Cosplay and the Mainstream
For those of you who don't know, my life outside of cosplay is downright Normal -- I work one of your standard 8 to 5 Monday through Friday kind of jobs, in an office setting, doing administrative work. I do a pretty decent job of blending into the wood-work, especially since my desk remains un-decorated by any signs of my fandom. I don't often talk about work, and I don't plan to make this a regular thing, but it was one of those rare occurrence where the two sides of my life overlapped, and it was so interesting that a short facebook status update about it blossomed into this massive block of text that seemed more fitting of a blog post. (Names have been changed to protect those involved - wouldn't want anyone to think we were slacking off.) Yesterday was kind of a slow day at the office -- all of the supervisor-types were out, our Controller was out, and it seemed like most of the people we do business with had decided it was a good day to play hooky. We got no emails and almost no phone calls. I never had a problem keeping myself busy, so there I was with my nose buried in papers, minding my own business. Then, I hear Mary (my Project Coordinator) from her cubicle. "Krystal. Hey, Krystal, are you over there?" "Yeah, I'm here. Why?" Then, with a smile I could hear in her voice, she said "You are really interesting to google, did you know that?" Oh god. This could only be heading in one direction. "Oh my god, why are you googling me?! you must be SO bored." And that was how it started. Now, I haven't exactly made it a secret that I make costumes in my spare time (I told Mary and our boss up front in basically my interview process -- I had at the time listed working for World Cosplay Summit on my resume.) but I don't talk about it at work because I don't want to be That Guy, and there's rarely ever anything that would just prompt it naturally. Well, Mary's declaration got the attention of Amanda, one of the other admin assistants, who asked what we were looking at, and that's when Mary started feeding her the appropriate search terms to find pics of me-- "Oh you know, I searched her name and the second picture I saw was dressed in this elaborate blue and gold thing, and the word Cosplay, so then I added that to the search words". I finally just was like "ya know what, I'm just going to give you my website if you're that interested." Because at this point I've decided that it's safer to give people my website address than to let them roam the internet and potentially find the less savory sides of cosplay and not know that who they're looking at isn't me. So I emailed them my website address, fielded some general questions. Amanda asked a lot more questions than Mary, and in the end I even got an email reply that she was "amazed and fascinated" by my stuff, and that her husband had wanted her to make him a Link costume for Comic Con next year, but now she wasn't sure she even wanted to start, since I told her that one of my costumes took somewhere around 3 months of work. I guess what I'm getting at is, there are times I'm still kind of reserved about bringing up cosplay outside of the internet and fandom settings, because I remember when it was still very underground and largely associated with fetish-y role-playing type stuff. I used to have to explain a LOT more than I do these days; it's surprising how much more mainstream it is now, compared to when I first started in the early 2000's. More often than not, when new people learn about what I do, they're genuinely interested, know someone who has wanted a costume to wear to a local convention (because most places know about their local conventions now that they've been around for a few years), or know someone else who has at least attended a convention. They may or may not have ever heard the word 'cosplay', but they still seem to know about the concept of dressing up for conventions, and that it's a pretty common practice among convention attendees. I think part of this can be attributed to mainstream TV shows like The Big Bang Theory shedding more light on it, and over-all how connected the world has become thanks to the ever-growing media presence online. Nerd culture in general is becoming more acceptable, with the success of films like The Avengers and The Hobbit -- movies made from source materials that were once only adored by 'nerds', 'geeks' and 'weirdos', but are now more accessible. It's like the rest of the world is catching up with the types of things that we've also KNOWN were a treasure, a world full of so many much more than what you can ever experience in day-to-day life. I don't know when exactly it became 'cool' to be a nerd, and I don't really care -- I jsut love what I love, and if the world is finally growing to maybe understand and accept it a little, and even wants to get in on the action? The more the merrier.