This past as I was walking back to Gen Con I stopped to take a photo of a few lovely cosplayers who were dining outside a local dining establishment. They were performing in a geek burlesque show, the D20 Burlesque and, after a bit of a chat I knew my readers would enjoy getting to know a bit about them too. So we went back to the convention center and did video interviews as well as follow up, text interviews. This is the first of the three interviews with the sweet and sexy Stella Chuu from New York City. Stella has been cosplaying for ten years and performing burlesque for 2 1/2 years.
John Collins (JC): Thanks for agreeing to an interview with me! You are known for your cosplays as well as your burlesque performances. What characters have you cosplayed?
Stella Chuu (SC): I've cosplayed dozens of characters in the last few years. Most notable are Psylocke from Marvel Universe, Rei Ayanami from Neon Genesis Evangelion, Alisa Bosconovitch from Tekken, Elysium and Ivy Valentine from Soul Calibur, Inori Yuzuriha from Guilty Crown, Doll from Black Butler, Julia from Cowboy Bebop, Captain Scarlett from Borderlands 2, and Shampoo from Ranma 1/2. I also do some joke cosplays like Mermaid Man from Spongebob Squarepants, Jayne Cobb from Firefly, and Pedobear.
(JC): How did you get into cosplaying?
(SC): I've been an anime fanatic since my preteens. I started an anime club at my high school and ran the anime club in college. I've also played video games since as long as I can remember, starting with Nintendo. My first cosplay was Sakura from Naruto back when I was 15 years old. I can't explain why I started cosplaying but it has become a natural part of my life.
(JC): Do you make your own costumes and if so, what portions?
(SC): There is a fine balance. I work a lot in collaboration with other artists and commission out some of my stuff. This is after all an artistic community. One that I aim to support. There's so much talent out there and I really enjoy the collaborative efforts. So to answer your question. Yes, I do make my costumes but I also have help from others. I constantly aim to improve my craft and I'm working on some really cool projects right now that I can't wait to debut. Keep an eye out on my Facebook page for updates on what and when you will be able to see them.
I make about half of my costumes and commission others. I have amazing talented friends who are professional seamstresses. I only started learning to craft about 2 years ago. I taught myself how to sew and create props. It has been a difficult process and I'm improving everyday.
(JC): What was the hardest costume you ever came up with? Your favorite? Your next?
(SC): My toughest costume to date is Captain Scarlett. She has a peg leg and a hook hand. Do you know how hard it is to create a peg leg and a hook hand?! It was a lot of fun though and made entirely by me. I sewed the entire costume and made all the props. It was a rewarding accomplishment.
My favorite prop would be my tentacle monster chair that I created for a hentai-themed burlesque act. It includes 8 giant sparkling tentacles that can be puppeteered. My next big project is Mako Mori from Pacific Rim. I can't wait to build this incredible suit of armor!
My favorite prop is my tentacle monster chair for my hentai burlesque act. It includes 8 giant, sparkly tentacles that can be puppeteered.
My next big cosplay project is Mako Mori from Pacific Rim. I'm super excited to work on such a strong female character. Her armor suit is going to be a fun challenge.
(JC): Are you involved in the creative arts in other ways? Modeling? Acting? Artist? Writer? Etc?
(SC): I try my hand at as many projects as I can. I've written a beginners guide to cosplay, I run panels at conventions about feminism and others on etiquette, and I do pinup and alternative modeling. My interests lay in geekery and I'd like to contribute to the community however I am able.
(JC): Do you have any current projects you would like to tell us about?
(SC): I am the co-producer of RAWR! Burlesque, which is cabaret and burlesque entertainment. We have a monthly show and a quarterly geeky-themed show. So far we've done a Monty Python tribute show and a Cult Movie Classics show. Our next show in October will be history themed.
(JC): Who inspires you to be creative?
(SC): I follow talented cosplayers Yaya Han, Vampy, Jessica Nigri, Monika Lee and many others. Their work pushes me to improve my craft. I always look to do better and spend a lot of time seeing what others are doing. The growing community is inspiring in its own right. I aim to help keep it going just as it helps keep me going.
(JC): Where do you desire to go from here?
(SC): I'd like to travel the world doing cosplay and performing burlesque. It would be a dream to take my love international.
(JC): Very cool! Where can we look forward to seeing you this year?
(SC): I'll be running a panel "You Game Like a Girl: Tales of Trolls and White Knights" at PAX Prime as well as performing with D20 Burlesque on Saturday night. I'll also be performing at Escapist Expo and Dystopia Rising. You can catch me at my booth at NYCC selling signed prints. Next year, I'll be at Katsucon, Colossalcon, Otakon, Anime Expo, and Fanime.
(JC): Thanks so much for taking the time to chat with me and one final question, where can folks find you on the web?
(SC): Check out my Facebook fan page http://www.stellachuu.com/
Follow me on Twitter: http://twitter.com/StellaChuuuuu
Follow me on Instagram - www.instagram.com/stellachuuuuu
and visit my website - www.stellachuu.com
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