Nerd Culture

Cosplay: An excuse for adults to play dress-up (outside the bedroom)

Shh... Today, dear readers, I'm going to let you in on a little geek secret: We self-proclaimed nerds, geeks and dorks have an internal rating system. Think of it as a 1-10 scale of geekdom, with 1 being the girl who wears a bowl cut and plastic glasses in an urban-chic way and 10 being this guy:

Whether you aspire to be a 1 or a 10 in Geekland, well, that's your prerogative. One of the highest-ranked activities in the system is cosplay, which rates about an 8 (-2 if the participants are totally hot) on the geek scale. What is cosplay, you ask? Let us enlighten you.

Basically, it's the adult version of dress-up; more specifically, it's a type of performance art where participants dress as costumed characters. There are different types of cosplay, including Lolita (underage-looking girly getups), Maid/Waitress, Anime, movie and television characters, blah, blah... As the host at last Friday's CosPlay Exhibit and Competition put it, they're the "Anime version of Trekkies." Oh, God help us

See what we learned at the exhibit after the jump!

There's no official age limit.
It's probably time to hang up the cosplay robes for good when your friends start giving you "Over the Hill" gifts. Depending on how young you look, that could be age 30, 40, 50...but definitely when you start balding or the boob-to-navel measurement's less than a hand's width. Because seriously, do you want to see granny's sagging parts in this?

22-year-old "Shallon" looking sweet and sexy as Gundam 0079's Reiko Holinger

Or your dad wearing this? (um, like, total and utter mortification)

 Luckily, nearly all of the competitors on Friday were college age or younger. Whew!

Don't do it for the money (because there probably isn't any).
I admit, I'm a Halloween geek. I've participated in costume contests where prizes ranged from $100 gift cards to $10,000 in cash. And though I do love to dress up, let's face it -- for ten grand, almost anyone will put on a Starfleet uniform and shave their head ala Patrick Stewart. Cosplayers, on the other hand, do this for the love of the "subculture." The prizes at Friday's CosPlay Exhibit were more Anime/Manga courtesy of Samurai Comics and some Pocky sweets. So don't bother sewing an elaborate, furry costume from scratch -- cause you're not getting ten grand, ok?


 Cosplayers take this stuff seriously.
Some participants skipped school or work to play dress-up. Others learned to speak Japanese phrases in their character's voice or showed off Kill Bill -esque moves with real swords. Host Yuhki Kaneta, dressed as Zack from Final Fantasy VII, traveled up from Tucson, even though, as host, he wasn't allowed to compete. "I've won multiple costume contests and craftsmanship awards," Kaneta told New Times. "The reason why I stepped down is so that others have a chance to win." 

Yuhki Kaneta as Zack Fair from FFVII

Size, gender, and ethnicity don't matter.
No one cares that you don't look exactly like a particular Anime character, because rail-thin Asian women with huge chests, tiny waists and giant eyes don't actually exist. Not without plastic surgery, anyway.

Sakura, a gorgeous character described as "small and hopelessly adorable."

See more photos of the exhibit (and the competition winners) in our CosPlay slideshow.

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Wynter Holden
Contact: Wynter Holden