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Showing posts 1 - 5 of 5 matching: raehimura

Tuesday, September 4, 2012

Walking a Mile in His Goggles, Conclusion

The final of 5 parts continuing my interview with Booster Gold cosplayer Nicole (Demyrie).

Nicole as Booster Gold

BOOSTERRIFIC: What statement do you think you are making about sexual politics by dressing as a gender-bent version of a male fictional character?

NICOLE: Haha! Wow, you opened a door. I have to say, this constant question is perfectly encapsulated by one guy at SDCC who saw us, did a double-take, crowed "AWESOME!", and then "... why?". Why, indeed, dress in a male superhero suit/persona with full intention of portraying the character... just, female?

First, it comes down to possible cosplay options. I don't like many female characters, therefore I don't spend the effort to cosplay Supergirl and Batgirl and so on. Also, if I'm going to strut around in public, I'd like to be dressed in a little more than a bikini and thigh-highs, so that eliminates most other super-females!

But it becomes a little bit more than simple process of elimination when you consider that I've been gender-bending since day one, and don't see it ending anytime soon. It's obvious that male heroes get the lions-share of characterization and compelling story-lines, so I sync with them completely and want to portray them in a way that tricks fans into believing they could exist for just a little while. If I were a dude, I would just do it, but as a girl I have a few problems. This conundrum would be a great deal easier in, say, Japan, where effeminate heroes make cross-playing (dressing up as a fictional character of the opposite gender; essentially "drag") both easy and widely-accepted, but the American ideal of hyper-masculinity really doesn't allow for a smooth or believable transition from female to male if we're talking comics.

I mean, can you imagine how much that muscle-suit would cost? And I like my chin, but Booster's was chiseled out of granite.

Therefore this interesting gender-queer middle-space is created by the virtue of alternate universes (which comics are so fond of), where a woman can essentially appropriate the history, authority, presence and strength of a male character, and the result is very, very excited fans. More often than not, the cosplayers of genderbent heroes appear far more approachable than cut-and-dry female heroes (Rogue, Wonder Woman, Black Canary) which I believe stems from the fact that it's the costume equivalent of a girl walking up to a shy guy and suggesting a night of beer and football. We aren't hyper-sexualized — we're more nerds than girls, because I'm NOT talking about the "prostitute She-Robin" Halloween costumes on Ebay — and we clearly know comics well enough to successfully translate one of YOUR favorite characters to Earth #11, preserving back-story, motivations, super-powers and that smug, smug smile.

So, you wanna talk about Chocos?

That said, I think that gendered polarization of cosplay in comics is a terrible thing. Especially because I respect the hell out of women who cosplay who they want, I hate that those who cosplay female heroes are reliably treated as sex-objects because objectification is built into the super-heroine design. Either that, or that it's assumed these women know nothing of comics and just want the male attention that only a leotard with a boob-window can afford. I don't want that kind of attention and I felt nauseated when I received it as Silk Spectre II: men touched me differently, talked to me differently and I swore never again. Guy nerds have long-since become suspicious that their sex-drives are being taken advantage of at places like Comic Con (the Booth Babe trend has absolutely no pretense on this) and frequently see cosplaying women as disembodied boobs when that fails, so gender-bending is a way of cutting through the ritual sexualization of women, escaping the Nerd Dismissal, and actually getting to talk with some damn fans about some damn comics.

Though gender-bending is my natural inclination, I honestly wish I didn't have to prove my nerd-dom like this. I dearly wish that more female characters were both respectably clothed and more developed akin to male characters. If you need any proof of the difference, just look at how many men genderbend to presumably just-as-awesome female characters (although Beetle and I are honorary members of the Genderbent Justice League and that saw some of the first serious MtF bends) and google "Women in Refrigerators". I may be ridiculously gender-queer and keep doing my weird thing regardless, but that imbalance just ain't right, which is why it found its way into my Honors thesis. And that was 50 pages!

I owe a huge thank you to Nicole for her participation in our Q&A. Follow these links to parts 1, 2, 3, and 4 of this interview.

Comments (2) | Add a Comment | Tags: cosplay costumes demyrie interviews nicole raehimura sexual politics

Friday, August 31, 2012

Walking a Mile in His Goggles, Part 4

The fourth of 5 parts continuing my interview with Booster Gold cosplayer Nicole (Demyrie).

Nicole as Booster Gold

BOOSTERRIFIC: How do your family/friends react to you as Booster [or cosplaying in general]?

NICOLE: My family looks on in confusion and awe at what I do, haha! They don't always understand my choice in characters, but my favorite moment was when my elder brother looked at some professional-level photos of my Blue and Gold cosplay and nearly whispered, "Wow, Nicko. You're a real superhero!" It was precious and made me feel like a million bucks (which might be underselling it for Mr. Gold, but I'll take it!). I can count on fellow fans to fudge lines and recognize characters and take joy in cosplay, but to have a complete non-comic-fan be sucked in by the image that I had presented was way, way cool.

BOOSTERRIFIC: Can you share any favorite memories?

NICOLE: I've met so many awesome people as Booster! Each Comic Con I've literally been found by wonderful creators who are either involved in the production of the current canon (Andrew Kreisberg and Dan Jurgens this year, wow!) or have a long history with the character, personal or professional. They are all as sweet as anything and seem to really dig my interpretation, all chuckling (politely, I would think) when I offer to sign THEIR books. I've actually gotten pictures with them! I feel incredibly lucky. As for how they find me, I'll never know, but I'd like to think that it's because I'm brightly colored and not because I'm really, really loud. Right?

Really, Booster is just a character that makes for memorable interactions because his JLI self is so boisterous and ridiculous and endlessly self-entitled, and having a Beetle to play off of just makes it better. In reality, I'm not nearly as egotistic as Booster, but I do become very, very humble after an afternoon of playing him! It's pretty exhausting, but every moment is memorable when we're in the groove. I make sure to take time and talk with people, joking it up until I get a laugh. That's the performance part; that's what I make the suit for.

Sometimes just making fans' days is my MO when I struggle into the suit in the morning, which seems a little altruistic for our favorite cash-monger, but it's my meta-take on the character and I love every second of it!

Thank you, Nicole. Follow these links to parts 1, 2, and 3 of this interview. Since there will be no post on Monday for Labor Day, come back on Tuesday for the conclusion to this interview.

Comments (1) | Add a Comment | Tags: cosplay costumes demyrie interviews nicole raehimura

Tuesday, August 28, 2012

Walking a Mile in His Goggles, Part 3

The third of 5 parts continuing my interview with Booster Gold cosplayer Nicole (Demyrie).

Nicole as Booster Gold

BOOSTERRIFIC: How does cosplaying in a Booster Gold costume differ from other forms of fan-participation, such as writing fan fiction or drawing fan art?

NICOLE: I indulge in all forms of fan-creation, honestly, but cosplaying is what sticks most with Booster because of the public nature of the character.

Cosplay is a tricky business, in my opinion, because of the balance of factors at play. You can be an incredible seamstress but fight shyness your whole life, or you can put the emphasis on the performance/attention and either half-ass your costumes or buy them online. I've actually heard of cosplay used as a kind of behavioral therapy for those shy people, where they can adopt another personality and explore low-risk social situations, but I'm a drama-kid: fear left me a long, long time ago! For me, the art is in both the creation and the performance and I love each aspect equally.

Call it romantic, but I try to make each of my cosplays an homage to a character I adore unconditionally. It's a holistic, yet totally biased view of his or her past, of their mentality, and their journey. I pick the aspects I want to reflect (which version of the costume? Which era? Realistic or cartoony take?) and render them in fabric and a little improv and hope that what I love about them resonates in me. For example, I love bringing out the (doofy) debonair in Booster because it allows a vent for my gender-fluidity, giving a frame to my semi-masculine traits that often confuse both men and women when I'm schmoozing on them in a skirt and heels.

The middle-space of gender-bending, a very popular thing in cosplay recently and an unintentional experiment in gender performativity, is so interesting and weird that it almost deserves an in-depth study in and of itself. What do women gain by effectively putting on a male character while remaining women, and how are they received by a male-dominated and male-produced industry? For example, being She-Booster allows me to playfully proposition both men and (presumably very heterosexual) women, and without exception they react positively — you explain that! I suppose the men see the woman, and the women see the suit: a gender-icon Rorschach test.

BOOSTERRIFIC: How is cosplay different than stage acting?

NICOLE: Cosplay is much different from stage-acting in that it's like wearing an art piece and sometimes, as is your wont and shyness level, animating it. It's also completely interaction-based and the opportunity to improv with fans is like having a hilarious, coded conversation about your favorite comic-book moments, yet taken out of canonical context and into fandom. You really need to be prepared for anything if you're going to avoid awkward situations! (While gender-bending Robin, one of the moments that struck me speechless was when I was posing with an impressive Batman and someone in the crowd shouted (and I'm summarizing here) "KISS!". I opted for a kiss on the cheek, but the original order was far more graphic, and in public!)

So, yes, subject is very important for me. The few times I've made cosplays either for ease of execution or "I dunno, 'cuz?", I've been sorely disappointed. I don't connect with the people that I want to and I don't have fun, all because I don't care about the character. You do have to be careful, though, that you don't go overboard in your representation of your favorite character: you have to know when to drop the smug ass shtick and actually answer a question, or when to stop whining about that record deal that went bad in issue 72. You don't want to seem DETACHED from reality, just that you're questioning it humorously while in a spandex suit.

Thank you, Nicole. Follow these links to parts 1 and 2 of this interview. There's plenty more to come.

Comments (1) | Add a Comment | Tags: cosplay costumes demyrie interviews nicole raehimura

Friday, August 24, 2012

Walking a Mile in His Goggles, Part 2

The second of 5 parts continuing my interview with Booster Gold cosplayer Nicole (Demyrie).

Nicole as Booster Gold

BOOSTERRIFIC: When and why did you decide to dress as Booster Gold?

NICOLE: I first cosplayed Booster Gold at my first San Diego Comic-Con (2008), so it was something like a double-whammy of awesome to be able to sweep around the convention hall and see that he was actually quite popular! Last year (2011), I fixed up the suit and added his famous Disco Collar, then recruited my best friend as Blue Beetle II — THEN I felt I was really giving a portrait of the Booster I loved, arm-and-arm with Ted, wreaking havoc back in the JLI hey-dey.

My first itch to cosplay Booster came when I started poking around online and failed to find a truly inspiring cosplayer. No one (no man!) so far had embodied the glow of the character with a fitting wardrobe or demeanor, and so, to the chagrin of my unimpressed boyfriend, I launched into making my very first, terribly difficult super-suit.

It was TERRIBLE color-blocking that many pieces together on a first try, and I almost regretted the entire thing... and while I had a great time my first year, when my Beetle and I debuted together in 2011, everything was rewarded ten-fold!

BOOSTERRIFIC: Have your interactions with the general public been generally positive?

NICOLE: 1,000% positive! The entire experience really gave us a feeling of incredible community: when people saw us, it wasn't the verbal equivalent of checking off a box on a cosplay scavenger hunt. People got EXCITED. It was like we had turned over a rock and found this incredible wealth of fans who were thrilled to see a snap-shot of their "irreverent nineties" comic-book childhood, enacted by people who understood and loved the characters.

For example, I constantly high-fived fans in Booster Gold Fanclub t-shirts and generously offered to sign them for ever-increasing sums of money. I pretended to skip to the front of lines and every photo taken with my Blue Beetle was chummy and mischievous, like we had three slightly-evil-but-lucrative plans waiting on the backburner, and many older fans treated us with wonderful mock suspicion. We received many silly photo requests (which we were more than happy to oblige), and at one point, a fan lowered his camera, face screwed up. He couldn't stop snickering, then finally eked out, "You even have the grin!".

Point being, Booster is a loveable shmuck and a camera-hog and I have an indecent amount of fun being outrageous and shameless in his skin. He has to be my favorite cosplay thus far, if just because people love to provoke and engage him more than any other character. Would you play-harass Captain America for an autograph? Didn't think so.

Iron-Man, definitely. Cap, no. Booster, always, if I don't harass you first.

Thank you, Nicole. Check here for the first part of this interview. And check back next week, as there's plenty more to come.

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Wednesday, July 25, 2012

What the Best Dressed Heroines are Wearing

Since Comic-Con International started two weeks ago, I have received repeated requests for pictures of Booster Gold cosplayers. Specifically, fans have been asking for pictures of female versions of Booster Gold. These are typically referred to as Earth-11 Booster Gold or Rule 63 Booster Gold, depending on whether your frame of reference is comic books or the internet. In either event, I know when I'm beaten; your wish is my command.

Katy Mor as Blue Beetle, Demyrie as Booster Gold by Bill NashRaeHimura as Blue Beetle, Demyrie as Booster Gold by William Tung

Above left are Katy Mor and Jettie Monday, respectively, as Blue Beetle and Booster Gold. This pair of professional models have been making a name for themselves as Blue and Gold on the convention circuit, selling some stunning photographs by Bill Nash. Jettie Monday has even written about her experience as Booster Gold for Geek News Network.

Above right are RaeHimura and Demyrie, respectively, as Blue Beetle and Booster Gold. Together, this creative pair of dedicated fans have been dressing as the world's best comic duo at conventions for awhile, including in this year's Comic-Con (as photographed by William Tung). Together, they now run their own custom costume shop at Suit Up Productions.

Comments (4) | Add a Comment | Tags: bill nash cdn comic-con cosplay demyrie earth-11 jettie monday katy mor raehimura rule 63 shag william tung

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