Cosplayer Spotlight #18 Cupcake Cosplay

By Rizwan Merchant

Vivaldi and Alice from Heart no Kuni no Alice Photography by
Vivaldi and Alice from Heart no Kuni no Alice
Photography by

Hello everyone! I recently had the chance to interview Cupcake Cosplay, composed of cosplayers Breathlessaire and Starlighthoney. These two ladies won the USA Finals of the World Cosplay Summit in 2013 and represented our country in the International Finals at Japan last summer, and came back with the Brother Industries LTD sponsored award, along with Second Place overall! Below is the interview.

When did you start Cosplaying?
B – I started cosplaying in early 2006 with several of my friends from school. We had previously attended several conventions including Katsucon, Otakon, and Anime USA the year before and I was amazed by the amount of attendees and even more amazed by the people who were dressing up as some of my favorite anime characters.

S – I technically started cosplaying when I was very little. I have always been in love with Sailor Moon and have dreamed of making her princess gown, so I would take white dresses and put the gold circles around the bodice to try and replicate her outfit. As an adult I didn’t really get into cosplay until 2007 after attending a few conventions and meeting some amazing new friends, including Cassy (Breathlessaire).

What got you into Cosplaying?
B – Since I was little my mother would make me a flower fairy costume every year so I have always loved to dress up, so after I started going to conventions I immediately fell in love with the idea that it was okay to dress up as my favorite characters. I have also learned over the years that I love to sew and it is one hobby that frustrates me, but it also relaxes me and makes me feel proud of myself and what I have been able to accomplish.

S – When I was little I was taught how to sew dresses for dolls and I took those simple skills and used them towards creating new and amazing costumes that I can be proud of. Also my love for Sailor Moon and CLAMP has made me want to keep sewing and learning more new and interesting skills since this hobby is always evolving.

What is your favorite Cosplay that you’ve made (or worn)?
B – Some of my favorite costumes to make and wear are all of our original designed faeries. Because they don’t have an actual reference to go by we are able to do whatever we want with them and they are always so colorful and bright that it just makes you feel happy to be in them.

S – Besides our abundance of Disney costumes I absolutely love our Dexter and Dee Dee from Dexter’s Laboratory. They are extremely comfortable to wear and they bring back such happy memories of childhood and all of the cartoons we used to watch.

Sailor Moon and Chibiusa from Sailor Moon Photography by LJinto
Sailor Moon and Chibiusa from Sailor Moon
Photography by LJinto

How do you determine what characters you Cosplay?
B – In the beginning we chose characters and series that we had a great interest in. Sometimes the characters we chose never really fit together so even though we were cosplaying together it felt like we actually weren’t. It hasn’t been until the last few years that we have also paid more attention to detail like how the characters actually interact and how much we can embody them. It’s not a bad thing since we have cut down on the amount of costumes we have made and worn and we are much happier to take more time on combined outfits that we will be happy together with.

Why do you enjoy Cosplaying?
S – It’s really a hard feeling to express. It’s a lot of joy and pride, but with those emotions also comes frustration and bloody fingers. After choosing characters and costumes we start making a costume which can be a lot of fun as well as a mixture of tears, blood, and frustration, but at the end of the day we have a finished outfit that we can be proud of, and to share that with others who have gone through the same emotions is an awesome feeling.

Do you have any dream costumes you want to make or wear?
B – My dream costume was Hinoto from X/1999 and I was able to make her back in 2011. There are still many other outfits I wish to make, but that was one that I had a special place for.

S – Princess Serenity from Sailor Moon. Since 2007 I have made many versions of the same dress and was never happy with it until this past year. Just the amount of detail and the structure of the dress make me extremely happy.

Out of all of your costumes, which was the hardest to fabricate?
B – Morgan le Fay from Ah My Goddess. Everything about this outfit was frustrating since all of the materials were ones that I had never worked with before. First was making a bodysuit that only had lines down the sides and not the front because of how exposed certain areas of the suit are. Then all of the black designs were made out of dragonskin which took about 4 different tries before we were happy with it. Attaching it the suit was a humorous experience since the only thing that glues dragonskin to another item is more dragonskin. So I got to sit around in the suit for a long time while Tiff glued the pieces into place. And of course there were also the wings, which was the first time we put lights throughout part of a costume.

S – Kanoe from X/1999. For World Cosplay Summit 2010 we chose to do Hinoto and Kanoe artbook images since they had more appeal and design to them compared to their base outfits. However, Kanoe is usually naked or almost naked in all of her images, so this meant figuring out ways to make the dress appear as if it was disintegrating off of my body, while still making me feel comfortable in it. There was a lot of back and forth between materials and construction before the final one was made. This was also an interesting costume because her arms were half transformed into wings, but because we would be performing in these costumes I had to figure out a way to make them look nice, but still have full mobility.

Heartcatch Precure  Photographer Unknown
Heartcatch Precure
Photographer Unknown

What are some Cosplays you are currently working on?
S – We have a few Disney costumes in the making, but otherwise we do not have any solid plans yet.

Which costume are you most looking forward to wearing in the future?
S – Any and all of the Disney ones since we have a lot of fun in them and we are both huge Disney fans.

Do you think you will ever retire from Cosplaying?
B – This is a hard one because when we first started cosplay referred mainly to people who made costumes based off of only anime and video games, but now it is being used when referring to comics as well as movies. So the lines between costuming and cosplay are kinda blurred, but I don’t think we will ever stop making some form of costumes no matter how old we get. Kinda like how you used to always go to your grandmother to make you a costume when you were little.

Have you ever considered wearing costumes outside of conventions, for your day-to-day life?
B – No. We have done some photo events that were in more public areas and not just a closed set and those were awkward enough to describe to anyone that asked, so wearing a costume for day to day life is a no.

Do you tend to fabricate/make your own costumes or buy them?
S – All of the costumes that we have worn are made by either myself or Cassy.

In the World of Cosplaying

Belldandy & Morgana from Ah My Goddess!
Belldandy & Morgana from Ah My Goddess!

What experiences in your life have changed the way you Cosplay?
S – Not much has really changed how we cosplay since we entered this hobby as a hobby and not as a career. Of course, things like new jobs or regular life events affects if you are going to make a costume or go to a certain convention, but that is all normal. We made sure that we have balanced our cosplay with having fun and enjoying our lives.

What kind of reactions do you receive for any alterations and reinventions of character designs and attire?
B – We get a wide mixture of reactions to our costumes. Most is good, but with everything that is good there is also some bad and constructive criticism. Everyone has their own opinions on how an outfit should be made or how a character should look so when we make an alternation to a costume or design it is for ourselves and not for someone else. We hope that poeple like how we portray a character or costume.

How do you react to the attention your cosplays generate?
S – Most of the time we are both really stunned by the attention we get for our costumes. We both think that we are just two normal girls who love to dress up as characters for fun and love meeting new people and making friends.

What are some of your favorite moments while cosplaying?
S – We have had so many amazing moments that it is hard to nail it down to just a few. We were chosen as Team USA 2013, where we represented the United States against 20 other countries in Nagoya, Japan and won both second place as well as the Brother award. We also, of course, met each other through cosplay. We have hundreds of amazing cosutmes for ourselves and others that we love to wear.

Do you participate or have you participated in any cosplay contests (Convention, online, etc)?
B – Back in 2009 through 2011 we competed in either masquerade skits or craftsmanship competitions at almost every single convention we attended. Otherwise we really haven’t entered any type of contest of competition. Our final one was World Cosplay Summit which we took four years trying for and finally got it in 2013 as Team USA.

Dexter and Deedee from Dexter's Laboratory
Dexter and Deedee from Dexter’s Laboratory

Have you won any awards for your cosplay? If so, what kind and/or where did you win them?
B – When we competed at conventions from 2009 to 2011 we won an award at a large majority of the masquerades and craftsmanship competitions including Best in Show, Best performance,  and Best craftsmanship.

What was the first event/convention you went to?
B – The first convention I attended was Otakon 2005 and that was with a lot of my friends from school and we did the normal convention thing where you cram too many people into one room, eat lots of McDonalds and ramen, stay out late sitting around the convention, walking through the rave area until the smell hits you, going to panels, and going to the masquerade as the big thing on Saturday evening. I did not cosplay at this point in time, but still had an amazing time.

S  – My first convention was Katsucon 2007 and I went with my brother and a few of our friends. It was a weekend full of all Sailor Moon cosplay and making lots of new friends who also loved Sailor Moon and dressing up. It was like a secret hobby.

What is your stance on handmade vs store-bought cosplay?
B – Personally I feel more proud of a handmade costume, but to each their own, and as long as you are having fun it shouldn’t make a difference.

How do you feel about those who get into character while cosplaying? Do you get into character as well?
B – It can be very entertaining to watch, but as long as it is controlled and you don’t let it overtake who you are. One of my favorite in-character moments was at Anime Matsuri 2013. There were these two men dressed as Mario and Luigi and a third man carrying a backpack boombox thing. The backpack was actually a Wii that was somehow playing the game and both Mario and Luigi had controllers, so when they were walking around it would be playing the game music and when they paused for a picture they paused the game. It was just a little nerd fun.

S – We really don’t get into character as in going around acting like them in real life, but we do have interactions with other people dressed as corresponding characters and we just play and make jokes with each other like friendly banter based on the characters themselves, but we always try to stay who we are.

Is there anyone you’ve always wanted to meet and have a photoshoot with?
B – When we first started, the big photographers that you would see at conventions all across the nation were Lionel and Eurobeat King, Al, and I would hear people talking about them and I would always look at their pictures every time a convention happened just to see what other people had cosplayed. But then we became friends with them and learned they are just as nerdy as us.

World Cosplay Summit

Aureum and Lily Faeries Photograph Joseph Lin
Aureum and Lily Faeries
Photograph Joseph Lin

What inspired you to compete in the World Cosplay Summit?
S – I think it was Katsucon 2008. We were watching the masquerade and they were announcing the judges. One of them was Renee, who goes by umister, who was introduced as one of the members of Team USA for the World Cosplay Summit. So of course once I got home I googled what it was and became very interested in it. So in 2008 we decided that would enter the competition and see what would happen. And since then we just kept trying until we made it in 2013.

How did you select your cosplay and skit for competition?
B – We both really love Alice in Wonderland and believe it to be a very universal story that can translate pretty easily across different countries. And because of that it made it easier to chose the Red Queen and Alice. We didn’t previously think of this idea until we were introduced to Alice in the Country of Hearts. We really wanted to incorporate a costume change, and thankfully Alice has multiple outfits with similar build that we could construct over one another.

What kind of preparation did you have to go through before competing in each step of the contest (regionals, nationals, finals)?
S – This was the first year that preliminaries were held before a final round. The preliminaries were at multiple different conventions across the United States and the winners would be given a spot and paid trip to the finals location. We chose to do the preliminary at Anime Matsuri in Texas, which was also the host of the finals competition. Craftsmanship judging was held on the Friday and then Sunday morning was the preliminary and shorty followed by the finals. So we had only about half an hour between our preliminary and final performance. And then it was over. All of the nerves were gone and we could take a big sigh of relief and just let it go and cried with joy.

Miaka and Nuriko from Fushigi Yuugi
Miaka and Nuriko from Fushigi Yuugi

How was it meeting cosplayers from all over the nation and world?
B – Everyone was amazing! We were all just so happy to be there and to meet other people from around the world that any barriers we had with language and culture were a lot easier to overcome since we all were willing to work with each other. Nobody was mean or upset about anything. It was a wonderful and refreshing experience.

What was the most difficult part of your experience for the World Cosplay Summit?
S – On the US side it was coming up with a skit and costumes that would put us through to the finals in Japan so there was a lot of stress and patience needed for that, while once we got to Japan we were there to have fun and represent the US as much and as best as we could. But mainly in Japan it was getting used to the heat that we experience, especially in costumes. The AC in Japan is not as strong as it is in the United States and all of the events were held outside so the heat got to you even more.

How does it feel to have represented the United States in the World Cosplay Summit and brought back an award?
S – It’s such and honor to have gone and represented the country, and to have brought back the awards that we won makes us feel proud of ourselves. It’s kinda like bringing back a medal from the Olympics of cosplay.

If you could redo the entire experience, what would you do differently and the same?
B – I wouldn’t change anything.

What would you say to any prospective cosplayers looking to compete next time?
S – Make sure that you are doing something that you love and that you will be proud of. This is all about having fun and meeting new and amazing people. When it comes to craftsmanship or performance just put your all into it.

Where will you go from here in the World of Cosplay?
B – Because we are no longer focusing on only World Cosplay Summit we can step back a little and do more fun and entertaining things like Dexter and Dee Dee as well as more vacations to Disney World!

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