Monday, January 20, 2014

giving advice

People are always looking for advice from others. People have even, on the rare occasion, asked me for advice. I cannot say that this is the best idea but they do. And being asked, I feel obliged to give advice. Below are some of the nuggets of wisdom I have passed out.

When in doubt, spit. Aim for their face when you do it since that has more meaning.

Ice cream solves 65% of your problems. "Terminator 2" solves the other 35%.

Lions and tigers and bears (oh my) need love too so make sure you hug them today. Give them a nice, big hug and squeeze real tight.

Never bring a knife to a gunfight.

Whenever someone questions you, slap them. Slap them hard. If they don't immediately bow to your wisdom, slap them again. Slap them until the police get involved and then slap the cop(s).

Watch more TV. Quit your job if you have to.

Dropping your pants to your ankles is always the best way to say hello.

Tell your boss that they are not the boss of you.

Always carry a ladle with you since you never know when someone is going to ask (loudly) "Does anyone have a ladle with them?" You will become the hero you were always meant to be that day.

People have asked me if this advice is good and I say "Of course it is. It came from me and I would never lead you astray."

Thursday, January 9, 2014

an interview with DJ Spider

DJ Spider is a fixture at several conventions on the East Coast. I was able to meet her at Dragon*Con where she wears some of the best costumes (especially since I am a long time DC Comics fan and recognize some of the outfits she wears). She also spends time working as a DJ for some of the parties at conventions as well. The Superhero Costuming Forum is another place one can find her as she is one of the administrators of that site. The SCF is where cosplayers can go and discuss many different things with like minded individuals.

How are you doing?

I’m just fine, thank you for asking!

Who is DJ Spider and why did you choose the name Spider?

While my first passion will always be comics, I started out as a radio DJ in college. This eventually moved into club gigs and the like, so being a DJ was how most people know me. Costuming and cosplay (costume play) didn’t start until about 10 years ago or so. “Spider” was a nickname I picked up in high school because of my height (in flat feet I’m currently 5’13’’) and “Daddy Long Legs” was just too long to say. So DJ Spider has been my nickname for more than half my life.

What kind of music do you tend to spin?
80s, 90s, dance, ebm, electro-swing, goth, industrial and synthpop, plus whatever else comes along :) After DJing for over 20 years, I'm able to handle just about any genre that comes my way LOL.
How and when did you get involved with costuming?
I love Halloween (who doesn't?) and love playing dress up and creating costumes, but I stuck to mostly mainstream things because I didn't know anyone who would get the more obscure characters that I liked. Then, about 10 years ago, I went to my first big convention – DragonCon in Atlanta. I remember walking through the hotels and clutching my boyfriend's hand and whispering “Oh my god, I have found my people!” I had no idea that there was a place for me to wear all of the crazy comic book costumes I wanted to, the ones I thought no one would know. It's all been downhill since then!
What brought you into costuming?
I think it was a love of Halloween for starters, but it's a great creative outlet for me. I love the challenge of translating a 2D image on paper into something living and breathing. I love learning a new technique or refashioning some odd bit of scrap into a prop or accessory.
What was your first costume?
My first "official" costumes (as in I made them specifically for a convention) were the classic Dazzler suit and Jem from “Jem and the Holograms.” I look back now and cringe a little, but I'm still pretty proud of them.
What have been your favorite costumes to wear?
Such a hard question! They're all favorites in one way or another! I love wearing any of my Dazzler costumes because she was my first hero. Wonder Woman is great with the kids, and their reactions are so amazing. But anything that makes someone smile or react is awesome for me.

What have been your favorite costumes to date?

Another tough question :) I think Hela stands out because of the challenge of creating the headpiece. Dream Queen was another game of structure, balance and hair and, in both costumes, I was able to loom and be evil...any gal's idea of a fun Saturday night, right?

How do you decide what you are going to make for yourself?

I have a running folder of images and ideas that I collect all year round...there are TONS of them in there! They're there either because I like the idea of the challenge of making them, or because there's something about the character that appeals to me personally. Whenever I start planning for the next round, I go through the folder and then pull the images that grab my eye and toss them onto a bulletin board. I keep looking at it and eventually it narrows down to whatever my eye is drawn to repeatedly. Then I sit down and spec them out for materials and cost and make my decisions from there.

What costumes can we expect to see in 2014 (spoilers)?

It’s still up in the air a bit, but I challenged myself to do costumes that would help me use up some of the excess fabric I have piled up in bins. It's a budget-y/Project Runway type of year! The only money I want to spend this year is on a prop or a wig - everything else is coming out of my stashes!

When did you start making costumes for others? What made you decide to make a business out of this?

 I'd hardly call it a business! I just like helping other people bring their ideas to life. If I was faster at turning them around I might be able to call it a business but I'm just too nitpicky about details and taking my time. But I've been helping friends create costumes for ages - in 1997 I had some friends who wanted some costumes for Halloween, so we agreed that once a week they would come over and cook for me, and hang out watching movies while I sewed, and they would do fittings as necessary. It was actually pretty fun, and over the years I've had a semi-regular weekly get-together with friends at my house. We'll work on costumes if we have stuff coming up, but otherwise it's pretty laid back and casual.

What do you think makes a great costume?

Attitude. I don't care if your costume was made with cardboard or full robotics - if you're wearing it, be proud of it and own that shit! I've seen amazing costumes that dropped down a dozen notches in my eyes because the person wearing it had a bad attitude, and costumes that might not be movie-quality, but because they were so happy in them, it made them spectacular.

Recently, the shows "Heroes of Cosplay" and "Fangasm" has been shining a light on cosplay and geek culture. Do you think these shows help or hurt?

I think if it brings one more fan to the hobby, it's a success. Some of the editing on these shows hasn't been enormously flattering, but I hope people realize that “reality TV” is anything but. I do like that it's given people an inside view into the hard work that goes into doing what we do, and that it's more than running down to the mall for the latest Leg Avenue costume-in-a-bag.

Would you want to be on “Heroes of Cosplay”?

I'm happier on the outside, I think. besides, I'd be pretty boring - "You're awesome!" "I love that!" "Great job!" None of that makes for good reality TV!

What are your favorite cons to attend?

 DragonCon (Atlanta, GA), HeroesCon (Charlotte, NC) and ConVergence (Minneapolis, MN) are my top three, but as long as I have a good time, it's a favorite!

Some people have expressed the opinion that influx of attendees at cons has ruined the cons. How do you feel about this?

I think we all get protective about sub-cultures we feel are "ours" - we don't want them to become pop culture, because then we lose that feeling of specialness. The growth of the convention scene is a mixed bag - on one hand I'm ecstatic that the people who have labored so hard to make these conventions successful are reaping the rewards, but yeah, it's a pain to know that if I have to get from one hotel to another at DragonCon, it's going to take about 4 times longer than it used to. But cosplay and convention-going should be about embracing the weirdos, the geeks, and the don't have to like them all, but you can respect that they have their unique passions, just like you do.

Some of the links you can see her work are: