Word of the Nerd is pleased to present to you one of our most popular features, Cosplayer Spotlight. We feature new and talented cosplayers from the cosplay community. Be sure to check back every day to catch some up and coming new cosplay talent or get a look at some well established and famous members of the cosplay universe.
About Rain Queen
Rain Queen is a Philadelphia located cosplayer who has been around for nearly 9 years. Rain Queen is known for many of her detailed costumes and her intense special effect makeup work. She is also known for her oversized and often interactive props, such as the television prop she created for her Samara cosplay from The Ring. Rain Queen frequently integrates contortion and her own acting and musical talents to bring characters to life: a dedicated in character cosplayer, one of her greatest joys comes from accurately and authentically bringing the spirit and personality of her characters to life.
How did you first get into cosplay?
As a nerdy pre-teen and later an outsider teenager, cosplay presented itself to me when I really needed it. It allowed me an outlet for my own creativity and allowed me to step inside a magical world where I could escape bullying and become my own hero (or villain). From my first cosplays of Buffy from Buffy the Vampire Slayer and characters from Scooby Doo to where I am now, I never looked back.
Do you cosplay just for fun or do you see it as a stepping stone to a future career?
A little bit of both. I certainly love doing fashion and cosplay shoots professionally, and sometimes do find it as a helpful exercise in both modeling and acting. However, cosplay is not and never will be about fame to me. I hate elitism and those who look down on others in the scene. I want to make great quality costumes, bring smiles to those who I meet, and do the best work possible. Friends, family, and a honest love of the craft all come before anything else.
Do you prefer to make your cosplays from scratch, buy or commission them or a hybrid?
I prefer to make costumes from scratch, but do not think there is anything wrong with buying or commissioning (as long as credit is given where it is due). I am aware that there are some parts of costuming that I will never be the best at; in cases like that, I believe it is important to support and uplift those who are. That being said, I love hand sewing (I hate machines) and have recently gotten into making large horror props by hand, such as gutting a CRT from a television for my Ring cosplay or building a modular fridge prop for my upcoming Pennywise cosplay.
How much time do you spend making each of your cosplays?
That depends. Some cosplay favorites of mine, such as River Tam, were simple and didn’t take much time at all. Others, such as my handmade latex Catwoman costume can take upward of 60 hours. Yet both of those costumes are on my favorites list for multiple reasons.
What is your favorite cosplay you done so far?
Most people would probably expect me to say, Samara, from the Ring. It’s a fan favorite of mine, and the reaction I get from crawling around out of a giant television prop is always really fun. But it’s probably the more obscure Duela Dent cosplays (from DC Comics and Teen Titans) that I love most. I have about nine variants of her at this point and have created a voice, personality, and elaborate web of character for her over the years. My laugh is probably loud enough as her to hear clear across the convention. Cosplay isn’t about being recognized or getting attention. For me, a big draw is getting to become a character I love and identify with deeply.
What has been your most memorable experience (good or bad) as a cosplayer?
Probably the debut of my Samara (The Ring) cosplay at Katsu last year. After a real struggle to get the very large television prop to Maryland, I finally was able to do my Samara act. It was a hit from the beginning and it was so great to finally combine contortion, cosplay, and horror together. I was shocked when I woke up the next morning to find that a video of it had gone viral! It was really humbling and fun and has been a great stepping off point for me as I grow my collection of horror costumes.
How do you feel about group cosplays?
I love them! Group and couple cosplays allow you to take a piece of work that you’ve done and mix it with the talent and ambition of others. Without cosplay, there are many friends I would not have. These are people I have traveled for hours to be with, who have listened to me in full meltdown mode (and have pulled me through the worst moments of my life), and who are passionate, creative, inspiring people. Why wouldn’t I want to make magic with these people? I wouldn’t even be a cosplayer without them, so of course, I want to cosplay with them.
What cosplays are you currently working on or plan to finish this year?
Some cosplays that are currently in progress or are in the near future include Carrie (from Carrie), a formal gown version of Oogie Boogie (Nightmare Before Christmas), Kylie (Extreme Ghostbusters), and Karen (from The Spongebob Musical).
What issues do you see being the most divisive in the cosplay community and how do you feel about it?
Currently, I’m seeing a lot of drama pop up around elitism or around cosplay becoming a commercial industry rather than a hobby. I believe that cosplayers are just big kids playing dress up; there should not be boundaries on imagination, nor should anyone be looked down upon for their own attempts. I see recently some fighting about how accurate cosplays should be: can characters be sexy? Reimagined? Gender bent? I believe that this does not matter. If the cosplayer is having fun, it is valid. If you are dressing up, putting yourself out there, and loving what you do, it is not my place or the place of anyone else to speak negatively about it.
What types of characters or genres inspire your cosplay the most?
I am a huge horror nerd at heart! A lot of my cosplays are all about the blood, horror, and gore. (Anything that lets me do crazy makeup is a plus.) I also really love doing fantasy skin colors/full body paints such as red, green, and blue. Yandere/psychotic characters are also common for me. I love doing characters who are fun and bubbly but also dark and evil. I do predominantly villains and anti-heroes but do enjoy the odd magical girl or princess.
What is your favorite part (researching, shopping for supplies, sewing, photo shoots, attending cons, etc.) of your cosplay process?
I love doing photoshoots and creating the costumes is always fun, but for me, the best part is the performance aspect. I love getting into the head of a character and living in their world for a little while. There’s nothing like the moment when someone asks for a photo of you as their favorite character and you answer them perfectly in character!
What are your best resources for cosplay materials?
Reference photos, reference photos, reference photos! Also fabric stores, thrift shops, Michaels, and the hardware store. I also highly recommend reaching out to other cosplayers who have attempted what you’re doing. Special shout out to Home Depot employees for never missing a beat as I ask them for increasingly strange items like fridge door handles and giant blocks of foam.
What has been the biggest obstacle you have had to overcome as a cosplayer?
A few years ago a bad relationship threatened to take me out of cosplay for good. It put my other friendships in jeopardy, isolated me from the community, and almost made me stop creating entirely. The aftermath of that relationship left me reeling for direction. Without the amazing friends who came to me and helped me to rebuild, I probably would have never made it back onto my feet. Now, I feel strong and I am unwilling to let anyone stop me from doing what I love ever again.
Have you learned any life lessons during your time as a cosplayer and what are they?
I have always struggled with body image, eating disorders, and dysmorphia. Working in modeling and acting, I am constantly being told that I am not thin enough, not fit enough, or simply not pretty enough. Through cosplay, I have had to fight to tell myself that it doesn’t matter. It does not matter what others think. If you are happy and if you are creating positivity, then those who want to bring you down cannot touch you.
What is your golden cosplay rule that you would share with new cosplayers?
Someone is always going to disagree with what you are doing: ignore those who put you down and find those who lift you up.
How do you feel the cosplay community has changed over time?
I don’t want to linger on this question because I think that debate over this is the main factor that has contributed to drama in the scene lately. There is more of a focus on fame and it’s becoming much more mainstream. On top of that, I feel that as cosplay reaches further, people are less afraid to shoot for the stars and try more and more creative ideas.
If money and time were not a factor, what is your number one over-ambitious cosplay you want to do?
I’ve always wanted to do a full Samus Aran armor build. That or I would really love to make a full-scale Frankenstein’s machine and a Frankenstein’s bride cosplay to go with it!
Do you set a budget for each cosplay?
It depends on the cosplay. I divide cosplays I do into a few different tiers: casual, moderate, reach, and dream, and price those out accordingly.
What does cosplay mean to you?
Cosplay means that I can step outside of a black and white world and into one of color and wonder where I can see anything and be anyone I want. Without cosplay, my life would be dull and flat. Without cosplay, I would have never realized that being different and odd is wonderful.
Is there anything that would make you stop cosplaying?
Not even death. (How fun would it be to have your corpse dressed up for the open casket? Or to have a cosplay themed funeral?)
You can follow and view more of Rain Queen here
- Anne Schreck
- Terence Tolman Photography
- David “DTJAAAAM” Ngo
- Dancing Squirrel Photography
- Fancy Hat Photography
- Paul Sanders
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