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Just Cos and Effect: Dressing the Part with Chloe Dykstra, Linda Le and Seth Herzog

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Cosplayers, make sure to take a deep breath this Sunday – you’re going to need the excess oxygen because you’ll be screaming with excitement when Just Cos premieres on the Nerdist Channel on YouTube. This one-stop shop for all things cosplay, co-produced with Broadway Video, is just what the doctor ordered to turn your Sunday from lazy to crazy (awesome). On the first episode, join your hosts Chloe Dykstra (who you may remember as GLaDOS from last year’s Comic-Con), the lovely Linda Le (a.k.a.Vampy Bit Me) and Late Night with Jimmy Fallon‘s Seth Herzog as they dive headfirst into the world of cosplay at New York Comic Con. We sat down with Linda and Seth to talk about what cosplay means to them, the perils of stunt training in latex, and why Seth looks damn good with a golden lasso.

Nerdist: How did you get involved in the show? 

Linda Le: I actually was approached by some people I’ve come across in passing at conventions. I would say being able to connect to people through just our common knowledge in shows, the arts, and cosplay in general made an impact on some others whom I’ve come across. [Nerdist Industries CEO] Peter Levin and I sat down right before one of his parties in Hollywood, and we just clicked, and there it was, the beginning of Just Cos.

Seth Herzog: I got involved with Jus Cos through Simone Burke at Broadway Video (who this is a joint production with), I was very excited to jump on board, as I have been friends with Hardwick for a while and had been looking for a way to work with Nerdist and Broadway Video as well.

N: What can fans expect from the show?

Chloe Dykstra: What’s really cool about Just Cos is that it’s not just saying, “Hey look at these nerds who make cool things,” it’s made for cosplayers and people who want to get into cosplaying, so it’s much more in-depth.

LL: What fans can expect from the show is a deeper insight on cosplay in the lives of those who live it. Cosplay isn’t just dressing up; it’s connecting with passions, creating art, becoming a character and paying tribute to fandom of all genres.

SH: Oh man, the show is great. It’s several episodes we shot over the course of three days at New York Comic Con in which we talk to lots of cosplayers as to why they chose their characters, how some of it is made, and we really get into the lifestyle of cosplay and who they are behind the mask (the answers are all fascinating). Also, Linda gets into a very action-packed fight, and we see me searching for the perfect costume for me.

N: How did you get involved in cosplaying? Seth, we know you make a damn fine Wonder Woman.

LL: At an early age – my mother was a seamstress in Oklahoma, so I grew up with at least 6 industrial sewing machines in my household. I grew a long affair with making clothes out of scraps my mom usually would toss away. I would also play box Transformers cosplay with my brother. We didn’t have much growing up, so we were pretty much tiny MacGyvers, doing anything geeky with what we had.

SH: Yes, that’s correct. I do make a fantastic Wonder Woman (there might be more pictures online of me in that outfit, than the superhero herself). I had never dressed up for comic conventions before, but I spent almost my whole life dressing up and performing on stage in different ways.

CD: I started cosplaying kind of by accident – my boyfriend at the time and I wanted to dress up as Zoey and Louis from Left 4 Dead for Halloween, and we got progressively crazier about the authenticity of the costumes as we put them together. We even ended up making beeping pipe bombs. Also, previously, I’d thrown together a costume as Gabe from Penny Arcade for New York Comic Con, which I guess was technically my first cosplay. It certainly wasn’t my best.

Hello, ladies.N: Were you an anime/manga fan growing up? If so, what are some of your favorites?

LL: Most definitely! When I was really young, I would say about 10 years old, my mom actually gave me my first manga – it was Doraemon! That cat robot became my obsession for a few good years, until I stepped inside a video store that sold anime. It was all new in the US, quite expensive, and totally what my brother and I wanted to buy every time we had a chance to save up enough money. I am an old school anime junkie, so I love the classics like Akira, Ghost in the Shell, Bubblegum Crisis, etc., but my most favorite anime of them all has always been Ranma 1/2.

CD: I was an anime fan growing up, and I loved the classics – Mizayaki, Akira, etc… but I also loved the junk food, too, like Love Hina. I spent hours in the manga section at Barnes and Noble back when bookstores still existed.

N: Seth, you’re a regular performer on Late Night with Jimmy Fallon. Some might argue that sketch comedy is a weird cousin of cosplay. Do you think there are any parallels to be drawn?

SH: Oh my god, yes, I see almost no difference between me doing a sketch dressing up as a Sexy Viking or “Captain Zog” (where I dance around and throw out a few quips) and a guy who builds his own Deadpool outfit and performs a gun battle for the Masquerade Ball. The seed of where it comes from, the motivations draw from the same part of our “let’s pretend and play” part of your personality.

Photography by Anna FischerN: Linda, how did you acquire the name Vampy Bit Me?

LL: I’ve always been really pale growing up and my friends have always thought “Vampy” was a cute nickname to give me. Early on, I was also an avid vampire novel reader, so eventually I just accepted it and it became my persona today.

N: You and Chloe are known to be avid gamers. What are you playing and enjoying right now?

LL: I actually play a ton of fighting games, currently. Soul Calibur V, some Street Fighter, of course, and anything else I have in my hands. I own a 3DS where I currently like to play some Zelda: Ocarina of Time while I travel. I have a deep love for RPG’s, but with convention season in full swing I need something quick and kick-ass, so fighting games are my thing now.

CD: I’m still working on Mass Effect 3, but I just picked up Max Payne 3 today. Hell yeah.

N: Who would be your dream guest?

CD: Hmm… I’d have to say my dream guest would be Holly Conrad - her N7 armor is unrivaled. But she’s a buddy of mine, so who knows?

SH: Hmm, for this show, I’d love to find the first cosplayer. And I know that goes back to ancient history, but I mean the first guy who was going to a comic convention and decided, “I’m going in a cape.” How did other people there take it? Were they comfortable? Did everyone else show up in costumes the next day?

LL: My dream guest would be anyone who dresses up in Gundam cosplay. I seriously will faint on a perfectly executed Deathstrike Gundam cosplay from my favorite series Gundam Wing.

N: What is your costuming process like? How much work goes into taking a costume from concept to con-ready?

LL: My costume process depends on how technical the cosplay is. Mostly all cosplays have at least 60% time consumption in finding the correct reference material which contain exact wig color, each panel of fabric used and where to find it, how to properly make armor, makeup techniques, etc. I have taken 6 months to just as little as two days to fully complete a cosplay. It really all depends on finding the EXACT materials I need to make it all come together.

CD: It all depends on the costume and the convention. How much work do you WANT to put into it? It will always show. Even if your costume is simple, execution is important. I usually get a lot of help from friends because I know I can’t usually do it all by myself.

SH: Every costume has its own challenges, and some are easier than others. I’m not one of those people that has to have it exactly right. If it’s close and gets the point across then I’m fine with that, but I do try to get as close to the original as I can, but the most important part for me is making it myself, not that it looks right.

N: Are you someone who is religious about sticking to the details or do you like to put your own spin on costumes? Do you try to be “in character” while cosplaying?

SH: As I mentioned before, I try to be a stickler about details, but I like it when the details are recognizable but homemade. Of course, I like to stay in character when in costume, although, after an hour an so, it can get in way of hanging out in a group if your character is always punching, stabbing or shooting people.

LL: Cosplay is definitely what you want to make of it. For me, I am meticulous when it comes to detail for characters. I am almost OCD when it comes to colors being accurate and having materials look like the game on which it’s based. Since I do play all the games and read quite frequently, I want to do justice to the characters I cosplay, so I feel the need to be fully accurate. That’s just how I do things and I honestly love the challenge on becoming a character fully while cosplaying. It’s almost an obsession of mine that makes me equally as happy on stage.

CD: I love to edit and design costumes- for instance, as my female version of the Tenth Doctor or human GLaDOS. Sometimes I like to customize costumes for the look. However, when going for an original costume, I am a super-stickler about details. If I can’t do something to my costume to make it authentic, I find someone who can. As for being in character, I don’t usually act the part unless people get REALLY excited. I may or may not rehearse a few lines before cons…

N: You’re each well known for a variety of characters and costumes, but which one is your favorite? 

LL: I have got to say my favorite cosplay to date is from a manga/anime that is dear to me, Claymore. I cosplayed Teresa Faint Smile. Luckily, during that whole convention where I debuted Teresa, my close friend Meagan Marie was alongside me cosplaying Clare. A cosplay dream of mine come true.

CD: I couldn’t say. Maybe my Zoey (Left 4 Dead) costume. It’s not great, but it’s the character with whom I identify most and also aspire to be. She’s a badass; she kicks Infected ass and takes names.

SH: Hmm, that’s choosing your favorite pet… the one that shits the least. As you know, I’m well known for donning the Wonder Woman outfit (which is worn a lot in this show) and I’m very comfortable in it and have spent some time in it. I also have a character I created who is high school mascot, the “Pirate-Turtle” (half pirate/half turtle), who cheers at Mathlete tourneys. He’s a lot of fun.

Photography by LJintoN: What’s your favorite memory or craziest experience you’ve had while cosplaying?

CD: God, I couldn’t name all of them, but I will say that one of my favorite experiences is running into people dressed in costumes from the same game/movie/anime. It’s one of the best feelings ever.

SH: I once had a job making an appearance as Robin for a three day men’s apparel convention in Vegas. I was able to sneak out, off the floor, and do a hand or two of blackjack as Robin. Nothing lightens the mood of blackjack table better than a cursing, drinking Robin the Boy Wonder.

LL: Ha ha! My craziest experience was actually on Just Cos! We were filming at NYCC and I received stunt practice with professionals in my Psylocke cosplay. Mind you, I was in full latex. It was insane! Lets just say it was insanity.

N: If you had unlimited time and money, what would your dream costume be?

CD: I have to say, I have such a thing for Miranda from Mass Effect, but I’d probably just stare at my ass all day.

SH: This may be a little “101,” but I’d try to re-create the original Adam West Batman costume. It’s so silly and slinky. I’m a classicist.

Photography by Long VoLL: I would have to be quite honest, and I think my fans know this, as well as my close friends, my dream cosplay would be a fully armored custom mecha-designed cosplay with fully working parts.

N: What words of advice would you give to a beginner interested in cosplay?

LL: Some advice I can sincerely give to a beginner cosplayer is to just do what you want! Have fun with cosplaying, enjoy the creativity that goes into making your costumes and make your friends do group costumes with you! It’s more fun with a team! And, lastly, do it because you love it!

SH: Be fearless, Be original. The character that you relate to the most is the one for you; don’t try to be a character you think people want to see.

CD: Just make things you love and do your best. Most important – and a lot of cosplayers forget this – have fun. It’s a hobby; don’t let it become something that stresses you out in a bad way. And if someone has something shitty to say about your costume, who cares? Cosplaying is something you do for YOU.

N: Apart from Just Cos, are there any other projects about which you’re excited that you can share with us?

SH: I’m continuing to do sketches on Late Night with Jimmy Fallon as well as commentary for VH1. Also, I do a some-what regular web series for NextMovie.com called Seth Herzog Breaks it Down, and I’m working on bringing the exciting highlights of my weekly live comedy show Sweet to the net.

CD: Not currently, but there may be something soon. :)

LL: Yes! I am actually working on a few projects with the vinyl toy industry, as well as a few shoe brands. I am a huge toy collector, so finally getting the chance to design toys and projects in my style is a big dream of mine. I am also teaming up with an artist on some pieces that will come out around August! That’s all I can say for now. :)

Just Cos premieres on The Nerdist Channel on YouTube this Sunday, May 20th. Be sure to subscribe and get in on the costumed capers as they unfold. Also, follow Chloe, Seth & Linda on the tweets!

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