By Ashta Nightrayne


Avatar Aang from Avatar: the Last Airbender Photo by Starrfall Photography

Avatar Aang from Avatar: the Last Airbender
Photo by Starrfall Photography

Introductions

Tell us a little about yourself.
The name is Dat and I’m in Atlanta, Georgia, sucking every drop out of life like a starving leech and having fun while I can.

Cosplaying

When did you start Cosplaying?
My slow tunneling into this amazing rabbit hole started at Anime Weekend Atlanta 2012. Not a single bone in my body regrets it but instead all are begging for more like crack.

What got you into cosplaying?
My friend and I talked about it for a while but we decided to take the jump at AWA and had a blast. The environment was nothing short of magical with friendly people having a common interest and seeing characters you watched on shows coming to life. Having fun and making new friends are good enough reasons to cosplay.
What is your favorite cosplay you’ve made(or that you’ve done)?
Since I just started recently I don’t have that many to pick from but I would have to pick Avatar State Aang. He’s a prime example of all my cosplay themes: creativity and thinking outside the box with my battle damaged theme. I didn’t just tear up the clothes but burnt them in certain ways to recreate Firelord Ozai’s damage to Aang’s clothes.

How do you determine what to Cosplay as in characters?
Plain and simple, badass characters that I grew up on or are currently watching. My constant attempts to justify their rawness by changing my body through strict diet/workout and make up sadly don’t always work.

Do you enjoy cosplaying?
The real question is what’s there not to like? Sure there are problems and dramas just like any community but bringing a character to life while having a blast is a great trade off with the hours of working and head scratching over putting a costume together.

Do you have any Dream Costumes you want to make or do?
I have far too many, haha. One of these days I will make Raiden from Metal Gear Rising out of aluminum, the giant samurai from Sucker Punch, and Alucard with black dogs out of my chest with LEDs for eyes from Hellsing.

02 dat manly cosplay - kanda yuu

Kanda Yuu from D. Gray Man
Photography by Orz_Phtgrphy

Out of all your costumes, which was the hardest to Fabricate?
What I’m currently working on, Devil Jin from Tekken 6. I’m making his wings fully functional, opening and closing, with a push of a button through robotic mechanisms. It’s been hours of head scratching to design a frame for the wings that’s strong enough to support the linear actuators yet light enough to carry around.

What are some cosplays you are currently working on?
I’m working on Vega and Evil Ryu for Dragon Con 2013, which is right around the corner. In the back of my mind I’m also dealing with dead Portgas D. Ace(One Piece) and Devil Jin for AWA 2013.

Which costume are you looking forward to wearing in the future the most?
Hopefully Vega will be on the list. Since I had LASIK, wearing contacts for my other cosplays is painful with my milled down cornea. He will also have less make up and paint to deal with. But the main reason is that he’s narcissistic psychopath! A fun character to be, hands down, because it’s an opportunity to be something I’m not.

Do you think you will ever retire from Cosplaying?
Life will take over soon enough and I might slow down when I concentrate on opening my business but I will never completely retire. I plan to turn my family into a cosplaying family. I will make my potential wife sign a written agreement so she can’t back out down the road.

Have you ever considered wearing costumes outside of conventions for daily wear?
As fun as that might be, I can’t afford to deal with the police and jail time. A small Asian boy like me is bad news in prison; they will pass me around and use me as currency!

Do you fabricate/make your own costumes or buy them?
Yes and no, I modify certain items like pants from thrift stores to help me save time. Before, I wished I could just buy everything but as I moved along I wanted to make everything and develop the knowledge through trials and errors. This hobby is an artistic expression; trying/making your own costume is more gratifying when you do those epic poses.

 

In the World of Cosplaying:

Roronoa Zoro from One Piece  Photography by Ken AD Photography

Roronoa Zoro from One Piece
Photography by Ken AD Photography

How do your personal views (religious, political, life style) affect your cosplays?

I don’t want my religious and political views to influence my cosplay. It’s a completely different world and this is about having fun, not trying to create more stress haha. My fitness lifestyle has taken a change for the better. I’m really into taking care of my body through working out and being active. To make my characters more realistic I pushed myself even more with the workout and strict diet. I’m nowhere near their levels because most have ridiculous steroid bodies. Cosplay changed my lifestyle for the better, not worse.

What kind of reactions do you receive for your alterations and reinventions of character designs and attire?
I make an impression for sure; hopefully it’s for the better. It’s something new from the other cosplays that you see for that character. It’s a similar concept to gender-bending cosplay, how you can do something new and let your creativity run wild.

 

How do you react to the attention your cosplays generate?
I love it because people appreciate and recognize what I’m trying to do. Hopefully it inspires someone to start cosplaying because I want them to experience the pure joy of this hobby.


Have you ever felt uncomfortable in cosplay?
My only discomforts are the contact lenses haha. People are too nice to me for me to have any.


What are some of your favorite moments cosplaying?

My favorite moment was at AWA 2012 when a little boy cosplayed Aang as well took my picture and treated me like a celebrity. We crossed paths many times during the con and each time his parents had to drag him away because he wanted to pose with me.


Do you or have you participate in any contests? (Convention, online, etc)
I did at AWA 2012 and MomoCon 2013 as well as regional online contest on Southern Cospitality Facebook Page.

04 dat manly cosplay battle damaged vega

Battle Damaged Vega from Street Fighter
Photography by Double Stomp Productions

Have you won any awards if so what or which?
Unfortunately no at both AWA and Momocon. They wanted to give me an award for best make up but there’s no such thing. I just wanted to have fun and show people my interpretations of the characters on stage; winning is a cherry on top, a fat juicy cherry! I only won Southern Cospitality State Division(June) for Georgia and currently on their Summer Showcase with my Aang.

What was the first event/convention you went to?
Anime Weekend Atlanta 2012.

What is your standing on Handmade vs Store bought cosplay?
I don’t have anything against them; this hobby is about having fun. Making your own things always look and fit better; most of the time, cheaper as well. Don’t enter a contest and lie about making your costume, that’s a big no-no in my book.

How do you feel about those who get into character in cosplay? Do you get in Character as well?
I think it’s a must because you finally can be that person you like. I try to get into character but sometimes I lose focus and get caught up in having fun and forget to be badass haha.

Is there anyone you always wanted to meet and have a photoshoot with?
I want to meet and photoshoot with all the people that support my page or my work in general. As for cosplayers, I really want to meet Shinrajunkie and Elffi Cosplay. I don’t want to put down him on the list because I will shoot with him at AWA 2013, but Shawn Tuffy. That guy and his craftsmanship are too legit to quit!

Personal Experiences:

Can you share a few tips for beginners from your experience?
Plan your cosplay and the workloads in small achievable increments so you don’t get overloaded toward the end. Don’t worry what others think, if you want to be a certain character, do it! I don’t care about the size, skin color, height, or sex; the whole point is having fun.

05 day manly cosplay evil ryu

Evil Ryu from Street Fighter
Photography by Double Stomp Productions

What are the positives and negatives of Cosplaying in your opinion?
The positives are obvious: new friends and fun times. I don’t like to think about the negatives because there’s no point. Sure it’s a waste of time and money to some but if you enjoy what you do, why listen to others?

How do you deal with negative and positive feedback on your costumes?
I love feedback because I’m new to this game and there’s always room for improvement. When people are being negative I just laugh because deep down I know they’re jellier than…crap, I’m running out of clever jokes. But in all seriousness, I still listen to them because it might help me amp up my game. The reality is that no matter what you do there will always someone trying to bring you down.

Any words of wisdom for aspiring Cosplayers?
If you’re having fun then do not quit. Regardless of any negativity coming your way because usually they’re people you don’t know and will probably never see again. Don’t hold anything to heart but do listen to help improve your skills. I have a lot of improving to do.

Outside of Cosplaying:

Do you have any hobbies other then Cosplaying?
Before I started cosplaying my main hobbies were staying fit and motorsport. I’m building an antique race car to break records in a few months at a standing mile high speed run. I plan to take all my cosplay friends and photographers for a ride and record their reactions into a clip.

Do you have any helpers (pets) that often ‘help’?
Since my dog can’t stay where I live, he’s living with my parents and loving it. I only have dust mites helping me with my messy room when I’m working on a cosplay.

06 dat manly cosplay Kazuya Mishima

Kazuya Mishima from Tekken
Photography by Starrfall Photography

Is there anything you do outside of Cosplaying that give you ideas of what to do for a costume?
Beside games, anime, and movies, building my race car helps a lot with Devil Jin’s wings.  With that knowledge I engineered and welded the frame for his wings.

Final Words to the Readers:

Cosplayers are amazing people to meet and have fun with. Our community is slowly getting attentions from many sources; don’t let it be ruined with childish behaviors. Respect others and their hard works and I’m sure they will return the favor. All of us are in it for one reason -  having fun.

 

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