Crystal Rose Schaefer Interview
Eric Renderking Fisk | February 22nd, 2016
Eric Renderking Fisk: Let's start with the question I ask all the time because it's the everyone wants to be answered... how did you get into costume replica or dieselpunk? And tell us about your background. What brought you tho this moment and place?
Crystal Rose Schaefer: Well, I was in Foster Care for 7 years. I was bullied, harassed, and felt like I didn't belong. I didn't have any hobbies to express myself. A year and half after I left Foster Care, I became aware of Cosplay and Steampunk. And it has given me so many memories, both good and bad, incredible experiences, and has brought out talents I never knew I had.
Cosplay and Steampunk make me happy. It helps me to be more creative. It helps me to manage my time, my money, and helps me to solve problems by being more creative and resourceful. It boosts my self confidence and social skills. It also brings out my inner child. It makes my childhood come to life. To say, 'hey I had dinner with Batman, Spider-man, and Deadpool the other day' is phenomenal, even though they are your friends in costume.
Eric Renderking Fisk: That seems to be a recurring theme with a lot of these interviews, depending on which gets published next, you're either the third, fourth, or merely just the second person to tell me that!
Let's talk about the cosplay community more for a second more; How important have these groups been to you and how have these groups changed or influenced your life outside of them? Have some of those relationships spilled into the everyday ‘normal’ world?
And what's your general feelings about our community in general?
Crystal Rose Schaefer: Some of the groups I am in consist of very inspiring and positive people who have lifted me up and brightened my life. They work very hard at what they do, both for Cosplay and for their everyday lives such as at their jobs or school. They are very dedicated and creative individuals. Not only have they been there for me through Cosplay but during my most personal times as well, outside of Cosplay. Some have become very dear and loyal friends to me.
However, in all communities, all hobbies, there's always a few bad apples in the bunch. The Cosplay Community itself has decreased to a very low and vile level. A hobby that was once about fun and creativity is now about judgement and competiton, and it shouldn't be. The Bullying I've seen within the community itself is far worse then the Bullying I've seen else where.
But to stop this, people need to stop acknowledging it and actually do something about it. Yes, we are aware that Bullying within our community exists, but what are we doing to stop it? We need to make panels, we need to remind people that Cosplay play is about FUN and Play. That everyone can Cosplay no matter the age, gender, size, or race. It's about Cosplay equality. Helping each other to rise, not fall.
Eric Renderking Fisk: You and I belong to a group called “Cosplayers United Against Harassment” which discusses another recurring theme with cosplayers, especially women in the cosplay community. Even I’ve experienced some forms of harassment like inappropriate requests. There are more than a few people that asks to show us either nude or other pictures of sexual nature, how do you handle those requests?
Crystal Rose Schaefer: When it comes to unwanted sexual messages and requests, sometimes simple flirting can turn into full-blown sexting. The first step to getting someone to stop sexting you is to simply request they stop contacting you this way. But do not respond negatively. Be mature and polite but firm.
If that doesn't work, you can block or unfriend that person on Facebook, Twitter or any other social media connections. But if worse comes to worse, consider getting law enforcement involved if they do not stop or the other person pursues you other ways (such as stalking, threatening or harassing).
Eric Renderking Fisk: Why do you think that those people think that’s allowed or even welcome?
Crystal Rose Schaefer: I believe the main reason why some people feel it's welcomed or sexually harassed others is to fulfill their lustful desires. Its more about power then lust, to be honest. They feel satisfied when they harass the opposite sex because it gives them a feeling like having sex with that person. When a person rejects their sexual pursuits, they feel defeated. They feel blocked, as if their power to try and control another person has been lost.
People who harass others never think of themselves as creeps, sickos, weirdos. According to society a lot of people say they are “lonely,” or “misunderstood". Even if true, they are not reasons to harass someone.
Eric Renderking Fisk: There are also a few of cosplayers that are trying to turn our hobby into something else, like cosplay porn or cosplay fetish porn. Is there room for sexuality or nudity in Cosplay?
Crystal Rose Schaefer: It's such a very sensitive topic when it comes to sexy Cosplays and nudity within the community. But for my personal beliefs, I believe you have every right to dress the way wish. Go for it. But keep in mind, the way you dress will attract wanted and unwanted attention from all ages and sexes. You must be prepared for that.
However, when I see both male and female Cosplayers modify costumes to turn them into more of a sexual fantasy type of costume, like modifying Darth Vader into just a black Bikini and a Darth Vader mask, that's when I have a problem. If you're doing it for a Playboy article in Star Wars, I get it. Makes sense. But to actually call it "Cosplay", I don't think so. I believe you're disrespecting the character and creator of that character itself.
Of course everyone has heard the term "sex sells" and most indeed it does. If you were to place two Cosplayers next to each other Cosplaying the same character, say Deadpool, but two different versions, one version being based off the accurate costume design of the character and the other off a more revealing costume design of the character, like a miniskirt and crop top, who do you believe would grab most of the attention? The most revealing Cosplayer of course. And this discourages a lot of people who wish to Cosplay.
Is it fair? Absolutely not. But it's the way society thinks and flows. Sex will always sell. Always. To TV commercials, movies, books, everything.
Eric Renderking Fisk: Switching gears – folks love reading about the creative process so of course we want to know how you come up with your ideas for your costumes!
Crystal Rose Schaefer: When it comes to creating new costumes, I don't just pick a random character and Cosplay it, haha. I usually pick a character I find that I can easily portray, wont cost me an arm and a leg, and most specially if it's someone I can relate to, whether it being a male or female or even an animal character.
If I can relate to that character on a personal level and have a special connection, it makes Cosplaying that character 110% more enjoyable. You are bring the character to life and it will most definitely show when you Cosplay it. People will notice your love and passion for that specific character.
Eric Renderking Fisk: How do you go about making your plans or patterns for your costumes?
Crystal Rose Schaefer: When I am building my costume, I start from head to toe. What do I need, how long will it take to make it, and what will be the budget for this Cosplay. I always start head to toe and write everything I need down. Luckily someone made an app for your phone/tablet called "Cosplanner".
Cosplanner is an app where you can create and manage all your cosplays. You'll know the progress percentage of them, you can save reference images of the character, know the total cost and time you've invested in making each of its elements and the time lapse of your project. It saves you alot of enegery!
Eric Renderking Fisk: How about learning the craft? Do you do your own sewing or do you outsource?
Crystal Rose Schaefer: When it comes to sewing and making my own.
Unfortunately when it comes to make the Cosplay itself, I can not sew to save my life. Maybe a little bit of hand sewing but that's it! Most of my Cosplays are commissioned, bought, or modified. I have no skill in sewing therefore I look else where for my costumes.
And to be clear, there is no shame in buying a costume or having it commissioned. But if commissioned, make sure to credit all those who made the costume for you. Don't falsely claimed workmanship!
Eric Renderking Fisk: What material do you like to use for the costume? What about your props and how you either make them or acquire them? Is there a favorite prop store?
Crystal Rose Schaefer: When it comes to props, I usually make my own props, depending in the difficult level. Making props is rather easy if your not too picky with material and you have a rather creative and resourceful mind. I made my Harley Quinn Cupcake Bomb out of recycled Kitchen Containers! Haha!
Thrift stores are a Cosplayers best friend. Great place to find costumes or even props. Things that can be easily modified into something new! But not everyone has that skill to make their own props. So, again, you can either buy it on an online website or you can have someone commission it for you!
Eric Renderking Fisk: So, I have to ask… what are your pet peeve’s about the hobby?
Crystal Rose Schaefer: Couple of pet peeves i have when it comes to Cosplay is when the Cosplayers or models treat their photographers like dirt. I've witnesses many Cosplayers respond rudely to their photographers, not crediting their work, making unnecessary changes to the photos such as horrid Photoshop.
Another would be Cosplayers whining that they aren't getting any attention from their Cosplays. They claim to be Cosplaying for fun and for themselves when in reality they are doing the exact opposite. All they want is the attention and "fame" it brings. Cosplay is for fun, and that's the way it should be. Keep the "play" in "Cosplay"!
Other pet peeves can included Cosplayers asking for hand outs. I've seen many Cosplayers use GoFundMe, a website that is poorly misused, to ask people to donate money to them to make a new Costume or to attend a convention. It is unfair for those who have jobs, work hard, and scrap every little penny to save up for a new Costume or convention. Now, if you offer commissions such as styling wigs, making props or costumes for others, and use that money to fund your new Costume or event, that's totally fine. You're working hard for what you want. You are actually achieving your own goals without having others do it for you. You know? No one wants to work for what they want anymore.
Eric Renderking Fisk: Thanks to the internet Steampunk, Dieselpunk and cosplay in general has become mainstream. Costuming has become more popular than ever, do you think it’s helped or hurt the hobby? Now that it’s lost some of its “secret society” vibe to it, is it less fun or now it’s more exciting?
Crystal Rose Schaefer: I think it's now more exciting to see people of all ages being invovled in a crazy, unique, creative hobby such as Cosplay and Steampunk. It helps people get involved within the community. We can create new groups, new activities, charity events. We can make a difference by spreading positivity, love and support. I would rather see my own children do Cosplay then focus on drugs, alcohol, and crime.
Eric Renderking Fisk: What do you think the future holds for this hobby?
Crystal Rose Schaefer: I think the future will hold a lot of new exciting adventures and opportunities for people of the Cosplay Community. Cosplay started out as a very small hobby, not many people were into it. Up until 15 years ago where now it's more of a mainstream thing. And it being mainstream is not a bad thing at all! If this hobby continues to be positively influential to peple of all ages, race, and size, we can build a wonderful community for all.
Eric Renderking Fisk: What are your plans for the future and where do you want to go with it?
Crystal Rose Schaefer: For me, my plans for the future with Cosplay is to just keep making more costumes, attend conventions, and try to keep spreading positive vibes throughout the community. This is a hobby for me and always will be. I really can't wait to see what the future unravels for me