Years of Cosplay: 12
You would never guess that Yuegene Fay from Thailand was a former bookworm. Visual kei bands have changed her looks and not only; she put her perfectionism into play and joined another dimension where the popularity of comic book characters joins the local and unique version to approach and tailor them. Not only the visual graphic world of games and manga, but also the musical world has become overtly visual in expression and image. It is yet another golden proof that Vocaloid project has a huge influence over the current cosplaying imagery. We should remember that Asia does not equal Japan, and that Japanese pop has been skilfully transformed and expanded into regional styles and fan communities.
Cosplay Gen: When did you first start cosplaying and what was your first costume?
Yuegene Fay: I started cosplaying in 2000, and my first appearance was as Toshiya from Dir en Grey, a Japanese visual kei rock band. A Japanese friend of mine, who, the same as me, shared a particular fondness towards visual kei bands, sent me a cosplay photo and invited me to join this activity assuring me that it was enjoyable. The first moment I saw the picture, I had no idea how cosplaying could be entertaining. I also thought that these people were kind of out of their mind; it was like another unknown world to me, since I normally spent most of my time studying. However, I could feel that there was something attractive about cosplaying; thus I began gathering all the information I needed, and wandering around cosplay events in Thailand. Finally, I’ve decided to try it. I still remember that I didn’t know anything, didn’t know how to make-up, as I was old-fashioned and a bookworm. I believe no one could ever imagine how I used to look back then.
Cosplay Gen: We noticed you have a particular preference for visual kei cosplay. Why is it so special to you? Is there a story behind your choice to depict visual kei musicians?
Yuegene Fay: I love listening to almost all genres of music, especially the Visual Kei music. Not only the songs are virtually powerful, but also the artists. I’ve first listened to X-Japan’s songs, and my favorite artist was Hide. I am in love with his distinctiveness, as well as with his songs. At that moment, I wasn’t interested in cosplay yet. Later, I began listening to Dir en Grey, since I heard that Yoshiki from X-Japan was a co-producer. After I started, I couldn’t stop anymore. I have always been a big fan of this band, and what impressed me even more was their live performance. I can fully say that it is super-awesome; I love them, and from that time on, Toshiya became my hero.
Cosplay Gen: You have features that enable you to cosplay a wide variety of characters. What sort of characters do you like cosplaying, and what sort of characters you do not find fit for you to cosplay?
At the beginning, I always cosplayed as Toshiya. The decision in choosing his costume wasn’t based on the difficulty of the costume-making process, but rather on the song I was inspired from, as well as on my physical condition. If I’m too fat, or my hair is too short for the character, I wouldn’t cosplay that role. “I am a perfectionist” – this is what my friends usually tell me.
Later, I became acquainted with more people, I made more cosplay friends and we started to discuss about other trends, such as comic books, video games or fiction. Hence, I began cosplaying other characters besides musicians of visual kei bands. Still, all characters I’ve chosen to impersonate are naturally based on my preference. Regarding characters that others see me suitable for, if I dislike the attitude of that character, I am not interested to portray it at all. Well, let’s say I don’t think too much which character suits me or not; I just select one I like. For instance, when I’ve decided to cosplay as Krauser from DMC, people were shocked when they saw the picture. Some also said that “That’s not our Yuegene Fay!” but I didn’t care. Regardless what those characters are or look like, I am always happy to portray the roles I like.
Cosplay Gen:One of your most spectacular costumes is certainly that of Amaru Ryudo from Sohryuden: Legend of the Dragon Kings. Can you detail a bit the costume-making process?
Yuegene Fay: It was my first time making a cuirass, and it took me two weeks to finish. I started to make the pattern based on only two pictures, on which the details weren’t clear enough, so this stage took a lot of time. Difficulties occurred throughout the entire making-process of this costume; I didn’t know what material to use for it, so it took me a few days to find the right one. The most enjoyable, but also difficult part was the dragon crown, which I made from paper, foam rubber, and wire, and afterwards I covered it with luna clay. I coated all of them again with colour spray and clear spray.
Cosplay Gen: As a best-practice example, what was the most difficult situation you found yourself in as a cosplayer, and how did you manage to solve it?
It took me so long to reply to this question…I am always delighted to cosplay, especially when I do this activity with my friends. I normally have some of my time allocated specifically for cosplaying, and therefore this hobby doesn’t cause me any trouble. If I am extremely busy, I stop cosplaying for a while. However, while cosplay brings me happiness, once… I was truly disappointed.
One day, in 2007, I was crying in front of many people at the airport, among my friends and fans who were there to encourage me on the occasion of an upcoming competition. Obviously, it weren’t them who made me sad, but actually my partner. We both won a competition in Thailand and were selected as Thai representatives for the contest abroad. At first I wasn’t determined to participate, but when I made up my mind to contend, I gave it my all, as always. As national representative, I could feel the pressure; anyway, that wasn’t the reason of my concern actually. During the preparations stage we were confronted with various kinds of problems, partially due to our inexperience, but that was not as significant as the poor collaboration from my partner. On the departure day, some words my partner told me on the phone made me stand still, and then tears were flowing out unconsciously. I couldn’t stop myself from crying, everyone was shocked since no one ever saw me crying before. Friends tried to stand around covering my teary face from the others. I was able to stop after a while, when I realized that there was no use feeling bad about the situation; it wasn’t even the first time. Then I began to realize that some things ought to be done. From that moment on, no matter what happens, I keep repeating to myself that I’ll put up with it and do my best. It can’t be that bad, and I’ll eventually get through; although not as well as I hoped, but I’ll eventually get through… that’s what I really think.
Cosplay Gen: You’ve taken part into various cosplay events in several Asian countries. How did these experiences influence you in this hobby?
Yuegene Fay: Thanks to the experiences gained through attending cosplay events in various countries, I’ve found out that there’s uniqueness and diversity in cosplay in each country. Although the most important influence in cosplay is originating mainly from Japan, I’ve noticed that cosplayed characters are not exactly the same as the original ones, but blend with the proper values of each country; popularity of different comic books, costume-making styles, performances, etc. These matters altogether create a unique, yet attractive kind of cosplay in each country, and thus it motivates me even more to travel to different places in order to exchange and share ideas with other cosplayers. However, to me, the most significant and impressive thing is that wherever I go, I am capable of making a lot of friends. Even though in various situations we cannot fully communicate with each other because of the language barrier, surprisingly, due to the same preferences we share, we can understand each other at once.
Cosplay Gen: What is the most challenging thing for you in cosplay?
Yuegene Fay: A challenging part in cosplay is choosing the character, and one of the most challenging characters for me was Krauser from DMC. It was a tough decision to make whether to cosplay as Krauser or not, or what I should do to impersonate Krauser with the most vitality and accuracy. Costume making and make-up of this character were not my main concerns. What I actually required was the realistic face as seen in the comic books. During the day of the cosplay, I had my forehead hair shaved about half an inch higher than my usual hairline, since this character has a high forehead, while mine is pretty narrow and short, and doesn’t have enough space for some letters to be written on. After the dress-up and make-up, I was quite satisfied with the final appearance, although I had to cover my forehead with hair for months.
Cosplay Gen: Is there another hobby that influences you in this activity? Are you inspired in cosplaying by other things you like, as well? If yes, in what way?
Yuegene Fay: Another hobby of mine is listening to music and playing guitar. Therefore, many characters I’ve cosplayed as are related to music bands such as Visual Kei or Vocaloid. Personally, I think music has a great influence, which usually inspires my imagination toward cosplaying.
Cosplay Gen: What sort of advice can you give to those who are unsure whether they should pick up this hobby or not?
Yuegene Fay: Just do it! And you will meet another new world! New friends! And freedom!
Cosplay Gen: Cosplay has been a big part of your life; where do you see yourself as a cosplayer in another few years?
Yuegene Fay: I will keep cosplaying, since it’s my favorite hobby. I always take cosplaying seriously, and from now on I will try even harder; also, I would like to do something different, such as arranging an entertaining performance with my friends.
// Interview by Cristian Botea and Ruxandra Târca