GAMMA.CON: Here we got with another entry in our Canberra Cosplay Spotlight, today we are talking to the very spirited Sean-Paul from Sean-Paul cosplay. Hey Sean-Paul, thanks for talking to us today!
Sean-Paul: No problems boo boo!
G: So when did you first get into Cosplay?
SP: My very first cosplay experience was June 22 2013. It was at Supanova Sydney with my sister and one of my best friends.
G: So going to your first convention was your inspiration to start?
SP: Looking back at 2013 I had no idea what Cosplay even was. My friend Jacinta (the one who took me and my sister) told me that Nova was “A big nerd convention with anime, manga, comic books and people who go in costume.” The comic books and anime were enough to sell me on the convention but I wanted to go in costume as she was going to be going in costume. So I jumped online, found a Kingdom Hearts Sora costume and was ready for June!
G: What is your favourite part of being a cosplayer?
SP: I think it’s the people I’ve met or the community I’ve become a part of. When you first meet me I can be a little withdrawn, especially if I’m in costume. Some people don’t understand what I do with my cosplay which I can understand so I hide in my shell sometimes. But after our initial interactions if you come back for round two, be ready for both barrels of crazy! Some of the people I’ve met from conventions or even through social media groups have become role-models, friends and I would even dare to say a few besties! Without cosplay in my life I certainly wouldn’t have this artistic outlet or some of the friends that I hold very dearly in my life. Also I would be one of those mundane adults who work a lot and spend all their money on furniture or something, and I’m not about that life.
G: So let’s get this out the way, you consider yourself physically, biologically and emotionally male, but a lot of your cosplays are of female characters, can you tell us about that?
SP: I am male. My gender has nothing to do with my cosplay, and this sort of thing frustrates me a little. We see women in cosplay like for example, Jessica Nigiri, who has done fem Charaiziard, Deathwing and countless other “Male” characters. She adds her gender to it so everyone seems to be cool with it all. I on the other hand remove my gender, myself from my costume and do a true to character cosplay. People suddenly don’t understand, I’m not Cross-Playing, I have never used fake boobs or butt padding. All my costumes are me as a character, regardless of Gender.
G: Do you find there is a difference between the attitude when a girl cosplays as a male character and when a guy cosplays a female character?
SP: Absolutely! In my personal experience when women cosplay they have a bit more allowance when it comes to the characters they choose to cosplay and the general response they get from it, I find people’s reaction a bit more supportive or on the norm side of things. But for example when I put photos of my Mileena up, people’s first reaction is to ask my gender or put me into a category such as Genderbent or Cross-Player rather than supporting the costume. At conventions you see girls doing “gender bent” or just full male inspired costumes and very rarely will someone question them as to why they have chosen that costume. At every convention I’ve been too, people always ask “so are you gender bent, or cross-playing?”
To me I’m doing neither. I am Cosplaying a character of the opposite gender, that simple. No extra labels or issues.
G: It’s not just female characters you have done, but female characters that tend to be on the sexier side, is that a conscious decision?
SP: I tend to identify more with stronger characters, again the fact that their female has about 10% to do with my selection of Cosplay. I also work with my body type for my Cosplays, I’m not the typical male build. I have a very small waist line and VERY big hips and butt, so I decided to work with characters that have similar features as myself. The fact that they are ‘sexier’ is a happy coincidence, I like to think if I was drawn as a cartoon, anime or comic I would be this curvy dude that rocks whatever outfit I’m drawn in.
For example my upcoming Cosplay of Pixie (she’s a young girl in a tight leather suit and yellow lycra one piece over the top), if people see leather suits, wings and pink hair as sexy that’s their observation. My view of Pixie is sweet, happy and a little quirky. Not sexy.
G: Do you have a problem with people sexualising your costume, or thinking your sexuality has something to do with your choice?
SP: People will think what they want and if they want to observe my costume as “sexy” then let them have their fun, I never feel more attractive then when I’m cosplay.
In regards to my sexuality, in all honesty yes. I do think that a lot of people may generalise me in a way that says “He’s gay, that’s why he chooses female characters to cosplay.”
My sexuality is the reason I am comfortable enough in my own skin to do these costumes without worrying about others, growing up you have to learn to accept yourself and love everything about you or it gets harder. Being confident in my sexuality ALLOWS me to do these sexy female costume, it does not INFLUENCE me to do these sorts of costumes.
G: Have you ever done male characters?
SP: I’ve done a few such as a gender bent Harley Quinn last year for GAMMA.CON. I’ve also done Wiccan from Young Avengers and am currently working on a male character for my secret cosplay!
G: What are people’s usual reactions when you meet them wearing one of your cosplays?
SP: Reactions vary, but the most common one would definitely be as follows;
Them: “Hey can I take a photo?”
*I nod my head.*
Them: “Thank you so much!”
Me: “Thank you so much for asking!”
Then because either they are confused or wondering what’s going on underneath my costume, a dialogue opens up about my gender or why I choose to do female characters. Some people are un-phased and love the fact that I’m confident enough to do what really makes me happy instead of sticking to restrictions.
G:Is there a big difference in reactions between cosplayers and anime fans and the general public?
SP: Of course, the general public are always a bit taken back regardless of gender about cosplay. It’s labelled as nerdy or weird to dress up as an adult, so unless it’s general public at a convention I generally disregard their thoughts and feelings.
Cosplay and anime fans as a general rule are more welcoming and embracive of my cosplay choices. I’ve made so many friends over the last year it’s hard to say that many people have been negative.
G: Have you ever gotten reactions from girls angry that you pull off the costumes better than they can?
SP: Actually now that you mention it, every convention without fail girls/women always comment on my ability to walk in heels way better than they ever could dream of.
I’ve also had a girl at SMASH comment on my Mileena costume saying “I don’t get why people feel the need to do these sexual characters” and my response was rather blunt and direct “It’s because I can and I have the body to work it!”
Apart from that one girl trying to bring me down it’s mostly positive feedback regarding the comparison of body shape and walking in heels.
G: Have you ever had a bad reaction from someone because of your cosplays?
SP: The amount of times a guy has walked past and tried to slap my butt or call out a frisky comment at me thinking I was a woman are endless! It generally end up with me pulling my alpha male out and scaring the crap out of them, sending them packing. I don’t deal with bullying or harassment at conventions or in life, so when someone feels the need to say something negative or not wanted towards me I’m more than happy to be the one to stand up and shut them down.
G: Have you ever had guys and girls start swooning over you at conventions?
SP: Hahaha YES! The amount of phone numbers, compliments and flirting that happens is hilarious, from both men and women. Men seem to be easier to fool though, I don’t lead them on or anything, they just seem to fall into the fantasy a bit too easy. Especially with the sexier characters such as Black Cat, Mileena, Kitana etc.
G: What materials do you specialise in when making a costume?
SP: Specialise is a strong word *laughs to self*. I use a lot of foam, mainly craft foam, but I’ve also recently expanded my skills into fabrics and sewing.
I’ve played around with wires, plastics and pleather and hopefully will be starting to learn how to craft with Worbla or some sort of thermoplastic in the very near future.
G: What is your favourite part of the process?
SP: Without a doubt in my mind it’s the finished product and wearing my cosplay’s out and about, for people to see and get their feedback or to see their reactions.
I personally have a lot of troubles in the design/build process; trying to envision the finished product, how it will move and sit, weather it will hold. All of this causes a certain level of anxiety for me if I’m honest. So when the costume is complete and I know what I’ve done is mine and up to my personal quality standards I’m happy and stress free.
Plus who doesn’t love running around in their finished costumes.
G:What has been the most difficult thing and what has been the most fun thing to bring to life?
SP: I’ll start with the bad and end with the good; the most difficult thing for me was my first time doing a female costume at a convention. Mileena (Mortal Kombat X) was my very first female costume and let’s face it, she’s not the most “reserved” character! Lots of skin, her attitude is very confident and can be sexual. So starting down my new path with such an intense character was really difficult!
I remember a week of two before the con I was at my friend Jenny’s place (Reload Stalking Moose, stay tuned for her) and having a breakdown saying “What if someone says something? What if I look like crap, or my body isn’t right!?”
She said “Babe, you are hot as hell and have better curves than a lot of women I know. Just go and have fun!”
That feeling of relief when I had my first photographer stop me and ask to take my photo, which before I did Mileena hadn’t happened EVER!
G: What is the most rewarding thing to come out of your time as a cosplayer?
SP: It may sound vain but the collection of work that I have in my closet. I look at it regularly and say to myself “Wow, you’ve come a long way kid!”
From both a skill and bravery point of view I can see a visual representation of my journey, my failures and success reminding me that there is always room to grow.
G: Who/what are you planning on cosplaying next?
SP: So I have three cosplays lined up for the next few conventions which include: Pixie from the X-Men comics, Sailor Mars from the anime Sailor Moon and my newest and most “experimental” cosplay which is a recreation of Britney Spears’s 2001 VMA ‘Slave 4 U costume. Yes, it is the one with the Albino Boa.
I also have a Cosplay under wraps at the moment for Sydney Nova.
G: What was your first costume?
SP: First costume was Sora from Kingdom Hearts. I bought it online and then found a wooden Key Blade at the Convention hall.
G: Tell us how your first costume was like compared to your latest?
SP: Well first of all the costume was bought so I didn’t make it myself which in my opinion, now, takes out 50% of the fun.
But Sora in comparison to someone like Pixie has a very distinct difference of spirit. In Sora I was very uncomfortable and didn’t connect with the character, hence I would look awkward.
When I choose my characters now I research them and see if I could represent their personality through my costume. That makes for a more fun and energetic time for me and when people take photos, the difference is easily spotted.
G: What is the meaning behind your cosplay name?
SP: My cosplay name is literally my name. I feel like my name is very individual and I’m a fairly blunt person.
In all honesty I am looking to do a re-naming of my cosplay page into something more creative but it’s on the back burners.
G: What is it like cosplaying in Canberra?
SP: It’s funny because before moving to Canberra I had only cosplayed in Sydney, so coming to Canberra and finding this community of people who are so sweet and caring was refreshing.
I found at times cosplay in Sydney can be a bit ‘competitive’ even for the casual cosplayer, sometimes you would hear people in convention halls commenting on everyone’s cosplay and not always in the most respective tone.
Canberra cosplayers are really welcoming, fun to be around and actually willing to help each other with pretty much anything. We go out to dinners, have video shoots together, it’s more like a super big family.
G: Ever had any cosplay malfunctions?
SP: Does a bear poop in the woods? *Laughs to self.*
My biggest and worst cosplay malfunction was when I wore my Black Cat cosplay for the first time. My body suit has a zipper that went from above your butt, under the crotchand to above your chest. When I woke up at 6:30am to put everything on I didn’t realise that my ‘butt zipper’ wasn’t done up properly so I walked to central station from the CBD as Black Cat with my underwear showing to everyone before a fellow cosplayer, a stranger, was kind enough to tell me!
G: What cosplay do you feel the most connected to?
SP: Mileena for sure! Cosplaying Mileena I feel set me on the path that I’m following now, that has granted me such a large audience and pulls people interest and attention.
She allowed me to walk around Comic Con in 5 inch stiletto boots, contacts in my eyes and sais at my side. I feel confident and for the first time in a long time not ashamed of my body. Mileena Has opened so many doors for me and for that I am both proud of myself for taking that chance to do something out of the ‘norm’ and grateful to the people who accepted me rather than dismiss me as weird.
G: What makes you choose a certain character to cosplay?
SP: A lot of my characters are very similar to my personality. I have been told that I have distinct ‘modes’ which include; crazy Sean, happy Sean and fierce Sean. If a character fits into one of these slots and I like the look of their costume, that’s the largest part for me. Being able to connect to the characters on a personal level.
Crazy Sean would include Harley Quinn, happy Sean includes Pixie and Sailor Mars, fierce Sean includes Black Cat, Mileena, Kitana and Britney Spears.
G: Do you feel special connections to the characters you’ve cosplayed?
SP: I feel connected to ALL of my Cosplays, but the special ones would be Mileena and Sailor Mars. Mileena, like previously stated gave me this confidence and opened me up to a larger audience and really shaped my Cosplay’s direction. Sailor Mars, although a newer costume, marked a big moment in my life.
From December 2015 up until the start of April 2016 I lost focus on my health, was eating poorly and gained a bit of weight and wasn’t proud of myself anymore. I ordered Sailor Mars online when I was fit and could mould into her while being comfortable. I organised a photo shoot in January but then cancelled it as I started hated seeing myself in it.
In April Byte Size Photography asked for a photo shoot in Canberra and I didn’t have anything ready or that I fit into since last I tried my costumes on in January 2016. I put Mars on hoping it would fit and it did! I’d been working out 4-5 times a week, trying my best to eat better and it had paid off because I looked good!
Sailor Mars for me is a reminder to keep healthy, both for myself and my cosplay. Hence the special connection between me and Mars.
G: What advice would you give someone wanting to cosplay something others might think is unconventional?
SP: My advice for those cosplayers; dare to be different, break from the crowd and do something that makes you feel amazing! Own it! Be confident knowing that what you’re doing makes you happy and that is all that matters.
Accept your supporters and deny your haters. Be brave, be bold and I’ve always got your back.
G: Sean-Paul, that’s for speaking to us, it’s been enlightening!
SP: Thank you for your time, it’s been an honour and I’m glad I can share some info on the more obscure side of cosplay for you.