A peek inside the beauty of Cosplay

... An up-close interview with GeishaVi 

"GeishaVi is a veteran Cosplayer, Cosmetologist, Makeup Artist, Stylist, Costume Designer and Stage Performer located in New York City. She’s performed and modeled in cosplay and alternative fashion for over 10+ years and her various work has been featured locally and internationally. 

GeishaVi been a cosplay guest for multiple conventions in the United States, such as Anime Tosho-con, Castle Point Anime, and New York Comic Con, and has crossed the border to perform at the Calgary Comic and Entertainment Expo in Alberta, Canada. 

An active body positive, diversity, anti-harassment and LGBTQPIA+ (lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, queer, pansexual, intersex and ally) advocate, GeishaVi has spoken at many panels across North America, bringing people together and teaching them to be a supportive influence in their communities. She is very passionate about helping others overcome their fears and insecurities so they too can enjoy life to the fullest. She also enjoys networking with new people while sharing her love of fashion, music, cats and anime!"



Emma: What exactly IS a cosplayer and why did you first become one?

GeishaVi: We're creative individuals that enjoy recreating fashion, props and characters from TV, comics, manga, anime, movies and video games, often seen at conventions, parties, and music videos. As a kid, I often imagined myself as a comic hero or villain so I started combining that with my love of fashion about 16 years ago to create a truly unique form of artistic expression. 


Emma: Who is your favorite character to dress up as? What is your ultimate dream cosplay?

GeishaVi: Definitely Starfire from DC’s Teen Titans because she’s usually portrayed as thinner, paler, and sexier than myself and plus size girls were never encouraged to cosplay sexy characters. I do not feel the need to change who I am and, as a result, I’ve won multiple awards for my Starfire cosplay and people now always associate me with her.


My ultimate dream cosplay is a Decepticon from the Transformers series, of which my dad and I are both huge fans of, because it’s robotic and I’d really enjoy getting further into armor making and circuitry with the electronics needed for such a design!


Emma: Who is your all-time favorite cosplayer and what would you say to them if you met?

GeishaVi: Kelton FX, who I actually have met, is a multi-award winning cosplayer, stylist, model, and Special Effects Artist specializes in high-quality prosthetics that are not only impressive in photos but stand up to the tests of wear and tear while in use. He’s also a compassionate professional, speaking on various topics even at the risk of disappointing fans that would rather ignore them. Anyone willing to offer their platform to bring awareness to help others that don’t have a voice gains not only my appreciation but my respect as well!


Emma: What skills do you believe are necessary for a successful cosplayer?

GeishaVi: Imagination to visualize, creativity to actualize the design, ingenuity to realize and craft it into being and, most of all, patience to keep a steady focused head while putting it all together! Everything else comes with practice and studying so don't worry if you aren't perfect at these things.


Emma: What did/do you find are the most challenging aspects of being a cosplayer, particularly a plus size one?

GeishaVi: As a plus size and minority, I’ve even been told that I should only do "black/dark-skinned/fat" characters. This art form is limitless and by no means are there any rules that say you MUST have the same skin tone or body type as the original design.


Emma: How can cosplayers make money?

GeishaVi: Skills like sewing, sculpting, wig design, hair styling, makeup artistry, set design, prop making, costume & fashion design can be used not only in cosplay but in career fields like costume designer for film and TV, special effects makeup artistry, etc. You can create and promote yourself on a website, social media, and local conventions. I’d say start out small and even work with your friends as a team. 


Emma: Have you ever done a cosplay panel?

GeishaVi: Yes, I’ve spoken at panels covering topics such as Confidence in Cosplay, Cosplay Is Not Consent, Cosplay and the Male Gaze to name a few. Many times the panel will have a moderator that leads the speakers with an outline of questions. Sometimes we just have an open round table discourse. I know I’ve had a successful panel experience when the audience leaves knowing or understanding more about our topic than when they first came in. 


Emma: What is your best cosplay story? Worst?

GeishaVi: The best was at the Calgary SciFi Comic and Entertainment Expo, which heavily promoted inclusivity, diversity and body positivity, creating such a warm and welcoming atmosphere amongst staff, guests and attendees. They even provided personal security escorts and handlers and a comfortable, functioning Greenroom. 


The worst was at Wintercon here in New York City when I was cosplaying Black Cat from the Spiderman comic series and a group of people asked to take a photo with me, which I have no problem with as long as folks ask and behave themselves. Unfortunately, one of the guys decided it was OK to try to lick the top of my chest! Needless to say, that did not fly with me at all! “Cosplay is Not Consent” is more than just a statement; it's a policy that event organizers, conventions and performing companies have had to re-enforce over the last few years.


Emma: I hear you design some of your own costumes! What inspires you when you’re coming up with a character? What are your go-to stores for cosplay materials?

GeishaVi: I get a lot of inspiration from mythology, manga, history, music, folklore movies or even random conversations with my family and friends. Or I feel the desire to make a certain prop or wig style and build a costume around that. It’s surprising what can inspire you when you least expect it!


Micheal’s, Blick Art Supplies, CosplaySupplies.com, Ardawigs.com, WeLoveColors.com, and Amazon cover a lot of my essentials and, since I’m in New York City, I have access to the different fabric districts which helps a ton! Nothing is more satisfying than going into your local fabric store, supporting your neighborhood and getting the roll that has the last 5 yards you forgot you needed!  


Emma: What's the most difficult/elaborate cosplay you've ever done? 

GeishaVi: Definitely my mermaid Queen Elunis. I learned how to make accessories like crowns, trident staves and decorative bras with wire, jewelry, shells, and use reversible sequin fabric, which is the most difficult, tedious and time consuming that I’ve ever worked with. It was worth it, though, because the costume has been one of the most stunning pieces in my entire collection and I look forward to creating more pieces with my new-found knowledge.  


Emma: How do you incorporate your LGBTQPIA activism into your cosplay?

GeishaVi: I enjoy speaking on panels at conventions and on podcasts, engaging in discussions on social media, writing published articles and participating in marches of support to bring awareness to various issues within our communities. And, yes, I do march in cosplay often to shine a light on the many characters that have been made to represent the LGBTQ+ community.

Emma: What’s the difference between Cosplay and Crossplay? Do you ever crossplay?

GeishaVi: Crossplay is style of cosplaying when a person dresses up as a character opposite their gender. For example, a female cosplayer cosplaying Mario from Super Mario Brothers and keeping the outfit the same, overalls, mustache and all. I haven’t had the pleasure yet because I needed to understand silicone and latex prosthetic making before I could take on that costume challenge. 


Emma: Do you have a favorite place to take photos? Favorite photographer?

GeishaVi: I’m a big fan of on-location shoots like the beach, a castle, a Chinese garden or on a movie set. But, since those places aren't always available, I also enjoy decorated photo studios, which save money on props and time on set up. 


It’s hard to pick a favorite photographer because I’ve worked with so many amazing ones. If I had to choose, it would be Adrian Buckmaster. He’s a superb artist, wonderful person and has an innate ability to see the real you; the version of you that you didn’t know you had. 


Emma: What’s one of the craziest reactions you’ve gotten from people? 

GeishaVi: While dressed in my Golden Gorgon tail, a family asked if I could take a photo with their children, wrapping them up in my tail and pretending to eat them! I was afraid I’d scare them but the smallest, an adorable little girl, gave me a hug by holding onto my tail, which was twice her size! Needless to say it was a hilarious photo and I was happy to oblige.


Emma: If you could tell your past self anything about cosplay, what would you say?

GeishaVi: Believing in yourself is important because, at the end of the day when you take that costume off, you are still you. Also, buy a respirator mask before you start cutting fur; it gets everywhere! 


Emma: What is the most important thing you want our readers to take away from this interview?

GeishaVi: You do not have to be “perfect” in order to cosplay; you don’t need the perfect body or the perfect materials. Cosplay is an activity where you transform your creative ideas practice learning new crafts.


Emma: What are your next cosplay plan?

GeishaVi: My original character, Cyber Geisha, a concept inspired by my favorite tabletop RPG’s (Role-Playing Games), CyberPunk 2020 & Cyber Generation 2nd Edition, that will incorporate an elaborate Japanese wig called a katsura plus custom special effects prosthetics. Wizards, dragons and knights are great characters but I’ve always admired technology and it has endless possibilities. I think Thor said it best when he explained the wonders of Valhalla, “Your ancestors called it Magic, but you call it Science. I come from a land where they are one and the same.”



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