By Nolan P. Smith
We are proud to bring you another installment of the Pastrami Nation Cosplayer Spotlight! Are you a cosplayer? Shoot us an email at Nolan@pastramination.com with your name, location, and a couple of cosplay photos so we can consider you for our spotlight!
This time, we spotlight someone new to the world of cosplay: Manuel Majarian from Glendale, CA!
(All photos featured in this spotlight were provided by Manuel Majarian)
Having just started cosplay in 2014, he doesn’t have a cosplay handle…yet. Manuel is a part of a massive Star Wars community on Facebook, the ForceStrong Network:
What Cosplay have you done?
I only started in 2014, so Darth Revan is my first (and currently only) cosplay. I’m thinking up ideas for future cosplay.
What got you in to Cosplay?
I always loved Halloween, and I had a knack for coming up with costume ideas by combining elements from multiple costumes or mixing them with real clothes. Still, Halloween costumes vs. cosplay was a whole other thing, and I had my reservations because I thought getting into cosplay at my age (I was 34 at the time. I’m now 36) would be weird. However I got a lot of support from my fellow Star Wars friends & fans. That spark of support was what got me to go for it.
How was the process for crafting your costume?
For my Revan costume, it being my first, I got a lot of help so I didn’t do a lot of the initial work. There were plenty of cosplay sites and vendors that sold complete Revan outfits, but I didn’t like that the cloth material was too thin, and they were pretty pricey!
I got lucky and found an eBay vendor that was selling just the vinyl components. The chest piece with the attached cowl & sash, and the vinyl gauntlets & glove pads, so I bought those. I had to make an alteration to he chest piece to make it fit right on me. I’m a bit wider than the guy who sols it to me, so I had to buy some velcro strips & attach them to the back so I had a little more room.
I took the vinyl glove pads and stitched/glued them onto a pair of black gloves I already had from an older biker costume I did years ago. I tend to recycle anything from older costumes that are still usable. It saves me a few bucks here and there.
The pants are actually just a pair of black dockers that I wear to work. The boots I had from another costume I did a few years back.
The black cape I got from a local costume shop. It was thicker than the generic costume capes you would find. It had some weight to it so it didn’t really flair a lot when walking and it wasn’t somewhat see-through like a lot of cheaper black capes, which is what I was looking for.
The robe is actually a priest robe but I removed the white collar. I took a pair of scissors to it & cut a slit right down the middle from the end to just below the waist. The reason I did that was because when I wore it as-is, I found myself constantly stepping on the robe and almost tearing the costume or worse, falling down….plus the scissor cut gave it a torn battle worn look.
The mask was the hardest part….First I tried to make one myself. It was a disaster. I tried to craft one using cardboard for the initial shell with paper mache. A sound method if you think about it, but I hit 2 snags:
- Painting the thing was a pain because as much as I tried, I couldn’t get rid of the lines that the mache strips left in some areas, plus it had a lot of unevenness to it. I figured what the hell, it’s my first time so let’s just go with it. It worked out fine at first, but then another problem came up.
- Being stuck in that mask gets hot…..and it makes you sweat. Cardboard & moisture do not mix well. You see where I’m going? It started to smell REAL bad. Plus I started to get worried that the moisture seeping into the cardboard would bring up the issue of mold. I threw it away and started doing research on how others made masks and it involved making molds & using clay or fiberglass etc. Way out of my league at this point.
I was starting to give up and was about to say “Forget Revan, I’ll just use what I have and go as a fan made Sith Lord”. It would still look cool with some pale make up & colored contacts. That’s when I found BigWater99. The guy makes fiberglass masks & sells them on Etsy, and lo and behold he had a Revan half-mask for under $100! I scooped that sucker up real quick!
To get around the half mask showing parts of my face & throat, I bought a really cheap black ninja cowl (balaclava). The mask being fiberglass, it was moisture resistant so sweating didn’t do anything to it. The balaclava acted as sort of a sweat guard to kept it from running down my face. Now I knew how the troopers in the 501st Legion felt.
You’d have to remove the mask after a while just to cool off & get some air. The longest I went with the mask on was about a half hour before I had to lift it to cool off. Not too bad considering you can do a lot in 30 minutes.
The experiences and knowledge I picked up during this process helped me gauge where I stand in terms of abilities. This is what I’m taking into consideration as I move forward thinking up new costume ideas. Now that I know where my weaknesses lie, I can make the effort to learn those skills, or at the very least, find a simpler alternative method I can handle that will give me similar results.
Best part of cosplaying? Worst part?
The best part is that it’s just plain fun. I love it, the fans love it, the kids go crazy when they see it. It’s all about having fun and making sure others have fun too.
The worst part? In my case, it’s the heat. I get so hot in this thing! Generally speaking though, I find that the most common bad part of cosplay is the treatment they receive from fans, especially the female cosplayers. I follow a handful on Facebook and twitter and I see their posts about being touched inappropriately or hit on as if they would just jump into bed with anyone because they are dressed as Wonder Woman or a female anime character.
I think male cosplayers don’t have to deal with it as much as women, but regardless of sex, it’s just not cool. While I have never experienced that kind of negativity, I’ve had a couple of instances where immature teens would pull on my cape when I’m walking to try and knock me off balance. Usually they stop and apologize as soon as I turn around and lift my mask. I guess I look scary when I’m man, I don’t know, lol.
What conventions have you attended, planned conventions in the future?
I was at WonderCon 2014, Star Wars Celebration 2015 and most recently a local art show called Galaxy Wars.
I plan on hitting up WonderCon again next year as well as some local cons like the one in Long Beach. I haven’t given up on trying to snag some SDCC passes though. I get into the queue every year, but they sell out before I get my chance. One day….