The Cosplayer Feature is a series of interviews done by HappyCosplayer featuring cosplayers from around the world who would like to share their story. Cosplayers are featured both here on my blog and on my Facebook pages: HappyCosplayer, JustCosplay.
“May you be inspired by them!” -HappyCosplayer
Featured cosplayer: All Back to Front!
Cosplay Page: Link | Country: USA| Gender: Female
Happy: When did you begin cosplaying and what got you interested in the hobby?
Rachel: I started cosplaying in 2010. I began attending conventions around 2003 and was always in awe of all the amazing costumes people would wear – their creativity and courage really spoke to me. So 2010 was the year I was finally brave enough to join the Doctor Who cosplay crowd. My first two cosplays were River Song from Time of Angels and Rose Tyler from Idiot’s Lantern. Both are retro-influenced costumes – which I’ve always been drawn to – I love retro fashion and costume films.
Happy: What do you remember about your first day cosplaying at a convention?
Rachel: I remember being nervous about walking around in costume. Thankfully, I met up with some friends and we had a great time.
Happy: Would you consider yourself more of a seamstress or a builder?
Rachel: I’m more of a deconstructor. I love any opportunity to age or weather something. For my husband’s War Doctor jacket, I spent hours scrubbing it with steel wool to age the leather. It’s actually great stress relief.
My other talent – which others often cite – is my ability to find alternative pieces for screen accurate items. As a plus-size cosplayer, it’s not always possible to fit in a Screen Accurate item, but you want to have the flavor of the costume and character. I’ve spent many an hour looking for similar style dresses, jewelry, or jackets. Not all my searches have been successful, but many people have thanked me for finding a particular piece or sent people my way to try and find something.
Happy: Anyone who really inspires you?
Rachel: I know so many cosplayers – I would have to say it’s the ones that do all their own sewing or embroidery. My friend Miss Nerdstiles has this ridiculous amazing Cersei cosplay she built from scratch and it’s like, yeah, I can’t do that at all.
Happy: Have you ever-experienced harassment or bullying while cosplaying?
Rachel: I’ve been very lucky to not be bullied, which is sadly a problem for many people in the hobby. I think it comes down to the company I’ve kept as a fan, as well as my own attitude – I tend to have a positive outlook, and the energy you present has an impact on those around you.
That’s not to say that I haven’t experienced a rude Facebook comment or someone catcalling while I walk down the street – but it hasn’t been so extreme that I haven’t been able to shake it off.
Happy: Are there things you have learned through this hobby that you never would have guessed to have learned before you started cosplaying? If so what are these new skill traits?
Rachel: I’m really good at Googling things late at night. I also know a lot more about types of fabric, cuts of clothing – these things are very important when you’re making keyword searches.
Happy: A lot of people get overwhelmed or ‘brunt out’ over time with this hobby called cosplaying. Have you ever felt that way, or do you feel like you ever would? What would you say to those that maybe feeling burnt out now?
Rachel: Oh, yeah. Burnout is a real thing – I think it can happen for any hobby, especially cosplay. If you have too many projects going or are traveling all the time to cons as an attendee or guest, It can get overwhelming. I’ve become a lot more selective about the cons I attend and if I want to cosplay or not.
Happy: What is it about cosplaying that you love?
Rachel: I love the creative aspect of it – I love seeing how well I can mimic or – in some cases – fake a costume that probably cost thousands of dollars for a costume designer to make or curate out of store-bought pieces. It’s really about the chase and then pulling all the pieces together to make one cohesive outfit.
Happy: What is it about cosplaying you dislike?
Rachel: I don’t do drama, so I hate how competitive it can be and how that can stress people out. Cosplay is a pure hobby for me. It’s supposed to be fun. I do it because I want to wear a ridiculous outfit while I hang out with friends or if I’m cosplaying as part of a fan event.
Happy: Why do you cosplay? Why do you keep coming back to it?
Rachel: Cosplay started as a purely creative outlet for me. I think seeing people’s reactions to my cosplays keeps me coming back. There’s this Adam Savage clip where he’s talking about the shared experience people have as part of cosplay, and I’d say that’s part of it for sure.
Happy: Have you ever hurt yourself accidentally or intentionally for cosplay?
Rachel: Comfort is very important, so I’d say any injury I’ve endured has been on the front end while I’ve been deconstructing or painting something – sore hands or getting paint on everything. Occasionally, I’ll end up wearing a corset for too long, but I tend to time my more restrictive cosplays for shorter bouts of time so I can enjoy wearing it and then switch to something else.
Happy: Over all how would you rate the cosplay community as a whole?
Rachel: My little corner of the cosplay world is very supportive and helpful. If I find someone to be judgemental or negative, I tend to run in the other direction. There is so much negativity in the world outside of cosplay or other hobbies – this isn’t the place for it!
Happy: What are some of your favorite cosplays you have worn?
Rachel: River Song’s Time of Angel black dress. I’ve refined the costume three times over, and when I finally met Alex Kingston last year while wearing it, she said I looked perfect. There is no higher praise.
Happy: Do you have a dream cosplay you would love to do someday?
Rachel: I’ve always wanted Mina Murray’s red ball gown from Bram Stoker’s Dracula. The same goes for Jenny Blake’s white evening gown from The Rocketeer. I’m pretty sure I was born in the wrong time period – I just want all the vintage clothing!
Happy: What was an amazing experience you had in cosplay that you will never forget?
Rachel: Alex Kingston’s reaction to my River Song cosplays rank very highly, but honestly, any event where I can make someone smile, specifically a child, then I’ve succeeded in my purpose.
Happy: Has cosplaying presented you with challenges? If so what sort of challenges? Were they hard to overcome? Are you still working on overcoming them?
Rachel: As a plus-size cosplayer, it’s been about getting the look of the character down, but in clothes that fit appropriately for your form. Cosplay taught me how to dress my body and pay attention to cut and fit rather than dress size – which can be a huge hang up for both women and men.
Happy: What is your favorite convention right now to attend?
Rachel: I’ve been to a lot of cons in my time, but Wholanta is my home con. It’s where I see most of my con friends outside of DragonCon, but instead of just waving in passing, you can actually sit for a bit and catch up. Smaller cons are the best for the social aspect.
Happy: What is a convention you would REALLY like to attend one day and why?
Rachel: I’d love to go back to Gallifrey One one day. It’s in California, and I want to explore the West Coast more. It’s also a really well-run show, and everyone is laid back and helpful.
Happy: Does any one in your family cosplay? How about close friends? Did you get anyone to cosplay because you were doing it?
Rachel: My family doesn’t cosplay, but many of my friends do. I’ve occasionally inspired people to cosplay – more often than not, if someone needs help with a cosplay, they’ll message me before someone else.
Happy: What are your future goals with cosplaying?
Rachel: I’ve been very low-key about cosplay lately, so it’s really about wearing what I’ve made for this year. Cleaning out my costume closet is also on the list. I tend to be a pack rat, saving costumes or other items for a rainy day. It’s time to downsize and pass those items on to someone who’ll use them.
I also have a geek column for a local website – I really want to continue to expand my focus on geek culture at a local level and showcase people’s talents and experiences.
You can find All Back to Front at the following links! Please leave some love for them via a like/follow and so on and help continue to make the cosplaying community better by encouraging and inspiring others!
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