Continued from Page
Siren cosplaying as Kamijo of Lariene. Photo by Ally.
is the most satisfying and most frustrating aspect
of being a cosplayer?
most satisfying aspect for me is to feel really happy having
created something I can be proud of, and that can make other
people react. I think a big joy is when other fans or cosplayers
react positively to a costume. I love to hear things like "Oh!
I LOVE that character!" I really love that cosplay is
a promotion of something you love. A frustrating aspect.
Hmm... Sometimes I think things cosplay politics can go too
far and really get disrespectful.
For those who are new to cosplaying, they will
notice that many cosplayers belong to a group
or a circle of cosplayers. Are these groups public,
members only or area-based type groups? What
do you have for a cosplayer who wonders if they
should join a group?
can't speak for all groups, but I've noticed that
many of them are close groups of friends or people
that have come together at conventions. The
most long-lived groups are usually those that are
in close physical proximity to each other. Groups
with members that live far apart tend to have more
problems as far as organization and communication.
far as joining a group, some groups are very public
and hold auditions for parts
when they need to be filled. Other groups are really
close-knit friends that don't usually accept new members.
If you want to join a group or start one of your own,
looking around on the Internet is a great way to start.
So many big groups have websites and message boards
where you can talk with group members and be kept up
to date on auditions and the groups plans for convention
attendance. Otherwise, you can just talk to groups
you see at conventions. Say "Hi" and make
some new friends and keep in touch. If
your interested in joining, ask. It can never hurt to
just ask. The worst the group could say is no and if
they do, don't take it to heart, often groups have limited
spots for members.
For the newbie cosplayer, can you give us your top three
advice for them if they want to get involved in cosplaying.
If you don't know how to sew, a basic sewing
class can be incredibly handy!
Making friends in the cosplay community and joining some
mailing lists online can
offer a real support net if you need help with costuming.
People will almost always be willing to offer tipsand
Do what you want and have fun! Try not to get too caught
up in cosplay. If you're getting too stressed out about
a project and it isn't fun anymore, you have to ask yourself
if it's really worth it. Don't forget why you
started to cosplay in the first place.
Let's talk about your Sailor Galaxia costume.
How long did it take you
to make and how much? It looks like a sophisticated
think it took a couple of months of on and off work to really
complete that costume. I had to have a lot of help from my
Mom to help me do fittings because the bodice is rather
complicated. The pattern is one
for a close fitting jacket that I altered a bit. I removed
sleeves and added the skirt. A muslin mock-up was made to
do a fitting
so the flat pattern could be adjusted for the final product.
That pattern was sewn up three times. Once in the mock up,
once in the gold lame fabric and once in the gold cotton lining.
A real challenge on that costume was the skirt. I wanted to
have the skirt authentic to the anime and manga by making it
out of separate points. Getting the skirt to look right at
rest, and not leave large gaps between the points was really
Many of the pieces on that costume, like the skirt and sleeves
and headdress were worked out dozens of times in paper mock
ups. The hairstyle is actually my own hair supplemented with
fake Kanekalon hair then spray with some fake gold haircolor
to make it all look even. The boots on the costume are covers
made from spray painted vinyl and character shoes also sprayed
challenge of the costume was I had to be able to dance in it.
I was wearing the costume as a part of Sailor Jamboree that
year and had a dance routine to do involving high kicks and
lots of movement. Everything on my costume had to be secure,
I couldn't have pieces flying off in the middle of the dance.
Also, I had to be able to move my arms and legs. Getting the
pointy sleeves to look good as well as allow movement was a
tough problem. Looking at it now, I could improve on this costume
more now since I have more knowledge in craftsmanship. The
cost of the costume was around $120. The gold fabric
was something I bought months in advance for $30 from a local
fabric store that was closing. The shoes were dance shoes which
I already owned. The jewels ran me about $40 for all of them,
they add up fast! The brooch I wore was made from a gold chocolate
wrapper, cardboard and plastic jewels. Gold dance briefs for
$15; fake hair for $2 and supplemental fabric, interfacing,
trim and thread all added up to another $50 or so dollars.
did you get the nickname "Siren"?
is actually my Internet alias from back when I was 12
years old. I used to go by Aluminum Siren after the villain
Sailor Aluminum Siren from Sailor Moon. If been using
the names for ages, I used to enter chat rooms, play
online games which "Diablo" was my FAVORITE
for a long time and write stories under the name "Aluminum
Siren". A couple of years ago though, when I started
work on a J-rock fan project called "Murasaki",
I worked as the artist and dropped the Aluminum. Siren
has really stuck to me and I even have real-life friends
now that still call me Siren.
are well known in the California anime con
scene for your work with the J-ROCK panels
as a fan of groups that are more "visual
kei". How did you get interested in visual
got interested in visual kei through anime. Actually,
it was "Weiss Kruez" that started it. I became
a big fan of the series and the music to go with it.
Koyasu Takehito became a favorite of mine, and when I
found out his favorite band was a Japanese band called
L`Arc~en~Ciel I went right out and bought the newest
single they had. After that I fell in love with Japanese
rock music and started to buy magazines that featured
bands. It was in my first issue of "Band Yarouze" that
I saw the band Dir en grey. I started by downloading
some of the music online and from there I was hooked.
I got into other visual bands through communities online
and it's been non-stop ever since.
Siren cosplaying as Sailor Aluminum Siren from
"Sailor Moon Super S".
you more into the look or the music?
think that visual kei music and image go hand in
hand. Concept bands like Lariene and Malice
Mizer are really excellent examples of how an image can really
enhance the music. I'm a musician and an artist myself
so I have a real respect for the talent bands display while
they blend visuals with music while trying not to let one
overpower the other. I'm a big time fan of visual kei
also a fan of music. So many people mistake visual kei for "J-rock".
A band doesn't have to be in drag or fancy costumes to
be rock. Visual kei is just a drop in the pond of Japanese
music. There is a lot to experience out there!
You are heavily involved with the California
convention panels on J-ROCK
but why is it that conventions in the Plain States
and mid-west are able to
bring Indie J-Rock bands but California Cons
have not yet done that?
don't think I'm at liberty to say more right
now but I can tell you that the 2003 convention
season will welcome an indies J-rock band or
two at a couple of our local Southern California
conventions. Watch the summer conventions.
Looking at the photos, I have seen your cosplay change from
your costumes with what you have done in your
beginning years, as a member of Sailor Jamboree
to the present time with darker, cosplay outfits
such as your "Wedding Mana" cosplay at Fanime.
You sport more black outfits and was wondering
is because of your creativity as a cosplayer,
being different from other cosplayers and having
a unique costume at the conventions or is it
more of a personal reason?
darker costumes really relate more to my everyday style of
dress. I've also been a big fan of Mihara Mitsukaz for
a number of years now and she is well known for her gothic
style. Also, I have shifted from watching a lot of anime to
spending more time reading manga in Japanese. So, I find more
of my inspiration in the black and white pages of manga than
of colorful anime. I find there is a real challenge too, in
trying to recreate an outfit you've only seen in
black and white and screen tones. I like the process of figuring
out how to re-create a convincing version of a costume with
only so many lines and tones to guide me.
You have done a lot of crossplay. What are
your feelings of crossplay? Girls crossplaying
as guys and guys crossplaying as girls?
be honest...I'm a big fan of cross dressers and drag queens
and such. I find the illusion fascinating! There are some
serious cross players out there that are really out to fool
people and then there are the "less serious" cross
players. You know, the guy out there in the sailor fuku with
a beard. But hey! Whether your out to convince people or
just have a good time supporting your favorite character it's
great to see people crossing those barriers. I've noticed that
there is a great deal more girls that crossplay as guy characters
than the other way around and I wonder if it has to do with
the social stigma men face, especially in Western culture about
their femininity. Or is it just easier for girls to cosplay
characters or do
guys simply favor male characters over girls? I won't presume
to know but I have a few ideas. It's tough to generalize over
a population of people anyway.
Siren in Lolita Fashion. Photo courtesy of RisingSun.net.
As a cosplayer who has won awards for anime-based
costumes, do you feel pressured to continue
winning awards and making more difficult
costumes for a convention?
don't really feel a lot of pressure. Personally, I like
to have at least one new costume per convention. I really
love to sew and the conventions I attend are spaced far
enough from each other so that it's not an unrealistic
goal. Of course this helps build up my collection of
costumes as well. As far as awards go, they aren't
really my goal.
Don't get me wrong, I'm tickled pink when I win and often
times it comes as a complete surprise to me! Some of
the awards I've won have been really personal too me,
winning "Queen of Shoes" at Ani-Magic 2002.
That was really an honor to be noted for something as
Speaking of those awards, do you cosplay for
fun, fpr the cosplay recognition or the competition/challenge
of creating a great costume?
cosplay for the fun and challenge of creation. I love to
make things and when I see something as a challenge, I
try to work it out to the best of my abilities. The process
of making a costume is as important to me as wearing it.
I am always learning things about construction
a great learning experience for me and often times I can
apply that knowleged to my other
artwork and vice versa. Of course, over all, I have
to have fun.
Once cosplay stops
being fun for me then I'll quit. Until then I'm
going to push myself further!
Is there anything that you would like to improve on yourself
having to do with cosplay?
SIREN: Well I'm
always willing to learn more! As far as habits, I am a
really bad procrastinator. I have been working on getting
finished more in advance when I need them. I'm
trying to avoid sewing the day before I leave or even
at the con
anymore. As far as "skills", I'd like to improve
my fitting technique some. And I'd really like
to master setting zippers. I can set them well enough now
zippers can be tricky. I think a really neatly set zipper
is a sign of great skill. Also I'd like to learn
to work with other "trickier" fabrics like
stayed away from vinyl before because of its reputation
and the amount of worked needed to sew it properly. I've
done some research on sewing with it, using tissue paper
and a Teflon presser foot, so I hope to try some out soon.
you cosplay as a character, do you try act like the
certainly do! I'm an actress as well and have worked in school
and community theater. So, I try to give the right demeanor
as a character. When I'm dressed as Mana, I try not to talk.
When I am Sailor Moon, I'm a genki ditz. Of course, it's
all only to a point. I don't want to take my character too
far that it becomes inhibiting and annoying to other people.
you had all the time and money to make a costume,
what would be your dream costume?
got a few but there is a costume that I have
been planning for years now! I've been collecting
researching sewing techniques, collecting patterns
I'd really love to do the manga version of Princess
dress from "Sailor Moon". I've got
some other plans for that as well, but for now
are a secret!
Have you ever worn your costume to an area that freaked
people out? How was that experience?
worn costumes in weird places many times. I've
been in malls, bookstores, the beach, birthday parties, the
gas station in full Super Sailor Moon fuku which was a great
one. Most of the time people
just give me funny looks and sometimes they recognize
me. It's great when little kids recognized me as Sailor Moon.
Have you experienced any freaky or embarrassing situations
from cosplaying? May it be the costume or even experiences
guy asked to kiss me once! I was dressed as "Cherry
Pie" which was from my J-rock Elegant Gothic Lolita
persona and as a part of a contest on stage for the J-rock
events at AX 2002, a fellow who came on stage asked for
a kiss. That was pretty funny!
think I was quite shocked at the time. But the
best story ever is from a friend
of mine who mistook me as a "sexy guy" while
I was dressed up as Kyo from Dir en grey. It's
best to hear the story from her but basically
she saw me dressed as a guy and thought she would
get my phone number. She was really shocked when
she found out her "sexy guy" was me.
The costume was a real challenge because it was
and open jacket with a bare chest, but I pulled
it off with some duct tape to help me. It fooled
a lot of people. It was so fun!
Transylvanian Rose 2 - Photo by unknown.
Every time I see you at a con, you are one of the few
cosplayers that is awake early in the morning. Do you
I figure at cons I can stay up for three days if I want
to and then sleep when I get home. Half the time, I've
been up for nights in a row before the con finishing
up costumes or packing. Sometimes the middle of the
is the best time to meet people! And more of the cons
have more things to do since they run all night,
like karaoke, video games, and screening rooms, that
would all seem to shut down at 12 or 2 a.m. in years
Many people watched you in the Ani-Magic
2002 Ketchup music video. You
seem to be a para para natural. Where did you learn those
cool dance moves?
not a natural para para dancer at all. Actually, those
moves I know are from a
Sailor Jamboree performance that we did at Ani-Magic
2001. I've never actually played the Para Para video
game. I'm much to shy to try to play it in front of people
at an arcade. I have been dancing after getting some
of those Para Para "How-To" dance videos. So
maybe I can practice and someday I'll be brave enough
the game! Anybody want to give me a lesson?
much longer do you want to cosplay? Or is this something
you see yourself doing for a very long time?
want to cosplay until it's not fun anymore. Though
I can certainly seeing myself doing it until I'm old.
I won't be cosplaying Sailor Moon when I'm 60 but I know
there are characters out there for me.
you look back at all the cosplay
events you have done, the things
you have experienced. If there
is one cosplay moment you will
always remember, what would
that moment be?
think performing with Sailor Jamboree at Anime Expo 2000 was
a really great moment for me. We had worked so hard
and it was my first public performance with an anime cosplay
group. It was a real thrill for me.
final words to the people who support your
appreciate anyone who supports me! Comments and encouragement
from strangers, other cosplayers, little kids, friends and
fans are always wonderful to receive. I really hope that I
can support you, like you have supported me!
For more information about Sailor Moon Jamboree,
to Cosplay Underground ][ Go
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photos on nt2099 Cosplay Underground has been taken by a staff
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A. Amith is an entertainment
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