- Firstly, welcome to Invision Game Community, we’re really glad you wanted to do this little interview with us. To start with, why don’t you introduce yourself to our readers?
Thank you so much for having me! Where to begin…? Well, my name is Rogue, yes, actually. I graduated from the University of Toronto with an HBA specializing in theatre with a minor in English. During this time I focused on costume design and also studied stage combat for several years at Rapier Wit Fight Studio. Currently, I am studying to become an American Sign Language to English Interpreter. I am also a certified First Mate on eleven different ships in Toronto’s harbour. I’ve been a performer my whole life and I act, model, and cosplay whenever I get the chance. Additionally I am a regular contributor and writer on the website Geek X Girls. (www.geekxgirls.com)
- Now we recently interviewed your good friend Mistress Zelda and one of the questions we asked her was about how she got into cosplaying. So what was it that got you into this scene, a favourite game or comic book perhaps?
Unlike Mistress Zelda I was rather ignorant of the whole cosplay community growing up. I was always a performer, when I was eleven years old I read my first Shakespearean play; Julius Caesar and for the school talent show I dressed up as Marc Antony and did my best at his soliloquy over Caesar’s dead body. As I got older I took any opportunity to perform, play a part or wear a costume. I’ve always had a chest or five full of different costume pieces all my life, but it wasn’t until about 2010 or so that I started to learn about the cosplay community.
Really what got me into the scene was my friend Genna who opened my eyes to the community. I didn’t know that there was a whole other world of people like myself that never grew out of the idea of playing dress up. Even when I first got in to the world, I was ignorant of the whole online community. Being able to play with other like-minded individuals who share similar passions and hobbies has been the most wonderful experience! Particularly having the online community as well, it means i don’t have to wait for a specified event to share something I am working on.
- This may be a tricky one to answer as I’m sure you’ve cosplayed as a lot of different characters by now, but can you remember the first cosplay you ever did?
Haha, actually this is not tricky at all. My first real cosplay was the Jim Lee version of Rogue from the X-Men. Growing up I absolutely loved the 90’s X-Men cartoon, and not only because it’s my namesake, but I always identified with Rogue for a number of reasons. The Jim Lee version of Rogue was the first costume I ever really made, and I did it while I was in high school long before I knew of the cosplay community. Since then, it’s probably the cosplay I’ve worn the most, albeit upgraded versions. To date I’ve remade the costume three times. I’ve done numerous Rogue suits (it is part of my bucket list to make all of her suits) and concepts, but the Jim Lee entity will always have a close place in my heart.
- And following that last question, how does your very first cosplay compare to the ones you do today, for example; does more effort and passion go into your more recent outfits and have your crafting skills improved?
I would definitely say my crafting skills have been improving, though slowly. I do not have as much time to put into cosplay as I would like between work and school. As for effort, it really depends on the cosplay. Sometimes I enjoy simplicity in cosplay, other times it can also be a budget concern. I think people forget how expensive this hobby can be. That said, as my skills improve I’m able to push myself further in different areas and try more complicated projects. This winter I’m looking at getting into worbla and armour, an avenue I’ve had limited experience with to date. Lastly, in regards to passion – it’s the whole reason I cosplay. I’ve been passionate about every cosplay and every character. Really, the only times I find ‘more’ passion is when I am able to share in the story telling with others. I really enjoy cosplay in sets and groups, and can usually be seen with my regular cohorts Don’t Panic Cosplay (www.fb.com/dontpaniccosplay) and Cajun Cosplay (www.fb.com/to.gambit) .
- I suppose it’d be silly of me not to ask this as well; out of all your cosplay outfits, which one would you say is your favourite? Personally I like your Belle one from Beauty and the Beast, mainly because I am a big Disney fan.
Why thank you! I really do love the Belle cosplay, the dress was actually a Solstice gift from the afore mentioned Don’t Panic cosplay. As a child I watched that movie on repeat with my father for years, and to be honest I probably have more paraphernalia related to BATB than to any other genre/series. It has always been my life long dream to become Belle, and having Cajun cosplay as my Beast made it absolutely perfect. All this being said, there is also a special spot in my heart for my first Daenerys Targaryen cosplay. The first outfit of hers I put together was the Dothraki kit she wears with Drogo and of course a dragon egg. I first came to Game of Thrones as a television show and as such I won’t read the books until it is over. At the time, I was so inspired by Daenerys and her strength of character. When I first debuted the outfit the sheer number of people that told me “you look exactly like Emila Clarke” was just so flattering. (Of course now I’m livid with her, but alas another rant about dragons for another time)
- Moving on, you’ve won a few awards for your cosplaying efforts with one of your latest ones being awarded by Geek Inked Magazine at Fan Expo 2014. What is it like winning these awards and knowing the appreciation people have for the work you do?
I think winning anything is very exciting. The Geek Inked Magazine award from Fan Expo was particularly thrilling because I had no idea. It was rather serendipitous actually as we were unable to enter Beauty and the Beast into the Fan Expo tihs year due to extenuating circumstances and I was a little sad about that. Also, while awards are wonderful, comments of appreciation are valued just as high. It is very fulfilling to know that there are people who not only apprecaite my work but are inspired by it. Knowing that people appreciate my work is what keeps me going in times of struggle. I think for anyone, in any field we can have moments of weakness and doubt. It doesn’t help that the increasing popularity of cosplay also increases competitiveness between some individuals, and of course the possibility of trolls online. When you are putting yourself out there, both in person and on the internet, it is nice to know that your efforts are valued.
- Another of your achievements happened back in July 2014, which of course was when you reached 5000 likes on your Facebook page. How much did this milestone mean to you?
Believe it or not I think this might be the trickier question for me. On one hand I don’t want to downplay the respect and appreciation I have for every single follower on my page. They are wonderful and their support means the world to me. However, at the same time, “likes” are not the central purpose for my page. It’s a place for me to share my work with the world and if it can inspire or matter to just one person, truly, that is enough.
- On a more serious note, another question that I put toward your friend Mistress Zelda was about the sexiness of cosplay and how some feminists argue it is good for women helping them find empowerment, while others believe you’re all being objectified by men as sex objects. Where do you stand on this argument?
For this, I turn to the beautiful Dita Von Tease for I think she addressed it best in a conversation regarding her burlesque performances and it is directly applicable to the cosplay world:
“you can’t decide for someone what is degrading or empowering, because some people could look at my show and say ‘oh that’s so degrading to women,’ but then you’re thinking ‘how is that degrading to women when there’s all the women who are supporting it and they’re getting inspiration from it and they’re happy to see a different version of sensuality?’” –Interview with HuffPost
Personally, I’ve recieved flack for some of the body paint cosplays I’ve done like Sheik and Anck Su Namun. Some people get really upset because I am “naked”. I even ended up writing an article for Geek Girls on the experience, titled “Are You Naked?”. Personally, I feel that a body paint like my Sheik from Zelda, is far less naked than most swimwear you see at a public beach.
As with any art form, and cosplay IS an artform, I think people have to understand that everyone has different tastes and expectations. Some people enjoy that kind of attention and others do not. I firmly believe that cosplay is for everyone and whatever kind of cosplay you want to make or wear is entirely up to you. Sometimes those people who ‘abhor’ the highly sexualized cosplays are the same people sharing those images to their page. Regardless of whether or not it is to rave or rant about the photo, you are perpetuating it. I think we have to, as Ghandi said, be the change we want to see in the world. We all need to spend less time focus on tearing others down, and more time building and supporting what we love.
- In relation to that, being in the limelight so much at Conventions and Expo’s you probably attract a lot of male attention. How do you deal with this? Do you have to carry round pepper spray in your bag to fight them off, or do you tend to find these fans harmless?
Well, pepper spray is illegal here in Canada lol, so no I don’t do that. To be honest though I’ve been very fortunate in the fact that I’ve never really had an issue in person. I find when you are genuine and kind, people generally act to you in a similar way. Conventions are where us socially awkward people tend to congregate, so I try to be patient and just make sure my boundaries are clear. As I mentioned earlier I also tend to cosplay with my friends so generally I’m never at an event alone. Most of the unwanted attention or rude comments I receive come from the online world.
- Anyway I’m sure there is much more to your life than cosplay, so why don’t you tell us about some of your other passions in life?
At the moment my life is consumed by school. The AEIP (ASL-English Interpreting Program) I am in is hugely difficult and very cognitively demanding. I am trying to learn a whole language and how to interpret in just four short years. I’m also a big proponent of volunteer and charity work. Often times I try to incorporate cosplay into it. In fact, Don’t Panic Cosplay and I started Northern Panic (www.fb.com/NorthernPanic) a non-profit organization where we support various organizations in our area. Most recently we hosted a treasure hunt game at Unplugged Expo on behalf of SKETCH(www.Sketch.ca). For any donation people could open a treasure chest and win prizes and we put together a little video you can find below
You can also see our 2 Broke Girls themed fundrasier from Toronto ComiCon 2014 Below
In addition to hosting charity events at conventions we also set up events in the area like our Cosplay City Clean Up where Don’t Panic led a team in London, ON and I led one in Toronto, ON to see who could collect the most garbage and clean up their park better. In my downtime I spend a lot of time in my Shenron Kigurumi snuggling my three cats; mama-cat Guen and her twins, Morrigan and Salem.
- Finally, for newcomers and beginners of cosplay. What advice would you offer with regards to getting involved in cosplaying and what can you say that may help ease the fears of those who may feel like they may be judged if their outfits don’t look as good as some more seasoned cosplayers?
My biggest piece of advice would be, “Don’t get discouraged!” everyone starts somewhere. The rule is 10,000 hours to be a master at something, and quite frankly when it comes to cosplay, making the costume itself is not everything. It is also about your design, it’s about how you play the character, it’s about pushing yourself and sharing your passion and your story to the world. Some people will be jerks, it’s sad and it breaks my heart to say, but it’s true. Don’t let these people be the loudest voice in your head. It’s hard work, and you can do it, if you really want to. Ultimately at the end of the day we are all just kids playing dress up. Surround yourself with positive people who support you, make use of youtube tutorials, tumblr guides and walkthroughs and at the end of the day know that you are a beautiful and unique snowflake – just like everybody else! 😉
Northern Belle Cosplay – Rogue Benjamin
Actor. Model. Combat. Cosplay. Charity Events.
- Facebook: http://www.facebook.com/NorthernBelleRogue
- Youtube: http://www.youtube.com/NorthernBelleRogue
- Website: http://www.northernbellerogue.com
- MM: http://www.modelmayhem.com/northernbellerogue