- 17th Century: Subjects of the late Ming Dynasty begin to don wardrobes inspired by characters in popular fiction.
- 1939: Forrest J. Ackerman, the granddaddy of all sci-fi aficionados, wears what he calls a “futuristicostume” at the 1st World Science Fiction Convention. Ackerman is one of two people who appear in nontraditional garb.
- 1984: The word cosplay originates in Los Angeles during that year’s World Science Fiction Convention when Nobuyuki Takahashi combines the Japanese kosu (“costume”) with pure (“play”). コスプレ,, if you’ve ever wanted to write it
- 1998: The opening of various cosplay restaurants (Kosupure-kei inshokuten) in Tokyo. Culver City, California, follows suit, as do additional eateries in Davis, New York and Detroit, the Big Apple’s Maid Café being the only US cosplay restaurant still open.
- 2015: Britain’s Channel 4 airs the reality show WTF is Cosplay? Need we say more…
Extreme Body Cosplay
The brother in the Grimms’ “Brother and Sister” transforms into a fawn after drinking from a brook enchanted by his evil stepmother. For fans who like their transformations a little less permanent and a lot less evil, cosplaying is the pastime of choice. From celebrities to genre staples (the anime-r the better!), options are as much about individuality as they are community.
For some people, costumes and makeup aren’t enough. They seek a more radical modification. TLC’s My Strange Addiction presented a man heavily invested—upwards of $175,000—in becoming Madonna. E! Television’s Botched gave insight into another man’s quest to embody a living Ken doll.
How far are people willing to alter their appearance? Henry Damon of Venezuela had his eyeballs tattooed black, forehead implants, part of his nose cut off and other procedures done so that he could resemble the Red Skull from Marvel Comics.
Indelibility will never be the same.
- In 2008 Japan’s cosplay industry profited to the tune of 35 billion yen.
- The San Diego Comic-Con International (the apex of cosplay gatherings) saw 130,000+ in attendance last year; up 129,700 from the event’s beginnings in 1970.
- Cosplayers of note include Jay Maynard, aka “Tron Guy,” Jessica Nigri (famous for her re-creation of Lollipop Chainsaw’s Juliet Starling), and journalist/model Ginny McQueen, or “g-chan” as she’s known on the convention circuit.
- Should you find yourself competing in next year’s World Cosplay Summit, remember it’s up to 10 points for Costume, ditto Performance. A perfect score in the Faithfulness category nets an additional 5 points. Earn a top award and you could be the next Yummy Gamorah or Bereniç Serrano Vidal.
This fairy-tale file brought to you by editorial assistant Richard Leis and poetry editor Jon Riccio.