dead trees that have been mashed down into an unrecognisable form, stare at the markings contained within and hallucinate for hours on end.”
I could try make the argument that cosplay might not actually be the weirdest hobby out there but… pfft, I ain’t trying to defend my dorky interests here. A cosplay-related incident happened this week between me and my father which got me thinking. You see, to me, everything that happens at in the process of making a cosplay and at con has become pretty normalised; late night panics the night before con, the glue gun burns, the tears when the experimentation didn’t quite pan out the way I’d hoped… yup, all pretty standard. However, to an outsider, cosplay must sometimes appear to go beyond ‘quirky creative hobby’ to ‘I think it’s actually a cult send help.’
My father is such an outsider. Everything he knows about cosplay is the bare minimum that he has picked up through exposure to my hobby; he doesn’t really know what comic con is nor does he have any particular interest in going, and in terms of the various media relating to my cosplay, he can get about as far as distinguishing that I’m making a “Disney Princess” dress but wouldn’t be able to tell you which one. My Mum will always happily help me out with my cosplays – I’ve learnt everything I know about sewing from her, so she kind of gets it and will often be good natured enough to let me take over a room in the house when I’m on a new project provided I don’t accidentally fill the washing machine with loose glitter again (it was ONE time, ok??!) but when it’s all going on, my Dad has to inhabit this space, on the fringes of a world he has pretty much no idea about.
So for today’s blog, I have decided to switch the perspective a bit. Everything mentioned below are genuine examples of things that have happened to me during the cosplay process (although they’re from over a range of years as opposed to one each month) but all to explore the idea – is cosplay really that strange a hobby? (Yes. Yes it is.)
Asked Youngest what she wanted for Christmas, expecting her to ask for make-up, books and DVD’s. Instead, she asked for Worbla and a new wig stand.
Wtf is Worbla and where the hell do I buy a wig stand from?!
Productive day at work – removed a tumour from a dog’s lung, performed an emergency c-section on a cat and saved a budgie with a broken wing. Also had a call from Eldest Daughter who has been invited to visit 10 Downing Street again (she set up her own non-profit organisation that exists to support and elevate women in technology). Very proud. Later on, came home to find Youngest alone in the house, sitting on the sofa in a princess dress.
“Oh, thank God you’re home!!” she cried, jumping up as soon as I walked through the front door. “I’ve been making adjustments to this and Mum helped me put it on to try it out but now she’s gone out and I can’t reach the zipper!!”
I said nothing more and just helped my 27-year-old daughter out her sparkly princess dress. The Golden Rule I have learnt to live by is “don’t ask questions, don’t risk your sanity.”
Youngest asked me if I would help her by holding up her latest costume while she made some adjustments to it. Obliged on agreement that I could still watch the football as she did so.
Youngest then pulled out this cage-skirt that looks more like she’s joined an underground fetish club. She began to explain that the character was called Mother War and from a concept album by some band she’s into that’s about a soldier who’s dying of cancer. Blocked her out and focused on the football.
Note to self: Buy Youngest a mannequin for her birthday.
Youngest had a friend over this weekend. He’s been hanging out at our house a lot lately; asked Youngest if he’s her boyfriend but she just laughed at me and explained they’d set up a new club together. They call it the Stitch and Bitch Club, where they stitch cosplay and then bitch about it when it doesn’t work out. Realised The Boy was one of her ‘cosplay’ friends. Good Lord. There’s more of them.
They’ve set up shop in the living room and are currently making some kind of weaponry, carving them out of Styrofoam and then painting them. I foresee disaster.
Heard pitiful wails coming from living room. Ignored them for as long as possible before I realised they weren’t going away so went to investigate.
It was like walking into some knock-off Father Christmas Grotto. Youngest, The Boy, the cat and entire room were covered in shredded Styrofoam balls.
“What the fu- what happened?!” I asked, forgetting the Golden Rule.
“Science happened,” The Boy said and then huffed, trying to blow some of the Styrofoam out his face. “We were trying to keep this all in a bag but this stuff is really static-y and it’s just stuck to EVERYTHING.”
“Don’t just stand there – help!!” Youngest wailed. “Get the hoover!!”
“Why can’t you get it?!” I asked.
“Look!!” she said, and then gently moved her arm through the air, sending a small flurry of Styrofoam into the air. “It’s all contained in here for now but the second we move, it’ll drag through the house – After the Peter-Pan-Pixie-Dust-Disaster, Mum’s gonna kill me if she sees this!!”
Got hoover. We managed to get the worst of it cleared up but I think we’ll be finding random bits for a while.
Checked in at one point to make sure Youngest and The Boy hadn’t destroyed living room. Relieved that they hadn’t – also glad to see they’re keeping the hoover in the room with them now. Saw one of the completed daggers resting on the table.
“That looks very good!” I said. “The bloodstains are a nice touch!”
Youngest and The Boy looked sheepish. Then I realised that there were no paints out and saw The Boy’s hands were covered in Hello Kitty plasters with a broken craft knife on the table.
“You need to wash that off before it dries,” I said, pointing at a bloody handprint on the wall behind them. “Who wants a cup of tea?”
Youngest needed help lacing into her corset tonight when trying on her latest Princess dress. When I had daughters, I can honestly say this was not something I ever thought I’d have to do. Youngest was complaining because I laced it too tightly and she couldn’t breathe – I thought that was the whole point?!
Was woken up at a ridiculously early hour for a Saturday morning to find Youngest and Friend were trying to pack up her car. Vaguely recalled hearing them mention last night something about going to Comic Con.
“How long are you two going away for?” I asked, looking at the various suitcases, dressbags and boxes piled in the hallway.
“We’re back on Monday,” Youngest said, struggling to carry a long, thin box that was taller than she was. White feathers started to spill out one corner as she moved it. “Shit, can you help me move this?”
Grabbed the corner – it was a lot lighter than I was expecting.
“The lid’s not shut properly on this,” I said. “If we put it down, we can close it and -”
It was at this point that lid fell off completely, revealing that the box contained a set of 7-foot fully-feathered angel wings.
“They’re mine!!” Friend said cheerfully, popping open the boot of the car. “OK, what order should we load everything in?”
“You’ve only got a three-door. You’re not even going to get these in,” I said.
“Yes, we will,” Youngest said in a very worryingly self-assured way.
Somehow, defying all known laws of physics, they actually managed it. However, I think she might now need the suspension on her car checked.
Youngest in trouble – she was spray-painting a magic mirror silver in the shed this evening and although she put newspaper down on the floor, she failed to protect the walls. Or my shoes.
Dropped Youngest off at train station at lunch time. She looked like she’d escaped from a fetish club again, dressed in a red pirate shirt, red satin trousers and a leather corset/waistcoat thing with thigh-high leather boots. For some reason, she’d also painted her face, neck and hands gold, green and glittery.
“It’s meant to be the hottest day of the year today, are you sure it’s a good idea to get on the London Underground like… well, like that?” I asked, gesturing up and down at her general attire.
She just grinned – and it was then that I saw she’d also painted her teeth brown to make them look like they were rotted.
“I must suffer for my art, Dearie!” she said with a very camp hand flourish.
Getting that she was ‘in character,’ curiosity got the better of me. I broke the Golden Rule and asked her who she was supposed to be.
I should not have asked; apparently, Rumpelstiltskin has had a makeover in recent years. She tried to explain but I got distracted from everything else when she cheerfully stated ‘Rumple’s really hot,’ which is possibly one of the most disturbing things I’ve ever heard her say. I might actually have to look this damned show up to see what she’s on about.
I think that the mistake was reading her all those fairytales when she was little. I should have stuck to War And Peace.
Robert Carlyle?! Really?!?!