Interview Gina B
Interview by: Roxy Lee GG|
Hi all, Roxy Lee back with yet another epic interview! This time I got the honor of interviewing one of the sexiest cosplayers I know, the gorgeous Gina B. Gina is well known for being an incredible fabricator, costumer and all around daring female in the cosplay community. I know I could never have the guts to wear the amazing costumes she has, and let me tell you, she looks good doing it. Also Gina’s Velma is one of the best out there, so follow along with us!
Gina B is relatively new to the cosplay community, but she is learning fast. She cosplays across various genres such as anime, cartoon, comics and video games. Even though she has been appearing in various online competitions, she tries to have fun with fans and friends whenever possible at cons, and exhibits a great passion for her costumes.
Roxy: Hey Gina! Thanks for chatting with us!
Gina: I should be the one thanking you! I am an avid fan of your page.
Roxy: Wow way to make us blush! Alright let’s dive in, when did you start cosplaying and how did you get into it?
Gina: Truthfully, I have two starting points. The first time was the summer between Middle and High school back in 2004, and the second time was in late 2010. I actually owe my exposure to cosplay from a girl who lived a block away from me. I cannot recall her appearance, nor her name, but she was a few years older than me, and I saw her frequently when I would walk home from school. Back in middle school, I was a quiet, shy type who always dressed overly tomboyish. One day walking home from school I ran into her and she saw my DBZ T shirt I was wearing and asked if I actually watched the show. When I told her I was an avid fan, she explained how she is an anime fan as well, and was attending a convention that summer in Baltimore. She described all the panels, and costumes, and fun that made up a convention, and I became mesmerized from it all. I was hell bent on going, and after doing various odd jobs, I was able to accumulate enough revenue to send myself. None of my family members wanted to go with me, so I had to pay an aunt to take me as well as all the hotel and badge fees. Once I got there though, I knew I found a community I wanted to be a part of.
I gave up cosplay and conventions though while I was in college. I couldn’t afford to travel, let alone dedicate time to costumes when school dominated so much of my life. I also traveled over seas, and attended Nanzan University in Japan. Despite being in the relative middle of the main island of Japan, I was forcefully removed a few weeks after the quake that hit the Sendai region. Upon my return to the States was when I found a rekindling of sorts for cosplay. Though I didn’t start to take cosplay “seriously” until August of 2012 when I made my fan page.
Roxy: Awesome, can you remember what your first cosplay and convention was?
Gina: I remember my first cosplay very well. Like I said before my first convention was Otakon in Baltimore. I was just turning 14 at the time, so I was not very learned in the realm of materials, but I was beyond proud of the outfit: Sango from Inu Yasha. I made her battle version, with pizza boxes covered in fabric for armor, along with a surgical mask colored silver for her metal mask. I look fondly at photos from that con. Everyone has to start somewhere, ya know? I simply started at a very low point on the totem pole. I actually remade the outfit in 2012 for Anime Expo with fiberglass armor and weapons. Ive learned just a little over the years!
Roxy: Hey we all start somewhere for sure! Now I know you create all of your own costumes? How did you learn to sew or fabricate?
Gina: I think people are generally amazed that I make what I do, and I don’t think many actually believe that I make not only my own costumes, but the props and armor as well. Its quite simple where I learned the skills that is necessary for cosplay: My mother is an art teacher and my father is a contractor. As a child, I would help my mother teach classes of adults on how to paint on fabric and canvas. By the time I was 5, she had me running some of her classes, and could trust me to assist her on murals for peoples homes. She facilitated most of my creative side when it came to “artsy” things. My father though, I would assist over the years when he needed help, or I needed money. I would do roofing and siding jobs, help remodel bathrooms and kitchens. Install decks and windows. I did a great deal of manual labor over the years for not only my father, but some of my uncles, making custom cabinets, or wiring the electric in houses. It is from there that I learned how to work with various power tools and became comfortable with a variety of medium. All I need to do for cosplay is simply utilize the tools I have access to, and apply it to what I would like to make. I have access to more power tools and materials than most people I feel simply because of my fathers company, and I try to take full advantage of it.
Roxy: That’s incredible! So do you have any tips for a new comer on sewing, construction or development of a costume?
Gina: I feel like everyone wants some sure fire way to be able to make a costume. Like the 10 minute abs workout equivalent to sewing. I am pretty sure there is no way to overnight be amazing at cosplay, but there are tips I can give that may change how people think of putting it together.
Personally when I am making a costume, the first thing I do is Google it. I look to see what other people have done. What elements work on it for them, and what doesn’t. I then make a list of the things I like from what others have done, and things I didn’t, so I can avoid those same issues. I then think about my body type, and how I sometimes need to mold myself to fit the shape of the character better. I think there is a huge stress in the cosplay community to make everything. But I think for beginners, that is quite silly. Don’t reinvent the wheel. If there is a pair of normal pants or shorts in the outfit, just go buy and wear them! Don’t make your life hard.
I also recommend to focus on time management. I always end up doing a great deal of panic sewing at the last moment, that could have been avoided easily if I simply managed my time better. A week to finish an outfit is too little. Give yourself at least a month to work on whatever it is, and if you finish it sooner than that month, then you are in a good place. As for construction: don’t forget support! If the character isn’t wearing a bra, that doesn’t mean you have to not wear one. If you are insistent to not wear one, then wear silicone or something. No one appreciates body parts flailing about at the con. I always wear things to support my body at all times. Structure is very important. Watch shows like project runway where you can see how they make things. Google patterns and what the words in the patterns mean. You will be amazed by how much you can learn from the internet these days!
Roxy: Ten minute abs was such a rip off…not that I bought it or anything lol. Now What has been your favorite costume to create and wear to date and why? What about that character drew you into wanting to portray them?
Gina: I would have to put Officer Jenny as one of my more favorite costumes to wear because it is comfortable to get in and out of, and comfortable to have on. Some of my costumes involve clear straps, or fashion tape or wigs that are heavy, but Jenny is easy to walk about in. Officer Jenny may be my most comfortable costume that Ive constructed everything in, but Velma has recently rose to the fore to be the most fun to bring to a con. I made Velma on a whim really. At the time I was hired to do some booth babeing for NYCC, and my booth manager asked that I wear something “family friendly”. I wont delude myself here: basically none of my costumes constitute as “family friendly”. I had found the orange sweater in a thrift store, and decided to last moment slap together a Velma outfit for that con. I had no idea how popular it would become, and was quite overwhelmed with the response to her. She is now one of my staple outfits, and I actually sometimes wear her on a Sunday of a con, don’t change out of the outfit, and wear her into the rest stops on the way home. It really is quite fun to see people with their quizzical eyebrows think they know Im dressed up as a character, but not want to ask me in fear of offending me if it is my real outfit. The more I cosplay as Velma, the more I affiliate with her. I have always been the booky, geeky girl of my social circles. I personally do wear glasses, and will constantly put them down for a moment while I sew or something and lose them in an instant, fumbling around to find them again. My boyfriend makes fun of me all the time how appropriate a costume Velma is to me.
Roxy: Your Velma photo we posted was and still is a fan favorite on GG ;) How do you choose which characters you are going to cosplay as? Do you ever take fan requests or is it solely based on personal preference and love?
Gina: Originally, I would simply make characters who I had a deep love for, like Sango from Inu Yasha. When I got older though, I started to pick characters that I felt I resemble within the fandom that I love. For example, I love the game Darkstalkers, and out of all of them, I find that I am more skilled with Jedah. When I decided I wanted to make a costume from that fandom though, I felt that I looked more like Felicia, and though I cannot play her as well, went ahead with that outfit to show my appreciation for the overall game. I think I would have made a very poor Jedah had I chosen to make him, and I would rather represent a character well, than look silly. I always turned down people who request costumes simply because of money. I don’t go to enough cons to fit in random cosplay, nor do I have the resources to just pop out 30 new outfit’s a year, so I just turned a blind eye to those requests…until recently. I was commissioned to make an alternate outfit for Cammy from Street Fighter, and I was paid as a normal commission, for the materials and labor to wear it. It was my first time doing it, and it went pretty smoothly. I may consider doing that once in a blue moon in the future, but for the most part, I try to pick things that I truly want to make.
Roxy: I know some of the cosplays you do and have done have been on the sexier side, how do you feel about this stigma with women in the cosplay community being deemed as “Attention seekers” or “Fake geeks” because we choose to do characters that might be sexualized? Where did the confidence come from to be able to wear these costumes?
Gina: Well, they say people who live in glass houses shouldn’t be the one to throw stones. I am not sure I am the best to ask about this, since it is odd when it comes to this topic. There are plenty of girls who cosplay purely for attention and some is for the love of the character. But in the end, attention probably is a very strong factor. Why would we care about page likes, and competition votes if it wasn’t about attention and exposure? Its all of a sudden when a girl actually doesn’t know what she is dressed as and as a “fake geek” puts herself in the world of cosplay that it becomes an issue. But who is one person to determine if the love of a fandom another person holds is enough? I love Ghost in the Shell, and made a Major Kusanagi outfit. I am constantly approached then and asked random questions, testing my knowledge on not only characters, but the symbolism of the series. I humor some people, and ignore others. Who cares that I watched the series about 4 or 5 times, or that I actually wrote a few papers in college on symbolism and humanity with that series as one of my sources? In the end it comes down to: Do I look like the Major or not. If I do, then it should be appreciated. If I don’t, well then I don’t care. I always love it when a person who strongly resembles a character wears an outfit that is so detailed that they appear to truly be that character. I don’t care if that outfit was done on a commission, or if they made it or not…does it look good? Yes? Then props to that person for making it happen.
I know though that the question was directed though to the realm of the scandalous, and I know that this is where that topic gets sticky. Some characters have sex appeal designed into the outfit, and don’t require a person to do anything else, then pose like the character to bring that sex appeal to the fore. An example of this is my Mai Shiranui. She is already so scandalously clad as a character that when I pose, I stick more to fight poses and victory stances. Why do I need to roll on the floor and show my boobs for added sex appeal? That is rather unnecessary for that outfit. I think it is when a girl goes to that extreme that I find it distasteful.
Now, I cannot recall the name of the individual, but there was a girl a few months ago who had a photo circulate of her becoming Venom, with the liquid latex poured on her naked form and her screaming in her bathroom floor as she was taken over by it. She had no nipple nor vagina visible, but she was still naked and it was so artfully showcasing her donning the persona of Venom that I actually was quite impressed. That is using her sex appeal in a constructive way. There are others though who simply wear corsets and garter belts in costumes where it doesn’t belong to make it more sexy, and because it loses the original integrity of what the outfit should be portraying is when I find it distasteful.
It all comes down to the character I think. As Velma, I wouldn’t ever do anything dripping in sex appeal because she isn’t that type of character. A flash of butt, or a sexy face is enough sex appeal to make her desired as a character. But she is fundamentally a shy booky girl, and should be treated as such when it comes to posing. Why would I dress up as Hawkgirl if I was to tear my shirt off in a passionate way? That is so against the character and everything she is. Whereas a character say, like my Kanu from Ikkitousen, is a character built upon fan service: that may be more excusable.
I guess some females feel that they must reveal more than others to be popular even if it means destroying the integrity of the character. Now, do I consider myself one of those females? No. I figure I can wear a Victoria Secret bathing suit and be exposing the same amount of skin as my costumes. Are some of my costumes scandalous? Yes. But always within the parameter of who the character is; I try to keep the integrity of who I am portraying in mind.
Roxy: I couldn’t of said it better myself, Bravo! *Gina is referring to Freddie Nova and Superhero Photography by Adam Jay’s venom latex set* How different do you think we as women are treated when it comes to fandom if at all? What do you feel cosplay means to you?
Gina: I recently read an article complaining that there is a higher rate of female cosplayers than male, and that there are more inappropriately dressed female cosplayers than male. But if we all took a step back and thought about it for a moment, I could probably find a valid reason as to why. When playing, say, an MMO online, you are given the choice of being male or female of whatever race you are joining. There are generally the heavily armored or covered up or what have you type of male, and the scantily clad females. There are many men who chose to play as a female simply because they like the character in looks, or performance or what not. Furthermore, it is more often that you find a scandalous outfit for females, than for males. I find something funny though in this category: A guy can cosplay as say, a battle damage Goku. He goes shirtless, and has one pant leg ripped off, and tears in the other pant leg. Despite the fact that there is probably an equal amount of fabric that goes into a female cosplayers “scandalous” cosplay, or even maybe less fabric involved in his, he is still considered non sexual or overly exposing anything. I think people get too caught up in the whole male to female ratio thing, and that there really isn’t as big of an issue as everyone makes it out to be. Women are faced with harsh judgement, yes, but so are guys. When a male is over weight or has a poor costume he is slandered just as much as a girl who misrepresents a character. It just so happens that there is probably more girls attempting to make outfits than males at the moment that it seems more prevalent for females making costumes?
Regardless to that drama, cosplay means a great deal to me. It provides an artistic outlet for me that I crave. I love to craft. I love to cook and paint and create anything with my own two hands, so cosplay really fits into that category. It also gets me out and about meeting new people and forging friendships. I am not nearly as crazy or loud mouthed when I am out of costume. Cosplay lets me be a whole new and exciting person, and I love how that makes me feel. I also love to be able to represent a character in a fandom. I admire many of the characters that I cosplay as because they are strong willed women who have their life situated, and a firm grasp on reality. These are traits I wish to have myself, and I feel like I can identify with them more when I don their persona at a con.
Roxy: Ageed! What events will you be attending this year?
Gina: oh man, I have so much planned! 2013 will be a very busy year indeed for me. I already attended Katsucon, but this season I also have cons and events such as Sakura Matsuri, Anime Boston, Anime Expo, Otakon, Dragon*con and NYCC in my sights. Depending on how commissions go, will be whether I can actually afford to get there or not, but that’s what I have tentative costume lineups planned for!
Roxy: Perfect! Now time for my lightning round!
1. Favourite movie: Gladiator
2. Favourite TV show: Project Runway
3. Favourite Geek celebrity: Hugo weaving (he is in all the good geeky movies!)
4. Favourite Superhero/Villain: Green Lantern/ Mystique
5. Favourite game (Pc, console, table top etc): Okami
6. Favourite Super power to have: I would love to be Mystique, hands down.
7. Favourite Character to dress up as: Officer Jenny
8. Favourite comic book: Sword of Truth series
9. Favourite Artist or director: Peter Jackson
10. Favorite website: does fanfiction.net count? haha
Roxy: It sure does. Now Please take this time to plug all of your pages where we can find your work or any other projects you are a part of that we should check out, and also any final words for your fans and ours?
Gina: sure thing! My main three sites where I can be found are facebook
, and Twitter
. I always post progress photos to twitter, and my official photos appear on my facebook first!
I am beyond flattered that I am starting to be noticed in the cosplay community. I always try to respond to those who message me things, as long as they are respectful. Feel free to post on my page or ask questions on my facebook page for my new you tube channel that I started up of “ask me anything Mondays”. Though the cosplay community has turned into a competitive community, there are still plenty of us who remember what it was like when it was more open and welcoming. Those people are the ones who will always try to help when asked. Remember, everyone needs to start somewhere when it comes to an outfit, and you shouldn’t feel bad asking for help when google doesn’t seem to answer your costuming issues!
Roxy: And I respect that about you so much! Gina I cannot thank you enough for taking the time to chat with me, I know our fans and yours will be thrilled to read up on the woman behind the amazing talent! I cannot wait to see what you get up to next and hope to see you at an event soon!
Gina: You give me too much credit; I really am flattered. I know for this year though, I have some really big stuff planned costume wise….I hope that I continue to impress!
Roxy: I’m sure you will! There you have it Geeks and Geekettes Gina B is definitely one to watch out for. Please go check her out she has some incredible work on all of her pages and also does commissions! Show her some love and stay tuned for some more epic interviews!
-Roxy Lee GG <3
Cosplayer: Gina B
Officer Jenny: Vask photography
Major Kusangai: RH photography
Seung Mina: Elysiam Entertainment
Mai Shiranui: Feixing Chen
Velma: Ash B photography
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March 30 2013