If you read my Australia Day post, then you might remember one of the more exciting things that I saw at the Australia Day parade: the Melbourne Costume Group.
Image from the Melbourne Costume Group’s facebook page.
I was later able to catch up with the group’s organizers, Anne O’Reilly and Jen Sasson, to get a little bit of insight into the Melbourne Costume Group. For any of my cosplay friends out there, this is a fun one!
Natashadventure (NA): According to the “about” section on facebook, MCG began in 2010 when it was noticed that there was a “lack of support for cosplayers in between convention appearances.” Do you have any thoughts on why this support was lacking?
Anne O’Reilly (AO): The Star Wars 501st and Rebel Legion are recognised costume groups that have a proud history of being able to use their hobby in a way to help others in the community. However not everyone is a Star Wars fan, so there was need to expand that idea into other areas.
Image of Anne O’Reilly in a blue ball gown. Photo courtesy of Ian Stubber.
Jen Sasson (JS): Simply, large scale conventions like Supanova did not exist in Melbourne 10 years ago. Obviously there was still a bit of a cosplay scene (Manga, anyone?) but generally there was nowhere to vent your creativity. Costuming was still considered a no-no and was restricted to fancy dress parties and behind closed doors. It took Gen Y to make cosplaying cool and acceptable… and this coming from a Gen Xer!
Image of Jen Sasson as “Monster Book of Monsters.” Photo courtesy of Ian Stubber.
NA: How do you think Melbourne compares to other Australian cities as far as interest in cosplay?
AO: I haven’t been to any cosplay events outside of Melbourne. But I have seen some wonderful costumes at conventions here by the interstaters. Also, South Australia is the home of the Australian Costume Guild which has been around for many years and is well respected.
JS: I’ve been to quite a few cons in both Brissie, Sydney and even Auckland. Brisbane cosplayers are still my favourite (but only just) It’s such a huge scene up there and anyone willing to costume up in full body armour on a 40 degree day, deserves my respect! They do seem to have that bit of extra craziness about them… maybe the humidity sets them off?!!! That said, the Melbourne scene may have started off a bit slow, but they’ve come so far in such a short time. There’s so much talent in Melbourne and its getting bigger and better every year. This is why we are delighted to offer our guys an alternative to cosplaying rather than the restrictive 3 – 4 cons per year. We find MCG members will debut their costumes at the conventions, then wear them to our events. A new audience every time… works a treat!
NA: Who seem to be the favorite cosplayers at your events? What characters are most popular?
AO: Capt America, Jack Sparrow, Batman, Batgirl and any of the Disney Princesses.
JS: Depends on the type of event. ATM I’d say Brett’s Captain Jack Sparrow. That said, Andrew’s Batman was pulling them in at the recent Australia Day Parade! The princesses & superheroes are always a hit no matter where we go, and I’ve also noticed lately that MCG members have been talking about creating bigger & better costumes, especially for the parades. They’re a fun and competitive mob but I think there’s some serious competition brewing!
(Images above from the MCG’S facebook page.)
NA: How did your interest in cosplay begin?
AO: At the age of five when I my mother made me a Robin costume
JS: I vaguely remember as a five year old donning my older brother’s superman outfit which prompted me into believing I could fly… and testing that theory by jumping off the shed roof. Once I outgrew that outfit I thought I could extend its life by dressing the family dog in the costume until he ripped it to shreds. Then there was my Hong Kong Phooey outfit with my dressing gown… oh and a cowboy faze I went through – all before I hit double figures. No princesses though – with 5 older brothers, I never really had a chance!
NA: Are there any particularly magical cosplay moments that stick out in your mind? Your favorite in character moment?
AO: At the Melbourne premier of ‘Return of the Jedi’, I was dressed as Princess Leia and there was a little girl who thought I really was Princess Leia. Seeing the look in children’s eyes is amazing
JS: Hmmm… so many. The weekend trip away to a Lego expo at Phillip Island which prompted the comment “What happens on the Island, stays on the Island”. So I could tell you, but I’d have to kill you. I will say that 9 cosplayers crammed into a hostel room are bound to create many memorable moments. We also made a giant prison prop for Armageddon last year and one of the guests Marty, from ‘Pirates of the Caribbean’ locked us in the gaol and ran off with the key.
NA: Is there a membership fee for this group, or can anyone with a suitable costume show up? Are there monthly/annual meetings?
AO: No, anyone can join our FB group. However for major events we ask for applications for approval. We also organise social events like film days and we have a picnic coming up.
JS: Yes. You pay me $1,000,000 in unmarked $20.00 notes due on the 1st day of each month. Unfortunately, no one has yet to pay up, but I live in hope… We do ask our guys & gals to have costumes of a high standard and depending on the event, to be recognisable. For example, The Good Friday Appeal is more child-orientated, so our cosplayers need to be aware of this when choosing a costume. The parades… they can get away with a lot more. Generally, organisers will inform us beforehand what they want and we’ll pass the info on. We do have the occasional meeting especially in the lead up to conventions to organise what we want to do and to have a bit of a brain-storming session.
NA: What are your upcoming public events?
AO: The Royal Children’s Hospital Good Friday Appeal, Kidsflix Chadstone and our picnic at Fairy Park in March
JS: What she said…
And my favorite costumes from the MCG?