I was recently asked “What do you think of male cosplayers?”
To be honest, I was pretty quick to answer, “I don’t think they get enough recognition as they deserve.” But I couldn’t really explain more on it. Realizing pretty much everything I love about other cosplayers either is totally non-gender specific or exclusively about female cosplayers, I decided I should actually give male cosplayers the spotlight they are long overdue for.
For male cosplayers, they have much harsher standards than females, in regards to getting appreciation, praise, and recognition from cosplay fans and attempting to turn their passion into a profession. If you’re a cosplayer and you’re reading this, that probably sounds pretty abrasive, but consider this:
How often do you see male cosplayers shared on Reddit, Imgur, or in post-convention galleries compared to females? How many “cos-famous” male cosplayers can you name?
I’m willing to bet that a lot of you don’t have answers to these questions. The reality for the guys is that unless you’re exceedingly talented in your builds, you had better be attractive if you hope to make replace your day job with cosplay. This is the standard which the male cosplay community is being held at and I don’t normally swear in my articles, but frankly, I’m fucking upset that the male cosplay community does not get the recognition it deserves.
So where does the problem lie and how do we fix it?
The problem lies within the cosplay community. We have the “Cos-Positive Movement” which is supposed to support the promotion of cosplaying for fun without being judgmental of gender, ethnicity, or body type. The problem is that this movement is being promoted to encourage mostly female cosplayers to love themselves for how they look and to cosplay for enjoyment. But there isn’t enough push for the men to do the same. In all the photos I’ve seen shared to promote cos-positivity, I don’t believe I’ve ever seen a male cosplayer featured. Why not?
So how do we fix this and make the community more welcoming to all male cosplayers?
We need to start with the “Cos-Positive Movement” and start giving the men more love. Start sharing more of their work. The guys work just as hard on their cosplays as the ladies do, they are equality creative with original designs, use the same materials, require the same skill sets. We also need to encourage them into cosplaying in the first place. A lot of what the media tells men is that when you grow up, it’s discouraged to dress up anymore. We need to let them know there’s a huge community here that supports them for displaying their fandom outwardly and that it’s an art form that’s greatly appreciated, regardless of whom you are, what color your skin is, or what your body type is.
I thought it would be important to actually hear what the men have to say. So I reached out to some male cosplayers from all over the world to offer their input on the subject:
Kid Remington, has attended conventions all across Western Canada for the past 4 years, been to Dragoncon 3 times, and attended our local Winnipeg conventions long before that. He is also the host of Crowbar Radio.
“Do we get our just desserts?? Do we get our fair share of opportunity? Or are we being washed under by a tidal wave of female cosplayers? I can easily answer this all with one word – expectations. What are our expectations when we put on makeup, prosthetics, suits, armor, make props and anything else I may have missed? Therein lays the key to our challenges in the hobby.
Are you in it for charity? To make kids happy? There are more opportunities out there than you can possibly imagine. Birthday parties, charity functions, fundraisers – everything is out there you just have to look for it. Groups like the 501st, the Costume Alliance etc are geared to do just that, raise money for charity, promote positive relations between costumers and everyday non-costuming people and be really good at it all in one fell swoop.
Are you in it to sell prints? Make money? Be famous? Get a name for yourself? Pad your ego? There are plenty of opportunities out there as well. Sure the girls are well represented, but again get back to that word – expectation. As a guy – don’t sit by the phone waiting for the conventions to come calling. They won’t!! Ask any self-respecting comedian, band or DJ. Yes – there is American Idol and all that media glitz we see. That works for one person. Well then what about the other 99%? They are out there busting their butts, calling up venues, negotiating deals etc., working on their craft in a place where when they are on stage, they have a chance to put their best foot forward – and then have a chance to succeed. How bad do you want to do this??
Some guys will just pawn off the fact that “female anatomy” trumps everything. I’m here to tell you that for sure it has its place. Has it got in my way? Honestly – yes. Yes it has. But that’s not where the story ends. The majority of the time it doesn’t stop me from any opportunities. I see what my opportunities are and more often than not I make good on them. I am absolutely blessed with the opportunities I have been given in cosplay. I’ve been on TV, in newspapers, calendars, hosted panels, been in panels, a cosplay wedding, been tied to chairs, had my pants ripped, been asked to prom, hosted photoshoots, been in a wrestling ring, in a hockey net, movies, kissed, asked out many times (by both sexes) and my favorite of all – had several of those convention lemonades bought for me! (The big time!!)
Let me put it this way. If you don’t ask a convention, magazine, calendar etc. for help, to help or to be a piece of the puzzle, or a solution – 100% of the time the answer will be no. But if you go forward with a plan you may get some traction. Show them you are capable and professional and they will never let you go. Of course there are exceptions to the rule. We are all finding our way in this hobby and there is no set in stone way of doing anything. Every con has its own set of rules. Figure them out.
Are their challenges – yes!! You are never your finished product. You can always improve. I call myself a shark on the con floor. Use the shark mentality, keep swimming! Keep finding your next meal (opportunity). Most importantly – the best way to create your opportunity – is to treat people like you yourself want to be treated.”
Silvestri Luigi Rosario, a cosplayer for 6 years, is a fan of anime, cartoons, and drawing. He is actively involved in basketball, football, volleyball, and taekwondo. His professional experiences include Graphic Communications, Architecture, and Video Game Development. Making new friends and meeting people who share his interests is an important motivator for his cosplaying.
“I often think that male cosplayers are not as valued as female ones. My opinion is that girls may be more attractive than men in different aspects far from the cosplay contest. It rarely happens to boys! (You know that girls run the world, right?)
Cosplay is something that is done mainly for passion. Doing it with the goal of having fun is the most important thing. For a man, it is more difficult to receive attention and be appreciated, but when followers increase, it is a great satisfaction. For me, it was not difficult to become a cosplayer. When it’s something you love and you do it with passion, everything is easier.”
Lonstermash, cosplaying since September 2012, got into it totally by accident. His Wolverine, Rocky, and Rambo cosplays all started as Halloween costumes until he just happened to be in San Diego the Saturday of Comic Con 2012 and saw all the cosplayers. He decided he’d come back the following year and join in the fun. He made his debut at Comikaze, in his home town of LA, a couple months later.
“I have found that as a male cosplayer, I don’t have the same market to sell prints because most print sales are done by men, from what I’ve been told. Men are far more visual than women (this is why gay men—-NOT straight women—-are the biggest consumers of male porn), so unless I get a fan girl who is very visually attracted to me, chances are I won’t sell a print when I have been given a booth/table at a convention.
I have also found that my page does not increase nearly as much as many of my female cosplayer friends’ pages. And I also find that I lose many ‘Likes’ each day and my female friends do not. I (and they) attribute this to, once again, cosplay fans predominantly being visual males. I’m sorry to say that the industry is so sexual, but that’s the sad reality… Those are my personal challenges and I have not overcome them, nor will I, as you can’t change basic human instincts, unfortunately.
I’m lucky in that I have received a lot of admiration and respect from the many male fans that I do have, though, so I’m in no way saying that all male cosplay fans are bad people. Being visually oriented is not a put down on my gender—-it’s just a fact.”
Kame House Cosplay, also known as Joshua Patterson, is a 10-year cosplay veteran and competitive cosplayer since 2011, becoming one of the most well recognized male cosplayers in Tennessee. Josh discovered cosplay in 2005 and has fallen in love with the hobby as a whole. He is talented in a variety of mediums and has been described by some of the nation’s best cosplay judges as having “The best male sewing and embroidery ever seen.” He has been featured in Cosplay In America’s 2nd book, at Dragon Con 2015 as 1 of 13 cosplays chosen by Dragon Con’s Costuming Track, and will be appearing in a new show coming this winter called “Super Fan Nation” .
“As far as being a male cosplayer goes, we are our own worst enemy, at times, as most of us know it takes more to get less, more work for less respect as a cosplayer. What I mean by ‘own enemy’ is that I find that over 76% of my fans are female and the cosplay world is very diverse at this point. Which leads to me to conclude it’s mostly male fans not following other male cosplayer work as much. How do we expect conventions and con goers to see our work equally if we don’t?
Secondly, conventions need to show more interested in male cosplay guest. I have been lucky enough to be a guest at conventions where, in lieu of sitting at a table signing prints, I did workshops, hosted events, and judged their cosplay contest. You are going to have to work a bit harder most of the time, so make a point of doing so. Remember, this is suppose to be fun and, outside of a contest, there is no such thing as a better or worse costume.”
Kris M. Brehaut, has been costuming for 6 years and cosplay and attending conventions for the past 4 years. He was introduced to the Costume Alliance in Winnipeg and they encouraged him to come out to the Central Canada Comic Con 4 years ago. After that, he was hooked. When not attending conventions or doing charity work in his local community in costume, he enjoys reading, running, watching Game Grumps, listening to Ninja Sex Party, and co-hosting a YouTube channel called “The Broken C“.
“Thankfully, ever since I’ve gotten into cosplay, I have been able to meet many awesome people and very talented artists. That being said, now that cosplay has gotten more popular, you can’t help but notice some of the differences and expectations of male versus female cosplay.
It’s really just a statement of our current culture but, at the end of the day, most people are more interested in seeing more skin than actual work and craftsmanship on cosplay. Any costume contest where there aren’t cosplayers judging and you go by the audience, in the final three, there is always going to be a girl in a Tifa cosplay or something similar just due to the new crowd we have attracted with nerd culture becoming more mainstream. A multitude of times, in my Joker cosplay, I’m asked by photographers to stand off to the side because they want photos of the Harleys, Catwomen and Ivys.
It’s fine, I get it, but it’s really hard for a male cosplayer to get a start or anything like that in comparison. There are ‘professional’ male cosplayers, but they are few and far between. Think of your past few cons. As far as special guests in the cosplay category go, how many times has it been a male cosplayer compared to a female cosplayer? Most of them, as well, fall into the same catagory. Talented as they may be, you need to be attractive and ripped, so to speak. Not to say that there isn’t that standard among many of the most famous female ones. But even if you’re not, let’s say, magazine cover material, it’s still easier to get your name out there as opposed to a male cosplayer of similar qualities.”
Daniel Trinh, a cosplayer, actor, filmmaker and producer of a Mortal Kombat Fan Film, started last year at Dragon Con 2014 as Liu Kang (Mortal Kombat). He has been interviewed and featured in media/public platforms. His most notable achievements as a cosplayer was his feature in the New York Daily News in regards to New York Comic Con 2014 and being interviewed by a major magazine company.
“I believe in order to truly convey an objective/educated thought about the male cosplay community and the difficulties they have in getting equal support from the community as their female counterparts, I honestly feel I would need to write a research paper on all the different possible ways/perspectives this topic can be viewed. Given the short format for this featured piece, I’ll comment with this:
I’m pretty sure it is common knowledge that, generally speaking, attractive female cosplayers cosplaying attractive characters will likely stand a better chance getting support than male cosplayers doing the same thing. Some of the explanations for this would likely be the same explanations when one is to compare the same trend between the genders in different contexts such as: bartering, modeling, and pretty much anything in the entertainment industry; I’ll let the readers figure out those explanations.
So far, I’ve been able to overcome some of those challenges, and one of the reasons is because I tend to favor cosplay characters that I tend to pull off well in both physical appearances and from an acting perspective/character wise; basically, I bring the characters to life, and therefore bring out the “realness” of fictional characters. I know it sounds a bit backward, but think about it; why do you enjoy viewing cosplayers?”
J. Tanooki is a Contributor for aybonline.com. She has been a lover of cosplay for over 10 years and regularly works on new and exciting cosplay projects. She actively posts about her cosplay plans, progress, and random shenanigans on her Facebook page, Twitter, and Instagram. Her opinion is her own.