This marks a joyous occasion, this is BNP’s first cosplay duo to be interviewed! Kat and Maya are cosplayers whom I encountered on tumblr which led me to looking at Their Facebook page. They are cosplayers with such great passion who design and make their own pieces to wear. They also have the neatest takes with their genderbent cosplay. Enjoy!
Black Nerd Problems: Maya, Kat please tell us a little about yourselves. Also your origin stories: how did you two meet up and create Puku Productions?
Kat: We’re a pair of nerds from North Texas, which is where we go to most of our cons and meet-ups. We met a few years ago, actually through school. We’re both going into our senior year of high school and we met the first day of freshman orientation. I think we finally clicked when we found out we followed the same group of cosplayers and were into a lot of the same shows and movies. I’d been cosplaying for about a year prior to this, and decided to try and convert Maya to my crafting ways. That spring we got together with a group of friends and did our first cosplay group [Fem!Avengers] and Maya’s first cosplay [Fem!Nick Fury]. A few months after that, we decided to continue to cosplay together and the rest of it is history.
Maya: Kat and I met at a Target the week before Freshman year started and hit it off from there. I’m a nerd with an affinity for armour and elaborate makeup, although I am yet to reach any level of mastery in either of those mediums. I remember being beyond excitement when Kat told me that she cosplayed. I had been stalking cosplayers online for months previous, but was unsure how to start a conversation about it with my new friends in high school.
BNP: Maya, you cosplayed as Wonder Woman, one of the most iconic comic book characters of all time. She’s also been seen as a very big feminist symbol throughout the years. What was it like becoming Diana Prince aka Diana of Themyscira, boots, bracelet cuffs, tiara and all?
Maya: Being Wonder Woman was a lot to take on. When I first decided to cosplay her I was just wanted to create the costume I had designed a few months earlier. I hadn’t really considered what it would really be like to embody such a culturally significant character. Something about donning the costume makes you walk a little taller.
I wanted to be convincing so I tried to channel the most physically powerful women I knew of, Serena Williams and Gina Carano came to mind. Wearing Wonder Woman, especially as a WOC, was like my own celebration of femininity and womanism in an art form that I relish.
BNP: Kat, you’ve cosplayed as Wiccan from Marvel’s Young Avengers lineup, one of the more recent comic book characters to emerge as a member of the LGBTQIA community. Why did you pick him? Any parallels from his life’s story to yours?
Kat: I believe very strongly in representation of all forms, especially in media targeted towards teenagers, and the Young Avengers comics are just some of the best out there for representation. And it’s not just the fact that the comic is chalk-full of LGBTQ+ and racially diverse characters, but they’re (for the most part) written well. It’s very easy to fall into a hole of writing stereotypical gay and lesbian characters, but the YA writers are very good at writing flawed and complex individuals who just happen to be gay or bisexual or whatnot.
And that’s what attracted me to Wiccan’s storyline. His relationship with Teddy Altman [Hukling] is just so normal, which isn’t something you see a lot for LGBTQ+ couples in writing. Their storyline doesn’t revolve around the fact that they’re a gay couple. It has its up and its downs like any relationship, and that’s very important for teenagers to see that not all relationships (romantic or otherwise) have to be perfect.
And aside from being a superhero, Billy just feels so real to me. He’s a broody teenager who grew up bullied for his sexuality, which is something you see across the world every day. While I was never bullied as a kid for my sexuality, I can sympathize with the feeling of being totally alone for years until worming a spot into a group of friends.
BNP: As young women who happen to be active in the cosplay community, is there anything you’d like to change in regards to the treatment of female/female identifying cosplayers and the characters they portray?
Maya : The cosplay community unfortunately has many of the same problems that our society as a whole deals with. There is a lot of pressure on female cosplayers to cosplay as ‘sexy’ characters or show more skin than their male counterparts, but are then shamed when they actually follow through with this. I would like more female/female identifying cosplayers to know that they should wear whatever they feel comfortable in whether that’s Batwoman or Starfire, you do you. And remember if you really want to be a character but don’t feel comfortable in their costume, you can always adapt the design.
Kat : I’d like to see less stigma attached to female cosplayers who cosplay for sex appeal. When it comes down to it, it’s their choice on what they cosplay or how they go at it. Their reasons for cosplaying may be totally different than yours, but that doesn’t make them any less of a cosplayer. If it’s not hurting you, why should you care?
BNP: On that note, have there been any acts of courage displayed by fellow cosplayers that you’ve witnessed that made you happy to see?
Kat : I’ve had so many lovely encounters with cosplayers that it’s hard to choose. Texas cosplayers seem to have a talent for being very lovely and patient people. So many of my male friends are very good at looking out for female friends (particularly when the partying gets too intense or some creeper decides to follow a cosplayer back to her room). And the ladies of the Texas community are a wall when it comes to sexual harassment. You mention that a guy has been creeping on you and that guy is going to get a few angry women in his face telling him to piss off. It’s wonderful.
Maya : As Kat said, the majority of cosplayers we interact with in Texas are fabulous people. We are a tight knit community that stand up for each other and refuse to tolerate negativity.
BNP: Maya, what has been your favorite cosplay you’ve done? Why?
Maya: It’s a tie between Wonder Woman and both of my versions of Aqualad (season 1 and season 2 Young Justice). I love these costumes because of they way I feel wearing them and the way people react to me in them. I relate to Kaldur’ahm on a level I haven’t had the opportunity to relate to with any other character. He is also a character that not many have cosplayed, especially his season two Black Manta version, so I really enjoyed when fans came up to me to talk about how much they appreciated his character and how important he was them.
BNP: Kat, what was your very first cosplay that you’ve done? Is it one you’ve worn again and add on/changed up?
Kat: The first cosplay I did was back in 2012 and it was actually a fem!Joker that I had put together for Halloween the previous year. As first cosplays go, it actually wasn’t that bad. I have few complaints. But I haven’t worn it again, mainly because the purple suit I wore is now much too small and I’m too lazy to go hunt for a new one. I do have plans to do a Joker again, eventually (maybe when Suicide Squad comes out?) but I’d much rather do Harley if I do any Gotham villain, ha ha.
BNP: Maya, what cosplay was the most difficult for you to make/get created?
Maya: The Weeping Angel from Doctor Who was my first official costume to make and I really had no idea what I was doing. Not that I know much more about crafting now as I did then. I made the wig by hand with string, a wig cap, and hot glue. I still don’t understand how it turned out so well, even though it didn’t actually fit my head. It was also the first but not only costume I literally put my blood, sweat and tears into. The night before the convention I stayed up until 4 am finishing the wings when, in my sleep deprived state, I accidently stabbed myself in the knee with my exacto knife. Not a scrape, but a stab. I had an exacto knife sticking out of my knee for several moments as I anxiously dabbed at the blood before it could drip onto the wings.
BNP: Kat, what cosplay creeped out and/or scared the most people?
Kat: I did Ruvik from The Evil Within June of 2015 and that scared the crap out of people. It was a lot of fun, especially once I got with my full group of horror cosplayers. I was covered pretty much heard to toe in burn makeup and wore these awesome white contacts that pulled the whole costume together and gave me a really nice ‘dead’ look. It took most people a few minutes to recognize that it was me under all that makeup. Even I look back at photos and think “Damn, that’s a little disturbing.”
BNP: Personally, I love gender-bent cosplay. Seeing people recreate a character they love and admire regardless of not sharing the same gender must have some mass appeal across the board. Why do you two love doing gender bent cosplay?
Maya : It’s both an exploration of the gender binary and an interest in design. I think Kat and I have always been interested in designing and reconfiguring our costumes rather than just taking the original artists’ adaptation. It’s fun to make a masculine design more feminine and fit on a female body.
Kat : I really just like redesigning costume designs to get a feminine look to them, but still retain the essence of Batman or Razer or whoever you’re doing. It’s very easy to make the male version of the cosplay and then add long hair, but taking into account that it is a female and armour will be made differently for females than for men or blah blah blah, then it can make the process much more fun and original.
BNP: What are your goals (cosplay and/or personal?)
Maya : Unfortunately my cosplay goals have been momentarily put on hold as I finish up college apps. But I would like to improve my skill with armour and prop making. I need to purchase some Worbla…
Kat: I’m slowly venturing into the makeup world and my next personal challenge is to start doing makeup fabrication with molds and casting and poly foam, which will allow me to do cosplays that look drastically different from my regular ol’ face, and hopefully some creature/monster masks! Sugar Plum Fairy from The Cabin in the Woods is one of my favorite monsters, so I really want to do that character’s makeup justice.
BNP: Lastly, What cons are you two planning to attend next?
Kat: I’m definitely popping in for a few hours to Dallas FanDays in October (mainly to meet Jason Momoa) and then maybe Anime North Texas. Other than that, our next big cons are lining up to be Katuscon in February (I’m trying very hard to get Maya to join me!) and A-kon in June. If we do have any last minute events, we’ll be sure to announce them on our various social network sites. 🙂