Cosplay Experience with Audra

NS –  How long have you been cosplaying?

Audra – In the truest meaning of term, I’ve been cosplaying since I was a child when I used to change clothes 6 times a day for every time my persona would change, much to the dismay of my sister (lol).  More recently after the term itself became popularized, it was probably after 2000 that I started focusing on cosplay more seriously.

NS – What was your first cosplay costume?

Audra – It would have to be for Burning Man 1997.  Given the scenery (desert, bright sun, apocalyptic vibe), I felt most comfortable with a “Road Warrior” character by day, and various alter egos at night (a SuperGirl, a jedi knight., a doomsday action star complete with her own camera-man.)  It was the first time I was making costumes for fun and showcase that I was going to embody for the particular night I wore it, where I was surrounded by others that felt like me.  Burning Man is a great venue for cosplayers to showcase their work, and allowed me to hone my costume creations for Burning Man 2000.  Check out the photo, who knew ghosts like Burning Man too!

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NS – Do you make all your own costumes?

Audra – Yes, when and where I can.  I was only willing to use vacuum form in one instance only because I was going to build the vacuum form table from scratch.  I try to hand make the costumes as much as possible, but some details require a certain look that you can’t get from anywhere except from a pre-made source.  Like the leg armor for my Baronness costume are baseball catcher’s leg guards.

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My most-complicated costume to date has to be the Borg outfit.  Not that it was hard to make but that the majority of it’s final construction had to be completed as I was donning the outfit, including attachment of the hoses and chest piece.  And since I had to work my head through the neck hole, my make-up and skull cap also had to be put on after the suit.  The front chest piece were all found pieces by many diligent dumpster-diving nights starting months before the event.  And I collected as many little blinking, novelty, LED lights I could find to attach to it.  I even latexed a voice-modulator into the corner of my mouth and concealed the speaker in the chest piece.  Because I couldn’t take the outfit off once I got it on, I built a flap so that bathroom trips wouldn’t be a problem!

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NS – Have you had to deal with haters at cons or are people mostly supportive?

Audra – I’ve never seen a hater at a con.  I think they would be drummed out quite quickly by a gang of X-Men or possibly one of the 501st Legion would snap them into shape.  Seriously, it just doesn’t happen.  Cosplayers are like-minded people, we get off on the experience of stepping into a different character’s shoes and hope to be respected by others that think like you, other cosplayers.  It’s like you’ve left the parallel-universe that is Earth and returned to the place where you’re from, you’re home, and there’s your people waiting for you.  And the good these people are doing society as these costumed characters, like the 501st who help the sick, needy, disadvantaged and youth alike.  They’ve turned cosplay into civil service that actually makes civilians feel good, that’s fucking awesome!

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NS – Which has been your favorite costume so far?

Audra – The only one I don’t have a picture of, my 80’s Tron outfit.  It was the first time I thought of using a wet suit to build a costume onto.  I needed something skin tight and white, and nothing seemed quite right except a wet suit.  Finding a white paint to hold onto the fabric wasn’t easy.  But figuring out how to make the circuitry glow was.  I knew instantly glow-in-the-dark paint would be the easiest way to fake light, and it worked really well, especially when I passed near a black-light.  I used kick-boxing training guards that covered the back of the hand, wrists and forearms, and found similar looking shin guards that also held the paint quite well.  And topped the outfit off with a surgeon’s cap that I re-constructed to look like the cap from the movie.

NS –  Which character are you dying to dress up as?

Audra – An Alien drone.  The construction problems have been the most daunting part of this costume.  Embodying the character would be a snap, but making an outfit that’s movable with a life-like tail and two mouths??  I’m no special-effects genius.  It’s just a pipe-dream!

NS – Do you have any funny cosplay experiences?

Audra – Something funny always happens when you cosplay, it just goes with the territory.  But one of my most memorable experiences was when I heard someone yell “It’s Mystique!” when we were leaving a convention, and I turned to see Ponch from CHiPs running up with an embarrassed looking Star Trek cadet in tow, begging for a picture with me.  I said sure, thinking how great this person recognized me as my persona on the street.  The next thing I know he’s slapped hand cuffs on me.  Look at his face!  He’s way too happy for his own good there.

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NS – Which cons have you been to?

Audra – I’ve been attending various Star Wars, Sci-Fi, and comic book conventions, including Wondercon, since about 2000.

NS – Any tips for up and coming cosplayers?

Audra – This will sound cheesy, but believe in yourself and a whole new world will open to you.  My Borg designation was 3 of 5 because there were supposed to be 5 of us.  Everyone else backed out because they didn’t believe I was going to be able to make one costume let alone five.  It wasn’t difficult at all to make my costume.  But it’s difficult to try to plan group costumes with half-hearted people that ultimately flake. To date I have yet to dress up with a group larger than two people.

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NS – What’s next?

Audra – I’ve never done Wonder Woman and my hair is just starting to hit the right length!

One important question that needs to be addressed is why.  Why do we cosplay?  That is the big question going through people’s minds when they look at us.  “Why are you doing this?”  It’s because of how these characters make us feel when we watch them or read about them. They embody traits we wish upon ourselves, or possibly wish to try out without the consequences of living like that person in real life.  By truly adopting the character in dress, mannerisms and speech, we get to experience that feeling 100 fold.  I imagine it like how drug addicts describe their high as being 100 times greater than the greatest sexual experience you’ve ever had, it’s like that!  The feeling takes you over and you become that character.  There is no greater sense of pride and accomplishment when walking around other like-minded people and someone yells “Hey, it’s Elektra” or “That’s a really nice outfit”, knowing you made it yourself and have been recognized for it.  It’s exhilarating!”

 NS – Thanks for the interview, Audra!

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