October 31, 2020

BY JOY STRUTHERS

The Holiday Inn in Guelph looked ordinary from the front of the building on Feb. 4, and if you didn’t know about the convention, seeing costumed characters standing outside the back door would have been a surprise.

A man standing at the doors videotaping the characters from Judge Dredd walking down the path toward him made it feel almost like being on the set of a movie.

Many people in costume as well as families and workers were in attendance at Genrecon, either talking in the front lobby of the hotel, taking part in panels, playing games or checking out the many vendors.

Batman and Wonder Woman were casually conversing with people, taking a break from crime-fighting. Darth Vader, Princess Leia, stormtroopers, Boba Fett and even droids made an appearance.

A full-size remote-controlled R2-D2 beeped and moved and played the song the Cantina Band played in Star Wars.|

For many people cosplay is a big part of their life. To them it is more than just a hobby.

Some are members of groups such as the 501st Legion, Vader’s Fist. They are volunteers who promote interest in Star Wars by going to events and conventions and doing charity work.

Some cosplayers dress individually and can be inspired from different types of media. Genrecon itself has four cornerstones – literature, gaming, film and music.

Angie Poirier, the social media co-ordinator for the event, is involved in cosplay and fashion design herself. She explained that some cosplayers are invited to events as guests.

“They come in based on a schedule so they are expected to appear and be social … The other cosplayers and people you see milling around are people in attendance who come in and have paid,” she said.

Awards are available to all in costume at conventions and some people perform in what is called a masquerade.

Poirier believes people dress up in different ways for different reasons. She thinks it really depends on what they are interested in.

“Cosplay in general allows a person to personify their favourite character or honour them in some way. It also allows people to have a chance to be something they may not be. It is inclusive and allows anyone, no matter why they dress up, to be able to be whatever they want,” she said.

Katerina Primeau cosplays under the name Monkeybrow and is a first-year student in fashion and design at Fanshawe College. It was cosplay that inspired her to go into the program.

“My normal everyday life is really intertwined with my hobby of cosplay,” said Primeau.

She loves becoming different characters and creating costumes.

“I definitely do certain characters,” she said. “I actually find I go against my personality. I do a lot of serious-type characters.”

She dressed as Zen, from the mobile game Mystic Messenger, for this event. Zen is a male character in the game.

Primeau feels she has grown and become more confident through cosplay.

“It really has helped me get out of my bubble and I have met so many new people. I wouldn’t even be here if it wasn’t for cosplay,” she said.

Another cosplayer who has found confidence is Dianne Da Rosa, or Lady Di as she is known to the community.

“In real life I’m a very anxious, awkward kind of anti-confrontational person, but I like to do the big, bad-ass kind of characters, like Khal Drogo. I’ve do
ne Iron Man stuff, and it really helps my self-confidence and my anxiety,” said De Rosa.

De Rosa works in a fabric store and creates her own costumes to suit her body type. She likes to change the gender of characters and mix things up.

“Crossplay is when you change your gender to be the gender of that character,” she explained. “Gender bending is when you change the character’s gender to be your gender. That’s something I’m more comfortable with.”

She dressed as an Ewok for Genrecon and put her own twist on the costume, making it feminine and comfortable.

“Something I have learned being a seamstress is making things work for you,” she said.

She likes to keep some things accurate, especially when switching a character’s gender and keeps the essence of the character.

Accuracy is important to many cosplayers. Some groups, like the Ontario Ghostbusters, create their own costumes and gear.

Brily Lepine and Cameron Shaver were at the event representing their group. They had a large stand-up poster on display of the antagonist from Ghostbusters II, Vigo the Carpathian, a spirit that lived on in a portrait. They also had a blow-up version of Slimer and replicas of the Ghostbusters’ equipment. They had shirts and toys, books and buttons and other items that covered their table.

“We do sell things but it’s all for charity,” said Shaver. “We support the Canadian Women’s Foundation and Street Cats, which is a no-kill animal shelter.”

The Ghostbusters are part of the cosplay community but consider themselves to be more of an attraction.

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