Beth Malcolm of Amazonian Cosplay, is an experienced cosplayer; participating in competitive cosplay events and spending months of time (and wages) on her intricate cosplay creations.
She has appeared on the podcast and on stage with Coaching for Geeks’ own Robin at MCM Birmingham Comic Con – and now she shares her cosplay catastrophes.
We all have those moments in life when everything you’re attempting to do is crashing down around you, no solution seems to work, and you’re left asking ‘Why is this happening to me?’
I can guarantee you; in Cosplay you’ll find yourself saying this many, many, times.
Take just a few weeks ago for example – I was at MCM London Comic Con, wearing my Wonder Woman cosplay; a costume I’ve been crafting for 8 months non-stop, and was finally wearing it. Every care had been taken to make it as accurate and hard-wearing as possible. I waited with anticipation to take to the stage for the international cosplay competition and with only 5 people left in front of me before going on stage the heat from the 29 degrees weekend, combined with pre-competition sweatiness has loosened the glue holding my skirt in the bodice…
My skirt fell to the floor.
I was left standing there, in full armour and bikini pants, frantically attempting to cover my bare arse with the broken skirt pieces and safety pins, thinking ‘Why me?’
Of course this doesn’t just happen to me. When you’re participating in a hobby consisting of glued together costumes being worn for 12 hours in the hot sun, everyone has had something go wrong in one way or another.
But when you’re there in that panic with everything literally falling apart, it can be hard to step back for a minute, breathe, and realise you’re not alone. Whether you’ve been cosplaying 20 years, 2 years, or 2 weeks, everybody has had major catastrophes. It’s like a cosplay staple. There’s a saying about ‘christening your costume’ when you prick your finger on a needle/cut yourself on a craft knife and bleed on your costume. Us cosplayers are hardcore (99% of us have no feeling in our fingertips anymore)
I’m quite a clumsy person, in and out of cosplay. This means I’ve made many, many, rookie errors with my crafting. I’ve been doing this hobby for 8 years now, since I was 13 years old, and I assure you; if you can imagine it, it’s happened to me.
From the aforementioned skirt incident, to my Brienne of Tarth armour snapping on stage (when I tried to pull my cape off and it stuck to the shoulder), to being blinded by stage lighting at the beginning of a performance, when it’s meant to be pitch black, because the lighting technician isn’t paying attention to my frantic gesturing.
In the end, none of this matters.
You won’t be able to find a single cosplayer who can’t regale you with a funny tale about The Time They Had A Cosplay Catastrophe. Probably my favourite running joke with my friends is that my Flemeth from Dragon Age cosplay is cursed. Every single time I have tried to wear it (bar the last time. I shan’t wear it again and jinx it) something has gone horribly wrong. The first time, the wig fell off in the middle of a forest.
The second, all the leg armour straps snapped and I came on my period mid convention.
The third, Norwegian Airlines bashed it about and all the paint peeled off. The fourth time I’d left my boots at the other end of the country. I stated I shall burn this costume on facebook live some day, and I stand by this.
The point is, shit happens and the only thing you can do is keep calm, and either fix it or roll with the broken bits hoping no one will notice (they won’t).
I do admit, I often fall foul to the self-doubt these disasters can bring. After spending a good £500 on costume supplies that just aren’t becoming what you’d hoped because your skills aren’t there yet, and you’re sitting in the middle of the floor, surrounded by fabric scraps, fingertips superglued together, a misshapen piece of foam on a mannequin, it’s easy to think ‘is all of this worth it?’
Well I’m here to tell you: YES, YES IT IS!
Especially if you fall into the competitive side of cosplay, as I have done in the past 4 years – spending months making meticulously detailed and expensive costumes, all to be judged for 2 minutes then be on stage for 1 minute – it can be easy to feel this doubt when things go wrong. Because even though it’s not the end of the world if you don’t finish in time, or your costume breaks, and the stakes aren’t really real, it’s crushing when things don’t go how you wanted.
What I’ve realised recently, after having a couple of experiences where I’ve been so low in confidence with my craftsmanship of a costume that I’ve felt embarrassed to wear it out, is that no matter how awful you think your costume is, how there are bits falling off and there’s a big heat gun burn there – nobody else will really notice.
You’ll still have people asking you for photos, family members saying ‘Wow you should make costumes in the movies!’ because they have no idea how hard it is to make costumes for the movies, and you’ll (hopefully) be able to have fun, regardless of if your leg armour has entirely snapped and is hanging off (also Wonder Woman. It needs a little work…).
And if all else fails, and your painted armour does crack, or someone steps on your skirt train and rips it, or a handsy child grabs your sword and snaps it, there will always (usually) be the Cosplay Desk available to help you out, wielding hot glue guns and cable ties. (And safety pins, which they sprinted across the convention centre to stick into my butt. I’m using stronger glue next time.)
However, probably the best bit of advice I can give, and Ultimate Learn From My Mistakes – test your body paint before the convention. Don’t do what I did and mix PAX paint incorrectly, and end up stuck painted purple for 4 days, missing two job interviews and having to have your best friend scrub your naked back in the bath. But hey, learned my lesson.
Beth Malcolm, AKA Amazonian Cosplay, takes her work to the next level. She not only hand crafts her work, which has included Cersei Lannister, Flemeth, Queen Hippolyta and more, but also treks out into the wilderness to take scenic photographs.