Happy Friday heroes! We have a new cosplay cafe with none other than Trickssi Cosplay. As always let us know what you think and I’ll catch you later.
1. What were you like growing up? What were some of the things that you were into as a child/teenager?
I was a quiet, bookish kid until 5th grade or so when I started doing theatre (aka, my cosplay gateway drug: I loved playing dress-up). From there, I wrote, drew, danced, sang, acted, and filled my time with a lot of mostly-artsy activities. My interest in video games began around age 7 with Super Mario RPG and I’ve had an interest in Japanese culture ever since Pokemon hit the States.
2. Did those things influence who you are today?
My family growing up was a pretty broken one, so I turned to fictional characters for comfort. I can honestly say I don’t know where I’d be today if I hadn’t started writing Team Rocket fanfiction. Those pockets of fandom where I was allowed to explore what I was thinking and feeling without judgment absolutely raised me.
3. For those who do not know, Trickssi is into dancing and wants to bring that to anime conventions. What caused you to bring these two things together?
An important point before I continue: conventions have been hosting formal balls where partner dance was encouraged long before I began to get involved! I don’t know who actually began the tradition (if you’re out there, I want to meet you!), but I do know that every ballroom dancer I’ve met at an anime convention’s formal ball has been wonderful, and I’d like to bring that community together a little more.
I’ve been a dancer since age 3—longer than I’ve been watching anime or playing video games—so it’s a part of me that manifests no matter what my environment is. Starting around when I found out conventions were a thing, I noticed that some events hosted formal balls. Having recently become a ballroom dancer at the time, it struck me as an opportunity to practice and feel more at home at conventions. I went to my first formal dance at a convention, I wanna say a year later? My good friend went with me, and we expected to be able to do at least some Smooth/Standard dances because we knew people’s conceptions of formal dances often means slow music. However, it ended up being almost back-to-back Viennese Waltzes in between undanceable songs. The dance floor was flooded with people standing and swaying, and it made attempting Viennese exhausting and dangerous. It was that night that I vowed I would change things someday. Less than a decade later and I’m proud to say that I now teach for, host, and DJ that very same formal ball!
There’s another reason ballroom dancing exists at anime conventions. Have you heard of the film “Shall We Dance?” No, not the one with Jennifer Lopez and Richard Gere. The REAL “Shall We Dance?”, the original, was Japanese, and it told the story of a man learning ballroom dance through the cultural lens of Japan. The original inspired the remake, which in turn inspired “Strictly Come Dancing” and “Dancing with the Stars.” And now, there’s a manga/anime dedicated to competitive ballroom dance: “Welcome to the Ballroom.” (However, I highly recommend checking out Seshiji o Pin! as an alternative that’s more respectful to followers and women in general; it’s a more feel-good high school club manga.) Ballroom and Japanese culture might seem poorly suited for each other, but their combination is both interesting and educational! I’ve given multiple panels encompassing these topics, the summaries of which can be found here: https://trickssi.com/panels.php
So it’s related to my background, it’s related to Japanese culture, but why do I perpetuate ballroom dance at anime conventions? For one, partner dance can be a way to get moderate exercise at a convention. For attendees who want to get off their feet after watching hours of content or shuffling through the dealer’s hall, it’s a great way to get that circulation going. Also, it helps people understand respect for themselves and others, which is something that I think our community needs. Often, the people who enjoy anime or gaming are self-proclaimed “socially awkward” or don’t get enough interaction with others because of the nature of our hobbies. Social dancing can help people who want to meet new friends but don’t know how, or want to get out more but don’t have an excuse.
Finally, a personal mission: when I went to that first formal ball, it seemed like everyone was in a romantic couple, and I was there with a friend who, like me, expected us to be able to dance with other people for fun and to learn something new. It was almost impossible. A “prom” culture of “meeting prince/princess/royal” charming has popped up around these formal balls, and it bums me out! Formal dances through history used to be a place to go and socialize and maybe gossip as you switch partners. It seems like now, most people have a conception of formals that isn’t true or helpful. I want everyone attending my formals to know that it’s 100% okay not to have a partner—I didn’t have a steady dance partner, romantic or otherwise, for my entire competitive ballroom career, and I turned out okay! And because traditional dance roles are man = leader, woman = follower, I want to emphasize that gender roles are historical artifacts on my dance floor, and anyone, regardless of how they identify, is allowed to learn and dance any part they wish. If one person who attends my events feels a little more welcome, or curious to learn dancing outside of the con, I’ve done my job in making this community a little kinder and safer.
4. What went into making your Velvet cosplay? It looks like an interesting build.
I actually did a pretty extensive writeup for Patreon a little bit ago! Here’s a link to that. https://trickssi.com/writeup-velvet.php / wig here https://trickssi.com/writeup-velvetwig.php. I also want to link to the reasons why I chose to cosplay Velvet in particular, as my cosplay always has a context. http://cosplayer-ssn.org/articles/04.18.17.php
5. Is there a convention you would like to attend as a guest one day?
The most important thing for me is that the convention has an A+ harassment policy. Before I enter into agreements with any convention, I want to make it clear that my attendance is based on how willing they are to work with me to improve their policy. Other than that, the sky’s the limit! I’d love for a con as big as Otakon to invite me to guest—not specifically for cosplay, but for the other services I provide, which includes hosting, DJing, and teaching dance for formal balls; giving panels that draw attention to harassment and how we can heal our community; and collaborating with Uplift. For those who want to discuss my booking terms and services, the page to start is https://trickssi.com/booking.php. If you want me to be a guest at a con you attend, check the con’s website and use their method of requesting. Even if you want me to just host their formal, I need your help to contact them to get that conversation started!
6. Off topic question, favorite food?
Gotta go with spaghetti!
7. What is one thing you’ve learned about yourself thanks to cosplay?
If it weren’t for cosplay, I wouldn’t have discovered that my purpose in life is to help people who have experienced sexual assault and/or lesser harassment. Cosplay helped me find a voice for characters whose narratives didn’t do their experiences justice, which led to my developing a voice for others who can’t or don’t wish to speak up for themselves. I’m really grateful to the friends I met along the way who shape my cosplay experience and encourage me to be the best version of myself, no matter what I’m wearing.
8. Patreon! What are some things fans can find on that platform compared to your other social media accounts?
Excellent question! Starting at the $1 tier, I unveil costume writeups for various characters that I’ve made over 50% of the costume for a month before we make them live on my website. $2 earns you the right to make a song dedication at one of my formal balls, where I put it up on the screen. At $3, I reveal playlists for convention formal balls where I’m DJing a week in advance, and give regular updates on my cosplay, dance, panels, and advocacy in the community. $5 gets you postcards every three months featuring different favorite cosplays. The most exciting tier I have right now is the $10 tier, where my patrons get to suggest, vote on, and get exclusive personalized photos of a closet cosplay. I call it the Closet Cosplay Challenge, and it’s new every month! See all other options here: https://www.patreon.com/trickssi
I additionally have a Ko-Fi for those who are unable to provide consistent support. It’s also where I note progress for specific projects’ budgets. https://ko-fi.com/trickssi
9. What is one thing you feel the cosplay community as a whole needs to improve on?
We have so many issues that choosing one seems irresponsible, but my number one of that list is definitely to improve codes of conduct and harassment policy at conventions. As it stands, there is NO standardization for a code of conduct between conventions of all kinds, both in the U.S. and elsewhere. That leaves conventions up to their own devices, which usually equates to putting up “cosplay is not consent” signs and not having the consequences for offenders or resources for targets that should be in place. Not to mention, while I always consider myself a cosplayer, some of the worst harassment I’ve gotten was when I wasn’t in cosplay at a convention. As of right now, and until people start coming forward and helping me out, I haven’t been to a single convention where I haven’t overheard or been told by someone at the convention that a “weird thing” happened, or outright harassment or assault. It happens everywhere. It happens at every convention. It happens to anyone. But we’re separated from the people who it doesn’t happen to, and the general public who doesn’t understand we can’t just “wear something else.”
Cosplayers, it’s your duty to speak up to conventions and tell them their policies aren’t enough. Find their email addresses and feedback forms. Attend their closing ceremonies if you can. Even and especially if you didn’t have an incident happen at that particular con, tell the convention that they need to do better. As it stands, there is only one convention meeting the standards of the report card we built through CSSN. One. Out of 178 that we checked in North America. That’s a rate of less than 1%.
Cosplay guests and people with a large following ALSO have a responsibility to negotiate with conventions who host them. Don’t agree to a contract unless and until it includes a comprehensive code of conduct with harassment policy. Your power can create change and we all need you to speak up for us and with us.
A runner up I can’t not mention is representation for black/ plus-size / LGBT/ otherwise marginalized cosplayers—especially because they face additional harassment just for being who they are.
10. Can you hint at any cosplays you’re working on?
I rarely hide my to-do list from my followers and friends, so yes! Next up is Rabura Chichibu from Kotaro Uchikoshi’s PUNCHLINE!, plus a couple of alternate outfits for Velvet. Beyond that, maybe Judith from Vesperia? Maybe Seres from Berseria? I have mostly Tales Of on my horizon! I’m always open to suggestions, though, especially if you’re up for cosplaying with me in some capacity. I have a form at https://trickssi.com/suggest.php.
11. What conventions can people find you at this year or next year if you’re that far ahead.
Matsuricon is my next one, then Colossalcon East. I’ll be teaching dance lessons and hosting/DJing the formal ball at both of those conventions. Youmacon will be my last this year. Looking ahead to next year, my list so far is MAGFest, Ohayocon, Aseliacon*, Tekko, Fanimecon, and Maple Gel Con.
12. Final question, anything you want to say to your fans?
I want to make it very clear to fans, followers, and friends that it’s easier than you think to become a bully in this community. (I wrote an article about my experiences here: http://cosplayer-ssn.org/articles/05.25.18a.php) Ask yourself the following whenever you want to make a post: Is it kind? Is it necessary? Is it true? Lastly, keep in mind that people don’t buy what you do, they buy why you do it. Thank you for being amazing supporters of my work and what I stand for.
Social Media Links
Above are Trickssi official social media links. Be sure to give her a follow, she’s an amazing person advocating for conventions to be better and I truly believe she can do it. Comeback next week, well be discussing Trickssi CosplayER Survivor Support Network. Until next time, I’m still XBen3000 and I’m out!