By Loryn Stone
It shouldn’t come as a surprise that we here at PopLurker are big fans of cosplay. From the writers to our editors themselves, many of us have slurped down a cup of that cosplay Kool-Aid. By now, I think you could say we’re addicted. And we’ve met some incredible people along this path, both local and across the world. Our featured guest today, O.J. of Orange Juice Cosplay, was one of the subjects in our first PopLurker Cosplay Interview Party, but his strong personality and sincere love for the craft and all people who participate made me need to call him back again for another brain-picking session.
OJ, give me a little background about yourself please! What was your first venture into nerdy interests?
Growing up my mother always encouraged me to use my imagination; she basically is the whole reason why I am as nerdy as I am. She always loved Star Trek and anything high fantasy so it was pretty much a guarantee that I would grow up to be a giant nerd. So, my first true fandom that I am still apart of to this day was Sailor Moon that whole show changed my life as a little boy. From the first episode where she yelled “Moon prism power!” I was hooked the transformations and attacks is what drew me in but it was the story that has kept me a fan throughout the year something about the power of love and friendship overcoming all obstacles resonated with me and still does.
Let’s talk about your childhood. Did you have friends that shared your interests as a kid/teen or were you a loner?
As a young child I didn’t have many friends and would spend hours in my bedroom playing with my action figures coming up with elaborate stories. As I grew older it was easier to connect with people with similar interest and it was actually Sailor Moon again that helped me find my first core group so nerdy friends who many years later would also be responsible for getting me into cosplay.
I’ve interviewed you before because I think you’re awesome. Back in that first article, you said your first cosplay was the male Sailor Moon instant cosplay, if I’m not mistaken. Do you consider that the band aid you tore off? Are your costumes becoming more and more ambitious?
First off thank you!!! Thinking about it like that almost makes it seem like it was a painful process going out on the con floor. My first cosplay (that I threw together) will always be a very happy memory for me. My first gender-bent Sailor Moon was like the first taste of something I would soon be consumed by in a positive of way.
As far as them becoming more ambitious, the answer is yes. I always want to learn and try new things when it comes to my craft and sometimes that means going in a little over my head. But I find that even if I sink a little bit (or a lot!), I always find a way to overcome it and create something I am ultimately very proud of.
You started an incredible Facebook group called Fluffy Sailor Moon Cosplayers. As a member of that group myself, I can assure readers that the group is simply amazing, my favorite on the internet. Can you explain a little about that?
FSMC came after I cosplayed Sailor Moon for the first time. I found that in certain circles if you didn’t fit a certain mold, you were ignored. I wanted to create a space that all people from all walks of life could be celebrated for their individuality, and not just for looking like carbon copies of that characters from the manga or anime. So, I set out to make the group not thinking that it would gain the following that it has. But I am happy that we have collected such a wonderful and diverse group of individuals who help spread so much love.
In addition to being a cosplayer yourself, you’re a huge advocate for body positivity (known as Cositivity) and LGBT cosplay communities. What has happened that there’s the need for these constant safe spaces and reminders? Can you share any stories?
In a lot of places there’s this belief that if you don’t look like you walked out of whatever universe the character you’re cosplaying is from, that you are somehow unworthy of that character. To me that isn’t the case at all. Cosplaying (in its purest form) is right there in the name: “Costume Play”. As long as you are having a good time, then that’s all that matters.
Now, as far as me spreading self-love? It’s really more than just the cosplay community, but society as a whole. It’s constantly putting pressure on individuals to look a certain way and if they don’t they should feel bad. But I feel that all humans should be celebrated– we aren’t on this world for a long time and might as well love ourselves while we are here. I myself am a member of the LGBT+ community so it’s something very near and dear to my heart. So many young people are kicked out of their homes for simply wanting to be themselves. And if me being me living my truth as I am can give anyone any sense of comfort or happiness I am happy to do all that I can.
And while there aren’t any major stories that stick out but there is always gamble you take when you put yourself on display in a way for the public to comment on you. I have been shared and fat shamed for my cosplays being too tight or for being the wrong race for a character, things like that. I had an individual tell me that I should go die. But honestly, I have grown a thick skin over the years and this is something I want to help others with too because once you have a positive opinion about yourself what others think or say whether it’s good or bad isn’t really that important.
I was told you once had a stalker. Is that true? Can you explain that a little more?
There was a female once at a convention who just “happened” to keep bumping into me; mind you, this was a very large con. I couldn’t even find my friends I was looking for at this convention! She kept referring to me by my old cosplay name. The whole situation made me rather uncomfortable. After like the fourth attempt of pictures in the same cosplay, I kindly started to refuse them and made sure that I avoided her for the rest of the convention. When I went home, I deleted all my old pages and rebranded myself as Orange Juice Cosplay.
You know you made it into the acknowledgements of my book coming out this summer. Another thank you for being so supportive of what the people in your groups do. You have a strong personality and make a huge impact. Can you share a story of a time you helped someone in your community?
First off, I am so honored by that and I will be picking up my copy ASAP! I must agree I do have a strong personality, which has always lead to people loving or hating me– there isn’t any real in between! (laughing).
When I first started cosplaying, I had someone send me a message which started about cosplay but soon turned into a much deeper conversation about sexuality and accepting oneself. We talked for months! He came from a very small town with a very conservative family. He’d been with his boyfriend for a few years, but no one knew. He was feeling pressure from his significant other to come out and be open about their relationship but wasn’t ready. I assured him that no one, no matter who they are in his life, could make him come out. That coming out was ultimately his decision to make, and that only he knew when he was ready. I was there for him through a lot of that process until one day he just did it. I am happy to report he is now happily married and living his truth.
People always comment that my videos, messages, or memes have help them in one way or another which is always such a great feeling. Because if I can have a positive effect on at least one person, then I am doing something right.
What are your visions and goals for your Facebook groups? What would come from these in a perfect world? Any interest in a Fluffy convention or real-life LGBT cosplay meetups?
In a perfect world I would love to create a convention centered around loving and accepting one another! Having guests from all walks of life and featured cosplayers that represent different groups would be incredible. Now what I try to do is try and meet up with any cosplayers from any groups that I run and have an informal meetings and nerd fest. It’s always one of my favorite parts of cons.
How has your life changed since taking the cosplay plunge and starting these groups?
I would say my life has changed because I now feel I have a platform to make a difference in my little corner of the internet. What I put out there into the world is something I would like to see back; which is just a lot of love and respect for all people.
What are the misconceptions of male cosplayers? Do females have it easier?
I think a big misconception is that men somehow are immune to insecurities. But like any other human beings, we have things we would love to change about ourselves. This whole “body positive” movement is for people of all gender identities, not just woman. So, that’s something I always like to stress. I think all gender identities have their own set of issues that they have to deal with. Sadly, it come from putting yourself out there on the world’s stage. I think if we all would be more willing to share we would find that a lot of what we go through is very similar.
You’re always such a pleasure to talk to, O.J.; Thank you very much again for giving PopLurker this interview. So, as we wrap it up: what would you say to someone too shy or insecure to cosplay to help them know they’re good enough to have fun and be themselves?
I would tell them that the most important thing they can do is remain true to themselves. If they remain true to themselves and love themselves, everything else will fall in line. Loving oneself is a journey that is sometimes a very difficult one, and other times it’s incredibly easy. But ultimately, what they think and feel about themselves is all that matters. Once you have that resolve, no one can take that power unless you willingly hand it to them.
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Got an interesting job, hobby, or life experience? Tell us about it! Just email PopLurker and let us know what you’re up to. Or, follow Loryn on Twitter or her personal blog. Loryn’s debut novel My Starlight, a young adult novel about anime, cosplaying, fandom, love, loss, and friendship will be released August 3rd, 2018 by Affinity Rainbow Publications.
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