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The Cosplay Curse, Anime North 2001 panel, 5:00 pm Sunday, May 27, 2001. Just prior to the closing ceremonies.
DERWIN MAK: Welcome to the panel, about the Cosplay Curse. The program description is, "Why does U.S. style Cosplay have such a bad reputation, and what can be done to help improve things?" Now, I'll mention a few things; I was the originator of this panel idea, because I always heard horror stories from my friends who had come back from American anime conventions about people shouting insults and abuse at the stage, and also judging, where the costumes weren't even judged, the presentations weren't even judged for anything like workmanship, or sewing technique, or embroidery technique, or anything like that, and the presentations weren't even judged on humour or talent or anything. I heard horror stories about where it was usually three guys giving the award to the prettiest girl in the skimpiest swimsuit, which isn't the way I grew up in masquerades, but, we'll also talk about what can be done to improve things, so, let's start with the introduction of the panel, starting at the other end of the table.
LISA NELSON: Hi, I'm Lisa Nelson, I go by "Honey-Chan," you probably saw me yesterday running around in the Cutey Honey costume, and it's kind of a change today for me, in normal clothes, kind of. I've been doing this Cosplay thing for about ten years, so actually I've got a pretty good background. I was at AnimeCon '91, at San Jose, California, which was the first organized anime convention in North America, and the Cosplay there was a last minute thing that basically the Con chairpeople said, "Oh, you guys want to dress up in character and do something? Oh, okay, go ahead. Have fun." There was nobody organizing it, it was fun. But at the same time, I've seen Cosplay really grow, and I think I've got a good idea of what's going on and what can be changed (laughs). That's another thing, me and a couple of my friends, Tristen's on it, and one of my friends back in Vegas, we've started a website, a mailing list called Cosplay Reform, and I think it's a really important thing, because if cosplay in the States keeps continuing the way it is, it's going to get very, very ugly, and there's definitely some change needed, some attitude readjustments that have to be done in fandom (laughs), and it's going to take some time, in ten years it's gotten into some bad habits, and hopefully we can start making people aware of what needs to be changed, to be a little bit more polite, be a little bit more gracious to your fellow cosplayers. If you're in the audience, (be polite) to the people putting in their time & effort into everything (and) judging.
TRISTEN CITRINE: I am Tristen Citrine, I've been cosplaying for about three years, as Lisa said I'm on the cosplay mailing list, I was one of the founders of it. Any of you on the cosplayers mailing list or want to be on it, it's kind of a, warm and fuzzy let's-sing-around-the-campfire-kumbaya-how-great-we-all-are-no-one-does-anything-bad, everything is just so good, and there's nothing bad with cosplay, 'cause it's just the greatest thing in the world, it's going to bring world peace… and no. It's not that way and cosplay needs a reality check. There's some big egos, and there's egos getting trampled on, and just some ugliness going around.
And now: Derwin. See, I'm tired. (laughs)
DM: Hi, I'm Derwin Mak, usually at other conventions I'm a regular guest for the last few years, but this convention has used me primarily as a costuming panelist, and, believe it or not, I've been costuming for sixteen years now, starting at MapleCon, the long-departed but fondly-remembered MapleCon, an Ottawa convention, yeah, Katy remembers it (waves to Katy). It's not well known, amongst a lot of the people in the convention, I am the founder of the Anime North Masquerade. At first Anime North, when it was first planned, Anime North # 1 in 1997 was not planned to have a Masquerade or costume contest at all, there were some parts of the convention committee that didn't want one, but I, being one of the few experienced costumers they had, set up the Masquerade, and I was also the person who turned it into the divisional system style of Masquerade with ranks of skill levels, like Novice, Journeyman, Artisan, Master. I was also the person who insisted that we also have Workmanship awards and Presentation awards, and not just awards like "Prettiest Girl, Skimpiest Swimsuit." I was also the person who deliberately recruited people experienced in costume making, sewing, and acting, to judge it, not just three guys who said they want to see girls in schoolgirl costumes (laughs). So, that's my background in costuming, my history in anime costumes. Let's start with the questions. I already briefly mentioned, what I thought to be some of the annoyances of anime costume contests that I've noticed, and I've also noticed that these same annoyances don't seem to show up at other science fiction costume contests; you wouldn't see that at a Babylon 5 costume contest, and you certainly wouldn't see that at WorldCon or Costume-con, which are considered the two crème de la crèmes of science fiction Masquerades. What's your opinion on, what things about participants, or organization, or audience behaviour annoy you, and why do you think these things happen?
LN: Well, I think that anime cosplay is so different from the rest of sci-fi fandom, you've got your different sects, you've got, Trek fandom, your Star Wars fandom, you've got the furry community, all of those fandoms are very secular and they all love the same thing. Anime is so diverse, you get people liking different series, so you get a very mixed crowd, so one costume may be somebody's favourite, another person thinks it's just absolute crap, I hate to use the term, so you don't have everybody loving the same thing, and I think that's part of the problem, because, as well as being diverse at the same time, if you get a character like Sailor Moon, half the audience will love her & half the audience just wants to kick her, so you can't win in that regard, and that's a blessing and it's a curse, anime is just too diverse and there's too much for people to like, so you don't have communal things to bring people together. Granted, everybody loves Hayao Miyazaki's work, so a Totoro costume will always be loved. At the same time the skimpy girl costume awards, they're almost prevalent at a convention. You've got your green, uh-
DM: The Orion Slave Girl.
LN: Yes, the Orion slave girl.
DM: Long live the Orion slave trade.
LN: Hey, you know? It's a happy standby that everybody is happy to see. The skimpy award costumes will never die, you're always going to get that, you're always going to get girls to dress like that. It's a part of fandom that's just inevitable, and also the guys in drag; which is a good thing or a bad thing.
TC: Derwin: good drag.
LN: Yes, Derwin's good drag, when you see a 300-lb hairy man dressed in a Sailor fuku-
TC: Bad drag.
LN: Yeah, it's kind of scary. But for me, the audience, a lot of times, I've been to conventions where people have been booed off stage, and that's just absolutely low class. The person has, granted some people take more time than others with their costumes, but you've got to give the person credit for getting on stage, don't just boo them off- it's intimidating enough, don't give them a reason never to get on stage again. Anime cosplay has got such a chance of being such a fun event; the hall cosplay is sometimes better because there's not the threat of being booed. There's not the threat of, "Oh my gosh, I'm gonna get stage fright and forget my lines," so a lot of people hall cosplay more than I've seen at other conventions. I've gone to San Diego conventions, San Diego Comic-Con, I haven't been to WorldCon yet, and I haven't been to CostumeCon but those are my next goals. I'm really looking forward to seeing some of the maturity level hopefully from those conventions being brought to anime cons. This is a good start; yeah, Anime North is a good start, because it shows people care about judging on workmanship, people care about giving respect to the cosplayers. It's fun to see people enjoy the skits, but it's not fun when they mock them. That's kind of painful.
TC: Cosplay has gotten this- those people who troll the Internet, (like I do) the new trendy thing is to pick on cosplay.
TC: There's a new website that - I'm going to be on that website someday just because I'm a cosplayer - these people, they just don't like cosplayers. That's their cup of tea, and that's cool, but if it hadn't gotten that bad it probably wouldn't have happened. Cosplayhell.com is this website, and it's just all-bad cosplay. Some of it is- some of it is really, really truly bad, really, really hurt-your-eyes bad. And of course there's portalofevil, always has a few cosplay sites on there, Japanese, American, Canadian, everywhere, no one's safe. (Laughs) Fat chicks in party hats, there's always a few on there.
LN: The Internet has not been a big help in certain regards (Laughs)
TC: Yes, there's also - these are the same points as in the skimpy costumes panel - "If you wear it, you're asking for it." If you're 400 lbs, you'd start thinking, "Wow, I would look really good as Lum, and I don't need to shave this week, and I think I'm going to hunch over things in the dealer's room," it's just, ehh, if you love the character buy a plushie. (Shakes a little plush doll)
DM: Well, it's funny, the way I feel about things is, lots of costumers make outfits that, as Lisa says, maybe they put a whole lot of time into them and the workmanship is very much at a beginner level, and you get people who wear outfits which don't in any way match the way they carry themselves, or certain physical features. I'm honest with myself; I know I could never do the Conan the Barbarian look. I just know that, I never tried-
LN: -Be his kid brother…
DM: - Barbarian, I'm not sure anyone remembers in the 1970's and early '80's there was this big trend at sci-fi conventions for barbarian outfits made out of fake fur. I'm not sure anyone remembers that period - okay, Katy remembers it, and Dennis, admit it, you remember that period too. (Laughs) Anyway, I remember the whole barbarian period, right, with guys who could not possibly have survived the storming of Conan's castle, showing up - well, fine! Remember, this is fun, this is costuming. As I said at the awards ceremony of the very first Anime North Masquerade, I said, "Not everyone is going to go home with a ribbon today, but everyone who entered it is a winner, because that person put enough time & effort into making the costume, that if that person entertained you or made you look at the costume, and you appreciated it, that person, in my opinion, won something at that Masquerade." I made that speech at the two Masquerades I ran at Anime North, but what really scared me was that a friend of mine came back from, I don't know, Anime Expo or Anime America, one of these big ones in the United States, and told me people were being booed off stage, and people were actually shouting out, "You're too fat," or something like that, and I thought, that may or may not be the case, but it shouldn't be shouted out loud.
TC: There's things you think and there's things you say, and I just think there's cosplay atrocities out there, be a friend, straight talk, girl-to-girl, "Maybe you should, go in another character direction, fit your image…"
DM: It's all fun, people do costumes that they, they… let's face it, I do costumes which are completely wrong for my chromosomes. (Chuckles)
TC: You know, though, to be serious, in comedy all the rules fly out the window.
DM: Yes, it's comedy. To move onto another question if you don't really mind… Oh, we have a question from the audience.
QUESTION: Are original anime costumes common at conventions?
LN: Yes and no. I've seen it done at several cons, but you know what, the audience reaction is usually very bland. It's very, "I don't know who you are," nothing's said on stage. I've seen people do it but usually they never win anything. I have a good friend who went up in his Renaissance costume that he wears to a Ren Faire. He went up there. He turned around, it was a nice costume, yeah, he bought it at the Faire, but you know what, he wanted to be on stage, so more power to him. It happens, but I think anime cons are really odd enough, right, in that regard.
DM: If you want to do original anime costumes, your own character that you made up, go for a general science fiction one like Ad Astra or TorontoTrek, and definitely go for a WorldCon or CostumeCon. Those are fun because in those ones the original ones get all the attention. And after, you're surrounded by people wanting to look at the beadwork and cross-stitching and stuff like that.
LN: As a side note, I've done a lot of video game characters, this being one of them (gestures at costume) and she actually got animated, but I've done Jill Valentine from Resident Evil, and I've done a Meryl Silverburgh from Metal Gear Solid. Those were two characters that you can wear to a San Diego Comic-Con, you can wear it to a WorldCon, and at an anime con it's going to get appreciated because you've got a cross-section of your people going to the convention that play video games, so they like it there. But at the same time, I've had people go, "Why are you wearing that, why aren't you wearing an anime costume," because, this works, because I wanted to wear this, so there's different sub genres now in anime fandom that are going to start appearing.
TC: There's already, as you can hear around Anime North, there's anime fans and then there's the gamers.
DM: The gamers.
TC: It's branching off that way, and it won't be too far off when we'll start seeing video game conventions.
Q: Like E3?
TC: E3's not really built for fans, you've got to have the "inside track."
DM: A question for you ladies, I grew up in a sort of North American costuming tradition, the term "cosplay" didn't exist in North American science fiction fandom until anime fandom became big, and I was actually around at the time when costume cons with North American conventions were originally just a big costume party and they gave out the awards informally and then, in the '70s, costumers began developing the division system and the categories and splitting the Workmanship awards from the Presentation awards, and then I even remember when Ad Astra and other conventions made the transition from the more informal costume contest to one with rules & judging. Do you think that anime cosplay or contests evolved on a different track, and for what reason do you think it evolved (if indeed it evolved on a different track)?
LN: I think it did, because at 1991, at AnimeCon, they never planned having any kind of organized Masquerade. They were surprised to hear of people or to see people even to show up in costume, they were just blown away. So we went to the con chair and said, "Can we have time, and do a Masquerade," and they're like, "We were just going to give away hall awards," "Well, no, we'd like to do a Masquerade." Basically, it was slapdash, almost like Spanky and Our Gang, "Hey, kids, let's put on a show!"(General laughter)
TC: We always have to work spankies into it somehow!
DM: At some point all three of us have worn spankies…
LN: But it was almost like a real vaudevillian, "Let's put on a show, kids," and it was so fun, it was total chaos, and next year they realized, "Well, this was popular, let's give it its own time," but as far as judging, as far as giving awards out, there was no organization. It kind of was like, basically studio guests like, I believe, Trish LeDoux from Viz Magazine, she was one of the judges, there was Michael House from AnimEigo, one of the award givers, basically industry people and Guests of Honour. It was just whatever they liked, they gave an award to. There has never really been a formal rules system or judging system, like Anime North. It hasn't gotten to that point yet; it needs to get to that point. The problem is that some of the con chairs don't even like the Masquerade. They just don't want to give the time, because they would rather show a premiere of remastered Akira on the big screen than give the time to the Masquerade.
TC: I definitely think, I stand by this, I think the Anime North Masquerade, they're going in the right direction, they've got it right with the class system. The Honour system (on the entrant forms), it works, there's always a little, ehh, about some people, about whether they picked the right division, but overall it works. The brand new costumers aren't going up against some big mecha (costumer) that's been costuming for ten years. It's fair, and I love the fact that Anime North has so many awards for the Novices. You've got to encourage people when they're starting out.
LN: You don't want to scare them.
TC: Yeah, if they get scared the first time, they're never going to come back, and you don't want to discourage these people who (will) really make an impact.
DM: Thank you, ladies, as the person who put the division system into this Masquerade.
TC: As always, I've been trying, every time I've talked to a con chair in the States, "You've got to get the divisions, and not just this Novice/Master, no, you can't just split it in half, you've got to have the tiers."
DM: And Workmanship & Presentation separated, yeah.
LN: And that was the whole thing, in '91, all they cared about was the presentation. They were just so happy to get people on stage who were goofy enough, that they were crazy enough, that the craftsmanship was never even looked at for the first couple of years. It was, "Oh, can you entertain us, okay, that's fine." Getting the workmanship into it is really getting to be, there are people now who, because fandom's been around for more than ten years now, we're starting to get there. It's not moving fast enough for some of us. Some of us want to be at the kind of levels where WorldCon is. I've also noticed that fandom for anime costuming is, you've got your serious people who are really into it, the hardcore people, then you've got your people who are willing to just hall costume, and they're fine with that. If their seams aren't finished, they don't look a 100%, they're fine with that. I guess that's at every con, but the real hardcore people that really take it seriously, they have their fun but it's also their major hobby. It kind of makes you feel a little bit bitter when you're not acknowledged, and I think we've all run into that. The people who've done this, it's like, "Hey, I've put in sixty hours, and I'm doing this, and if I went to a CostumeCon, if I went to a WorldCon, I would be recognized for this." So I think that's where a lot of the anime cons really need to catch up. It's frustrating but I think we're getting there.
TC: We're slowly but surely…
DM: It's interesting, because you're talking about honour systems, being integral to the enjoyment of the Masquerade and its reputation. What are your thoughts on judging, because I'm always horrified when, to give an example I heard a couple of years ago, at a convention which shall remain nameless, a convention which was going to have a heavy anime portion to it. There was going to be a costume contest, and I found out that the con chair was going to appoint three of his buddies to be the judges. I asked, "what's their qualifications, do they know how to sew, can they act?" He said, "Oh no, no, they're just three guys who like to like to look at cute girls in schoolgirl uniforms." I thought, oh Christ sakes, I like that too, but, BUT, I like to make sure that good costume making and good presentation are rewarded, and what's it like, because I hear these stories from people who've gone to other conventions, what are your thoughts on judging and who should be judging, or what should judges be looking for? Actually, you were a judge last night!
LN: Yes, yeah.
TC: She's got experience there.
DM: You've judged before, been on both sides of the table.
LN: Judging is an interesting thing, because some of the cons, unless they have people willing to come forward and say, "I'd like to be a judge," the people who want to be judges usually are qualified to a point. A perfect example: Steve Bennett. (Laughs) Steve Bennett, it's a blessing & a curse because he loves his girls in schoolgirl costumes and he loves his Lum's, but at the same time he does want to give awards to people who do a good job. He likes it both. He wants to give fair awards, and he's really good at that. He kind of has, like, the Steve Bennett persona, he's kind of like, almost a character himself, where yeah, he likes to go to Hooters - (general laughter) - yeah, nothing makes him happier than Hooters & beer.
TC: Yes, beer. He'll be a judge, just dangle a little bottle of beer in front of him; "Steve, sit here." I think I open up a can of worms when I say this one, I know in America, good Workmanship judges are hard to find, and even the biggest anime con in America can't seem to find good ones. And yes, I'm talking about last year.
LN: Where, about Expo?
TC: Yes, Expo.
DM: There were horrors there, or something?
TC: Oh, my God! (Laughs) It was, make sure you pray to whatever it is you pray for, do a little voodoo dance, just hope your karma's all on track before you go to Expo, and then it's still probably going to be like, it's… oh, boy, the crowd is rough, the-
LN: The judges are rougher. The problem is that there's now getting (to be) rivalries in fandom, and that's a bad thing.
TC: There's cosplayer rivalries. It's funny, it's hilarious, it's like, it's high school.
DM: You're never going to avoid that, because I could talk about really catty costumer rivalries, at WorldCon & CostumeCon. Let's pick up a comment.
Q: I think it might be kind of unfeasible, but the ideal might be to have people have a really short interview with the Workmanship judge during the signup? To sign up, a requirement is to have a little five-minute interview with the Workmanship judge.
TC: They do that here. The lady who does workmanship-
DM: Barb Schofield did workmanship yesterday.
TC: She's been great about going around and asking you about your costume. I think it would be great to rate them the day before, if you want to just bring your costume in on a rack and talk about it. If that's what you want, and I do think that if you do not want to be judged on workmanship you shouldn't have to be.
DM: At this convention you can. You can choose whether you want to be judged on that on this convention (again, I instituted that). There's actually, believe it or not, this guild, for society of costumers, International Costumers Guild, and any convention that uses certain principles and rules for that Guild, the application form or entry form, will actually have a spot to check off whether you want to be judged for Workmanship. So if you want to be judged for Workmanship, check that off. If you don't, let's say you're going to go for the Presentation award, which is how I - I never won the bloody Workmanship award in my life. It was always on the humour and presentation awards. But that's fine, I practically never checked off the workmanship box. So you can do that. Now, I don't know if these Anime Expos allow you to do that, or whether it's even a relevant concept-
TC: It's very much a Performance, and yes there's been Workmanship judges but it's been very, very hit and miss. Who of you saw my Galaxia costume last year? Imagine it in real metal. It was at Expo, a Japanese cosplayer. She didn't get a darn thing. I know how much trouble I had taking my (Sera Myu) musical (Sailor) Venus costume overseas, and she's got a piece from a metal shop coming over with her, and it just-
DM: Did they give out one of these cute girl awards at that Masquerade, because I always -
LN: They always give cute awards out -
Q: I think they have a "Most Beautiful" award or something like that.
TC: They have that every year.
DM: It depends on the judges, is it necessarily the prettiest girl or the skimpiest outfit, I've seen "Most Beautiful" go to something that, it might not even be a glamorous outfit, but it's just an outfit that's so strikingly artistic & beautiful. Because at WorldCon's award, Most Beautiful meant not necessarily sexy.
TC: Well, all the Presentation awards were just opinions.
DM: There's always some subjectivity. To wrap up this discussion about judging, my personal opinion about judging is, whenever I've run the Masquerade I tried to make sure the judges have a range of some talent. I made sure that the judges, A: Knew about costuming & sewing. It's always nice to get some judge who know about the TV shows as well, because I confess, I'm not very current on my anime, my knowledge of anime ends in 1989... (General laughter) It coincides with my high school and college years. So it's always nice to bring in someone who knows about the show so that person can vouch for whether the reproduction was accurate, regardless of the sewing skill, the metalwork skill. But I make sure I get a range of the talent, I don't want just people who know only about sewing, at the same time I don't want three guys who like to look at girls in schoolgirl uniforms.
We're heading up to the 3/4 point, 15 minutes to.
LN: We did start late.
DM: Just one thing I wanted to throw out to you-
TC: That would be another one, but okay! Yes, go ahead!
DM: What would you like to do, if you could, if you were going on a campaign for cosplay reform, what reforms would you try to implement?
TC: What's our campaign promise? : )
DM: Yes, what are your campaign promises?
TC, LN: No new taxes!
TC: Well, my dream Masquerade... my dream panel would have, I would have a Workmanship judge, outside of anime fandom, outside of the cosplay community. I would have sombody that works in movies, shows, theatre, something like that, that does workmanship. Does that, but is not an anime costumer. Especially in fandom, you'll always have your own preferences on what you love. And you'll be harder on what you love. So if I was a judge and someone came up to me with a Sera Myu costume, I know the ins and out of that completely. And what if someone came up to me with a Gundam costume, and I just know very little of Gundam, I don't know enough about that but I know a lot about Sailor Moon. By default it would be harder judging the Sailor Moon one, much harsher, so I think someone outside of that, they would be a good workmanship judge. As for the panel, you always have the industry people, you'd probably have someone from the dealer's room on there, someone from an anime producing company, definitely, someone out of fandom, and then maybe a cosplayer or two. People who know their stuff, cosplayers for the general effect. But leave the Workmanship to someone who can definitely evenly judge, someone who's not tainted by the politics, because there are, even in anime fandom, in cosplay, anything that gets popular and people feel so passionately about- Cliques form quickly, and it's not always pretty- the dramas are fun (general laughter) It is, it's fun, it's like cosplay Ally McBeal or something. "You will not believe what costume she did!"
LN: And then there are some people who feel they can really judge people fairly and they're unbiased. Some of these people are so biased, on certain mailing lists that we belong to have just, flame wars have started, and it's just gotten ugly. It's hard when people who qualify themselves as professionals act very unprofessional. It's very, very difficult because they're representing anime cosplay, they have businesses on the web, and they believe that they're the only game in town, and it's very, very difficult. At the same time, with judging, I think any one of the Guests of Honour, if you've got a Japanese Guest of Honour, give them at least a guest of honour award. It's important to get one of your Guests of Honour, definitely have them judge. Fred Ladd would be a great judge, but at the same time, I don't know how current he keeps, I know he's with Sailor Moon, and with DIC, and all that, and the grandfather of fandom in America as far as bringing things over, but how much CatsEye has he seen? I'm just throwing that out, somebody like Fred Schodt, that would be a scary good judge on your cosplay, Fred Schodt (author of Manga! Manga! Manga!). Also, you've got Fred Patten, who actually formed the LA C/FO, the Cartoon/Fantasy Organization, which actually was one of the first organized anime watching groups back in 1967. They started watching TV together at somebody's house, when Speed Racer came on and Kimba (the White Lion) came on. There were branches all over America, in fact they might have had a Canadian branch. The C/FO still is in Los Angeles, but Fred Patten is probably one of your better people to judge, and he's very, very good. Sometimes dealers as judges it's a two-way street, because they're also very, they've got their own personal favourites. Some of these people hire girls to be booth bunnies; that's another thing. With a lot of cosplayers, if they see somebody at a booth in costume, sometimes it's like, did she make it herself or did the company pay for that to be made?
TC: I want to say one other thing about the cosplay community before I forget it. Those of us who do cosplay, if you decide to take the care to make a costume, you also take the responsibility that you, by being a cosplayer, are representing all cosplayers. You might be the first cosplayer someone sees, and you always remember the first, you remember your first Masquerade, your first con. It's like your first love, you always have a place in your heart for it. Especially for those of us in high-profile cosplay groups! (General laughter) We have to, definitely, keep the bar raised, keep it up, so people can continue to enjoy cosplay and not let it fall through the cracks.
LN: Something else I thought about, is that anime fandom brings in so many young people. Your Trek conventions, your Star Wars conventions, especially your hardcore science fiction conventions, yes you get your young fans, but you do get an older generation going to those conventions, and anime, you know, you've got ten year old little kids here. You see parents bringing their kids here so you've got a different group you're reaching. So when is humour going too far in your skit, what's appropriate, and also at the same time sometimes they're the ones starting the catcalls, starting the "chair" chants. If anybody's heard about "chair" -
DM: That's the American version of "stick."
TC: Yes, imagine, the cosplay stage is empty, someone brings out a chair, the whole audience is infatuated with "chair, chair, chair!" And, it never, ever, ends!
LN: And it goes, West coast. And this was an East Coast thing apparently, at Anime America, it was at Anime Expo, they just started chanting at Fanime, chanting chair just because they heard about it.
DM: It's weird, where I'd want to put some reforms in cosplay or Masquerades is ways to control the audience and its reaction. I think one thing we have to do more and more in Masquerades and cosplay is train, get the emcees and the staff to find ways to put down the stupidity and the catcalling and the insults. Toronto Trek for years had this nice genteel, sort of Masquerade which ran on division rules and the audience cheered and applauded, but starting a few years ago we got some yahoos at the back who would shout insults at people on the stage, and then there were people at the front who would actually interrupt the emcee by saying "stick, stick, stick," and what impressed me was the emcee, Gordon Rose would actually stop the show. He'd stop it, and he'd say he wasn't going to start it again until some people started to become more polite at some stage. So the yahoos at the back would stop insulting people. Another thing I've seen at WorldCon, they actually have people patrolling the audience - Bouncers! During the Masquerade.
TC: Cosplay needs bouncers! (General laughter) Maybe we'll start charging a cover.
DM: I remember once, because they have the "No flash photography" rule, right, and you get these yahoos, guys in the audience who think, "Uh, I'm not going to follow any rules, oh there's a pretty girl, I'll take a flash photograph." At WorldCon they actually have guys go up and look for the person who took the flash photography and eject them. Now I've never actually seen anybody ejected before, but I did see the search going at on one time! We need people to tell the yahoos to either pipe down & be polite, or else you'll be kicked out of the convention. I've seen some conventions do a good job of that, now if it works, people just pipe down and realize that they better behave. I like it when the emcees with the staff do things to tell the people not to be so rude and ruin everyone else's enjoyment. We'll open it up to questions now?
Q: The flash photography rule I think has a reason for it. Somebody took one of me while I was on stage, I couldn't see a thing afterwards, I had to get two guides to get me up and out.
DM: A lot of those rules you see, that sheet of rules you see, a lot of them came from the '70s & '80s when in Masquerades we start getting tired of A: people falling off stage because they got hit by the flashbulb photography, or, you know the "no messy things" rule, there was actually a period when we got tired of cleaning up chocolate syrup, fake blood and God knows what else people used up there. Yeah, there were all sorts of slime monsters made out of peanut butter costumes, and the peanut butter would tend to melt on stage. (General expressions of disgust) In the '70s we had to clean up this stuff. Oh, the "no pyrotechnics" rule? There's a reason for that. There were infamous incidents in the '70s, that people would do flamethrower acts and the stage caught fire. (Chuckles)
LN: A side note, I went to Japan about a month and a half ago, where I attended the Tokyo Games Show and I went to the Karakuen cosplay event that they hold about every three or four months in Tokyo, and something that's really interesting having to do with messy liquids: there's an anime or I guess it's a live-action (movie), Battle Royale, apparently cosplays in Japan are really getting against that because the people are wanting to make their costumes all bloody and they're ruining other costumes when they brush up against them so apparently they're trying to ban Cosplay Royale, or Battle Royale costumes in Japan. They're trying to get them not to show up but it's just too popular right now, everybody loves it.
DM: I don't want to clean up any more fake blood or chocolate syrup on the stage.
TC: So, do we have any other questions?
DM: I think we're nearing the end.
TC: Yes, we're getting towards the end, come on, ask now!
Q: Is there a difference between the costumes you wear out in the hallway and the ones you use in the Masquerade?
TC: If you're of the competing set, you save your best for the Masquerade. If you don't compete, usually, usually the stars come out Saturday night. That is the big guns night for cosplay, followed secondly by Friday night. You want the con to start off with a bang, and on Sunday, usually it's a slower day. But if you compete, save your big guns for Saturday. Some cosplayers, you just don't see them in costume all day Saturday until you see them go on stage.
LN: At the San Diego Comic-Con, there are rules; you cannot wear your costume that you plan on entering before the cosplay. I've seen groups break this, nobody pays attention but at the same time it's very specific in their rules.
DM: Some conventions take that seriously, I didn't want Anime North to, which I thought was best.
TC: There's good and bad on that, who wants to wait in line for a Masquerade when all the costumes up there are the ones you just saw walking around in the hall?
DM: Well, yeah, but it's the Presentation that's on stage too.
TC: So there's good and there's bad. Anything else?
Q: I've got a question about weapons. I've noticed that at Anime North you can't have realistic weapons...
TC: Nothing that could hurt somebody on stage.
Q: What if it's a replica, you can't carry it in the hallway...
DM: There's a good reason for that, because we're sharing a hotel with people who aren't from the convention. In the '70s when costuming Masquerades were being developed there were too many incidents where people at the hotel called the cops. They saw guys walking through the hotel with God knows, all these gigantic weapons and things.
TC: Squall and his Gunblade.
Q: "There's girls downstairs who aren't wearing anything."
DM: There was that too, yeah, yeah.
Q: Can't they have it, held by Security, and then at the Masquerade they can release it to them then when they get off (stage) Security holds it back again?
TC: I think that's done-
DM: It's done already.
TC: That's usually the case, I know there's some conventions that are very bad about weapons at all, that won't let you have anything, they won't let you have a foam broomstick. (Laughs) Anyone else?
Q: Can you give some information on the mailing list you mentioned?
TC: Yes, the Cosplay Mailing List. It's on Yahoo! Groups, and on my website goldenquartz.com (no longer exists), it's listed in all the programs, on my links page are all these mailing lists I talk about.
Q: Can I take a picture?
TC: Yes, of course you may!