It will be 9 years in January 2022 that I have been cosplaying exclusively as Mr. Clever. I don’t have to go into detail about how much that character changed my life. You can skim through older posts to find out all about that.
I debuted him at Arisia 2014. And for Arisia 2022, I have a new cosplay to debut. Not another variation on Clever, but an actual non-Clever, non-Doctor Who character.
Paul Atreides from Dune.
I read Dune when I was 13 and it quickly became one of my favorite books of all time. I loved the 1984 movie. That solidified my love of all things Kyle MacLachlan. One of the many things that my spouse and I bonded over was our mutual love of Dune.
So you can imagine our excitement when they announced a new movie. Fast forward to October 2021, opening night. We sat there in excitement and anticipation to see our favorite book come to life for a new generation of fans. I won’t lie, I went in thinking there was no way in hell that anyone could do better than Kyle, and as much as I love his portrayal, I was very wrong.
I had no idea who Timothee Chalamet was before this, but I was instantly blown away by his performance as Paul. THAT was Paul. The young, spoiled, angsty teenager with a destiny. He captured the complexities of Paul; scared, confused, resolved, terrifying.
The entire cast was just as incredible. It instantly jumped up to one of my fave movies of all time.
Now let’s segment to one of my other favorite things of all time, October in Salem. This year we saw record breaking crowds. I have never seen this many people in the city before. Which meant any version of Mr. Clever was out of the question for weekends and sates closer to the 31st.
On a whim, I decided to be Paul for Halloween night. I figured at least I was “in costume” of some sort to go trick or treating. I had clothes that were similar enough to his uniform, so I threw that all on. Now, mind you, for the last 9 years, I have only ever worn my hair like Matt Smith’s. I color, cut and straighten it specifically for Clever. Flipping it over to BOTH sides of my head was really weird! Even weirder was the idea of having eyebrows. I bleach and trim those for Clever as well, so coloring them in was a first.
Halloween was a blast as always. Great friends, great energy in the city, and I didn’t have to worry about ruining my costume! I could eat, I could run around, I could walk through crowds without worrying, I could go out in the rain, and it only took me TEN minutes to take it all off a the end of the night. Clever takes upwards of an hour. Not including the scrubbing and peeling I have to do to remove left over adhesive.
I thoroughly enjoyed being Paul for the night. So much so that I slowly started invested in some more accurate pieces. Managed to find a long black coat and I made the little straps around the collar. Got some Atriedes house pins, gloves, and even commissioned a friend to create his uniform.
After my 3rd or 4th viewing of Dune, I also decided to do a second variation of Paul. This one looked super comfy and great for warmer days.
I bought some linen pajamas, dyed some cheese cloth, cut up a grey duster and viola. Instant “not quite Paul, not quite Muad Dib” cosplay.
I was honestly unprepared for how much positive feedback I got. I think that is the biggest difference between this vs when I started out as Mr. Clever. Back then, I got nothing but hate, and nasty comments about my choice of character. Very few people liked Nightmare in Silver, or even recognized who Clever was. It took years before people stopped giving me crap for picking him. So when I got so many lovely, wonderful comments on my Paul cosplay, I was blown away.
I really never thought I would ever dress up as anyone else. I don’t like dressing up in general. If I could live in my barn clothes all day, I would. And I certainly never expected my second cosplay to be such a complex character. Though I guess he does have similarities with Clever. Charismatic leaders out to cleanse the universe. Hmmm…
Mr. Clever will never, ever go away. I will always be him. He is my everything at this point. He has become such a piece of me and my life. But he is also a PITA to put on, to wear all day and to take off.
Having a second option for the times when I just don’t want to deal with all that will be incredible!
For most cosplayers finding a way to get new content during lockdown has been incredibly challenging. For myself, it’s always challenging, given my limitations on material that is canon.
One way to rehash older content is to just revamp it or spice it up a bit. Doing some fun edits to photos can achieve just that.
I am certainly not very savvy in the edit department. But even just adding a different background to a simple photo can be entertaining and inspiring!
Just make sure the background you use is actually free. I made the mistake of searching for free backgrounds, and sadly one popped up that was NOT in fact free. I have since credited the artist, but double checking can never hurt.
I hope this inspires you to add some fun graphics or edits to your photos!
This week is usually jam packed with preparation, as many of us get ready to attend Arisia, my 7thtime at that con. One of main reasons I look forward to this con, aside from having fun with friends, the running of the Doctors, and various other silly yearly traditions, it also marks the anniversary of when I started conlife as Mr. Clever.
Around this time, I also usually start to reflect back on the previous year and make notes of all the good things that happened. But as we all know, 2020 did not have many redeeming qualities to write home about.
My struggles weren’t unlike many cosplayers and other creatives. How do you stay motivated and inspired in the midst of a global crisis? How do we stay relevant, without being able to make new content as readily as before?
One thing that became abundantly clear was that everything was going virtual. Virtual events, virtual cons, virtual panels, you name it. At first I hopped right on that bandwagon, eager to support local events. I tuned in to panels and Tweet Alongs, but as much as I tried, I learned that virtual events don’t hold much appeal to me. For me the fun of conlife is putting the costume on and running around the venue all day.
But then I discovered TikTok. I had set up an account (AdventuresOfClever on TikTok) a while ago but never used it. As you may remember I have a real hard time with video. What in the world would someone like me be doing there? But during lockdown, the masses swarmed there, and one thing that I found out right from the start was that this Whovian community was incredibly supportive, and gasp even knew who I was supposed to be!
In April, at the beginning of lockdown, the Pass the Brush challenges were trending everywhere I looked. So I decided that Whovians needed a Pass the Sonic version. That was the first time I had put together anything like that, and I am incredibly proud with how it turned out. I worked with 13 other cosplayers (around the world) to pass the sonic to all 14 doctors. It was a big deal for me.
The Pass the Sonic lead to another variation – Pass the Mask, but this time with local performers and personalities from Salem. Borah, The Addams Family and even our own Mayor, Kim Driscoll took part to help spread awareness about mask safety.
After doing those two videos, I decided to keep trying new things with video. It was a big step for someone that could count on one hand the number of videos they had been in before this. So I invested in some more video equipment like a ring light and tripod with a remote control. After some testing I even found a spot in my house that had a fun geeky background. That was also hard because our house doesn’t get a lot of natural light.
Then I did my very first live stream, as well as a few tutorials on how I made my NIS-Borderlands mash up. I even became involved in a fun fan-made Doctor Who project with a new friend entitled, “Versions Who.” This involved an almost RPG format that was both running lines in character and acting out new scenes via Facetime.
These were all big milestones for me. They kept me going even while the world around us was falling apart. I could do them even if though I couldn’t wear the costume outside. I was being creative in a way that I had never been able to do before.
Creatives in 2020 had to, for lack of a better phrase, get creative. Not just to make ends meet and stay relevant but to stay interested and stimulated against the constant tide of doomscrolling.
While perusing Instagram, I found a page that was encouraging Whovians to make lockdown cosplay videos. I attempted to do a little scene from Nightmare in Silver but they didn’t want voice-overs, and that might have been too much for me. I tried doing it, but I’m still very self-conscious of sounding too feminine and being misgendered. I panicked, whispered, tried auto tuning it, and failed miserably. I honestly thought that would be the end of all of this for me. If I can’t even speak, what in the world am I even doing?
So I tried posting the failed video I had, but with Matt’s voice over mine. Add some flashy fonts. Some Doctor Who music, and I was good to go. I was met with a surprising amount of support, and even got invited to join some wonderful Discord chats filled with other Whovians and cosplayers that were just there to be positive and get through this the best they could.
Have I mentioned I have 7 cats?
For the most part, they leave me alone, but my newest one, Dandelion, insists on having her entire face or her butt in the frame. And while this makes for some great AWWWW moments, she has a tendency to knock stuff down. And by stuff, I mean my chess set. I can’t tell you how many time I’ve rescued a pawn from the dark corners of my room, only to have it swatted again a few seconds later. And needless to say, locking up them all up isn’t easy either.
A few months ago we even got a new door installed to separate the first and second floors so they can have the run of the top floor and leave me alone down below. Literally bought a new door to help mitigate the problem doing videos with 7 cats.
Aside from my feline overlords, the other hurdle that I have is the amount of time spent putting on and taking off the costume itself. I would love to be able to do duets on a whim with people, but I don’t always have the 4-5 hours a day. Its 90min – 2 hours just to get it on. Another 30 min to 60min of set up and car wrangling. And then take the video. And then another hour of taking it off again.
I did make a Cyberplanner on a stick for those nights that I read through lines with my new friend. But I’m not comfortable with it and haven’t even used it yet. Both logistically (I have to hold it so I only have one hand, plus it actually blocks my sight) and emotionally (because I’m just not comfortable with not actually having a cyberplanner on my face while being filmed).
The biggest obstacle however, is that I am visually impaired to the point of not being able to see my phone screen while in costume. I can’t see the buttons. I can’t see if people are commenting on live streams. I can’t see other videos well enough to duet or comment easily. I can’t see well enough to set up my little area without some help. Doing my make-up takes a little longer and longer each time as it gets harder and harder to see my face.
It is a STRUGGLE.
And, as I reread this, I keep thinking to myself, “Good Lord, is any of this even worth it?”
Yes. To me, that’s a resounding yes. Yes, because of the friends I’ve made and keep making. Yes, because a year ago this would have defeated me. Yes, because Clever has made me a better person, a stronger person.
I could touch on so much more from the past year. The other challenges all of us experienced. The politics and fear, but as I reflect on 2020 I am focusing on the one thing that helped me get through it.
A year ago I would have found a reason to quit doing video, a reason why it didn’t matter. But in 2020 I really didn’t have a choice. Call it stubbornness or my resolve to continue being Clever. Call it that I wouldn’t accept defeat, or that I just needed something positive to do with my time. But as I approach my seven-year anniversary in conlife, I can honestly say that I have overcome more than a pre-Clever me would have ever thought possible, and I know I am not done yet.
November 2019 saw the return of Long Island Who, now named An Unearthly Convention. LI Who was my first Doctor Who con and is by far one of the best fandom con I’ve ever been to. (As opposed to say, NYCC, which is my favorite general con)
The people who run this con have always been fun, professional, and manage to put on such a great event.
LI Who 2, in 2014, was also the con where I was on my first panel.
Which was, um, entertaining at the very least!
Did I ever tell you about how I got stuck in a tent?
AnyWHO, I had a bad experience at a different Who con a few years ago, so I took a small break from going to DW specific events. I am very glad that I decided to return for this con. What a fabulous weekend.
I will break this up into two parts as so much happened!
After an eight hour car ride we arrived at the host hotel, which was under construction. I have really bad dust allergies so I couldn’t do my usual “lobby con on Friday night” tradition. The hotel staff was super duper helpful though and it was much better on Saturday morning.
For Saturday, I decided to cosplay as my Borderlands mash up, CleverMax the Invincible 😉 I thoroughly enjoy this variation.
My first of five panels was Madman in a Box on Saturday. I was just a guest panelist, as opposed to being a moderator on some others.
It was so much fun to sit there and talk about Matt and his run as the Doctor. Matt was my absolute favorite.
I just started a rewatch of his run yesterday..
The next panel was my baby, as it were.
Evolution of the Cybermen
At my last LI Who, I presented a panel on Cybermen for their 50 year anniversary. It was a huge success and this year was just as awesome
I had myself and four other people as panelists. I didn’t realize that they had never done this type of panel before. They all did such a great job!
We all had our areas of expertise. From concept art to places of origin. And of course, I covered Cyber Planners.
TMW a T-Rex photobombs your Cyberman panel
The third and final panel of Saturday was Finding Family in Fandom.
This panel was incredibly moving and I felt honored to be a panelist. Everyone had such brilliant stories to share about how they found their place in life through fandom. 💖
I have posted my story here before, so I won’t go too much into it. If you want to browse that, here is the link:
Before Clever and conlife, I didn’t really go out. I didn’t have a lot of friends.
I have a huge house and never had a single party, sleepover, family gathering in it. Now? I feel like I need a bigger house. 🤣
Even though my first fandom was Harry potter, I didn’t find myself or my true family of friends until Clever.
I wasn’t welcomed with open arms in this fandom, but regardless, I stuck it out cause I loved Matt so much.
After all of my panels were over, myself and some friends went to grab dinner. I’m always famished after these cons cause I can’t eat solid food with the cybernetics on my face. We all went in costume and our waiter was so happy to see us all.
Saturday night included a DW themed dance party, and lots of casual board and card games in the lobby that lasted until the wee hours of the morning.
DJ Gallifrey spinning some tunes!
As per usual this was an exhausting day, but totally worth it!
It doesn’t take much for myself and my friends to get silly, and this night wasn’t much different.
Luckily, this photographer, Katie, is used to us. She’s done many of the Collective’s events, so I think she is always prepared for our craziness.
One of my favorite things about the PEM ‘s parties, is the interactive workshop. A few years ago we made pinwheels out of the material they use for sails, and they were displayed all around town. That was incredible. This time around people got to make prints and learn about silk screening techniques.
While my friends tried that ( let’s be honest here – I am a mess when I paint, and I knew it would get all over my cosplay) I saw paper and markers, so my brain went ” What the Hell!”
While I was sitting down, these three women came running up to me, fascinated by my lights. Like moths to a flame, I swear. One of them thought it was make up, and asked how I did it, how I made it. They had no idea who Mr. Clever was, so of course I had to show them a picture of Matt as Clever. One of them actually said ” Oh he’s cute.” Yes, yes he is.
After we finished making art, we meandered around some more, looking at the other exhibits. I did manage to find a very cute squirrel puppet. Of course now I want one.
“Hey, Sarah, don’t touch those…nuts.” Yeah, I need puppet.
Anyway, we are all looking forward to the next party!
One thing that I really enjoy and admire is cosplayers that recreate fan art in their photoshoots. So down the rabbit hole I went into searching for Mr. Clever fan art! There still isn’t a lot out there, but recently I stumbled across a few lovely pieces that I was able to incorporate into a recent shoot. Most of the ones I found had various companions in the piece- mostly Clara, obviously. My wonderful friend Kelly agreed to fill in for Clara in those instances, and those pictures will be posted soon!
For now, here is one example of a solo shot that I was able to do.
This was based off of this fantastic drawing that I found here on Deviant Art.
This was something new for me and I really enjoyed doing it and look forward to doing more!
I hadn’t planned on doing a lengthy end-of-year recap. But there are so many stories to tell, and I am nothing if not a storyteller.
2018 was certainly a year of ups and downs. The biggest hurdle was my health. In early 2017, I was diagnosed with severe arthritis and bone spurs on my left hip from an old riding injury. Cortisone shots were then prescribed every two to three months. Even with the shots, I spent all of 2017, and most of 2018 in astronomical pain. There would be entire weeks that I couldn’t dress myself, or go up and down the stairs without assistance. Tying my shoes, and showering alone were things of the past.
The area that I was most affected was my riding and my inability to safely work around horses. I kept going, kept pushing through the pain to ride, to do the one thing that I had done for work and joy for decades. But it was soon clear that even grooming was too much, as I couldn’t even pick feet. All it took was a horse to rub up against me and they could knock me down. It was now unsafe for me to be around my wonderful animals anymore. This was the single most difficult thing to digest and sent me into months of depression.
My one solace was conlife. As hard as it was to get dressed, I somehow managed to put Clever on and miraculously get out the door. It was hard, it was excruciatingly painful, and I ended up relying heavily on the magic of my cosplay. I have often joked that if I can just get my costume on, it does the rest. And for about two years, this was most certainly the case. However there were times that even with the cosplay on, I could only last one day of a two day con.
The first con of 2018 brought about one such instance of debilitating pain. Arisia 2018 marked my 5 year anniversary of officially going to a con as Mr. Clever. This is one of our absolute favorite cons, and the one that we always have the most friends that go with us, and yet somehow always meet new people. This year was no different. With a bunch of wonderful crazy, costumed friends in tow, off we went for day one. As per usual we did the Running of the Doctors, tied a bunch of people up with my rope, attacked the vendor room with financial rage, and had our usual lunch at the bar. On Sunday, I broke out Darth Clever and ended up meeting two new amazing friends, still known to us as Missy and Clara. This was the highlight of the weekend and what con life is all about! This year I was supposed to be on a few panels, but the pain proved to be too much, and I had to opt out because by Sunday morning I couldn’t even walk. We spent most of Sunday hanging out in the lounge, until I couldn’t take it anymore and we left.
Not one to quit on having fun, the next weekend I judged the costume contest at the annual masquerade ball at the Hawthorne Hotel, hosted by The Creative Collective. This years theme was Through the Looking Glass. So of course, I HAD to do a mash-up of Mr. Clever and the Mad Hatter.
The ball is a lot more low key than a con, and the hotel has plenty of places to sit, so it was not as hard on my hip as Arisia was. It was an incredible night, and I am forever grateful for being a part of this event since its inception.
Most people that know me well, know that every February I try to throw CJ, my amazing, wonderful, perfect spouse a themed birthday party. CJ is like a child when it comes to his birthday. He will run around yelling “BIRTHDAY!” all day until someone pays attention to him. So far I have done Sherlock, IT Crowd, Avatar the Last Airbender, Rick and Morty and now Doctor Who. CJ’s fave Doctor is 12, Peter Capaldi. I decorated the entire house to look like the inside of the Tardis, complete with console, Pin the Eyebrows on Peter, and we even had a birthday cake shaped like a tank. As party favors, every person had black sunglasses with “attack eyebrows ” on them. (Remember those – they make another appearance soon). Everyone came dressed in cosplay, which wasn’t hard since most people we know are Whovians! It was so amazing to be able to bring so many smiles on so many faces – especially CJ’s.
February was also an amazing month because I got to work with Sauvage Photo + Edit aka Vignette for the first time! Contrary to popular belief I still do not like my photo taken. I have gotten much better with it over the years, and cosplay has helped a ton. Many times I push myself to do it because I like the challenge and feel the more I do it, the more I will overcome my fears. Photoshoots used to be challenging for me, as there are only so many canon poses available but now I enjoy taking Clever out of the blue box and doing wild things with him. Vignette is an incredible photographer and a warm, funny, kind soul.
We had already bought our tickets for Regeneration Who (ReGen) before they announced Peter Capaldi, but when they DID, CJ kinda lost his mind. I love, just love that he finally has “his” Doctor. And 12 really does suit him. In so many adorable and annoying ways. The “no hugs”. Omg. So we packed up the new car and drove to Baltimore. ReGen was hot or cold for me to say the least. The worst parts of ReGen were the assault, sexual harassment and physical pain from being jumped on. (Caused by other con goers – not staff members) I am still not ready to talk about these traumas yet. But someday I will write this all down and share my entire experience.
The best parts of Regen was seeing CJ get to meet Peter, get to meet his Doctor. Which of course, yes, I have a story. We have never cared about celebrities (outside of Jenna Coleman, I really don’t care about anyone except James Roday and Dule Hill) but we did the thing. We bought tickets for an autograph and our very first photo op. Ever.
CJ has social anxiety, so we had rehearsed what to say to Peter, how to say it, where to stand, etc. This is how CJ operates. He had cue cards, like the ones from Under The Lake, made by our friend Melissa, ready to read so he would know exactly what to say. He also had one cue card with BOTH sides written on it to finally hand to Peter. One side mentioned all the wonderful things he wanted to say about his Doctor, the other side was funnier and mentioned how CJ was thankful for having a Doctor that also didn’t like hugs. We walked up to his table, CJ handed him the cue card. Peter read the one side, said “Oh, how lovely” then proceeded to slowly get out of his chair and walk over to CJ. At this point I knew he was going to hug him and I lost it. I was cackling already. It was the most awkward hug ever. Poor CJ was torn between this is the greatest moment ever, and why is this person hugging me? Peter kinda then glanced over at me like “Who is this crazy cyberman?”, sat back down and I very dramatically flipped over the cue card, slammed it on the table and exclaimed “but wait, there’s more!” Peter looked down, read the “no hugs” part and went “OOOOOOOOOH”. I was laughing so damn hard, I thought I was going to fall over. He took the journal that CJ had wanted him to sign and autograph as “Who likes hugs? Not us!”
The next day was our photo op with Peter and Michelle Gomez, which CJ was also very nervous about. Our first op, we had no idea what to expect. Luckily, we had already been up to the photo area to get some cosplay photos, so he knew the lay out of the area, and that helped ease his nerves. Remember those party favors? Well I had decided to pack a few for the con. I made the suggestion to CJ that we ask Michele and Peter to wear them, and we do a sort of CSI: Gallifrey pose. We waited our turn and when we got up to them, I asked Michelle to wear them and she was downright giddy about it. I gave Peter his pair and he looked at me and said “ Do I NEED more eyebrows?” We got one of my favorite con photos ever in one take, and I couldn’t be happier for CJ. Watching him meet his Doctor, and the seeing how hilarious the interaction was made the trip worth it. Even with the trauma, I would not do it differently if it meant CJ didn’t get to meet Peter.
Every May 11th, or as close to it, since 2014, most of my friends and I get together and celebrate the anniversary of when Nightmare in Silver aired. The first year was just supposed to be a viewing party. Except people brought me cake. Well, two cakes to be exact. That said Happy Birthday Mr. Clever. And had Hello Kitty on it. This has now become an annual thing. And has, no lie, outgrown my house. I am not joking when I say that we are renting a hall for 2019. This year, aside from the normal shenanigans, we also ventured to NY to visit the Pandorica Restaurant for the first time. It was a bittersweet visit. I had been planning this visit with my friend Rachel, but that wasn’t meant to be as Rachel passed away just a few months before. Shirley was a gracious host and we had a blast! I highly recommend going.
The trip to the Pandorica was our last outing before my usual summer hibernation. This summer was extra painful due to my ever increasing pain and immobility. The cortisone shots had stopped working, and I had zero relief. One last ditch effort to seek help brought me back to my surgeon who told me that my hip had deteriorated so quickly that he couldn’t believe I have been walking on it all this time. The decision was made to replace my hip altogether. At the end of July, I finally went in to have my hip surgery. My recovery was quick, and in less than two days, I had no need for a walker, could already go up and down the stairs, didn’t need pain killers, and was driving in less than two weeks. I had very little PT, as they were shocked at how quickly my body accepted the new, um, upgrade. I am finally pain free for the first time since Dec 2016.
So what do you do when you are pain free? You get back on a horse. I am so lucky to have friends that have horses for me to ride, and I am so happy that I can ride pain free again! I spent most of September slowly getting back into shape, riding when I could, and preparing for October.
Ever since I started cosplaying as Mr. Clever I have been wanting to figure out a way to bring him to Salem in October. But he is too fragile and valuable to me to wear in the insane crowds. CJ and I thought, well what if I did a Zombie version of him, except with grease and oil and random cyber parts instead of flesh and blood. So I threw Zombie Clever together and brought him out for Super Megafest as a trial. Ripped pants, tattered vest, and an old cyberplanner that I had meant to throw away years ago that I found and added one light to. It was a lot to fun to wear! Was a blast as always, especially since it moved back to its original location in Framingham. Arriving home from Super Megafest was a different story.
For a few months, our old ginger cat, The Doctor, had been showing his age. Frail, thin, losing his appetite. But still purring, still happy. We had made the decision to put him down that week if we didn’t see a change, but he didn’t make it. When I walked through the door and saw him lying in his bed, I knew he had passed. He was so a grumpy old man, hated my other cats, but loved people. Always wanted to be pet, always up for a head boop. He will be missed by so many.
Some actors from Twin Peaks were going to be at Rock and Shock the same weekend as Super Megafest, and since I was back to my normal conlife speed, we decided to do two cons in one weekend. Zombie Clever needed a picture in the Black Lodge. We were so blown away at the amount of art that we all saw and wanted. Not to mention the fun of chatting with Malcolm McDowell while he was shopping for t-shirts. We will be going back for sure.
The true test of Zombie Clever however was taking him out in Salem, in October, in the vast crowds. The beauty of this costume is that I DID get bumped into, had something spill on me, and had it broken (which is my fear with NiS Clever) but it doesn’t matter since it blends in with the costume. I did get bumped into a lot, which is normal. I even had some people recognize my character! The biggest accomplishment though was that I finally did it! I went out in Salem, in October in a costume that I loved and felt comfortable in.
Halloween itself is not for the faint of heart, and even with a crowd safe costume, we all planned to get out of the main areas by nightfall if we could. This year wasn’t too bad, but even still, with road closures, massive mostly drunken crowds, and police everywhere, we did what any group of costumed people would do with a 12 year old along for the ride – we went trick or treating. At this point there were 11 of us. Ten adults taking a near-teeneager trick or treating. Except this is us. So of course there’s a story.
And that story is Boot Candy.
Have I told you about my good friend Richard, aka Tequila Mockingbird? No? Well, Richard is a drag queen. And when you are dressed in drag wearing some fabulous boots, your feet might hurt when you walk the mile from downtown Salem back to my house, plus with the added hours of walking to go trick or treating. So you do what anyone would do, you take them off and have your chivalrous bf hold them, which is what Donnie did. So when we came to a house with all of us, Donnie, who had the boots in his hands, would run up to the door and yell trick or treat! At first people were putting candy just in our friend’s kid’s bag. But when we got to about three houses down, some nice woman looked at Donnie, who hadn’t had time to put a costume on, and said “Oh would you like some candy for your boots?”
Now, what candy loving person is going to say NO? Not one of my friends!
“Yes?” So Donnie got the first of many pieces of boot candy that night.
Off we ran to the next house! Trick or treat!
Except this time Donnie shoved both of Richards boots in the peoples’ faces. And they just dropped candy into the boots. No lie. I thought we were going to wet our pants we were laughing so much. Walking up and down the streets of Salem, all night, laughing and yelling BOOT CANDY. By the time we got back to my house and everyone emptied their bags, Donnie had filled Richards boots to the brim with candy. It was one of the best nights ever.
The energy of Salem in October is like nothing else, and I truly come alive during this time. Even after being a tour guide for eleven years, I never tire of it. I always look forward to October. I could spend every waking minute downtown during October if I could. (I have already started a countdown until next October.) And now I know I can do it comfortably, in a great costume! And now we have boot candy and zombies, and new traditions, and more friends than ever to share it with.
Truly the BEST October ever.
November is usually spent recovering from October. And this year that was certainly the case. I hadn’t been that active in October in a long time and post October sadness set in quickly. It didn’t help that I was kinda bummed that Jenna Coleman canceled RICC. She is the only person that I want a photo with. Ah well. Someday. RICC was still a lot of fun, especially since we opted to go on Sunday to avoid the crowds.
The best part of November however was the soft opening of Kakawa Chocolate Shop here in Salem! You have no idea how long all of us have been walking past, staring into the space, longing for this place to open. About 12 of us were walking by one day and the manager, Jack Bauer, was working inside. Our resident chocoholic, Paul, went up to the glass and smooshed his face up against it. That got Jack’s attention all right. He came out and introduced himself, and so now myself, Chuck and Paul have been going almost every single weekend since. That isn’t an exaggeration. Kakawa has kind of become our home away from home.
December is usually pretty slow, event wise. This year there were two really fun events that I hope happen again in 2019. One was SqueeCon, that I had been excited about for awhile. Hansi Oppenheimer, the Creator/Director is not only a good friend but a badass filmmaker and proponent for equal rights and diversity in film and art. The con itself may have been held in a tinier venue than most but the venue itself was stunning – quaint historic playhouse nestled in downtown New Haven, CT. The programming that Squeecon offered was diverse, unique and unlike other cons. As excited as I was for this con, the fear settled in just as quickly. I already wrote some of my thoughts on how I felt before Squeecon here. But I put the costume on, and I faced MANY fears at this con. The fear of being shunned, the fear of being inferior, and the biggest fear – going on stage and doing a Q and A panel. When I was asked to be a panelist/guest, I thought it was going to be in the same capacity like any other con. Let’s discuss how to make a costume, or Cosplay is Not Consent, seated behind a table. But like anything else Hansi does, this was unique. Myself and some amazing cosplayers and artists were seated on this glorious stage and asked questions pertaining to ourselves as cosplayers and this was a first for me. As was being on a stage and allowing myself to be videotaped. It was terrifying, but there was something very welcoming and comforting about this crowd. Of course, I probably made a fool of myself. My rope had its own chair, and I did swear. A lot. “I fucking loved Nightmare in Silver!” But I had a bunch of friends with me at this con, actually most of them drove up with me, so it was a ton of fun.
We also got to visit the Mew Haven Cat Cafe which was super fun too as the people there are Whovians. They were excited when 8, 9, 10, 11, 12, 13, Jack Harkness, Yaz, a Tardis Ghostbuster and Mr. Clever walked in. I still can’t believe we paid money to go play with cats. Don’t anyone tell OUR cats this, ok?
The other event that was a ton of festive fun was Haunt The Halls. I threw on a festive version of Clever, met up with some friends and we all went to visit Paul at his art booth, and got photos with Krampus. We also did get called naughty by a rather mopey Santa.
The last social event that I had as Clever in 2018 was another photoshoot with Vignette. This time however, I had the gorgeous Kelly with me as NiS Clara. It was so nice to be able to recreate canon shots and some fanart. After lunch which consisted of pizza, things got, well, entertaining. CJ decided that we should recreate a rather famous type of scene. I’ll just let the photo speak for itself. This was by far the most fun, hilarious, off script shoot I have ever done, and I can’t thank Kelly enough for being the BEST sport. It was also a huge treat to not only get my new Abbyshot coat in time for this shot, but to have Abbyshot love Vignette’s photos from this shoot and use one of them. Truly a great time.
We may have gone a little overboard this year for Christmas, and we may have invited more people over than my house can handle anymore. I need an actual Bigger on the Inside House. Which reminds me, did I mention CJ got me a life-sized Tardis for Christmas? Where am I supposed to put this?
I am typing the last paragraph of this blog on New Year’s eve. Hoping to wrap all this up in time for actual New Years Day. Sitting here reflecting on all this. Laughing, smiling, sometimes crying, messaging friends, “Do you remember the time we did…?” 2018 was filled with emotional and physical pain that I had never experienced before. But it was also filled with great new adventures and friends, fresh start and the promise of even better things to come.
My goals for 2019 are very simple. Ride more, adopt another cat, more Clever mash-ups, and enjoy my second chance at better health, because most people don’t get one.
This has been your Year in Review for the year ending 2018. Cyberplanner out.
Good evening everyone, I’m your host, Mr. Clever and welcome to another Weekend Update.
The weeks before Thanksgiving is what Salem residents refer to as “Recovering from October” while I refer to it as “Post October Depression.” It can be tough running on all cylinders for 31 days, then abruptly halting come November 1st.
But have no fear, that’s why we have #conlife.
Despite the cancelation of Jenna Coleman, a few of us wondered if it would still be worth it to attend that most stressful of local cons – RICC. Anyone that has attended RICC knows the many potential challenges. The amount of people and the issues just getting inside. People (and children) getting locked out of the con. Being unable to get back to one side of the con or the other. The list goes on (and on and on and on). But, the tickets were bought, the bags were packed, so off we went.
It was so much better than expected. They made a lot of changes to the layout and we went on Sunday. I don’t know if it was one or the other or both but this was the first time it didn’t feel like I spent the entire time elbowing through crowds as thick as Halloween in Salem. It was wonderful and felt like maybe I wouldn’t need a special reason to go next year. (Ask me about my RICC must see list…)
As I bid goodbye to another October and RICC, some of my friends and I decided to treat ourselves with a little day trip to Maine. Now mind you, to me, Maine means one thing – Stonewall Kitchen. And lots and lots of pumpkin butter. And possibly one or two things for CJ (but not likely).
If you have never been to the flagship Stonewall Kitchen location, go now. I foresee many more trips in my immediate future!
For the weeks ahead I don’t mind saying I don’t really celebrate Thanksgiving but I am excited about the grand opening of a new chocolate shop in Salem: Kakawa Chocolate House. I got to meet the owner / proprietor and you can bet I want to be one of the first in line to taste whatever goodies they have in stock.
This has been your weekend update for the week ending November 18, 2018.
I am so humbled by the amount of people sending me messages and checking in on me after finding out that Jenna cancelled RICC. She must have gotten word that Mr. Clever was coming to see her. I love that so many of my friends knew how much it meant to me to meet her.
I’m sad, but that is the risk you take when going to a con for a guest. I’ve never done that in the four years of Conlife. It’s a gamble. But the way I see it, it’s like anything else. When you buy a con ticket you don’t know if you will get sick, have to work, get a flat, have a miserable time, etc.
Eventually I will get my Clever/Clara pic. For now, I am happy with the array of lovely Clara’s that I have met over the years!
So, it looks like RICC 2018 will be happening after all. Now, don’t get me wrong, I somehow manage to have a great time every year at this con, despite the long lines that can rival Disneyland’s, the massive crowds and the infamous unorganized spaces. Because for whatever reason, RICC manages to get great guests year after year.
My spouse and I have what we call our “Short list.” The people that we would brave the craziness for. At the very top is Sean and Gus from Psych. Followed by a Burn Notice cast reunion for him and Jenna Coleman for me. Well, damn.
My wonderful friends Jenne and Cass brought my chessboard for her to sign at Boston Comic Con one year. She was super funny and sweet about it. She even loved my cosplay and showed her mom. So you would think that I would NOT be a nervous wreck to meet her, but NOPE.
Luckily, I will have a bunch of great friends with me to support me. As always.
Wish me luck – getting through this con, AND meeting Jenna.
Upgrade in Progress. Or should I say UNDEAD in Progress? Cyberplanner part all ready for Zombie Clever!
I wanted to make it look broken, beat up, falling apart, wires falling out, only one light working – and with minimal blood and more motor oil looking colors. I am very happy with how it turned out, especially given my allergies to latex and silicones.
This weekend at Super Megafest marks FIVE years that I have been cosplaying as Mr. Clever. I have been cosplaying as Clever longer than Matt Smith had been the Doctor.
It also marks five years of meeting some of my best friends. Not just con friends. But, friends that are a huge part of my life – beyond fandom, beyond conlife. I wouldn’t have met them if not for my cosplay, if not for Clever, if not for Matt, or not for Doctor Who.
And as Doctor Who enters a brand new chapter in its long run, I hope many fans, young, old, newcomers, and returning ones, like myself, find their own piece of magic in the TARDIS. It is a wonderful thing, and I truly believe the Doctor herself, would enjoy every second of it.
Who will I see for this anniversary at SMF? I have so many crazy, fun memories. Who wants to make more?
The photo that started it all. The “legend of Ron Jeremy.”
Anyone who has met me knows that “Nightmare in Silver” is my favorite Doctor Who episode. But NiS is so much more than just an episode to me.
We all have those things that have changed our lives, or mattered to us, or maybe even helped us through difficult times. Some have a series of books, and yes, for sure I do have Harry Potter, some people have music, others might have sports figures. For me, I have one episode of one tv show.
Over the years, people have asked me *how* this is possible, how can one thing, one character, change so much of a person’s life?
My best analogy is the “stone in the water causes ripples” cliché. One thing led to another, which led to another.
Before we moved back to Salem (we of course being myself, CJ, and 3 cats) we never really left the house. We didn’t socialize, we each had one or two friends that we saw on occasion and that was it. (and they are great friends, don’t get me wrong!) But it was always just us, sitting around the house, bored. And for me, getting dressed to go outside was hell. That was always a horrible point of contention for us. Going out meant having to get dressed. Having to put on some semblance of “normalcy”. We even had the chance to go to San Diego Comic Con for free one year and we said no. Crowds? People? Nope.
Fast forward to cosplay life. Getting dressed up? Yes please. I think I spend more time in my cosplay than any other outfit that I own. And aside from the issues with the cyberplanner itself, it is so comfortable to wear. I feel like myself in it. This was the first time in 35+ years that I wanted to go out, to talk, to socialize, to interact. Suddenly we have all these friends, and cons, and laughter and events and game nights and people over filling our lives with fun and life and love and everything that matters in this world.
That first stone to get cast into the water, the first ripple, was watching NiS that one night. That “A-ha” moment of “I wanna become this character” that brought cosplay into our lives, which brought conlife, and in turn forever changed our lives and the lives of our friends.
In short, none of this would have been possible before.
Creative Salem asked me to co-host a cosplay party with them at the gorgeous, historic Hawthorne hotel. What an amazing night. No words for how much fun we had. Its hard for a cosplayer like myself to establish themselves, so to speak, (that is *not* my end game. This is just an observation.) because I do cosplay such an obscure character from well, let’s be honest, a less than well received episode. So to be able to do something like this, and have it be “presented by Mr. Clever” made me so incredibly happy. I hope they do it again!
Lee Roberts aka Mr Clever is a cosplayer and artist from Salem. They are actively involved in the Cosplay is not Consent: Anti-bullying movement as well as being an admin for Boston Whovians.
Their Mr. Clever cosplay has been featured in The Nerdist, The Mary Sue, Nerd Caliber, on BBC America, the BBC affiliate Anglophenia, and was featured in Doctor Who magazine.
Their motto is “Upgrade everyone. Save all the kittens.”
Tell us a little bit about Mr. Clever:
Mr Clever is from the Doctor Who episode “Nightmare in Silver” written by my favorite author, Neil Gaiman. He is what happened when the Cyberman tried to take over the Doctor. For those non- Whovians out there, imagine an evil robotic entity that takes over 50% of an alien time traveler’s mind. The beauty and challenge of cosplaying him is that its essentially two characters in one. He was sassy, snarky, manic, manipulative and I adored every second he was on screen.
You’ve become known for cosplaying this character. Why him?
You know this is the one question people ask me the most and I am never 100% sure what to say. There are so many reasons why Mr. Clever clicked with me. I do remember when I first saw Nightmare in Silver, I lost my mind when he first appeared on screen and knew I had to cosplay that character. I loved his personality: snarky, flirty and suave. Maybe its because I have always loved all things robotic. Maybe its because it gave me a chance to make something unique, since I can’t sew which usually is a primary skill as a cosplayer. Maybe its just because he lets me get out of my own way and have fun. I don’t have a solid answer. I had tried other cosplays before and after him, but none of them fit me like he does. When I put on the cyberplanner piece it all just comes together. We just clicked – it was love at first sight.
What does cosplay mean?
Cosplay is hard to define, as it means different things to different people. For myself, I’m not cosplaying unless I am in character, not just in costume. Unless I am Mr. Clever.
But the beauty of cosplay is that there is no right or wrong way to do it. For some people putting on a costume and going out for Halloween is cosplaying, and that is totally ok. It’s the fun, the PLAY part of it that is key for most cosplayers.
Imagine your 10-year-old self all over again. What costume did you want to wear? What character did you want to embody so badly? Wonder women? Gandalf? A ninja Turtle? Its that same passion that makes cosplay fun and rewarding for all ages. Doesn’t matter if you made your costume, bought it at a thrift store or just make props, like me. It’s all about self-expression and fun.
Cosplay is for everyone. And everyone can cosplay.