Empress in her City: Casual Business at Awesome Con
In a land far away, in a time of sweat and fandoms there existed Awesome Con...
Convention & Cosplay Fears:
I first learned about Conventions when I was in middle school. The usual anime gathering of like minded folks. I was in awe of a place that seemed like my inner weeb wet dream. Everything about conventions seemed entirely magical and social, and a place to just exist as proper fan. I craved the day where I would attend Otakon. However, me being me, I felt i couldn't just attend an anime convention casually, I had to cosplay and do everything I could to represent the things I loved to best of my capability. I had this overwhelming need to be a perfect cosplayer. I still do. Years creep by, and that first cosplay never happens. Its possible that as a financial commitment, i knew i shouldn't invest, or perhaps I felt i lacked the skills. There was one hold up, that never really left my mind. How the communities treated female cosplayers, but worse how they treated cosplayers of color. It is important dear reader that we acknowledge the problems that occur in our fandoms, communities, and social circles. One to fix, fight, and inform others but also to grow. For so many years i felt that cosplay would never be for me, one because I don't have the body type, and two all the hate that is shown to women of color who cosplay. It is scary, off putting, and induces an internal strife that never really leaves. So where does that leave me now?
Well, still nervous about cosplaying and interacting in conventions. However, friends and foes alike can't deny that there has been an uprising in cosplayers of color, and more. My fellow nerds of color are coming forth and slaying everything. Its truly amazing to see so many people that enjoyed or disliked various aspects of anime, fandoms, and cosplay just like me. For the past few years, during Black History Month, there has been a social media trend called 28 days of black cosplayers. It revitalized me to the point I thought i would explode in joy. Who knew that februrary would introduce me to other cosplayers, anime loving, and creators of color out in the world doing what they love. There is more and store for my nerdy side, and I cannot wait to explore it in the least obnoxious way as possible. Some might recall my Instagram valentine look as a cute school girl. I was so excited and nervous to wear something a little on the risky side. With the support of my friends, my love, and my skeptical mom I made it happen. All that was left was to step outside of my house and be fearless.
Artist Alley & Introverts, an Anxious Mixer:
Why no one told me I would drop 80 dollars buying stickers and prints is a mystery. I hit those little shops lost in every color of sauce known to man. I officially have a sticker problem. Anywho, I never really knew what happened in conventions. I think in my head I envisioned a place full of cosplaying people making friends, and being really nerdy. What I never expected, was how much social aggressiveness was needed to survive this whirlwind of people with gigantic fake weapons and kids freaking out seeing a Jedi Master in ugg boots. Comfort over accuracy right? Nah, booty cheeks were out everywhere, and I saw a woman on a chain leash. This place was a collection of visual spectacle that you had to be there to truly encompass the experience. When my best friend, who we forever refer to fondly as Captain, arrived I'm not sure we really anticipated what we would potentially see. Right from the jump Captain made a tally of all the people cosplaying Wonder Woman, Spiderman, Rey, Joker, anything Batman related really, Walking Dead and Attack on Titan. The findings from this social experiment are still being calculated.
It was extremely overwhelming, and a lot to process. However in the process of ducking and weaving through aisles Captain and I encountered some cool artists, shops, and organizations. I once heard of someone spending into the thousands for conventions and now I see why. How could you walk past these upcoming artists, illustrators, creators, and not feel inspired to at least get something? I overspent, to the point I considered not eating to get these gorgeous prints. Not only that there were leather products, top hats, clout goggles, and corset shops! I was in my secret dream place to acquire the aesthetic pieces missing from my steampunk fantasy. Still, it is not the time to focus on 80 dollar Tardis blue corsets. I want to tell you more about the people we encountered.
As an introvert and as a nerd walking through the artist alley and shops is stressful. Yes, I wanted to knock over the Becky buying a wonder woman print. I also considered how safe it would be to walk the way I do in New York City. Then, I was even more pressed to sympathize with every person walking in heels or wearing a wig. Listen, the heat was excruciating. The sweat humidity was toxic. I was about to drown walking around. Finally understood why there are so many think pieces and articles about convention etiquette and hygiene. Next time I'll pack either Febreeze or essential oils. Anything to save my nose hairs from the sweat mist of conventions. Then I considered tossing spells to get some water as I quickly became dehydrated. Did I mention the thirty-five dollar mug they sold so that people could get refills on soda throughout the event? A tiny mug looking like it came out of a whack Alice and Wonderland tea mis-party. That investment for a mug that was absolutely not aesthetically pleasing. I thought about it.
When it came time to see people whose outfits I enjoyed I was a wreck. Shaking like a caffeine-deprived fool I was nervous. How could I ask these actual gods and goddesses, these cosplay deities, these beautiful people to stop and let me, paparazzi photograph them? Me, a twenty-three-year-old social nobody trying to write and blog. To answer this query its simple. I opened my mouth and asked and definitely was not loud enough. If you can picture a mouse asking an actual goddess to take a picture, that is me. Not the goddess, despite my dreams, to be so, but the brown mouse. A regular Tale of Despereaux meets poetic Instagram wannabe. My intimidation by the magnification of seeing my favorite characters in reality really put me in perspective of how kids felt seeing their heroes. It was one of those moments I felt I needed a louder voice. To let these people know that their cosplay is amazing and I am happy to see their hard work and appreciate it in person.
The Privilege of Panels:
Let's say the sweat, the costumes you consonantly bump into and spending all your allowance on stickers isn't your vibe. There is another aspect of conventions I didn't really consider while fantasizing about my group Inuyasha cosplay. Attending panels allows those to learn from content creators, artists, or even celebrities. Outside of the joy of sitting down after walking for eons, the experience of panels is the type of intellectual stimulant that is necessary to really experience these fandoms or artists we love. Going to panels is like picking and choosing the fun classes, but occasionally sitting through a really boring one. Captain and I had a huge list of panels we were interested in hearing, but we only made it to one before the big show of the night. Which of course was the most important panel for us, your favorite Sunday afternoon podcast. Learning how to pitch yourself.
During our panel, as we sat among other creatives and artists, we quickly realized how much we need to truly pitch ourselves. With some notes, and social aggressiveness we were not prepared for it felt like we learned a couple of things. Our panelist speaker asked us why we don't talk to the people we sit next to. Why don't we network with those around you? Making connections can truly be that simple. Is it? Despite my bustling and nervous paparazzi moments, I didn't really meet people. Sure I glanced and took in the spectacle but outside of the occasional photo and purchase who did we speak with? Not a soul. This was an aspect of conventions that the younger version of myself didn't anticipate. A little social anxiety, and an overwhelming presence of strangers. The introverts isolation. I was grateful, that I wasn't there alone.
Towards the end of the panel, when it came time for questions we really experienced the idea of stupid questions. During the panel with John Boyega, which was glorious. I really felt that this was the time to ask questions beyond the character he portrays. This was the chance to experience our Star Wars prince in a new light. Welp, sadly the line was filled with people essentially asking the same thing or focusing only on his big movies. Understanding the man behind the character. Perhaps its only something a writer would like to know or understand. The opportunity to see John Boyega was a real treat, and to hear him geek out and see him in a genuine way was an experience I'll never forget.
That's all I can say about my Awesome Con Adventure, can't spoil it all, but next time I'll be sure to be someone's hero in a cosplay - Empress Jade
PS. If you know the Cosplayer TAG THEM
Post Con Meal
Sardi's - Peruvian Chicken. Black beans & Rice