Interview: Sofia Staley, Argentinian Cosplayer
Greetings all, today I'm happy to bring an interview I thought PSXE readers might appreciate.
Since Ben has covered cosplay now and then and it has brought many questions along with jeers and cheers on the subject. I thought it might be appropriate to get some information from a regular cosplayer.
As it happened I ran into Miss Staley while perusing a Dreamcast forum in Facebook, as I am want to do, and found her dressed as Ulala from Space Channel 5. I asked on a whim for an interview and she graciously accepted. She would like to let us know that her English isn't perfect but to try to stick with her the best we can.
PSXE: Hello Sofia, first I'd like to thank you for agreeing to talk to us. We have covered cosplay only sporadically over the years and it seems like some of our readers just get it, some just love it, and some just don't get it at all. I hope our conversation can enlighten folks a bit about what you do and why you do it as well as how you see yourself fitting into gaming writ large.
PSXE: Could you please tell us a little by way of introduction? A short bio if you will.
Staley: Well, I’m 25 years old. I’m living alone since I turned 18, and I’m from Buenos Aires, Argentina. I work in a finance company and I get paid enough to live by myself and spend a bit in games.
PSXE: How did you get into dressing up as game characters?
Staley: It started a few months ago. I met a guy who organizes huge video games expositions and I was into a Sega group on facebook as an admin (because Sega is my favourite brand), so he was on it too, and he saw something that nobody seen before, at least in Argentina: Sega was still alive. There are a lot of people who remember this brand because it was really popular here in the 90’s. And the best part of all, a girl was running the place, it’s really hard to find a girl who plays retro videogames these days, and I was doing everything there. I’m very active on the group, I post info all the time, pics, my costumes, etc. so he decided to give me a space in the expo. It was beneficial for him, because I’ve got some followers who come there to greet me and play some games. It’s not a great benefit for me because I have to take all my consoles on my own, and sometimes I lose money ‘cause the pads break easily, but the most gratifying thing for me is watching the people playing just like the kids we used to be in the 90’s. And that’s the answer. I think it’s my passion. So I’m open to give people what they would enjoy. That’s why I started with the cosplay thing.
PSXE: A gamer once said on our site "You dress up, and then what?" So my question is his; then what? Money, pictures, fans, fame? Help us out Sofia.
Staley: I don’t care about money and even less so fame. My goal is to see people happy. It sounds stupid and superficial, but believe or not I didn't have a happy childhood. But I remember having a lot of fun and making friends thanks to video games. And when I’m trying to revive a forgotten character I see how people recall their childhood. It’s like… it makes me mourn those days of happiness. You feel like the hero of your childhood and as if you are getting back a piece of your life. Watching little boys or girls asking you for a pic, or a hug, it’s very emotional for a person like me.
PSXE: In America "booth babes" have all but been abolished under the premise that it is sexist to have women dressed up in sexy outfits to promote games at events. What are your thoughts on that as an international cosplay figure?
Staley: I think it’s marketing. Sex sells, you know. But I don’t have those kinds of feminist thoughts. Not only the girls are sexy in their outfits, also the guys!, you see them with their muscles and perfect bodies, pretty faces… I don’t know much about the situation of North America. But here, we have also some pretty hot girls, average like me, little kids, people who aren't considered perfect or beautiful and it’s pretty cool. Everyone can do it, doesn’t matter if you are tall, small, fat or too skinny. At least, I don’t have a super hot body and until now, nobody said nothing bad to me.
PSXE: Tell us about your gaming life. We have a lot of JRPG lovers here along with western RPGs, racing fans, friends of stealth, comitted fighting game experts and of course straight up action. Which genres and games are you into? Feel free to mention favorites.
Staley: Last year I bought an Xbox One and I also have the 360 and I play a lot of FPS games. I don’t know if they are my favourites, but they’re so addictive!, and it’s surprising when I’m thinking about it because the last console I had was the Dreamcast, and I never played FPS before.. I like also sandbox games when you are free to do what you want and the fighting games that are classics. And I’m a big fan of GTA sagas. I’ve a gta san andreas tattoo on my arm. I also like puzzles and adventure games. Very varied.
PSXE: How are you generally recieved at events by both males and females? Gamers have a rep for being immature, does that hold up in reality?
Staley: YES THEY ARE. But not in real life!. Gamer boys are so shy with women in general. Most of them come and take some pics of me or ask something and then leave. But when you’re on the internet, they are totally different. You know what I mean… they ask for weird things and sometimes it becomes a little annoying, but it’s the internet, If something or someone disturbs me, I block him or her and it’s over. I guess that happens to everyone, not just the cosplayers. And the girls I’ve met, in my experience I like them all. I know sometimes there exist some fights between them when they are competing, but the few girls I know are really nice and supportive with other cosplayers.
PSXE: What does it feel like to wear the costume of a favorite hero or heroine? Are you just you having fun, or do you channel the character?
Staley: I’m very shy. I’m trying to look as close to the character as possible, but I can’t do a performance or talk in public. When you do a good costume and you see how people like it you realize you’re doing it right!, you are bringing memories to the people who see you and it feels so nice. If you dress like very strikingly sexy and you’re not too much into the character, you will get nothing other than horny guys around you… and that’s not the objective of a cosplayer.
PSXE: Tell us the best thing about cosplaying.
Staley: The pics, of course. I like when you find another person who’s making another character and they get together and take some pics. Sometimes there are a lot of photographers in the places you go with your costume, and when you see how you look in the pics it’s kinda a big motivator! You want to do another character, and then another… it’s very fun and I noticed all the cosplayers feel the same. I saw them characterizing something and when the expo is done, they run to buy another wig or clothes to make another costume.
PSXE: Are there any myths you'd like to dispel about the profession/hobby?
Staley: You don’t have to be a supermodel, you don’t have to look hot. There are no rules. You only have to focus in make something that you like and think that people have to like it too. That’s all, anyone can do this. Look at me, I’m only 4'12" and I don’t have a perfect body. I spent more time in front of the Xbox than at the gym. So, feel free to do what you like, and don’t listen to stereotypes.
PSXE: Do people get nitpicky about things, such as your tattoos?
Staley: Not really. They look at them like WOW. Yes I know you don’t see everyday a girl with a gta san andreas tattoo, bubble bobble, sega genesis and sonic tattoos. But people, it’s my childhood. I didn’t ruin my skin forever to get attention from some guys. Maybe if I had a normal happy childhood I would look different and I would like different stuff than gaming. If I were a person who had female friends, maybe today I would be buying makeup or expensive clothes or shoes. I’m into games because I used to be a lonely person. When you’re young and fat and ugly and people discriminate too much, you find other things to do. That for me was Sega and music. That’s why am I what I am now. And one of the best things I can rescue from those days are videogames. They saved me from depression, so I got them on my skin forever, so I’ll never regret them and I will always remember who I was, even when I’m not fat or ugly anymore.
PSXE: Do you think what you do is different from say a fan of the renaissance festival dressing up to attend one of those medieval venues?
Staley: Well, I only do costumes from things I enjoyed when I was little. I can’t do everything. Even if someone says to me, Hey put this costume on, it’s very sexy, people will love and I’ll pay to you… No, I’m not a model, I do it because I like it and I hope people feel the same when they see me.
PSXE: Do you make you own costumes? How do they come about?
Staley: Unfortunately, I don’t even know how to stich a panty, haha. I’d never learn how to make and I don’t think I want to. So I don’t have any problem paying anything to anyone who can make me a costume.
PSXE: Any final thoughts?
Staley: Considering what I said about bullying. I don’t care what people think about me now because I’m getting older and my body changed a lot, so there’s nothing I have to worry as much about now. But If someone who has been bullied like me is reading this, I want you to know that if it makes you feel upset and depressed, you need to know, beauty is in the eye of the viewer. And we all have different views of the world. I think every person of this world has something to offer. Everyone has a special talent. I’m not saying I have an uknown talent because I can do a lot of things partway and I don’t think I’m great at anything special. But I don't need that to be happy. Everyone needs to do what they makes them happy. Keep your mind busy and you will see the result. Work hard to get what you want. Nothing comes easily. And most importantly, the mirror doesn’t always tell the truth. That’s all :)
We'd like to thank Sofia Staley for her time and input on the subject, it certainly sounds like cosplay is a passion that is just as integral to the gaming hobby as any other passion surrounding what it is we love around here. We wish her the very best moving forward and hope to see more of her pics in the future.
2/12/2016 David D. Nelson