Wednesday, September 12, 2018

Salt Lake FanX, gender normativity, and the awesomeness of geekdom

Another FanX has come and gone, leaving behind some very poor geeks and a downtown covered in discarded costumes. As a massive FanX fan, I was excited to attend this year's events.

And even more excited (And scared) to premier my latest cosplay.

Some background: at my first FanX (Then called Salt Lake Comic Con) I cosplayed as a gender bent Harley Quinn, who I named Harvey Quinn. It was my first time cosplaying anywhere, and I was a bit nervous to try one that wasn't only labor intensive but a little unusual. My favorite character in all of fiction is the Joker's favorite hench-girl, so I definitely wanted to make sure I got it right. Long story short: Few people could tell who I was and my wife's Invader Zim tee shirt got more compliments than my outfit.

...Okay kind of a fail...

Right before my wedding I went as Captain Hammer from Dr. Horrible's Sing-Along Blog with my buddy who was a dead ringer for Neil Patrick Harris's character. I spent most of the time getting pictures of him with other people who loved his cosplay but once again kept having to ask who I was.

Okay a major fail.

Next I tried the world of onesies. Full sized fur outfits with hoods that resembled characters. I went through Stitch, Baymax and Sully, all with various degrees of recognition. Most people at least knew who I was which was a step, and I since refined my Harvey Quinn costume to the point where I was recognized.


This year though, call me egotistical, I wanted people to not only know who I was cosplaying as but would want pics with me because of how good my cosplay was. After some careful planning and throwing my last few inhibitions out the window, I put together this year's costume: The Bearded Lady.

I found a winner.

Now it wasn't EXACTLY the Bearded Lady from the film The Greatest Showman, it was more of a Bearded Lady along the lines of Spaceballs or American Horror Story: Freak Show, but I had a beard, I had a wig, I was in a dress, and off I went.

I got my results.

The intial terror was the standard fear of leaving the safe gender normative world and entering briefly into the world of cross dressing. We're still in an age where even an homage can be seen with intolerance and misunderstanding, plus I'm always a bit shy about showing any skin in public. Temple worthy Bearded Lady dresses are just not found at DI so bare shoulders it was.

I wasn't stopped by everyone, certainly there were far better cosplays than mine (Even of the Bearded Lady) but what was awesome was that as far as I saw I was the only man as the Bearded Lady. After getting a picture with another cosplayer, my niece whispered to me "Yours is better Uncle Joe" which made my heart soar.

To me this is the heart of FanX, comic con, and other geek events. Since The Greatest Showman came out I have been in love with the Bearded Ladie's character and the message her story both in and out of the movie portrayed, one of acceptance and being who you really are despite adversity. Cosplay is about expressing the characters we love, what they mean to us, and celebrating them with the world. To have a good cosplay for me means that I did it right, I celebrated my character not only in how I dressed but in how I did it.

What are your cosplay stories? Is there something you've always been afraid of dressing as?


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