Cosplay: My Interview With Laura

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Two years ago I had the most absolute pleasure of meeting Laura Hamilton (aka Cruellatrix). I was at Toronto Fan Expo and in line to meet Dean Cain when I began talking to a spunky and sweet girl, wearing a Superman tee and Superman themed skirt. I loved my fellow geekette right away. We struck up a conversation (along with another fab lady!) and we became fast friends.

Laura loves to dress up and recently began to “semi seriously” get into cosplay.  I love seeing her newest creations and outfits.

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Laura as Harley Quinn. This is my fave photo, it perfectly captures her sweet and spunky personality. (Photo taken at Niagara Comic Con by Ron from Rebel Shotz.)

I asked her if she would let me interview her, and she happily agreed!

Hi Laura, thanks so much for taking the time for this little interview!

Hi Kerry! No problem it’s a pleasure to have a chance to geek out with a fellow geekette!

You recently attended the Niagara Comic Con. How was it?

It was fantastic! Niagara Falls Comic Con will always be a special one for me as it was the first Comic Con I ever attended back in 2013 and sadly I missed it last year so it was great to go back to where it all started. It was a spectacular show this year with some great guests and just the general floor plan of the whole event was great which made it a comfortable atmosphere to be in. This year it was particularly special as not only was I returning to my first ever Comic Con it was the first year I’ve “semi-seriously” looked at Cosplaying at an event.

I’m so glad you had a great time! I wish I could have been there!  So, tell us a bit about yourself? What sort of things are you up to when not putting outfits together?

*Laughs* I’m pretty boring actually! Real life work takes up a lot of time being a Manager for a Tim Hortons in Oakville means a lot of long days, a lot of commitment and the odd phone call or text even when I’m not working so it can be a little difficult to switch off from work mode some days but I’m sure I’ll get there! When I do get a chance to relax though I’m very much a geekette/nerdette and I’m either binge watching my favourite anime One Piece (I think I’m only 160 or so episodes in and there’s over 600), reading comics (I am a big DC Comics fan but am starting to slowly bleed into Marvel Comics) or I’m playing games, everything from EverQuest 2 to Diablo 3 to The Witcher 3. Super excited for FallOut 4 that’s just been announced! I have dabbled with Twitch streaming/YouTubing my gaming adventures but my household is often quite busy to be able to do any justice with a good commentary while playing.

Geeking out is always a good way to spend your free time. 😉 So when did you start cosplaying?

More seriously since about 5pm June 7th 2015! But I’ve always had an interest in dressing up, Halloween has always been my favorite time of year because I could dress up never dreaming that there was such a thing as Cosplay. It’s not a particularly big thing back in the UK, or at least, never in the spotlight or widely known about unlike here in Canada where it’s fairly well grounded and there are so many different conventions throughout the year. In the UK that I ever knew about were London Comic Con and Cardiff Comic Con and I believe those are only a few years old compared to the likes of Fan Expo which is celebrating 21 years whereas London Comic Con I believe has only been running for 8 years. I’ve attended a few cons since I landed in Canada 3 years ago in various degrees of costume, even wore my first handmade, from scratch Wonder Woman costume to Fan Expo last year but as it was a first attempt I wasn’t particularly pleased with it and don’t have any pictures of me in it. I’ll fix it up soon but haven’t yet!

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Trying on her Wonder Woman tiara.

I remember that costume! For your first handmade attempt, I thought it was pretty good! I should have taken a pic of us with you dressed up. So your alter ego name is Cruellatrix. May I ask how you came up with that name?

Actually it was a name my Mum came up with one night when I was playing EverQuest 2. I’d finished making a Dark Elf Necromancer and I just couldn’t think of a name. Everything I tried was taken, didn’t get past their copyright/profanity filter or just didn’t suit her as a character. Being that this was some 9/10 years ago I was playing on the computer that was in my Mum’s room and of course it’s a Massively Multiplayer Online Role Playing Game and being 11 playing a game with total strangers had to play it where I wouldn’t get myself into trouble! So Mum pipes up “Why not Cruellatrix? Kinda like Cruella De Ville from 101 Dalmations and Bellatrix Lestrange from Harry Potter” and since then that name has stuck and I’ve used it again and again for other games or Twitch, YouTube and now my Cosplay adventure.

That’s cool! So what made you decide to kick the cosplaying up a notch? (Check out her Facebook page, Cruellatrix Cosplay!) 

Yes, it was an unusually ballsy move but it feels good to have done it, even if I am still shaking! I think this really all starts back in November 2013 when I was diagnosed with Thyroid Cancer. Being 20 years old and being told I have cancer was really a shock and it took the wind out of my sails for the longest time. It’s “the best cancer to have” as it’s easy to deal with as it’s “just surgery” to remove it in most cases and as long as it hasn’t spread to the surrounding lymph nodes you should be fine. I’ve been told that as I had it quite young that I may get a recurrence later on in life but I refuse to focus on that right now. Throughout that whole period is when I discovered Cosplay. I found a TV series called “Heroes of Cosplay” and it follows the journeys of variously skilled cosplayers and how they make costumes, their progress and participating in competitions. I was amazed! There was a whole community out there that I never knew about, that really enjoyed crafting costumes and doing Halloween everyday at these huge conventions where it was okay to be a geek or a nerd and be surrounded by everything you fandomed over. It was then I had hope and a focus. I then went to Fan Expo 2014 and got to meet one of the professional cosplayers from the tv show, the amazingly talented Yaya Han. I told her my story and she encouraged me to keep going. I bought a print and she signed it “To Laura, keep kicking cancers ass! Love Yaya Han”.

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Laura’s autograph. We are all so glad you kicked cancer’s ass!! xo

That really gave me the confidence I needed so the next day I wore my first cosplay project which was Wonder Woman. It was god awful but I was proud of it and I’m sure I’ll fix it but it was the first project where I’d experimented with Worbla and even sewed leggings and a tank top for underneath. It also taught me to be patient because sadly I’m one of those people that love to see a finished project and want to rush through it to see it finished and then it just gets messy!

Real life got in the way for a while so it’s been about 6-8 months since I last thought of doing anything with cosplaying so I knew I had to step it up a notch for the first Comic Con I’ve been to this year and that was Niagara Falls. I’d been gathering bits and pieces together for a Harley Quinn costume, I wasn’t able to make any of this myself as I wanted to make sure I was comfortable cosplaying in costume and not worried about how crap my workmanship was first. So Saturday rolls around and suddenly I’m sexy Harley Quinn and I love it! Driving down to Niagara Falls in two different types of corsets was certainly an experience but it was worth it! It felt wonderful to have people stop me and ask for photos or compliment me on how good I looked and it’s a feeling I don’t want to pass up. Then another snap decision prods me further on my adventure. I sign up for the Cosplay Contest. I knew from watching Heroes of Cosplay that most competitions won’t let you sign up unless you make everything yourself but I was in luck and I could participate just extra points are given if you make your costume which I was expecting anyway but at least I could experience being part of the competition and see how I feel about getting in front of a room full of people.

To fill up the time between the competition there was a booth right next to sign up that was posted “Cosplay for a Cure” which for a $10 donation to Canada’s Breast Cancer Society I could have a professional photo shoot done and have a 10 picture disk done. I thought why not! It’s for charity, it’s for cancer and for a little while I can feel good and experience a professional photo shoot. Triple win! It was an amazing experience and Ron from Rebel Shotz Photography was great! His energy and passion for his photography really made me feel great and feel sexy and goddamn he took great photos! I ended up with 14 photos all together so I hope that means I was a good subject to shoot!

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One of the professional pics done by Ron. Lookin sexy!! 

Snap back to the contest an hour or so later I was the last but one person to stand up and show of my costume. I felt pretty bad because there were some amazing costumes that were all hand made to insane levels of detail and here I was in mostly shop bought/commission crafted stuff, nothing really made by me, so when the judges asked I told them my story. I told them that this year I didn’t make anything but I was only just beginning my journey and depending on the reception I got during this contest would either encourage me to continue or stop me there and cosplay was my escape from my cancer. The overwhelming sense of support I had from the room was incredible and I knew I just had to continue. I even had a few cosplayers stop me and tell me how moved they were by my story and gave me their own words of encouragement. So my mind was set. Let the adventure begin!

As for where next, even if I can’t make it big as a professional cosplayer, I can still be a part of the community and if I can raise awareness for cancer then that’s mission accomplished for me.

That’s great you had your first comp under your belt and that you had fun with it. Those professional pics are amazing! And I am so glad you are healthy and well now. What’s been the most challenging thing when it comes to making costumes?

I think sewing for sure. I have never been able to sew in a straight line and when using a sewing machine it’s just far too tempting to go fast to finish what you’re doing and then you end up with wonky lines. Working with Worbla has been pretty fun and it’s pretty forgiving as you can keep heating it and reshaping it so that’s been great to work with.

Do you have any projects planned or have you already started making your next costume?

Yes I have two planned out already! I’d like to do Belle’s blue provincial dress from Disney’s Beauty and the Beast. It’s my all time favourite Disney movie and I’ve had the materials in my basement for a while. The other is an armor set from EverQuest 2 that my High Elf Mystic wears, I plan for it to be a nice combination of Worbla and more cloth materials so that’ll be a big learning curve but I really enjoyed working with Worbla so I’d like to try again. The challenge as always is I’m starting completely from scratch. I have to learn how to use a sewing machine and how to draft my own patterns. It’s going to take me forever but I’ve got to start somewhere!

Sounds great! I know a lot of women unfortunately face disrespect and have inappropriate comments made while cosplaying. Has anything like this ever happened to you or have they been pretty respectful? 

So far it hasn’t been too bad. I know I was asked to go to the Sci-Fi Speed Dating at the Comic Con over the weekend which in a weird way was flattering! It was mostly just adolescent/teenage boys that spoiled it a little. To get between the main hall and some of the rooms for panels I had to pass underneath a balcony and of course wearing a corset if you’re at the right angle (like above) you can see right down my top. So whilst walking underneath the balcony some young boys were blatantly staring down my top and trying to throw little bits of paper or candy wrappers down there which was a little annoying.

Well I certainly hope you don’t get anything thrown at you again! What’s the best part about cosplaying for you? 

So far it’s been the very supportive community. Everyone knows we’re gathered to nerd out and geek out and there’s no judgement. There’s just a wonderful feeling of truly knowing you’ve found your most comfortable self and are able to share that with others.

What has been your favorite character to cosplay so far? And do you role play that character?

For me it has and always will be Harley Quinn and even more so now that she has been my “breakout” character. Even though she wasn’t born in the comics and only introduced into the cartoon series, she always represented the fun side of danger and in a way I’ve been able to relate it back to Beauty and the Beast because she obviously loved The Joker even though he is such a monster she loves him and I’ve always been charmed into that whole “people may see a monster but you see a real person and you love them”.

For the most part I do like to role play the character especially if I’m stopped for a photo I’ll try and play up the character.

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A Harley Quinn sandwich 😉 I’m jealous, Laura! 😉

Are you a member of any cosplay circles? If not do you plan to join one?

I’ve joined a few Facebook groups to get my page out there and I have a local friend, Harlee Sinn Cosplay, that also lives in Hamilton and she sometimes runs a Cosplay round table that I need to attend at some point but real life gets in the way!

Do you have a favorite/funny story from attending a con while in cosplay?

The funniest so far really has been where I was asked to go to the Sci-Fi Speed Dating. Bless. The guy was so friendly and was trying to be flattering and sweet but then kind of ended the conversation with “it’s free for the ladies. Join us please?”

Any words of advice or wisdom for anyone thinking about wanting to cosplay?

Have fun! It’s as cliche as it sounds but that’s the bottom line. It’s a wonderful community and I highly recommend it and everyone I’ve spoken to so far is always willing to lend a helping hand. I’m only just beginning but if I wasn’t as comfortable as I am then I wouldn’t be doing it. I hope I can inspire more people to join this growing and rewarding community. I look forward to seeing everyone’s progress as much as I look forward to sharing mine!

That’s great advice! Thank you so much again, love. It was a pleasure, as always, chatting with you! 🙂

Laura has more great pics on her FB page, Cruellatrix Cosplay!  Be sure to check her out! I am very much looking forward to seeing what she has in store! 😀

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