You know I’m blessed right? Forgive my obscene corniness, but only the heavens could grant my dumb ass the perfect gift of being able to know this badass artist. They are a triple threat: cosplayer, burlesque performer, and gamer. I was lucky enough to become introduced to Kimono Jones when they agreed to be Sailor Mars in a casual Sailor Scout cosplay group I put together for Otakon, and she of course knocked it out of the park. Nothing but heat, my nerds. Since then, I have been a huge fan. Her Instagram is a constant source of light and energy, and I love how honest she is about what she’s going through in life and how she deals (her meme-age is also extremely impressive). I had the awesome opportunity to interview them to get an inside peek at how they deal with this new age of cosplay, so please enjoy!
Black Nerd Problems: Please tell us a bit about your life!!!!
Kimono Jones: My name is Kimono, I live on Instagram and I put on my first cosplay 12 years ago (that makes me feel old). In the real world I work at a college and spend a lot of time writing e-mails. When I’m not in my muggle suit I like to play video games (I’m on PC mostly right now), read books, and watch crime shows. I have two furbabies and a fish named Hades. I collect Funko Pops, stickers, and cacti. I recently became a member of the blog team for Pop Culture Uncovered, so you can catch me writing over there as well!
BNP: The cosplay community has always been tangled with a variety of other art forms and mediums of expression, including burlesque performance and sketch comedy. Do you find yourself tapping into multiple hobbies while enjoying your full nerdiness?
KJ: I perform nerdlesque, which combines burlesque with all-things nerdy fandom. It’s my favorite form of self-expression because I am a nerd at the very core so it radiates through almost everything that I do. I’ve always been interested in burlesque so to find an art form that is so dedicated to both is like it was made for me. I’ve been performing for about a year and a half and so far I have performed some acts as characters Negan, Scrappy Doo, and Princess from PowerPuff Girls. I have gotten to work with some of my favorite performers, seen some really sexy, funny, epically nerdy acts and do things I never thought I would through nerdlesque. It has been surreal.
BNP: How would you describe your involvement with the cosplay and convention community? Pros and cons?
KJ: I’ve felt genuinely embraced by the cosplay community more in recent years than I ever had. As a more casual cosplayer it was hard to feel like you fully fit in or like you would really be considered a ‘cosplayer’ and not just ‘a person in clothes/in a costume’. There were some weekends where I spent the whole time feeling like I was an outside spectator and not a true member of the crowd. I really owe my connections now to the rise of the POC nerd community.
A while ago it was hard to find someone who looked like me and I didn’t realize how important that felt until I started going to conventions and seeing more black and brown nerds, especially nerds in cosplay. Everyone I’ve met has been really welcoming and supportive and I have made more friends in the past two years through cosplay than I had in my last 10.
The cosplay community can’t be perfect–we are a little society and come with the flaws that all societies do. Something I have noticed is that when there are disagreements or issues between a few cosplayers it becomes indicative that the entire community is toxic and flawed. It is hard enough being blanketed with negative stereotypes from people who don’t ‘understand’ cosplay without the community imploding on each other. I know there are pockets that are surrounded in very negative energy.
I think the best way to combat it is to not give it any attention (which I know can be easier said than done) and focus on what cosplay is supposed to be about–having fun and getting to embody characters that might mean more to you than a lot of real life people. The community as a whole is a really great little band of weirdos and we need to remember we’re all there for the same reason.
BNP: What are your goals for the future?
KJ: I would really like to make some kind of basic armor or a really big weapon. Being a level one cosplayer, a lot of things can seem daunting when just starting out, but I always have a cosplay plan list a mile long. There are certain cosplays I have to do like a Sailor Scout and D.Va (with a cardboard box). I also want to make it to the really big conventions like DragonCon, Anime Expo, and SDCC! I will also be performing in a lot more nerdlesque shows, probably until the end of time!
See more of Kimono Jones on Instagram.