Snarky Jay is a south Florida-based cosplayer that’s been (snarkily) cosplaying for about four years now. She’s been part of panels and cosplay contests and she was just invited to take part in one of MegaCon’s online fan meetups. I sat down and talked to Snarky Jay about what makes her so “snarky,” how she started cosplaying, some of her convention experiences, and some advice she has for other cosplayers. We had a great time chatting…and I didn’t find her snarky at all!
Great Scott (GNN): So, first question, right out of the gate, I have to know. Snarky Jay?
Snarky Jay (SJ): Everybody always asks about that. So basically, when I started my page, I wanted my name Jay and cosplay, because they rhyme. So, I liked that; I thought it would be easy for people to remember. And then I wanted an adjective, and I was trying to think of things that I’ve been called. And my dad says I’m snarky all the time, and I usually get, “I don’t need the snarky answer, just tell me what you’re thinking,” or whatever. So, I thought that snarky more specifically meant sarcastic, so I made the username. And when I got to about 1,000, I had somebody be like, “Why is snarky your username, though? You’re not snarky.” And I was like, “I kind of am snarky. I’m sarcastic all the time.” And then I looked up the definition, and it just means rude. So…
GNN: Really? I always thought the same as you…snarky meant sarcastic, not rude.
SJ: Yeah. That’s like the main definition for it. I mean, it includes sarcastic, but for the most part it just means rude. And at this point, it’s too late for me to change it, so…
GNN: So, I’ve said in past interviews that cosplay is like a drink that’s equal parts nerdiness and liking to dress up. Which one of those came first for you? How long have you been doing it, and which one came first?
SJ: I’ve been doing it for four years now. Yeah. It was four years in May. I pretty much started working on the first one when Overwatch came out. I wanted to build McCree, and I had gone to a couple of conventions before that. I did a fin the human from adventure time when I was like 12 or something. And I had done like three different versions of the Winter Soldier before that. But I didn’t really know what cosplay was up until 2016. So, I would say that was when I started. For me, honestly, I think that I love dressing up and I always have; I used to walk around with cat ears and a tail in my house and just wear weird stuff for no reason. But I honestly think that nerdiness is a big part of it. Because I like to dress up, but nothing I wear is really comfortable or worth wearing for eight hours a day. You go to these cons and it’s three and four days, and it’s 8-, 9-, 10-hour days wearing heels and leather and all these crazy things. So, for me, it’s not even like, “Oh, I just really want to dress up.” For me, I’ve obsessed about this character for I don’t know how many hours. I have to embody them or I’ll die (laughs).
GNN: So, it probably started out kind of fun, like, “Hey, I made this. I looked in the mirror. It’s freaking awesome.” Now you’ve been doing it for four years. Is the end result still cool and fun? Or is it like, “Okay, I’m finally done project over. Let me wear this silly thing and be done with it.” Or is it still fun?
SJ: No, it’s definitely still fun. The end result is the only thing that really pushes me to do it anymore. I mean…and I’ve had this conversation multiple times with my dad who got me into it…he’s always like, “Is it the end result? Is it the wearing the cosplay and being the character that you enjoy, or is it the building or crafting or whatever?” And while I enjoy painting and figuring out these different pieces, I don’t enjoy ruining a manicure, burning my hands, slicing fingers. It’s not fun. It’s one of those things that you sit there and you work on the character, and before, while you’re planning, it’s like, “Oh my God, Boba Fett, what a king. I love him.” Or like Din Djarin from The Mandalorian. It’s like, “Aw man, no, I love everything he stands for.” And then when you’ve been sanding a helmet for eight hours and your fingers are blistered and terrible, it’s like, “You know what, I hate him and I wish he didn’t exist. I don’t want to look at him anymore.”
So yeah, the end result is definitely still fun because, for me, it’s like it’s exhausting all the work I put into it, but by the time I’m done, I completely forget about all the torment that it was. And I’m like, “Wow, I’m this person. This is awesome for me.” So yeah, if the fun wasn’t there, I wouldn’t do it. Because if I’m just tired of it, then it’s not something worth doing.
GNN: Do you try to get all engrossed in the character, or is it just looking like them is cool enough for you?
SJ: No, I definitely get engrossed in the character. I mainly cosplay people that I don’t look like physically. And that’s one of the things that I think is such a mistake in modern cosplay culture now. If you’re lucky enough to be born looking like an actor or somebody, congrats. But at the end of the day, how many actors haven’t portrayed one character? I mean, John Marston in Red Dead 1 is crusty and weird looking, and then they change what he looks like in Red Dead 2, because technology. They know these people don’t look the same all the time. So, if you’re born looking like them, congrats. Personally, I don’t look like anybody that I cosplay. I’ve done Black Widow, I’ve done Power Girl…I do a lot of people that are just very out of my league and I sort of contour, whatever. But I don’t do anybody that I look like. So. for me, it’s one of these things of like, I’m going get the aesthetic as close as possible. And for me, the mannerisms are what would attract me to a character in the first place. Because, yes, an outfit can be cool. But for me, what gets me about Boba Fett is the man with no name, kind of really quiet, just standing guarded look. That for me is what I like.
So, before any con, if it’s a video game, I’ll play for a couple of hours. If it’s a movie, I’ll watch it. If it’s a show, I’ll catch an episode or two before the con. Because even though these characters are people that I obsess about and I already have in mind, I like that refresher. And once I go, if I’ve seen the Winter Soldier the night before the convention, you best believe I’m going to be in the full mindset when I’m there. I don’t do impressions or anything, but the poses and the mannerisms, I try to get them as close as possible because, for me, it’s the whole experience.
GNN: Do people try to “out geek” you when you cosplay? Do they come up and try to test you and see if you know the entire dialogue?
SJ: Yeah. Yeah. I mean, with a lot of things, I tend to know a lot of the dialogue or the lines or whatever, because, yeah, I’m really passionate about this. But there are some characters that I like the look and I cosplay, but I don’t know as well as maybe somebody would. Like I have two different versions of Catwoman and I like Catwoman, but I don’t know everything about her. And you get people that want to DM you or ask you questions and be like, “Yeah, well, do you remember in issue this of this alternate universe when she…?” No, I don’t. I don’t. And it’s not a qualifier for what I can or can’t cosplay. I don’t need you to out geek me. I’m not here to compete with you. I don’t care what Boba Fett looked like in pre-production, the second verse, which now I know all these things because I have friends that are in that world and that know about it and have educated me. But it’s like, this really isn’t super necessary to me right now. I get a lot of the minutia about what it is exactly that I’m going to wear and the fact that yeah, this is important to me to know about this character. But if you’re going to quiz me, I don’t want to hear it. I’m tired. I’m on my feet. I don’t need to be interrogated right now.
GNN: I’ve interviewed other cosplayers and attended cons and I always hear or see that person who’s like, “You know your right armband has four bolts on it and the character had five bolts on it. If you’ve read the fourth issue of the alternate universe series…”
SJ: Yeah. I mean, I’ve had people reach out and be like, “Yeah, well, if Wonder Woman was a cowboy, she wouldn’t carry a gun.” And it’s like, “Okay. Well, I do. I don’t know what to tell you.”
GNN: So, to step back a little, I’m always curious about where cosplayers get their true start in dressing up. I don’t cosplay, but even I remember my first costume was when I was in kindergarten and I dressed up as Oscar the Grouch, with the plastic mask and the old plastic costume. Do you remember what your first costume ever was?
SJ: It was actually Belle from Disney. My mom has always been really big on the quality and the perfectionist aspect of everything, which is why I think that I’m so neurotic about a lot of what I do. But she went out and she bought me the deluxe version of the dress from the Disney Store. And it was this big, sparkly thing. And I’ve always had long brown hair. She put my hair up in the little half-up, half style for me. And it’s actually a funny story because she bought these little plastic heels that came with the dress, and they had Belle’s face on them. And I remember I was like three or four, and I was raving about those heels. I was ready, I was going to wear them, because I mean I was four, I was ready to be a grown woman. So, I was ready to wear my plastic high heels and my mom was like, “Look, we’ll put on the plastic high heels for pictures now, and before we go trick-or-treating, though, we’re going to put sneakers on you.” And I said, “You’re not putting sneakers on me because it’s going to ruin my whole outfit.” And she was like, “You’re not going to walk around in these heels.” And I said, “Yes, I am.” I made it two houses before I was crying because I couldn’t take the shoes anymore. And my mom, bless her heart, she had the sneakers in her purse. So yeah, that was my first costume experience, which I think that that whole, “I’m going to power through, and then throwing a tantrum after 30 minutes,” it’s really true to who I am today (laughs). Yeah.
GNN: Yeah, I’m not a cosplayer…I’ve only dressed up once at a convention and it was as Dale from The Walking Dead. I’ll tell you, I turned to my wife after five hours, and said I was done. I just had enough people come for pictures. It made me feel good. about dressing up, but I’m like, “You know what? I hate this gunk in my beard, and these long pants, and this stupid hat.” I was done. How about you? Have you ever just crapped out on a con?
SJ: Oh my God. I never have, but the first…I think actually the second time that I ever wore McCree I had made all these upgrades to it but they were hastily planned upgrades that I had bought or built or whatever, and I hadn’t thought about the logistics, like “This is how it’s going to be worn on my body.” So, I went and within the first 20 minutes of being there, everything had broken; my chaps were falling off, my armor was snapping, and I had to go get Krazy Glue and I think binder clips to put the rest of it together. But it just threw my mojo off. But I’ve had things break and I’ve been miserable halfway throughout the day, but then spent the rest of the day still there even if I was miserable.
I think the worst experience ever though I was a SuperCon and I did Scarlet Witch and I had a panel and the panel went great and all that, but I spent a lot of time afterward standing and I was in four-inch heels. And I wear heels all the time, but I wear mainly platforms and wedges, and nobody can take wearing four-inch heels and standing in one place for 20 minutes. And so I had just spent so much time standing that by the time I got out of the convention. I have a pet peeve about people who go to parties and take their shoes off. I don’t like it. I don’t like being barefoot. I’m kind of a germaphobe so I don’t like…if you’re going to wear this, wear your shoes or take some flip flops. I don’t need you walking around barefoot. And I walked out of that convention barefoot because I was literally…I was walking through the hall carrying my duffle bag of props and hot tears were welling up in the corners of my eyes because I just couldn’t take it anymore. I wanted to tear the wig off it was so bad. And I didn’t crap out on it. I had it on the whole day, but yeah, yeah.
GNN: Sometimes, I’m amazed at how people can do that stuff. Some of the stuff I’ve seen…
SJ: I’m a glutton for punishment at this point.
GNN: That seems like a quality a lot of cosplayers have! So, were either of those, Scarlet Witch or McCree, were either of those your first con? What was the first con that you went to?
SJ: Oh my God. So my first con I was in middle school and that one honestly I don’t really count it because I mean I was kind of in cosplay, but I was with my mom and I didn’t know anybody and my mom and I basically left thinking, “Cons are a big flea market.” That’s kind of the idea we had when we left because I wasn’t in the scene or really understood what was happening. I would say that my first real con was actually…I think it was Tampa Bay Comic Con. That was where I debuted my first McCree and I was still with my mom, but it was so cool because Overwatch had just come out two or three months before, so I had people asking me for pictures all day. And my mom was super tripped out. She was texting my dad telling him, “Oh my God, people are taking so many pictures of this kid. She’s so excited.” So yeah, I would consider that my first real con experience.
GNN: Did you have a booth or anything or were you just walking around with your mom as an attendee?
SJ: Yeah. That was just me walking around. I only started getting booths at conventions last year and for the most part, little local conventions that I’ve kind of built a relationship with over time. But yeah, no, that was way before I ever had a booth or anything to do with anybody.
GNN: So, on a scale of 1 to 10 with 1 being, “I go to Party City and get a Spider-Man costume and wear it,” to 10, which is, “cosplay is my full-time job,” and I know there are very few people who do, but there are some. Where would you see yourself now and where would you like to be?
SJ: Gee, I don’t think that I would ever make cosplay a full-time job purely because…well, I mean it kind of is for me. I’m a full-time college student, so if I’m not doing homework, I’m figuring out how am I going to do this cosplay or whatever. And I actually make money through my cosplay page, but not for cosplay. I do illustration commissions. So, I’ll post my commissions are open or I just drew this thing or whatever. And because I have a following there, people will be like, “I want this done. I want this done. Can you do this?” And a lot of my clients actually are people who have had five and six things drawn by me already because they just like my style and they get what they want within a reasonable amount of time. But I, honestly, would say that I’m probably at a five or a six. I put a lot of money into this, a shameful amount of money (laughs), to the point that any time I get 50 bucks for anything, it’s burning a hole in my pocket, and I’m like, “What wig can I buy?”
GNN: Time to make a JOANN Fabrics trip!
SJ: I got to go to JOANN Fabrics! I got to go to Michaels. It’s stressful for me to have money because my head is like, “Can we just go buy something? We can go buy something. We can definitely buy something with that.” But I’d love to be at, I don’t know, a seven or an eight where I can say…because I tell myself like, “Oh, these are investments. I just had to buy a flak vest for Boba Fett.” And it was $90 for just the vest. Forget the helmet, which is quality but not even near where these real 501st guys are. I’m trying to do my best. I don’t need to be in the 501st. I don’t want to be. This is just whatever I can do, whatever I can put together. But I spent that much money in the vest, and when I was kind of talking myself through it, and I was like, “Well, this is an investment. We’re going to get a good product, and we’re going to be able to use it.” I’m like, “You don’t make any money off this. What do you mean it’s an investment? It’s not going to return anything (laughs).” So yeah, I get quality stuff and I spend money on it, and I look at them like investments and the fact that maybe somebody would see me as, I don’t know, a female Mando or whatever. It’d be like, “Oh, that’s cool. Can I get you to, I don’t know, come to a convention or whatever (laughs)?” But at this point, this feels like I’m throwing money at a vacuum cleaner and nothing is coming back up.
GNN: It’s funny. I’ve never gone down this road with a cosplay. After you’ve dressed up as someone a few times, you couldn’t sell that? I mean, is there a market for that? I know some people are like, “Oh, if you didn’t make it, you’re not a cosplayer.” So, I mean, I know there’s that group of people…but is there a market for that stuff?
SJ: Oh my God. No. Look, I buy a lot of my stuff. I build the props, and I modify a lot of stuff, but I don’t sew. So Catwoman, Scarlet Witch, Power Girl, a lot of those things I didn’t make. I put them together. My bed is actually covered in armor right now. I have a helmet here…you could say, I didn’t make it, but it’s 3D printed. I sanded it, painted it, finished it myself. I tinted the visor.
GNN: That’s pretty badass.
SJ: Yeah. I’m a disaster right now with this project (laughs). So, sometimes I’m like, “Yeah. I’ll just sell this when I’m done with it.” But for the most part, there really aren’t that many people out there buying used cosplays. And on top of that, if I made it, I wouldn’t want to sell it because I know, if I have a bracer that I made for Mando, it needs to be slipped on delicately and carefully zipped. And just keep hot glue on you because it’s not going to last. I would never sell that to somebody and be like, “Yeah, look, this is $30. Just work with it. And if it breaks (laughs), and it will probably happen, just call me.” That’s awful. I would never impart my problems in crafting and durability on somebody else.
GNN: So, earlier we were talking about cons. Let’s say someone’s sitting at home, and they’re thinking, “I don’t want to cosplay because I’m not…I can’t cosplay as Black Widow because I don’t look like Scarlett Johansson, or…,” something like that. What do you say to people like that? If they’re creative, and they can do that kind of stuff, what do you say that would get them more likely to get out there and do it?
SJ: “Cosplay,” is put together out of the words “costume” and “play.” You put on a costume; you go have a good time regardless of your level or what you look like, your face, whether you think you look like Scarlett Johansson, you’re underweight, you’re overweight, you’re whatever. I mean, I think at the end of the day, this is all about having a good time and feeling good about yourself. If you’re the kind of person…look, I, for a long time, I didn’t feel comfortable wearing Spider-Man suits because I wasn’t comfortable with my body. So, I just wanted to wear armor and not be looked at, and I wanted to be a cowboy and not have anybody figure out like, “Are you shaped like a person?” No, no. I am a bag in a cowboy hat. I don’t need to be looked at right now.
So, if you don’t feel confident, and you don’t feel comfortable, and you’re going to wear a Black Widow suit and you’re not going to feel good about it, you’re not going to like the pictures, you’re not going to enjoy it, don’t force yourself to do that. We need to know where we feel good. It’s not about whether we look good. Forget that. Everybody’s going to have their opinions. Opinions are like ears; we’ve got two of them…I’m not saying the other one!
So, at the end of the day, it’s all about what you want to do and what makes you happy. I mean, I’ve had a lot of people tell me, “You can’t be Power Girl or Black Cat because you don’t have the boobs for it.” Okay, well do you pay my bills? Do you buy my costumes? No? I’m going to wear what I want to wear. At the end of the day, it’s not about looking like anybody. You want to wear the wig and the contacts and all that and get as accurate as you can, sure, go ahead. I wear a wig and contacts and when I do Wonder Woman, for instance, I do a little contour here and there. But I know I don’t look like any of these people, and I don’t feel bad about it. I am me. I am Jay. I am Jay portraying this person. I’m not saying that I’m going to go out and be in the movie, and you’re not going to tell the difference between me and Scarlett Johansson. That’s not my goal here. And if it was, who are you to come and rain on my parade? I’m going to wear what I want to wear, and I think that everybody should do that. Wear what you want to wear, feel good about what you’re wearing, and don’t bother with what anybody else thinks. Because at the end of the day, there’s always going to be somebody to want and come and tear you down.
GNN: And I’ve learned from the cons I’ve gone to that everyone’s pretty friendly. There are always going to be the jerks in any environment…
SJ: There’s always a little high school drama, but yeah.
GNN: Yeah. But for the most part, I’ve seen that it’s a very friendly group. One year, I watched this poor guy dressed as Master Chief and he couldn’t even eat because he was taking a picture with everyone who asked. For a half an hour he’d been trying to get through the line and get something to eat and sit down, and. But, again, he was super friendly. We talked while we ate and it was a pretty cool overall environment. So, for people who are like, “I can dress up with my friends and we can kind of do this,” I think it seems like a pretty friendly, accepting environment with little, minor pockets of a**holes, but compared to society in general, the con society is a lot bigger percentage of nice people.
SJ: Yeah. Yeah. It actually is. I mean, for the most part, it’s really welcoming people and, yeah, there are pockets of a-holes but I think that they know where they stand in relation to everybody else. So, you could walk up to somebody who you don’t think is particularly…I don’t know, their armor isn’t that great built or whatever or they don’t look like what they’re trying to portray. And if you were the a-hole that goes up and says, “Hey, you don’t even look like this person.” You’re going to get rained on by the kind and supportive people that are in the community. So, you’re really the odd man out. For the most part everybody there is supportive; if you break something…I mean, I broke the strap holding my Bucky arm. The forearm is a zipper and then the bicep has a strap that goes under my shirt and holds it in place so that if I do this it doesn’t slip out of the jacket or whatever. And I broke the strap and I literally went up to a booth and I was like, “Do you have a safety pin or something?” I had never met these people and they offered me a safety pin and I was able to fix it. And it’s like you don’t find that kind of kindness out on the street without somebody expecting something in return like, “Hey, my car battery just died.” “Well, what can you do for me?” “Not a damn thing. I’ll call my grandpa. Thank you.”
GNN: Yeah. I’ve definitely had some great interactions with strangers at cons. One person let me jump up in line because I needed to get to a photo op. It was super cool and when I was done I gave them some money and told them lunch was my treat. There are such friendly people there. So, how many cons have you been to? Just ballpark it. 5, 15, 20?
SJ: I would say at least 20, 25 because I go to the same ones over and over. So, I mean, maybe I have six or seven cons a year but I’ve been doing it for like four years and then there’s always little ones or random events that I’ll find that I can go dressed up too. So, yeah. Probably like 25, 30.
GNN: All right. So, someone’s going to cosplay at a con for the first time. They’ve been to cons, but they might not have dressed up. What’s a “do” and a “don’t” that you’ve learned through your 25 cons that someone might not think of? For example, I always tell people to bring cash because some celebs or vendors don’t take credit cards.
SJ: Right. That’s certainly a good one.
GNN: So, how about you? What have you learned?
SJ: I would say a “do,” if you’re going in cosplay, take some kind of emergency kit, whatever that may be to you. Maybe you were wearing something that you bought, so you don’t know or you don’t think it’s going to break. Chances are if you’re having a good enough time, something will (laughs). I know the way these things work. I’ve been literally in the middle of photoshoots and then like, oh, there went the arm or there went the bracer. I know these things. So’ I would take an emergency kit, which usually includes safety pins, duct tape, Loctite glue, that glue is…I swear by it. So definitely those three things, maybe a Sharpie. I usually try and take a Sharpie with me. I write everywhere and I like to draw so I always have a pen or a Sharpie in my purse. But I’ve gone to conventions and haven’t been where somebody could sign something for free. And I have nothing for them to sign and nothing for them to sign with. So even if it’s like a business card or whatever, take an emergency kit with things that could come in handy. I would say that is a “do.” And a “don’t,” let me think. I would say a don’t is do not forget to drink water. Yeah, I’m the kind of person who’ll forget to eat if you don’t bother with me. I’m like a plant. I need to either be fed or reminded that I need to eat. So, if I don’t go to a convention with somebody, with a friend or…at this point I joke around that the people that I go with are like my chaperones because they kind of keep me alive and subsisting over the day. But if I don’t go with somebody, I need to set reminders to drink water or whatever. Because I mean, even if you’re not wearing something super-hot, your body gets worn out. It’s not like you’re going to a movie theater and there’s like a nine-hour movie and you’re going to watch people walk around and you’re just going to sit down comfortably in a nice cold room. This is a convention center; odds are it’s either freezing or super-hot. You’re walking around, you’re probably sweating. If you’re not sweating, you’re at least exerting yourself dealing with people. Forgetting to drink water is the worst thing. I almost passed out on stage the day that I won a judge’s choice award. That’s like the one and the only time I’ve ever won anything. But yeah, I was on stage posing and I was literally blacking out. And I’m like, “Okay, aim the gun. Let’s go. Let’s go sit before we die (laughs).”
GNN: Right. No matter how much it’s air-conditioned on the con floor, I mean, MegaCon in Orlando is a huge space and you’ve got people jammed all in there, it can get warm. It’s easy to get on the verge of passing out if you don’t get food and water.
SJ: Pretty much.
GNN: Okay, best cosplay moment and worst cosplay moment you’ve ever had. What’s your best?
SJ: I honestly would have to say that my best cosplay moment right now, I went to Holiday Matsuri in December last year and The Mandalorian came out in November, so in December, I think they were five or six episodes in. So, they were at the height of baby Yoda, and the Mando obsession. And I had come up with this original concept that I hadn’t told anybody about…the “Mom-Dalorian.” So, I wore a Christmas dress with high boots, so it kind of reminded me…if you would have cropped it…of the attractive moms who you never saw the face of in an old cartoon because she’s super leggy and wears a dress. That’s kind of what I was going for. And I bought a stroller at Goodwill, and I decked it out with Christmas decorations. I sculpted a baby Yoda from hand. And it was the first thing I’d ever sculpted, so I was super hyped about it. And I was swarmed all day. All day. And I had a couple of people come up to me a few times. And I was walking around with my friend Vince who was dressed as Deadpool. And I had people going, “I heard that there was a Mandalorian walking around with Deadpool all day, and I’ve been looking for Deadpool so that I could track down the Mandalorian with the baby Yoda.” And I was like, what? I actually competed in the cosplay contest kind of just as a joke because I just wanted to be on stage. And I get very hammy. I’m a little bit obnoxious when I’m on stage. So, I either get super nervous and I freeze up, but I’ve kind of gotten past that. If I’m getting attention, I just relish in it. So, I went up there, and I had the stroller, and I kind of like that picture of Will Smith and his wife where she’s on the red carpet, and he just does one of these. I did that with baby Yoda in the stroller, and the crowd was erupting. So, I picked him up, and I held him aloft like Simba in The Lion King. It was so obnoxious and stupid. And so that’s honestly, I think, one of my best moments because everybody was so excited, and it was such a dumb concept that I was so happy that everybody thought this nonsense idea was good.
God, the worst…I would say the worst is honestly when my stuff fell apart that one time because I was with my best friend at the time. And he was trying really hard to be supportive. And I was with my dad too because I was 15, I think. No, I was 16 or something. And he was like, “Well, let’s find a Walgreens across the street, and we’ll go get it fixed.” But it’s just everything had fallen apart so badly that I just even when I had sort of fixed it, just the rest of the day, my mojo was down. I didn’t have the kind of charisma that I usually get when I’m in cowboy gear. It was just so sad. That was definitely the worse because it was terrible to have everything fall apart like that.
GNN: Especially after you’ve put the effort and the money into it and then to have a miserable time.
SJ: Yeah, that’s the problem.
GNN: Have you ever met anybody who you’ve been cosplaying as?
SJ: I was dressed as Casual McCree and I met Matt Mercer, who voices him. And Matt Mercer is the kindest, most beautiful, pure person I have ever met in my life. He had a super long line and it was a really bad day and I was one of the first people because I had come back and I literally sat in line for, I think, two and a half hours to meet him. And they were rushing him, they were trying to get him to sign whatever, get whatever people were giving him, and push people out. And he held my hands, he gave me a hug, and he was just so kind. He was so, so sweet that he’s made up for any other bad experience I’ve ever had at a convention because he was so kind.
GNN: When you go to a con, do you dress up the whole time or do you leave a day where you’re like ,”You know what? Today I’m just going to be myself.”?
SJ: No, I dress up the whole time. The whole time. I’m one of those people, I never stay at the host hotel or whatever, because they’re just too expensive. I can’t afford $170, $200, $250 a night hotel room to stay on the property or whatever, so if I go to MegaCon or whatever, I’m staying like a 15-, 20-minute drive away. So, I’m not going to be like these people who will wake up and be one character AM to noon and then noon to three and then three to seven, and then at night, I’m going to change. No. You get one all day (laughs)! If you find me in this, congrats. Tomorrow I’m something else. You’ll never see this again. Do not ask me to change. I’m not doing it (laughs).
GNN: I think we’re getting the “snarky” side of Snarky Jay right now!
SJ: It doesn’t take much. But yeah.
GNN: So, yeah, on the topic of walking back and forth to the con…my buddy and I are a little older and we are so proud of ourselves when we last a full day at a con. I don’t know if you have this feeling…you’ve done everything, you’ve been amped up, you’ve been standing on your feet, but once you sit down everything just, poof, starts to ache.
SJ: Yeah. I’ve gone to conventions and regardless of how long…I actually went to MegaCon with my dad and I ended up leaving kind of early. I didn’t feel well. So, I ended up kind of bitching about it. But I’m the kind of person like, now I got to cons by myself. So, I’m leaving the con, I pack up and stuff. I’m driving, I’m jamming. I love being in my car. I love driving. So, I’m jamming, I feel good. I had a good day at the con. I talk to people and stuff. So, I’ll get home and my dad will be like, “Hey, do you want to order some food? Or do you want to go out to eat?” My dad love to go to restaurants and stuff. And I’ll be like, “No, dude. Let’s go grab some food. Let’s go to the restaurant.” He’s like, “Are you sure? You’ve been at the con for 12 hours and you wake up at 7:00 AM to do your makeup or whatever.” I’m like, “I am good. Let’s go.” And I’ve literally gotten changed and gotten to the restaurant and then I’m like one of those cranky tired people. So, I don’t like to be every tired anywhere to that point because I know myself. I would hate to be in a professional environment and put myself in a situation where I’m going to be that tired. Because I know myself. I would hate to be in a professional environment and put myself in a situation where I’m going to be that tired because I know that I’m just not going to be any fun. And so, literally, 20 minutes into dinner I’m like, “I need a nap. Just bring me my appetizer. I want to go home.”
GNN: It can be brutal. I’ve probably attended 15 conventions at an average of two days each. That’s about 30 days of conning. I would say I’ve probably done a full day three times. And you said you’ve done a full day in high heels…I can’t even imagine.
SJ: No, it’s the worst and I’m kind of flat-footed. So, any shoes just become intolerable after a couple of hours. And I mean, I’ll do it. I mean, I’ve worn Winter Soldier in July. And it’s one of those things that’s totally gross but I don’t really care. I’ve cleaned it since, but it’s one of those things where I’m wearing these really dense airsoft pads, combat boots. I have a Nirvana shirt that I had since sixth grade and it’s my favorite shirt of all time and I wear only that shirt. I don’t know it’s just…for me, it’s my good luck charm.
So, I have that shirt. And the arm strapped to my chest really tight to hold it in place, the jacket, the sleeve under the arm, the forearm, the glove, the fingerless glove. And on the other hand, I usually have to carry– I carry the M4, I’ve got a holster, I’ve got a thigh holster, I’ve got a belt, a harness. I made myself a harness and the unfortunate thing is that I made the harness wearing a tank top and I wear it over a leather jacket. So, to pull me into it you have to…it’s almost like you’re starting a lawnmower. Just really tug it back and then jam me into it. And the mask, I made the mask and I wore it in July. I had to do a shoot outside. I shot outside and it’s the kind of thing where your body just wants you to stop what you’re doing so badly. I mean, I was sweating so much and it was one of those things where now you have to go back inside this cold convention center because Florida Supercon in the areas that weren’t crowded with people was freezing. So now you’re sweaty and now you can sit in this really cold convention center with nowhere for your sweat to go and you can just sit there and stew and be freezing and was the worst.
GNN: I don’t even dress up, but I always bring a couple of extra shirts…sometimes, if you park far from the convention center, in Florida, in spring or summer, you’re already sweating before you even get to the con…
SJ: I realize it’s almost better to just Uber if your hotel is 5, 10 minutes away and you don’t mind spending eight bucks just to get dropped off. It’s almost better because at that point if you don’t want to go dinner after and if you want to take a shower and then go to dinner and you have friends that you’re going to go eat with, it’s honestly a better deal because to pay $25 to park and even in the free parking lots you’re so far away and then you get there and it’s like do I even want to be here? I want a snack and I want to lay down. I don’t want to walk.
GNN: Now that you mention it, three or four people in an Uber, is cheaper to split than $15 or $20 to park. You’re right, Uber will get you closer and your car’s not a mile away from the convention center. So, there’s a tip for the readers. Now, let’s move on to the cosplay community…in general, is it still pretty friendly? You say you’ve been doing it for years; have you seen any change?
SJ: I would honestly say that, yeah, for the most part, people are still just as friendly. I have reached out with a lot of stupid questions to a lot of people, a lot of different things. Like, “Hey, how many pouches are on Empire Strikes Back Boba Fett’s belt because I know Return of the Jedi has eight and I can’t tell. And instead of telling me, “you’re an idiot, go watch the movie, I’m an expert,” they’ll be like, “Yeah, there’s this many” which goes to show you how much attention I pay. But, yeah, for the most, it’s honestly just such a case-by-case basis. I mean, as I said, you have people who will above and beyond. One of my friends, Joey, any time I reach out with a question, he’s totally willing to draw out something or show me how he would do it, and he’s done it on more than one occasion. He’s a saint. He’s nowhere near here. I think he’s from Washington state or wherever, and he’s always been nothing be nice to me. And I’ve messaged other people and have been like, “Hey, how do you attach this?” And they’re like, “Yeah, no, I don’t discuss that.”
SJ: Yeah, I’ll ask “Hey, where did you get that wig?” “Oh, it’s a secret.” “All right, Houdini. You know what? I’m just going to figure it out when your tag is sticking out later.”
GNN: It seems like there are people like that all over. At work, there are those people that won’t teach you anything because they’re afraid they won’t be the expert anymore.
SJ: If you don’t want to reveal, for instance, if you have a great method for making foam look like metal or something like that and you feel that that’s yours and you don’t want to teach other people to do it, that’s your business. Not all of us are here to teach and help people out. You don’t want to help somebody out, that’s fine. But if it’s something as simple as, “where did you get that wig?” You didn’t make it, and if you styled it, I could go out and buy the same wig and it’s still not going to be as good because I don’t know how to style a wig. It’s going to look different. So, what is it to you? I mean, at the end of the day, be who you want to be, but I’ll find a way. I would be like you just emboldened me.
GNN: And for the people who want to get into cosplay, you can find 90% of the stuff you need to know on the internet, right? Whether it’s a video or a person you can contact, or a…
SJ: Yeah, okay. I’m 20, I’m turning 20 next month but I hate technology and my dad hates it so I’m the kind of person that instead of looking something up, I’ll just cut foam until I run out and I’ve made 87 mistakes. But, oh, measure twice, cut once. Yeah, I measure zero times; I cut 87 times, and then have to make another trip to Michaels. I like to live my life that way. But YouTube has everything. YouTube has wigs, and how to style this, and do you want to do your eyelashes magnetic or not magnetic, do you want to build this? I mean KamuiCosplay has a great channel for foam building. Evil Ted has a great channel. But you can find just about everything. And on Instagram, too. I’m the kind of person that if I want to cosplay something I’ll look up in the hashtags. Hashtag this cosplay or whatever. And I’ll look at how they did it. And I message people. I’ll message complete strangers and be like, “This looks so great. What paint did you use? Or how did you do this”? And for the most part, I’ll get answers. I answer any question I get like that. Side note, there are also really good forums on Facebook and stuff. I know Facebook is for old people now. Nobody uses it but I’m still on there.
GNN: How dare you, madam? How dare you?
SJ: I’ve been told I should delete my Facebook because it’s for old people. I’m still on there. I like a lot of movie-related articles and science. So that’s where I get that. But I’m in a dented helmet forum for Boba Fett builders. And I’m in two forums for Mandalorian stuff. And any question you ask you get answered like immediately because it’s thousands of people building the same thing and they’re willing to help. So, definitely anything you need to know is out there.
GNN: All right. Let’s just say right now I mail you a blank check to design any cosplay you want. And don’t say you’re going to spend it on $10,000 worth of foam that you’re going to cut up because you’re too stubborn to go on the Internet. What’s your dream cosplay?
SJ: That’s a tough one because it used to be Winter Solder and then I did that. And then it was Wonder Woman and I did that. Right now I’m working on Boba Fett, so I’m not going to say that that’s a dream that I want because I’m doing it. I honestly would love to put together a really cool female Iron Man type thing. That would make me so happy. Not female Iron Man with boob plates cut out. I mean if you want to do that that’s your business. I don’t like it. But I want a real female Iron man like the Mark 43 or something. But just sculpted more to my body with LEDs and stuff like that. If I could do that or better yet get somebody to do it for me and then just hand it off I would be super happy. I’ve always thought Iron Man was cool. I’m more of a…I’ve changed my mind on the whole Team Cap versus Team Iron Man over the years. But I’ve always been into Cap and all that, but I have such huge respect for Iron Man. And I love the armor, and the look, and the red, gold, and the obnoxious swagger. So, that would be super cool for me. I would definitely want to do that.
GNN: You know, now that you say that, for all the gender-bending costumes I’ve seen: female Loki, female Thor, female Joker, female Deadpool…I’ve never seen unless it was someone wearing just an Iron Man suit and I couldn’t tell it was a woman, I have never seen a gender-bending Iron Man before.
SJ: No, I haven’t either. I haven’t either. I would love to see one. I would love to be one but I’m not doing that to myself. I can’t even dream. I’m definitely not doing that.
GNN: So, when it comes to cons, you’re a pretty woman and you dress up…I’ve seen guys at these cons really get too close and personal because of a way someone’s dressed. Have you ever had an experience where people have got a little too…
SJ: Literally, all the time. Unfortunately, for people, I think I look a lot friendlier than I am and I won’t tolerate it. I’m not the kind of person who’d be all sensitive about things, but I’m not afraid to tell you to let the door hit you where mother nature split you. I’m definitely not afraid. So, I’ve had people when I’ve been Catwoman ask me to whip them and I don’t like that because most of the time…I mean I’ll play around for a picture. I’ve had Tony Stark/Iron Man cosplayers want to do poses with me when I’m Winter Soldier, where he had me put him up against the wall and be like tearing his arc reactor out, and that’s fun. But when you’re asking me to put the whip around your neck and you’re looking at me like that, it’s not what I want, and it’s not what I’m here for. And I thought that it was only with characters like Catwoman and Scarlet Witch for instance, but I did Ashe from Overwatch at a convention a while back and I had this guy who I could tell had no idea what I was cosplaying. Because you can just tell somebody knows what you are and wants a picture because they like the character or when somebody just thinks you look cool or when somebody just thinks you look good and they want a photo with you. And this guy comes over and he takes a picture with me. And immediately afterward, he’s like, “Oh, can I take you home with me?” It’s like, “What are you talking about? Do you talk to normal people on the street like this?” This is not what I’m here for. If you want to make a joke about the character or whatever, that’s your business, but what you’re doing is disrespecting me and being really crude and making me feel kind of unsafe in a place where I felt good a minute ago. I also get a lot of weird DMs and comments and, “Can I see your sandals?” or things like that. But yeah, I’ve had a couple of weird experiences. I got some Michael Myers that wanted to follow me around the convention right behind you. It’s like, “Can you back off of me? I don’t know what you’re doing…”.
GNN: So, anyone who’s reading…no creepiness! We only have a few questions left. This one is a question I ask everyone because this is on Geek News Network. Right now, especially with the quarantine and everything, what are you geeking out on right now? Music, movies, books, comics, video games. What are you geeking out on?
SJ: Oh, boy. Wow. I think everybody in the world has seen The Mandalorian already. But they have this series now on how they produced it. It’s an eight-episode series. They just released the eighth one. And it’s all about how they made the show. And I think a lot of people were in it for the costume aspect of it. And I wanted to see how they made costumes. But I guess, they don’t want to reveal their secrets or whatever. That’s okay. I’ll figure them out anyway. But it’s so cool because they really get into how they did the practical effects. And this thing that they shot in that they call the Volume, and it’s like this huge screen, basically, around, and then they would use probably all these images on. I mean, it’s fascinating. It’s a super, super cool show. And there’s one episode that’s just the cast talking about it. The eight one, they mentioned Boba Fett a few times and I love him. So that was cool for me. That’s definitely worth watching right now. That stuff is something that I enjoy.
GNN: Playing any games?
SJ: Oh my God. Actually, I’m replaying Assassin’s Creed: The Ezio Collection. Yeah, that’s actually what I’m doing right now because I had spent a year doing nothing but playing NASCAR Heat 3 and Red Dead Redemption 2. So, I was like, “It’s time to go back to the renaissance and finer times and just assassinate people.”
GNN: Okay. Last question. This is going to be my new one, especially for cosplayers. Let’s say you are applying for your, “nerd card.” Obviously, cosplaying is number one. What would you say your other two biggest nerd accomplishments that would go on your nerd card?
SJ: Oh, boy. That’s tough. That’s really hard because I did so much stuff that’s just embarrassingly nerdy. I would say that one of the other things I know I’m embarrassed about is that I actually carry a business card for the Boba Fett Fan Club in my wallet (laughs)!
GNN: Well, that automatically gets you the nerd card! You don’t need a third thing!
SJ: I had gotten one years ago from a guy in the 501st. He’s really great on Instagram and I have been following him. He sent me a sticker of this for free with a business card. And then I found that they had an Instagram and I lost that wallet forever ago, and so I actually messaged them and I was like, “Oh my God. I used to carry your business card in my wallet.” They were like, “You want more?” So, they sent me like five in the mail and I just love the Boba Fett Fan Club so much (laughs). I have five of them just on my TV stand and I have one in my wallet behind my business card and my driver’s license! Yeah. Honestly, I think that that is the most embarrassing thing about me. And then, yeah, I guess if I had to pick one more I would say the fact that I actually know the entire script for several movies that I like, by heart. I know every line of The Winter Soldier, every line of The Crow. I’ve played Red Dead Redemption four times, from start to finish, and have never not cried at the end (laughs).
GNN: Well, we’re at the last question: where can people find you online?
GNN: Okay. That’s great. Thank you for your time!
SJ: Yeah, my pleasure.
GNN: Have a snarky day!
SJ: You too, man (laughs).