Cosplayer and game master Kimi is better known as the Golden Lasso Girl, which ought to tell you that she’s a full on geek. She absolutely loves Wonder Woman, not just as an arse-kicking superhero but as an icon of feminine empowerment. Naturally, Kimi’s enthusiasm for cosplay has led her to attending many conventions in various iterations of a Wonder Woman costume, but also for creating a YouTube channel for which Kimi records tutorials for cosplay and crafting. Kimi’s skill is such that one of her cosplay designs for a “bombshell” version of Big Barda was adopted by DC Comics as Barda’s official outfit in their Bombshells comic!
On to of that, Kimi loves tabletop roleplaying games, so much so that not only has she assumed the role of game master for her friends, she’s also become co-host of the Happy Jack’s RPG Podcast. This show features a crew of gamers getting together to answer listeners’ questions and have an enthusiastic chat about RPGs over a few bevvies. (Yes, that’s alcoholic.)
Kimi and I have a great chat about her interest in metalworking, getting into cosplay by wanting to show the professionals how to make a Wonder Woman costume, being one of the cool teachers at school, the joys and struggles of game mastering, sharing your hobby loves in podcasts and how-to videos and the wisdom of deciding not to monetise your passions.
Professional prop-maker Steven Meissner owns and operates SoloRoboto Industries as a full-time business. He makes custom and replica props, weapons, and accessories for cosplayers and collectors, and has occasionally made trophies for other companies, as well as worked on projects for the odd TV commercial.
Steven and I have a great chat about discovering that other people will pay you to make cosplay costumes for them, running the maths on your passion business, teaching yourself your craft with the help of a community, and what it means to live in a city that no one grew up in and where everyone’s pursuing a dream.
Cosplayer and YouTube show host Feisty Cuffs has been in love with the cosplay community since her very first convention. She enjoys the creative process of constructing her own costumes and props, and picks her next cosplay projects based on whether she can learn a new technique or skill.
Feisty loves attending conventions as a cosplayer, panellist and cosplay judge, and connecting with like-minded geeks. You may even recognise her as one of the hosts and of the Kapow! Comic Book Show on YouTube.
Feisty and I have a great chat about being that friend you invite to a fancy dress party, a love of European comic books, meeting those crazy people you just click with, the awesomeness of being asked to host a cosplay competition at the Rooster Teeth Expo and her favourite comic book character of all time!
Keep listening after the chat wraps for a retrospective on the first 100 episodes of The Paid to Play Podcast!
Geek event organiser and cosplayer Bernie Bregman is the man to thank for making events that aren’t just geek-friendly but outright geek-celebratory! Bernie Bregman is one of the best contest/masquerade hosts on the US cosplay circuit with over a decade of experience and several elite-level shows under his belt. Through his company Nerds Like Us, Bernie has organised midnight movie screenings, convention after-parties, meet-and-greets and even a network of nerd nightclubs!
Bernie and I have a great chat about making a career out of getting geeks together, from his introduction to geeking out and cosplay via The Rocky Horror Picture Show through first business venture organising a screening of Repo: The Genetic Opera! to the day-to-day ins-and-outs of running a geek culture event entertainment business.
All-around geek entertainer Bernadette Bentley is a lifelong performer who never let others crush her enthusiasm. She may be best known for cosplaying Xena: Warrior Princess at conventions around California and the States, but Bernadette is passionately pursuing her dream of enriching lives with entertainment.
Bernadette’s nature refuses to let her focus on one thing at a time, which has led her to act on stage and screen, in voice over and web shows. She’s hosted geek events and cosplay conventions. She co-founded Le Geek So Chic, a traveling fashion show that highlights the cream of geek clothing design. Her newest venture is Bernadazzled, a company that allows Bernadette to indulge her love of rhinestoning by creating glamorous fashion items and bringing a little extra sparkle to the world!
We have a great chat about the external pressure from well-meaning folks to not just settle down and get a real job but also to focus on One Thing, the power of lists, the epic experience that was both her first convention AND her first cosplay as Xena, meeting Lucy Lawless, working with a community of fantastic fellow creatives and enthusiasts, moving on when people act against you and helping an animal rescue charity take care of their dogs!
Featured photo from Bernadette Bentley’s website; taken by Estrada Photography
Full-time multi-talent geek Jen Page is a wonderful example of what can happen when we connect the little dynamo of energy inside us to the things we love to do. She juggles a full-time job managing Microsoft’s community of casual gamers with acting in indie films and web series, modelling her own fantasy fashion creations and making mermaid tails on commission!
Jen and I have a great chat about the life of someone who has gone all-in on every aspect of herself. We touch on how being a navy brat helped Jen overcome shyness, how stage work is not her thing, her secret desire to be a freelance thief for tabletop roleplaying game groups and just how she manages to make time for all her interests and a day job that doesn’t stick to a set nine-to-five!
Thanks to my guest for Episode 71, Tonja Davis, for getting me in touch with Jen!
Cosplayer Twerkin Gherkin has been very busy for the past few years. Not only is she a mainstay of the Australian East Coast scene, becoming an invited guest cosplayer to regional conventions, but she was also the first employee of Brisbane-based children’s party entertainment firm, Ever After Parties, where she enjoys bringing smiles to children’s faces, especially at charity events.
Twerkin and I get to have a great chat about her love of comic book villain / anti-hero Harley Quinn, knowing your audience and what you really want from your working life, the weird feeling of not being weird enough and the changes within the cosplay community over the last few years – not to mention fending off a dog invasion!
It’s interesting how things tuned out: The recording order of my chat with Sharna, owner and operator of and performer in Ever After Parties, comes out twelve months after she started the company!
Ever After Parties specialises in making make-believe a little more real by bringing beloved characters from animated movies to children’s parties. It’s cosplay in one of its purer forms; it’s no coincidence that Sharna was a cosplayer before she got into performing at kids’ parties.
We chat about Sharna’s love of anime and Disney, going from a princess party company employee to staring her own company at just sixteen years of age (while still at high school) and the support you can get from the most unlikely quarters as long as you stand by your paid play!
Evey Dantès’ skill as a cosplayer has got her to the place that many cosplayers wish they were at: Being paid to cosplay. Evey has tried her hand at several ways of earning money from her craft, from commission shoots to children’s parties. Nowadays, Evey not only sells prints at conventions, she is also sponsored by an online video game store, a clothing label and a dentist!
I’ve been meaning to get this cosplayer on the show since before Tropicon, and I’m proud to have her episode up a day before Evey’s next appearance at Sugar City Con in Mackay! But keep listening for Evey’s next venture – helping to organise a geek convention in her own neck of the woods, south of Sydney!
Major Sam is one of the better known cosplayers on the Australian scene. Although it’s partly because she makes sure to attend at least five of the Supanova pop culture expos held across the country each year, Sam still wouldn’t have the reputation she has if she wasn’t such an exceptional craftsperson!
Though Sam’s day job in the bridal industry employs her seamstress and milliner skills, becoming a full time cosplayer is still Sam’s dream, and she’s taking steps toward her goal, selling prints of her cosplays through her online store! Not only that, but she’s also garnered the attention of Australian geek female fashion label Living Dead Clothing, for whom she models!
It was great to chat with Sam about her love of cosplay, geekdom in general and discovering where your true joys lie, even within the hobby you love!