The Line Behind

Next week is Otakon! This week I’ve been making plans and most importantly deciding on what cosplays to wear for each day. I’ve got my new Kyoko Sakura to bring and my Mamimi since I like her and FLCL is a thing again. But the night outfits got a good part of my focus today and some thoughts about how far I’ve come in cosplaying after 10 plus years of it!

For Friday and Saturday night I’m planning my Dorothy from The Wiz Live and Rei cosplays Tae Takemi from Persona 5. Neither one of these costumes would necessarily be recognized as cosplay by the casual observer. It seems that I’ve firmly and decisively crossed the line between crossplaying and crossdressing! Meh, the line was always pretty blurry anyway, but now I don’t even care anymore. I just want to have fun!

Anime, Manga, Etc cosplay

Kollision Con 2011 Aftermath Super Late Summer Edition

It’s funny writing about a con that took place so many months ago now. But I’m really compelled to do so because I think that Kollision was a turning point for me and my con going adventures. At a small con, there isn’t much between you and everything else. There’s no place to hide, everything’s exposed.

This exposure can be a good thing because you can really get close to the guests and take part in the activities of the con in a more personal fashion. But it can also be kinda scary if you’re not a very social person. It’s difficult to be a shy cosplayer in such an environment!

My Saturday ended up being a dim sum of panels and running into old con friends. And I finally got to see Eyeshine perform! The concert was a lot of fun, in no small part because we were are right up close to the stage. Afterwards I bought some CDs and then wandered about some before the masquerade which I had entered as a craftmanship walk-on.

My Uhura cosplay is a fun one to walk around it because the red minidress really stands out and because everyone knows what it is. I’m always getting photo request from older people whether they’re at the con or not. And while I didn’t really know it at the time, I was passing really well.

This would be only my 3rd cosplay masquerade walk-on, and I was excited to be doing it because I really like this costume and had fun making it. Though it looked like there might actually be more cosplayers in the hall than spectators. So many great costumes around me! I wish I’d had my camera. In particular, there was an eye-popping Starfire cosplayer whose skin was completely orange. She was gorgeous!

Kollision Con 2011 Pics

We ended up with a nice crowd and I hit all of my marks. I guess at heart, I love the attention you get walking the stage so it was with great joy, and surprise, when I had to go onstage again to claim my Honorable Mention certificate! Looking back, I think that the enthusiasm I had detailing how I made the costume probably helped. And I think Jamie Marchi was one of the judges too!

Most of the night was spent doing karaoke. It was awesome! The song I had the most fun singing though was, It’s Raining Men by The Weather Girls. It’s a fun song that I first heard sung by a group of women at Reactor in the old Purple Hotel. I thought the absurdity of a guy dressed as Uhura singing that song would be a fun spectacle and it was! LOL I visited the dance briefly, but the music just didn’t do anything for me, so I returned to karaoke until it ended.

Midwest Karaoke Madness Blues Brothers

Sunday it was back to street clothes and cosplaying myself. Ran into Ed, another crossplayer I see regularly at the cons I go to. It was fun talking with him a bit as at the larger cons, there usually isn’t a lot of time between one event or another I’ll be trying to get to. I feel like I got a little more comfortable with myself at Kollision Con whether in costume or not. And I’ve carried this forward with me since then. It never ceases to amaze me the situations and venues that God uses to speak to me.

So I had fun at a little con named Kollision Con. I don’t know yet if I’ll be able to return for 2012, but I certainly won’t forget 2011.

Anime, Manga, Etc cosplay

Otakon Pre-pre-flight

The good news is that the Sailor Mars project was coming along rather nicely. The bad news is that it won’t be finished in time for Otakon. T_T I thought about trying to push it through, but it would have meant working like crazy right up until a 700 mile drive. A cautionary tale of unexpected demise delivered by my lovely lady today convinced me that a more relaxed Otakon pre-flight would be more fun.

So I’m saving Sailor Mars for Dragon*Con next month. I don’t like missing my targets, but I’ve got one new cosplay plus a popular one from last year and an old favorite. Now I can rest up and be 100% for the drive to one of the most awesome weekends of the year for me! That is, me and 30000 others!

Anime, Manga, Etc cosplay

Anime Midwest Prep Is On

I’ve been getting a new cosplay ready for Anime Midwest which is this coming weekend. With Otakon at the end of the month, at first I hadn’t planned on going, but you only live once, lol. Anyway, I figured it would be fun to check out a young con and the guest list is looking pretty good with Greg Ayres among others slated for the weekend. And of course, we cosplayers rarely pass up a chance to strut out a new costume.

I made really good progress on my Mamimi this weekend, so I think I’ll have it ready in time. FLCL is one of my all time favorite anime series, so I thought it would be fun to run about the con taking pictures of cosplayers as Mamimi!

Anime, Manga, Etc cosplay

Anime Hoes, Myth, and Crossplay

I’ve followed the crossplay forum on for a number of years now, and not surprisingly, the majority of the cosplayers there female. Many, if not most cite their reason for crossplaying as being because most of the female anime characters wear skimpy, slutty costumes. And this is often used as a way to assuage fears that their parents may have about crossplay. But casting the women and girls of anime as bitches and hoes is not only inaccurate, it’s something of an insult to the growing number of male fans who choose to cross the line and cosplay them.

The majority of the dresses, skirts, school and military uniforms are relatively tame. Cute, yes, slutty, mostly not. Even the uniforms of the eroge game, Bible Black, are fairly modest. Indeed, the costumes of one of the most popular series for MtF crossplay, the Touhou PC games, are quite modest. And the character personalities run the same range as male characters in my opinion.

The denigration of these characters to justify FtM crossplay just plays into the worst gender stereotypes which generally prefer the masculine over the feminine. It’s always better to be a tomboy than a sissy in that mindset. Which is quite sad because those of us who choose to crossplay female characters often do so, not only for a love of the character, but a love of the female form and feminine characteristics.

We all have both male and female characteristics. Crossplay gives us a way to have some more fun with our “other” and just maybe understand it a little better.

Anime, Manga, Etc cosplay SciFi and Fantasy

Otakon 2011 Aftermath

It’s been quite a summer of travel for me this year. Right after Otakon, it was off on a road trip to Toronto for nearly a week. Then back to work, followed by this year’s installment of Wizard World Chicago Comic Con.

Otakon was fun and full of interesting feelings for me this year. I’ve been doing contract work most of this year, so for a while, I wasn’t even sure if I’d be able to attend. But things worked out and I hit the road for my 7th consecutive Otakon. I had three cosplays planned, Miho Tohya, Stocking, and Uhura. The Uhura costume was fun, challenging, and a lot of work to make. But I finished in time for the convention.

I wore Miho on Friday and as I had expected, there wasn’t a lot of recognition of the cosplay. Miho is a character from MegaTokyo, a web comic and OEL graphic novel series. Still I had fun with the cosplay and enjoyed singing and dancing in it. One extra level of difficulty came from staying at the Sheraton, which is a couple of blocks from the convention center. That meant navigating the public streets in costume, something that would prove interesting as well as enlightening over the weekend.

Madoka and Kyubey

Saturday it was Stocking cosplay day. I had worked up the courage to go to the Panty and Stocking photoshoot, unfortunately I was late and basically missed it. It’s okay though. I was late because I just had to squeeze in some karaoke first. Karaoke trumps everything, LOL! Made it to the Masquerade, which was okay for the most part.

Normally Sunday is not a big cosplay day for me, but with a new costume to show off, this Sunday was different. I had no idea just how different it would prove to be. The heat had been a problem all weekend and even the convention center was hot in places due to AC failures. So I was bit concerned about makeup with a new cosplay. As I stepped out into the heat, my main thought was to get to the BCC quickly.

No sooner had I crossed the street than a woman with children stopped me for a photograph. She was excited telling me how much she liked my costume. Soon I realized that she had no idea I was a guy, so I just nodded and smiled to maintain the illusion. Pic requests are part of the fuel that make cosplayers go, so I was pretty happy when I reached the BCC where I was immediately stopped for a picture by a man with a professional looking camera. Again, no idea I was a guy.

I got a lot of compliments and picture requests for my Uhura cosplay throughout the day. It even lead to a very enjoyable conversation with a fellow Star Trek fan. In the dealers room, I noticed a couple of thing immediately. One, a lot of pic requests came from black people. Two, a lot of these were black guys! This is really the first time I cosplayed a character who was black like me, but I wasn’t really expecting it to be so popular.

At the end of the con, while walking back to my hotel, I’d learn that my Uhura might be just a little bit too popular. About a block from the hotel a black man on the street asked if he could take my picture. I agreed and struck a pose. He took the picture and then asked me, “Can I walk with you?” I’m not sure if I was alarmed, shocked or what. I just silently shook my head. He got the message and we parted company.

In retrospect, I realized that it was a good thing that I did not reveal my true gender. There’s no telling how he would have reacted given that he’d just tried to pick me up. This was when I had my epiphany. I’d been worried all weekend about my cosplays and whether I looked good in them, and as a crossplayer whether I was passing. Turns out I was passing pretty damn good!

On the way to the con I had random guys apparently trying to talk to me. At the con, when I was getting food, some of the staff clearly didn’t know I was a guy. I enjoyed some of the ruckus that caused as I left. On Friday night on my way into the dance, a guy stopped me for picture. That was the only pic request my Miho got, which actually looks kinda like rave wear. And on Saturday night on my way back to the hotel after the Masquerade in my Stocking cosplay, while waiting on the corner next to another random guy, I noticed him totally checking me out. Hello! I’m standing right here! Nevertheless, he was running his eyes up and down my body. If he knew I was male like him, I doubt he’d have done that.

The only logical conclusion to draw from all of this was that despite some misgivings, my crossplays were pretty good. And, I was especially attractive to black guys. Or at least they were the most likely to make their interest known in a visible manner. So as I left Baltimore, I had my usual post con glow but on this occasion it was mixed with an extra portion of pride for a job well done!

cosplay SciFi and Fantasy

Spinning Up for Otakon 2011

Over the last week or so, I’ve had no less than two convention related dreams. So there’s no doubt my subconscious is pretty excited about going to Otakon as I am when I’m awake! A few months ago, I wasn’t even sure I was going to be able to go, but it appears that the Lord has blessed me with that much, and more this year.

I always seem to have a few more dream cosplays to do and again thankfully, it looks like one of those is going to debut at Otakon in a few days. My Star Trek: Original Series Uhura is going very well! I was really worried last night after making a number of mistakes and things just not looking right. But this is usually the case because I intentionally make my costumes slightly too big first and then refit them after trying them on.

Uhura Cosplay Progress PicFinally, around 2am or so this morning, I put everything on after the refit and got that “OMFG this is cute!” moment that comes when the costume has really come together. It was quite a relief after having so many doubts and flubs. But it all works! I just have some wig work to do and makeup related things I hope to improve on, but I think I’m going to love this!

After making this costume, I have new respect and awe for Bill Theiss, the costume designer for Star Trek. On standard definition TV, Uhura’s minidress uniform, beyond being sexy, is not all that interesting visually. But when you put it together from the official pattern found in the Star Trek Technical Manual, you can see the fine details that make it a work of art. The front and back of the dress are formed from 3 segments whose seams converge on the insignia. It’s truly a work of futuristic beauty that I’m honored to have the opportunity to wear!

Anime, Manga, Etc cosplay

ACen Aftershocks: Extended Edition End

Friday had turned out to be a good start for the con. Saturday would prove to be the greatest challenge on an almost existential level. I’ve been coming to Anime Central with my family since 2004, so this was our 8th ACen. It always managed to be a fun time, even with the occasional drama that can happen sometimes when you stuff your family into a hotel room half filled with costumes and plushies.

But sadly, my wife wasn’t having as much fun as the rest of us. So I decided to make a concerted effort to find some things to do that she would enjoy. I should have known that this was simply doomed to failure because at the end of the day my wife is not a nerd. An intellectual, yes. Indeed, she is a scholar in the best of ancient Chinese tradition. But she is not a nerd or a geek. Moe and mecha mean nothing to her. And, well, cosplay goes right up to the line. Crossplay crosses over that line and crashes hard into the bottom of a deep deep chasm of the unmentionable.

As has become our custom, the family arrived at the worst time on Saturday morning, right in the middle of the AMV contest, and later we played some unintentional hide and seek in the dealers room. We finally got together in time to go the Khaotic Kouture fashion shows with Sixh and h.NAOTO after a candid little interview with the Cosplay in America guy! I thought the fashion show was pretty cool, the wife, not so much. She just wasn’t into it. Afterwards we went on a little photo run and then had some late lunch together.


In the end, we decided that this would be her last ACen. She and our oldest daughter just aren’t very interested in anything at the con. So next year it’ll just be me and the 3 youngest. My sons and younger daughter are all hardcore gamers and anime fans. They had a great time playing in the video game tournaments and cosplaying. So I cannot wait until next year!


Last year I didn’t get in line early enough for the masquerade, so this year I took no chances. Still I ended up all the way behind the Hyatt standing on a muddy lattice of bricks that was pure hell in heels.  But it was all good. The masquerade was pretty good this year. I liked the MCs and I liked starting with the walk-ons rather than the skits. When the skits go first, there’s usually a rush for the door once they end which I think is unfair to the walk-on cosplayers. Cosplayers often put a lot of work into their costumes and we all want people to see it! Having the half time show hosted by the popular Zak and Voltz was another good move. In the end I think this was one of the best ACen masquerades in some time. No awful yaoi skits, and I actually found the occasional explosion of T and A in some of the walk-ons quite enjoyable.

While my Stocking cosplay did not feature any T and A, it must have been convincing enough to some.  While going to the bathroom and fixing my makeup, in the men’s room of course, I encountered a hotel security officer. I looked at him, he looked at me. No words were exchanged and I left. He came out a short time later, looked at me some more. Still no words were exchanged. I guess someone thought I was in the wrong bathroom and called security. I guess I’ll take that as a compliment, LOL.

I decided to skip Karaoke Madness in favor of the Soap Bubble dance because I’d gone on Friday night and was a little disappointed that so few anime themed songs were done. I know some people were complaining about this on the ACen forums, but I can understand the desire to open up the fun to more people. Still it is kind of funny to see the tension between the more extreme Asia-philes (aka weeaboos) and more mainstream con-goers. I think over the years ACen has moved in a more mainstream direction. I’ve seen this in the music at the dances too. Sadly, imho, one rarely hears anime themed music mixes there anymore.

Luckily I did not have to wait in line for the Soap Bubble for very long. I liked the music for the most part until the dubstep stuff started. Sorry, just couldn’t get into it. So I decided to get some water, sit, and people watch for a while. There was the cutest couple dancing close to each other off in their own world. The guy was a tall chubby Asian guy, almost the epitome of the stereotypical image of an anime fan boy. And the girl, also tall and wearing a sailor fuku, the spitting image of the cute anime nerd girl. I’ll never forget how cute they were together!

I had thought about going to the Panty and Stocking photoshoot, but decided against it because I’m still a little shy about photoshoots. It’s silly, but maybe I’ll be ready in time for Otakon. After the dance, I reluctantly went to bed. The biggest day of the con was over. T_T

Sunday is always somber. It’s nice not having the work of getting into costume, but that also means not having the fun of getting into costume and just being me. I don’t cosplay because I don’t like being myself. Cosplay is just more self to be!

Breakfast with the family was nice and we got checked out without too much delay since most people were still sleeping. Wife and kids went back to Chicago and I made my final rounds. I was happy to get to the Robotech panel with Steve Yun. Robotech was one of the series that reignited my interest in anime.

I’m already planning for next year’s ACen. The dynamic is going to be a lot different and I plan to try some new things or do things differently, including going to photoshoots! Sometimes I wonder if cons are more fun with the spice of drama mixed in. I wonder…


Anime, Manga, Etc cosplay

Oh My!: A thinking man’s guide to crossplay

Oh My!: A thinking man's guide to crossplay
Oh My!: A thinking man’s guide to crossplay

Over the last couple of years, I’ve noticed increased interest in the how to’s of male to female crossplay. After participating in many of these online discussions over the years and contributing what I’ve learned from my own experiences, I was inspired to write a comprehensive little guide! (Click here to download for Nook, Kindle and iPad versions coming soon!)

This is for any guy who has thought that they might want to dress up in drag for Halloween, or perhaps has been tempted to cosplay as Sailor Moon at an anime convention. I think it hits all of the important bases with straight talk and a bit of humor. There’s a lot of information spread all over the web which makes it hard to get a handle on things if you’re just beginning. So I hope this guide will be a gateway to what I think is one of the most fun and rewarding forms of cosplay.

Update: The Kindle version just went live! Click here to download.

Anime, Manga, Etc cosplay

Ohayocon Dreams

A week until Ohayocon and I just had the weirdest dream yet. In it I’m at the con and there are all of these people in costumes waiting for opening ceremonies to begin. Oddly enough this kind of morphs into a scene on an open field with lots of people dressed as Roman soldiers with shields and spears.

The opening begins and these masses rush off in one direction. I, ever the contrarian, and some others rush off in the direction of (my impression anyway) the dealers room. But we are in fact rushing towards a group of long horned cattle in a pasture. Beyond the cattle are tents and a stream or lake. I remember getting past the cattle and to the water where I encountered some other people who I feel were adversaries in some deadly game. This all then dissolves into some hide and seek in some massive collection of bookshelves.

I have no idea what this means and despite the visuals, in the dream itself I felt like it was the anime convention I’m preparing for next week. These weird dreams always precede my con adventures. Maybe all of the stress of finishing up cosplays has something to do with it. I’m always worried I’ll forget some critical piece or totally fail in some embarrassing manner.

I did spend some time today test fitting my Stocking cosplay. In particular, I needed to figure out the best way to attach the sash bow. Cosplay requires a lot of testing. One should never wait until the convention to try on a new costume. Often problems are not solved until you put the thing on so you can see exactly what you’re up against. And now that I’ll be unable to return to my hotel easily, things have got to be spot on for the whole day. Fortunately, the test fitting was good and I came up with a good way to put on and secure the bow.

One week to go! My fun tank is kinda empty right now so I cannot wait to fill it up again!

Anime, Manga, Etc cosplay

Start Your Engines!

January is a month of beginnings. I’ve been poking around on the RuPaul’s Drag Race Facebook page checking out various clips of the soon to begin season 3. I’ve become a big fan of the show, along with Drag U in part because RuPaul has cast her show with real people. The drag queens and moms are not perfect people with perfect bodies. There are some plus sized queens out there, and ya know what? They’re fabulous! So kudos RuPaul!

The new season starts on Monday, January 24 and just a few days later on the 28th my anime con season kicks off with Ohayocon. And that for me means a new season of crossplay, yay! I’ve 3 cosplays I’m planning to bring, Mahoro Andou, Miho Tohya, and Stocking. Stocking from Panty & Stocking with Garterbelt, is my newest cosplay. I’m just a little worried about cosplaying Stocking because I expect there to be a lot of them. I’m just not used to cosplaying anything that’s trendy, but I love the character so I’ll do it!

In addition to cosplay and karaoke, I’ll be doing some flyering to promote my eBook, Anime Aftershocks. As an empiricist, I’m looking forward to seeing if I can bump up sales this way. My dad has read it, and so far I haven’t been disowned, so it must be pretty good, LOL!  Well with 3 weeks to go, I’d better get cracking!


Crossplay Tutorial

Several months ago, in a dazzling display of anonymous collaboration, a cheat sheet of male to female crossplay advice was compiled on the /cgl/ board of 4chan. I contributed the tip about using a feminine body wash!

It looks like the original host is no longer available, so I figured I’d put a copy here (click for full size). I’m not sure if all of the links are current as of your reading this, but the advice for MtF crossplay should be useful for anyone embarking upon this most challenging form of cosplay. Thanks again to everyone who contributed and organized this cheat sheet!

Crossplay Tutorial Graphic
Crossplay Tutorial (Male to Female)

Update: With all of the interest in this subject, I was inspired to write a more comprehensive beginner’s guide. Oh My!: A thinking man’s guide to crossplay