Into every generation a cosplayer is born: one girl in all the world, a chosen one. She alone will wield the strength and skill to dance, cosplay and podcast against the muggles, 1D fans and the forces of darkness; to stop the spread of their evil and the swell of their number. She is Kerraldine.
How did you become involved with cosplay?
Via tumblr really, I was studying in Dundee at the time, which was just over 2 years ago and wasn’t really enjoying being stuck up there, I was miserable and bored. I had seen various people posting themselves cosplaying or cosplays they liked and I thought ‘that looks f***ing awesome’. But I was skint and I thought I was waaaaaaay too far from London to even consider it. I was in the little Harley Quinn bubble on tumblr and two of the girls who cosplayed her, Kate and Claire said I should come to MCM cos there was going to be a Harleypalooza. I said I couldn’t because of my situation but I think I lost it a bit with college and life and was like ‘F*** THIS SHIT, I’M GOING’. And it all started at that Poolza.
So I blame Harley. Like with everything else.
One of your most recognised cosplays is Buffy, what is it about the character you love and why did you chose to cosplay her?
Buffy the Vampire Slayer is one of the most adored shows in modern TV history and is a cult classic. Most of my generation grew up with it and like I got hooked, as I got older I relished the series with a better understanding of it’s context. Joss Whedon, the creater, is a genius in my eyes, and may others. He knew how to take fantasy and mash it into reality to make the story of the slayer a strong metaphor of how it is like to grow up as a woman. The show is about Buffy, a young girl thrown into a responsibility she didn’t ask for and from the age of 15 has to risk her life (physical and social!), to fight all sorts of demons and magic to save the world. But the hardest demons she has to face are the ones inside her, that’s the show’s real story and that’s why I chose to cosplay her, it’s why people love her and the show, it represents all the battles we have to fight everyday, and it touches us. That and the sexy vampires and watchers.
What inspires you to choose your next cosplay?
I tend to choose strong females who are often underestimated. So mostly characters I identify with in some way. In each cosplay I do, there is a part of the character which makes up a piece of me in my life.
What future cosplays do you have in store for us?
At the moment I’ve started work on Spoiler from Batman, which is probably my favourite hero costume of all time. I’ve made my first attempt at the bodysuit which actually turned out well for a newbie. I also need to complete Tinkerbell, as I am desperate to do a Disney character properly as I grew up in awe of Walt’s work. Then others are mostly ideas I want to get off the ground once I can fund it and build up my skills, such as Artemis from Young Justice, Tank Girl, Guybrush Threepwood from Monkey Island, Laverne from Day of the Tenticle and Bender from Futurama to name just a few. Too many ideas than are possible!
What do you find the biggest challenge when making your cosplays?
Everything between starting and finishing it. I’m naturally okay at making stuff but it’s not my area so I can’t swing it normally. It is such a stress and brain fart for me most of the time. I also lack a lot of the tools needed for making stuff which makes it harder.
When you’re not cosplaying or at a convention what can we find you doing?
Besides killing my brain at work, I spend most of my time split between dance training, yoga, gym, geeking out with comics, films, games, tv shows, books… basically you can either find me in the studio or in my room. I only come out for conventions!
Could you tell us a bit about your passion and career in dancing?
‘Career’ is a bit of exaggeration! I’m still training and not at a level to work yet. It has been a very long process for me, I am a slow learner and have had a lot of knock backs in my life which have slowed my development. I decided that I wanted to do something in dance as a career at around the age of 15, and I think started trying to get onto a BA course at a conservatoire at the age of around 17, I’m 25 now and I’ve only just got accepted at Laban school last week, after been on a reserve list since Feb. It has been a long and hard journey, I’ve done GCSEs, A levels and BTECS in dance, I did foundation courses at the Northern School and Scottish, also an NQ at Scottish. I’ve been accepted at universities to do dance at BA level but turned them down because it wasn’t what I wanted, wasn’t the dream. I’ve been told by teachers I should give up, I wasn’t good enough, I wasn’t strong enough, I worked too hard. I was at my wits end, I felt weak, I couldn’t try anymore. But and the same time I couldn’t let it go cos it was the only thing that made sense to me, only thing that filled me with passion. As Mr West once said ‘For me, giving up is way harder than not trying.’
Do you find being a dancer helps improve your cosplay abilities?
Most defiantly, I’ve spent my life analyzing people and their movements, how their bodies speak, what’s it means, how to walk, stand, project. How to articulate my body to communicate so that most characterisations come natural. Most of my research in my dance training was on dances about the human psyche. I’ve always said the best cosplayers are not the ones who have the best costumes but the ones who give their all in becoming the character. I find the ones, even the ones with the most beautiful costumes, boring. I’ve been drawn to the people with shop bought costumes more when they have convinced me that they are the god damn Batman. So I advise everyone who cosplay, practice your character. I would recommend dance classes, yoga, acting, martial arts, physical theatre, Alexander technique, anything art and performance based, even psychology, because it will send your cosplaying to another level.
The picture of you as Spiderman doing the splits against the wall has gone world wide, appearing on Reddit and being shared on numerous cosplay Facebook pages, how did you feel about this, was you surprised?
Surprised doesn’t even begin to cover it. The whole thing for me was a bag of mixed emotions. For people who know me closely, know I don’t really do well with attention, and tend to avoid it when I am myself. Yes, I’m a performer and I cosplay but really I’m an introvert and keep myself to myself when I’m out of costume so when it all started I was completely overwhelmed and daunted, I didn’t know what to do and got a bit panicky and upset about it all. I don’t cosplay cos I want people to look at me, I cosplay to be someone else for a day so all the responses made me feel like a deer in head lights. A lot of it was funny and tongue in cheek, ‘my spidy senses are tingling’ and ‘I webbed myself’ type stuff as light hearted humour I laughed with. But I also got a lot of offensive and disgusting comments, some took it too far and it hurt or made me feel ashamed of myself.
A lot of people don’t know the context of the photo, it wasn’t me posing for a photographer, in character, or trying to be provocative. Basically it was me larking about with one of my best friends and because I was warm enough as I had been posing like Spiderman all day, I decided to show him something I had trained myself to do, I was acting like a kid the whole time so in the end it was just a private photo that got shared.
Assumptions where made and a lot of cruel and out of order comments were left that really hurt my self esteem. I was branded ‘spidy slut’, a whore, male attention seeking, a stripper and more. It was linked to spider fetish which disturbed me and I did not want to be connected to that. And people said I deserved to be treated like this, that I was asking for it pulling a provocative pose and sexing up a costume to get male attention. I was wearing a man’s costume, I had made no change to it, if I was a guy, nothing would have been said. I was completely humiliated for doing something I enjoyed and so many people do, playing dress up and pretending to be a hero. The internet seems to give people this power they like to use to mock others and it’s wrong. It pushed me to nearly give up cosplaying because I’m so sensitive, I defiantly don’t have the confidence to do that suit anymore, at least for a long time, and it’s sad because I really enjoyed it.
I’ve learnt to deal with the attention now, rather than be resentful towards it, I’m just going to try and live with it, it forced my hand to make a page which I didn’t really want but hopefully I’ll be able to use it positively as I’m going to use it for all my performing work.
Ah yes! I’m a newbie on the show, only done a few shows but it’s absolutely brilliant. Basically it is a little ‘family’ of passionate geeks who have weekly discussions, reviews, interviews etc about anything and everything to do with popular and nerd culture. It’s so much fun as it gives me a channel to outlet all my Sheldon type rants about various things in comics, cosplays, films. Really good indepth discussions with a group of characters who really give a shit about the real stuff in life, like Batman.
What are your opinions towards ‘sexy cosplays’?
Ah, people often get the wrong end of the stick with me and this. I honestly have no problems with it, I actually love a lot of the stuff that comes out and if it’s what you want to do, great, I wish I could! I think I have only two issues, if you are not a geek or don’t know anything about the character and you are doing it just to be looked at, not for a love of the character. It’s hard for girl geeks as it is to be taken as a genuine fan, nevermind having people fake it just because they have this ‘need’ to be a model. The other thing that bothers me is when they say they are ‘gender bending’ and they seem to think that means making a costume as skimpy as possible. Again, I have no problems if you want to make a costume sexy but making a bunny outfit of Captain America’s suit is not ‘gender bending’ but making a cute outfit based on his theme. A femme Captain America would probably just wear what Steve does, he is a solider and I’m pretty sure female soliders don’t wear suspenders. Dragonfly Cosplay did a femme Captain which was spot on, and I totally fan girled over it, stunning work. However if you gender bended someone like Tony Stark, I believe it’s totally in character to be a ‘sexy’ costume. It’s all about analysing the character.
What are your feelings towards ‘cosplay consent’ have you ever experienced this or been judged by wearing a ‘sexier’ cosplay?
Oh yes I have, I covered a lot of it earlier, but I’ve had people think it’s okay to send me perverted messages, take pictures of my ass without consent, film without permission and so forth, luckily I haven’t been touched, but I know friends who have. It’s not fair and can really damage people. Just because we dress up as characters we love who may also happen to be your fantasy, doesn’t mean it’s okay for you to act this fantasy on us. People forget we are human and we have rights it seems, or that we don’t mind and that in dressing up we are asking for it. A lot of these people don’t seem to understand how to behave socially, and don’t know how to communicate with girls. They seem to think if a girl is nice to them, that they want more, which is awkward cos I see it with the pretty cosplayers, they are nice and want to be nice but have to be a bit harsh to stop people from misreading them and crossing the line.
What changes have you seen in the cosplay community over the years you have been participating?
Mostly just that it’s become a more ‘look at me’, fan page likes contest and pushed into the media, I feel a lot of the innocence of it is lost, that for a lot of people it’s a way to get themselves known. It’s a sad view but that’s the biggest change. I’m still treating it as playtime and most of the people I know are, it’s still all fun as long as people keep it light and don’t develop egos.
Do you find being in cosplay gives you more confidence?
Yes and no. I have become more assured with my abilities, dancing, performing, improvising. When I am in full character mode I can come across the most self assured person. But the recent negativity, not only the Spidy picture, but the trolloing in general has not helped. I do not have much self esteem as it is, so I’ve taken a lot of it to heart and nearly given up on the whole thing. I really effects me badly but I’m trying not to let it.
What advice would you give a first time cosplayer con-goer?
Don’t let anyone say you cannot be a certain character, If you’re a petite, white, brunette but you adore Storm from X-Men and want to be her, be her. Don’t let anyone tell you, you can’t. Along as you act the part, you will be mother f**cking Storm. And don’t let people bring you down about it if you don’t ‘fit’, enjoy living out you’re imagination
Keep updated with all of Kerraldine cosplay
Photo credits – Main image Cammy and Kerraldine dancing – Darren Rowley Photography, Harley Quinn – Simon Trussel Sexy Cosplay Girls, Spiderman – Matt Watling Photography, Buffy – Andreiguamoy, Robin – Geek Pride Photography,