I really miss location shoots. I look forward to being able to do these again!
I really miss location shoots. I look forward to being able to do these again!
I decided that the PassTheBrushChallenge needed a Whovian twist! So here is our PassTheSonicChallenge!
Huge thank you to all these amazing cosplayers!
I’d love to say that no sonics were hurt during the making of this, but I definitely broke mine. Ooops!
This weekend is Li Who/An Unearthly Convention, and it will be my first Doctor Who event since Regen 4. When it was announced that there wouldn’t be a ReGen 5, I debated whether or not I should just let all this go. But it occurs to me that, because of things that happened at Regen 4, I have been avoiding Doctor Who specific events since early 2018.
As excited as I am for Li Who, I am worried and scared that my assailants will be there. I’m even more scared that even if they aren’t, I’ll still be looked down upon, seen negatively. That there will still be victim blaming and shaming.
For me, and for anyone that needs it, I decided to just put it all out there because a lot of people don’t know what actually happened to me.
Step inside the Tardis, and let’s go back to Arisia 2015…
A woman stalked me, assaulted me, almost broke my props, followed me to lunch, told me, “I want to be just like you.” Then she cut her hair like mine, and harassed two of my friends. I reported it right away to con security. Security seemed incredibly helpful at first but when I mentioned that my assailant was a “she” they stopped me mid-sentence and asked me to clarify. They were baffled. They didn’t believe me.
“Girls don’t do that.”
I was devastated. And tried to just accept that this would just be how it is. Don’t say anything because no one is going to believe you.
PSA: That security team has since been replaced and the new team has been nothing but professional and helpful.
Fast forward to 2018, to ReGen 4 , where multiple women touched me without consent. They rubbed my back, felt me up, and put their hands down my pants. I was jumped on while standing in line for Peter Capaldi. Another woman ran up, grabbed my arm and forcibly pulled me towards her. It knocked me off balance. I dropped the stuff in my hands and screamed out in pain. I was already in pain from an injury and could barely stand, so the pain she caused made me see actual spots.
Because of Arisia, I was incredibly hesitant to report it. I figured no one would believe me and nothing would get done. Sadly, I was correct.
Because of all the times I had been laughed at online when I say “male and NB cosplayers get assaulted too” I kept this all to myself. I kept it in, internally screaming and crying, and wishing I could just vanish.
It wasn’t until I confided in a close friend who had a similar experience happen to her at the previous ReGen, (except with a male assailant) that I decided I would go ahead and report the situation. My friend assured me that the con would handle it well, as they had handled her situation. She gave me names, titles, and contact info. I was reluctant, anxious about whether I’d be believed, but I decided to reach out. I didn’t tell anyone, even my husband.
I told them that I had been sexually assaulted, that I had been stalked, and finally that I had been caused bodily harm. I didn’t blame ground staff. I tried to just be honest, tell my story, and not judge anyone, because in my head, this was the fault of the con goers themselves, the attackers.
I gave the best description that I could of my attackers. I also explained that I tried to find con security while there, but was terrified that my assailants would find out, and to be honest after getting the run around for two days about an ADA pass, I didn’t have much faith in them.
I sent out the first email and waited for about three weeks with no reply. I thought ‘emails get lost, no big, I’ll send it again to the same address as well as a few others.’ Still nothing. After a couple weeks of no replies, I reached out to a different friend who gave me yet another name and contact. Still no reply. But I was getting emails from the same address about ticket sales just fine. So I even replied to that. Nothing. I tried messaging their FB page. No reply even though they saw the message.
I finally got a reply after THREE MONTHS of telling these people that I was sexually assaulted at their con, and that someone literally leapt on top of me.
Their reply consisted of what sounded like a copypasta ‘sorry this happened to you.’ That was it. So I replied to that, very upset that they appeared to not be at least attempting to get more info on these people since I gave them descriptions. I have not reported many people through the years, but the few times when I have, the con always asked what the people looked like, if I knew their names, etc so they could be tracked down and the situation resolved.
Same exact reply. So I sent one last email, telling them that they NEEDED to do something about these people or at least give me some indication that they would look into it before these people came back and did this to someone else.
I never got a reply to that, but I did see a very passive aggressive post on their FB page, that they disabled comments on. They didn’t call me out by name, but they said that if you contact them they need more time to answer because – this was what really upset me – “we have other shows” and added with a winky face emoji.
How very nice to know that if you have been assaulted, make sure you don’t interfere with their show schedule.
I haven’t told many people about this. Some people that I did tell have told me to just drop it, and some even stopped talking to me because it happened. Because they didn’t want to make waves because their enjoyment of the con was more important.
It has been almost two years and I feel like there are no safe places. No place to go that won’t victim blame me or tell me, “Well you should have done this if you wanted to avoid getting assaulted.” People have zero issue getting behind celebrities when they come out after sexual harassment. Everybody goes to Twitter, they run to Facebook, to post campaigns and start boycotts.
People will rally for someone that they don’t know because it’s easier. Because it doesn’t cost them anything.
Dealing with sexual assault and predators is a lot harder when it’s a con in your own community.
That’s why I’ve finally decided to put some of this out there. Because it needs to be said. Because we as a community need to do better. We need to hold ourselves and those we trust accountable.
So, in the words of a Twitter meme: “I don’t know who needs to hear this, but…”
It takes a great deal of bravery to stand up to your enemies, but a great deal more to stand up to your friends.” ~ Albus Dumbledore
I managed to get my hands on the Time of The Doctor set for a pretty good price. So of course I had to give the Doctor a little make over. Cybernetics aside, he needed some repainting anyway. The colors are very bland, and he had no facial expression.
I redid the coat, his bow tie and of course his face.
I finally managed to get my hands on a Titans Kawaii 11th Doctor figure. Of course he needed an upgrade!
And so the process begins.
Now he is in proper series 7b attire.
Upgrade in Progress!
and finished! Ready to take on the world. LOL
Be strong. Be fearless. Be yourself. Be obnoxiously resilient.
Love is love is love.
“Science is a way of talking about the universe in words that bind it to a common reality.
Magic is a method of talking to the universe in words that it cannot ignore.
The two are rarely compatible.”
―Neil Gaiman, The Books of Magic
May 11th is the anniversary of an episode of Doctor Who that among many fans of the show lives in infamy, but for me is a work of art that has changed my life. It has inspired me, caused me pain, physical and emotional, remade me, then broke me again. Nightmare in Silver has become such a integral part of who I am that some people equate me with the titular villain of the story – Mr. Clever. If that sounds arrogant or over the top its because my spouse typed it.
All I can say is that it has been a bumpy 6 years since I started cosplaying as this character. I have learned a lot, made friends and lost them again.
I wanted this to be a review of the episode. A critique from the perspective of Mr. Clever. But how do I separate the joy of the episode from how I used that joy to craft this whole new persona and just run with it? I guess I can’t. So instead I came at this in a rambling, disjointed diatribe that became a novella on how this episode changed my life. The moment my Doctor, Matt Smith, stepped off the TARDIS onto Hedgwick’s World.
Six years ago, my spouse and I were sitting in bed and continuing our watch of Matt’s run on Doctor Who. CJ had been a fan of David, and I had already fallen in love with 11. His goofiness combined with his dark side had already won me over.
I remember CJ leaning towards the screen saying “Wait. This one was ALSO written by Neil? There were TWO? How come no one told us?”
We’ve always been huge fans of Neil Gaiman. I remember when CJ and I first started dating, we would have nightly conversations about American Gods. Now, of course, I know why no one told us. As much as I love NiS, I am in the minority. Watching it, I thought that somehow people just must have missed this one. Because how could you not love it?
Dead amusement park. Written by Neil. Warwick Davis. Little silver bugs. Cybermen. Cool chess game. And the single greatest villain ever. I mean, come on.
Looking back, I recalled a friend telling me that I would love Neil’s episode, and of course I know NOW that she meant The Doctor’s Wife, but every time I see her in person I smirk as she shakes her head.
Someone asked me once if I knew how long Clever was on screen, like in total. I sat down and clocked it once. It comes in at roughly 9 minutes. As I sit here and listen to the tippety tap of my keyboard, I look around at all the Clever swag that I have gotten over the years, the gifts that people have given me, the fan art, all the little silver creatures scattered around my house. Its incredible to me to think back and try to remember what my life was like before this. BC? Before Clever? Before con life? Before cosplay? Nine minutes changed my life.
A path is built by placing one stone at a time. How does one single character manage to be that stone, to set in motion a series of little events that lead to life altering decisions for so many people. And it all had to line up so perfectly. If I had already known what cosplay WAS, I don’t think I would have tried this. If I had already known what photoshoots were, and meet ups and cons, and had fb pages, and had friends that were Whovians – I think I would have been too freaked out to try to cosplay. I know for sure that if had known that people would have taken my photo and put it on the internet, I would have never even tried this. If I wasn’t allergic to so many things, would I have even found the mixture of ingredients to make the perfect working Cyberplanner piece? Who knows. One stone at a time, and the path was laid.
And what a path it has been.
I have learned a lot, made friends and lost them again.
I used to watch Doctor Who when I was very young, though I don’t remember much. My grandmother loved Tom Baker. Used to say “Oh, that man looks great in a scarf”.
Fast forward to 2009, CJ and I were living in California, and we started watching the 9th Doctor on reruns. But Matt’s run had already started. At the time I only knew one other person who watched Doctor Who and she was telling me that she “hated the new Doctor. Bring back David”. That was all I remember except for a few whispers here and there about Matt until MISTI-Con in 2013.
MISTI was where I met most of the costumed people that I admired and aspired to become. They were so perfect. Especially a pair of cosplayers I am still friends with today – The Malfoys. I still didn’t know what cosplay meant. I heard it once or twice, but only in reference to Anime. My friends called themselves costumers, performers, actors. Not cosplayers. So that is what I thought was the norm.
We finally finished David’s run and CJ was pretty upset. And TBH, David’s last episode is still one of my favorite endings. I loved it then and still find it moving now. We didn’t start Matt right away, but I was already searching Pinterest and Tumblr for memes and gifs of the 11th Doctor and already fell in love with him without even seeing an episode.
I thought I would make CJ feel better about losing David by buying him a fez. Except I didn’t want to take it off. And it became mine. Which kind of started a whole wardrobe filled with 11’s items. And I mean a wardrobe. I have an antique wardrobe that was my grandmothers filled with items that 11 wore. Mind you I never wear them, unless it’s for Clever. But I have them.
I tried cosplaying as ‘Town Called Mercy‘ 11. I tried the ‘Let’s Kill Hitler‘ green coat. I tried the standard purple coat sans Cybernetics. Eh. Wasn’t for me. I didn’t like it. Like all the other costumes before, I just didn’t get the appeal. I couldn’t understand why “those people dressed up”. Try as I might, I couldn’t be a Malfoy.
Until I saw 11 get converted into Mr. Clever. I lost my damn mind. I really couldn’t tell you why. Still. SIX years later. I don’t know what clicked. I have tried to analyze it, I have tried to figure it out. I don’t know. But I HAD to be him. Watching his smirks, his flirty outbursts, how manipulative he was. Or maybe it was the line about being effected by gold and cleaning fluids (two things that I’m allergic to). I knew instantly that he was my cosplay, my character. Maybe its because I knew I couldn’t act, and to me, cosplay is about the performance, so I knew I had to pick someone close to my own personality, or at the very least something that I could pull off. Or maybe its cause I always loved cybernetically enhanced things. Who knows? But at that moment the first stone of my path was put into place.
But HOW to become him? HOW was I going to pull this off? Looking at myself – long blonde hair, not exactly young and thin like Matt was, and well, not cybernetically enhanced. I refused to wear a wig. So dying my hair was the first permanent thing I did. But for two years, I refused to cut it. I thought I was too fat for short hair, and I didn’t want to be that person that cut their hair to look like a celebrity. Which was dumb. I could have saved myself and my friend Kat MANY hours of braiding my damn hair if I had just chopped it all off to begin with. Eventually I did chop it off to look like Matt’s. Thank god for Ashley and later Sarai, for being the amazing stylists that they are. Instead of taking two and half hours to get into costume, it now only takes about hour and half.
Next I started the acquisition of all the screen accurate pieces I would need. I managed to find all the pieces except for a coat. Unfortunately, I’m allergic to wool – lucky me. Include that in with the hundreds of things that I’m allergic to, so my search was a difficult one. I got very lucky and found a purple coat at a thrift store that I used for about the first two years. Very far from screen accurate but no one seemed to notice. I was all over BBC sites and in DW magazine with this coat. Eventually I got a custom made one and then this past Christmas I took a HUGE chance and got the Abbyshot replica which has become my favorite coat, not only because it doesn’t make me itch, but because it looks and feels fabulous.
So: Hair. Check. Costume. Check. Accessories including cybermites and hand pulse. Check. Now what to do about my face? Again, at this time I didn’t know any other Whovian cosplayers when I put this costume together. I didn’t know there were resources: forums, pages, groups, etc. I knew what I wanted, and I was going to become that. I did know one person who worked with prosthetics, so I asked him if he had ideas.
“Yes, use latex”.
“Um, I’m deathly allergic to that.”
“Well, you’re shit outta luck.”
I did some research on what people used for movies. Mostly latex, silicones, rubbers and urethanes. All things that I can not touch. Someone told me to search youtube. But I have never learned anything that I know how to do except by trial and error. So I sat down, and I experimented. I tried various clays. Nope. That burned a cyberplanner shaped rash onto my face. I tried Eva foam. Ugly as hell, made me itch and didn’t stick anyway. I gave up on the “suggested materials” and made my own. Fragile. Lightweight. Breaks by looking at it, I swear. But it works. 22 days later and I had a working, blinking, wireless cyberplanner piece. It is the most incredible thing I have ever made and the one piece of art that I am the most proud of, and the only thing I have *ever* made for myself.
As an artist, over the years, I’ve made many pieces; from remade Breyer model horses, to wands and jewelry but only if it was a commission. Only if people paid me. That was my job. I never made art for fun. For myself.
Until I sat down to make the cyberplanner piece. No clue what I was doing, but I knew it had to be done. I had never done anything like this before – or since. It was an act of magick, filled with passion and planning and pain.
Every time I hold it in my hands, it fills me with such a sense of pride, wonder, and excitement. Well, until I have to put it on. Or until I have to take it off. Or until it gives me migraines. Or until it pushes into my head all day and causes me actual pain. I guess it’s more accurate to say I have a love/hate relationship with this…I don’t know…horcrux?
It’s more than a costume piece. More than a cosplay. Its pure magick. Something that resonates on its own, but incomplete without its owner. I feel incomplete sometimes when I’m not wearing it or maybe just feel more complete when its on. And sometimes I feel like I’m not worthy. Like Mjolnir and Thor.
Arisia 2014. This was the catalyst. The start of con life and all things Cyberiad and Clever and friends. Rewind to my life before – BC. Going out, socializing. It was hard, it was almost non existent, and it was harrowing. Especially getting dressed. Ugh, even now I just hate dressing up. Clothes are the enemy. I’ve always had issues with my appearance. Hated myself, my looks. Always been the ugly one, the fat one. Going out in public was never easy for me. Deciding to throw on a costume and go to a convention was an odd, out of character choice for me. Certainly for CJ. But we grabbed a friend, and off we went.
Boston Whovians were having a photoshoot but I didn’t want to be a part of it. Photos? Oh hell no! We stood at the bottom of the escalator and watched the procession of Whovians go by. ‘I’m going to just stand in the shadows and hope no one sees me’
Our friend said, “You know your face blinks, right?” and suddenly I heard what I think was “Mr. Clever you better get your ass to this photoshoot” from the best looking River Song cosplayer I’ve ever seen. (Cat Smith, and who turned out to be a good friend shortly after.) I remember looking around for advice and him saying “Someone who very well could BE River Song just screamed the word shoot. I would follow her if I were you.”
SIDE NOTE: River Song is my second favorite DW character, so it didn’t take much convincing.
I was very blown away with the amount of people at this meet up, and was not expecting so many people to come running up to me, posing me, asking for photos and calling me “delicious”. (Yes that happened) I posed for one particular photo for my friend Lynn Wine, and that is the pic that ended up going viral. Not long after Arisia, it ended up on Geek Universe, The Nerdist, a few other geek sites, and got retweeted by BBCA. That was shocking for me, and I was not 100% sure how I felt about seeing myself all over the place. But that is how it began.
It’s more than a costume piece. More than a cosplay. Its pure magick.
Of course, with all the good things, there is usually bad. This is also the time period where I first started getting hate for my choice of characters, how I presented the character, etc. I talk all about that in another post here – Haters Gonna Hate. Even with all the hate and negativity, I would not trade this, nor do I have a single regret.
I can’t emphasize enough how much my whole life changed at that very moment; Arisia 2014 was truly the point of no return.
And as with all my more personal posts I need to include something Taylor Swift:
I promise that you’ll never find another like me
Taylor Swift, “ME!”
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!
Another year, another wonderful masquerade at the Hawthorne hosted by Creative Collective. This year’s theme was Game of Thrones, which proved a little more challenging for me than previous years did. How am I going to work Mr. Clever into this theme? Especially given that I am very unfamiliar with the world. I came up with the idea of Clever of Dragons, and had a few ideas on how to make it work. Unfortunately most of my ideas looked great on paper, but just didn’t seem to pan out the way I wanted.
I had started to make a dragon shaped cyberplanner, and as amazing as it came out, it just did not fit well on my face, nor did it want to actually stay on. So I scrapped that, and just wore my alt cyberplanner piece. My good friend Mandi, who also happened to win Best Mask, made a caplet for me, which did not end up draping over me as well as I had hoped. So I scrapped that as well. All that I really ended up with was my cyber dragon – Fernando. Which came out very well.
Here is how I made him. CyberDragon Tutorial.
The Iron Throne was a fun and interesting photo opportunity. Witch Pix, the folks who ran the photo booth this year were really on point and went out of their way to help attendees pose to get the perfect photo. There were acrobats and themed foods. The best decoration though, in my opinion, was the giant dragon that they had in the ballroom. It was not only gorgeous, but was brought in from a private home in Marblehead. Someone just made as a decoration for themselves, it was so nice to see because it just felt like such a great sense of community to have it there.
I did have a hard time interacting with the performers because I just did not know who they were supposed to be so I did my best and told all of them that I thought they were beautiful and I hoped they won the Throne. That seemed to please them.
It was a very fun night out with friends and as always a great party. Already looking forward to next year.
Most of you may know that I tend to send a mini version of myself along to some cons when I can’t be there. This mostly happens at Gally, which usually means that whatever I send has to not only endure the general craziness of my friends, but also being packed up and shipped. So far, every Clever I have sent has technically survived, but he usually comes back in pretty rough shape. Now is this because of the USPS or my friends, well, I guess a little of both. ( I will be posting the #CleverdoesGally2019 album soon, and you can decide!)
My friend Holly of Hollys Making Stuff crafts the cutest creatures of all sorts so I asked her to make me a wee Mr. Clever. I was not disappointed when she sent me some WIP photos. Not expecting to see a teeny tiny cybermite on his lapel, but that got me thinking, and I asked if she would also make me a cybermite too.
I am really happy with how these came out. I can’t wait to take pictures of them all around the town and at every con we go to.
My first time saying YES to being a guest speaker on a Doctor Who podcast. I met some of the wonderful people from Man Bites Media and Diversely Geek while at SqueeCon, so I could not say no. I thoroughly enjoyed being a part this three-part series that talks about “The Influence of the Doctor. ”
I hope you will tune in and enjoy listening to us discuss how Doctor Who changed and influenced our lives and the lives of our friends and the community that we move around in.
Thank you to the cast for having me.
For those that may need a TW, I do, however briefly, towards the end, discuss my experiences with sexual assault, and the many types of threats that I have had throughout the years. Brief mentions of r*pe and transphobia.
When I first decided to do my Clever of Dragons Doctor Who/Game of Thrones mash-up for the Winds of Winter masquerade ball I figured since it was going to be pretty obscure I needed some sort of prop to make it fun and to have something to tie in to the theme. The concept of a Cyber-Dragon staff seemed interesting and fun! And totally something Mr. Clever would carry.
Obviously, it was going to be silver, and I knew I wanted its eyes to be blue to match the blue lights on my cyberplanner. I had never worked with props of this nature before and the process proved to be a little bit more challenging than I thought especially since my craft area is not very conducive to making anything larger than a cyberplanner.
I also don’t have space away from my cats. Which is a whole other challenge!
I started with a roll of wrapping paper and I decided to make the basic head shape of the dragon itself out of paper mache. Mind you, I have never worked with paper mache before, not even as a child. The reason for this is that newspaper is part of the long list of things I am allergic to. So I wasn’t able to do work with the paper mache as well and as long as I had first planned. I did the best I could with it, and ended up filling in the gaps with aluminum foil and tape.
At first, the shape looked way off.
Each individual dragon scale was made out of thin craft foam. Initially, I wasn’t going to cover the cardboard tube completely but that just got a little bit away from me. I started cutting out a few scales here and there, sometimes in bed, sometimes at the hair salon, sometime while I was waiting for laundry to dry – wherever I could. So I figured, well, I have all these scales, might as well glue them on.
The plastic that I ended up using for the eyes and the chestplate actually came from a Quidditch set that CJ got me for Christmas. The set came in a box, with all the Quidditch balls, protected in this one piece of plastic. I got so excited because I realized that the plastic was the perfect shape and size for the eyes and chest. It was also the moment where I realized that I went full on cat, as I was more excited about the packaging that I was about the product.
I carved out a hole in the wrapping paper tube for the chest plate, then cut out the eye holes in the head, put the plastic in. Found blue LED lights and strung them through. I then cut out a hole in the back of the tube for the lights’ battery pack. After that I just used a glue gun to glue the rest of the scales around the remaining openings.
To finish the head, I covered it the best I could with the rest of the scales, aluminum foil spikes, and window insulation around the eyes. I covered the entire thing in silver spray paint…
… and off I went to the ball. Except I forgot to cover it in sealant and my hands were covered in silver paint the entire night of the ball. I fixed it later, sealed it, just in case I ever use Fernando again. Yes, we have decided that his name shall be Fernando.
I hope you enjoyed my first attempt at a tutorial! Stay tuned for more on future projects!
Only eleven days until 2019! See what I did there? That means only 11 days until I can get my butt in gear and write a Year in Review, too. So many things have happened in 2018.
Also, who else is excited for the Doctor Who special? I am very curious to see what happens.
One of the many things that I enjoy about doing photoshoots is getting to see the behind-the-scenes work that goes into creating a fabulous photo. It certainly takes lots of patience, a certain charm and a great sense of humor to work with someone like myself. I am notoriously uneasy when I am getting my photo taken, yet always a bit rambunctious at the same time.
It was a great pleasure to work with Sauvage Photo and Edit again. She always puts me at ease and makes it a very fun and productive day! This time around I had my good friend Kelly as my NiS Clara along with my wonderful spouse taking some photos of us while we worked.
As per usual, I brought all my props – chess board, chess set, trigger, Clara’s gun. And perhaps a few more things.
I thought it might be fun to recreate some fan art that I had seen. This proved to be a little tricky, as you don’t realize that illustrations and photo manips, no matter how good, are still not real people. Getting some of the angles correct was bit challenging.
We managed to get some great shots, and I am really looking forward to seeing the finished product!
I have been super excited for a con this weekend. Which is pretty normal for me. Except it just occurred to me that I haven’t worn my… Read more “Reflections on my next upgrade”
Kakawa Chocolate House – Salem, MA Opening.
For months, we have been tempted and teased with the “Opening Soon” signs of the new Kakawa Chocolate shop here in Salem, MA. Up until now they have had only one other location – in Santa Fe, NM. Week after week, myself and all my friends, would stop by, peek into the windows, curious to see if there was any indication of movement inside. We used to joke that Willy Wonka himself would eventually pop out of the door. Welcoming us.
One gloomy Saturday, an exceptionally large group of us walked by and just as Paul and I placed our faces up against the glass and mouthed “Chocolate!” we heard the door open. A lovely man peered out, and said, “SOON! We open on Tuesday, 10 am!”
Obviously I had to shake this man’s hand, introduce myself, and tell him that we would be back. On Tuesday. At 10am. That man was one of the owners, Jack. Wonderful man, great sense of humor to accommodate all of us peeking into his shop!
Tuesday morning was rainy and cold. But I kept my word to Jack, and showed up at 10am (well, ok 9:40) with my friends Sarah and Chuck. People on Essex Street kept asking us why we were standing outside in the alcove. “CHOCOLATE!”, we said.
At 10am on the nose, the door opened, and Jack, ever the bubbly host, said “Who wants to be the first through the door?”
Well, I happened to be closest, so it was me! The first customer! I got a wonderful hug from Jack and inside we went for our tour. It really did feel like we had golden tickets.
We were greeted by the other owner, Tony, and handed small samples of their sipping chocolates, known as “elixirs”. Which were the single best things I have ever tasted. Ever. We sat down and enjoyed the sipping chocolates paired with some lovely conversation. Then we wandered around and perused their yummy wares.
They didn’t have a full showing of every item they will be selling as this was a soft opening, but even with limited stock, we were in awe. And they were so knowledgeable about every piece. We each bought some truffles and received some free samples for being the first customers.
All in all, this new shop is a tasty fit for our Witch City and I am very excited to go back for it’s official grand opening on Saturday with even more friends!
It is National Cat Day, and in my household that really is like every other day. Especially when you are a foster cat parent. I grew up always having at least one cat, but it wasn’t until I became an adult and became a foster home for various shelters that I fully grasped how many lives needed saving.
When my spouse and I first moved to Los Angeles we had a one bedroom apartment, with very little furniture and somehow managed to foster every single cat we could. Many times we did this at our own expense, because the shelter system in L.A., like most major cities, leaves much to be desired. Most of the rescue groups there were running on fumes and many of the cats’ lives were at stake if someone didn’t jump in asap to swoop them up. And even then, sometimes that didn’t always work. More times than I care to count, I would call and say I could take an entire family, and a wonderful rescuer would drive two hours to pick them up and they would already be put down. This is the life of a rescuer in most major cities. Bless the souls that do this every day.
This is Moo Moo. He was supposed to be a cat sitting situation. Friendly, lovable, giant ball of fluff. Family never came back for him. Turns out he had a tumor over his left eye that exploded while we had him. It was operated on, and he did find his forever home with a new loving family. Poor guy, at least he had a happy ending.
Most photogenic kitten ever. This is Kerouac. He was part of a litter that all got adopted except for him. We ended up with a momma cat whose babies died. She ended up loving this kitten and we somehow managed to get the two of them adopted together.
What can I even say about this little guy, Jedi. We got Jedi from a rescue group, and had him as a foster for over a year and a half. We had a really bad skin condition that made it so he basically lived with a cone on 24/7. But he was the single most sweetest cat we have ever had. And he was the welcome committee whenever we had new cats come in. A wonderful family with the money to care for his skin condition came forward and wanted to adopt him. This was one of the hardest decisions to make. This is always hard when you foster. But we did the right thing and gave him to a good home that could afford to give him the meds that he needed daily.
This was our Fred Weasley. He and his sister, Foo Foo Cuddly Poops were two foster failures. After about a year, we woke up to Fred dragging his lower part of his body across the floor, after a blood clot permanently paralyzed his legs. We had to make the hard decision to put him down. His sister cried for days. And was never fully ok until we got another litter of kittens and sort of adopted one, which of course meant we had to keep her.
This is the Doctor. We recently lost him to old age. His story is the epitome of why we foster.
We met the Doctor while we still lived in L.A. They gave him to us because he had been on the streets, snatched up and living in a cage for almost a year because they said he didn’t get along with other cats. We took him in, and had him for the entire time we lived in L.A. No one wanted him. He was sort of friendly to people, but cranky, typical old tom-cat syndrome. Hissed at other cats. But our Jedi wouldn’t stop until he felt at home. Took years, but the Doctor finally settled.
Finally we get a message from the shelter that someone wanted him. This woman came in, got to know him, loved him, took him. Next week we left to visit Salem, and get a message from the rescue group saying this same woman had taken the Doctor to the vet, found out he had asthma and arthritis and proceeded to dump him off there. And left. Just left him. No one had room for him in their house so they put him back in a cage. When we got back to CA, he had lost so much weight from being depressed. We swore we would never leave him in a cage again.
Fast forward to us moving back home to Salem. And still no forever home for the Doctor in CA. Well, guess he is going to have to come home with us. Except we already had two cats coming with us. We took a huge chance but he stayed in CA with a nice woman that was friends with the rescue group, and then he flew home on a flight with another kind soul. So right around Christmas we drove to Logan and picked up our cat and he never changed families again.
We lost the Doctor last week to old age, but he was purring up until the end. He was the poster cat for why we foster, why we rescue, and why we continue to do this. His spot in our family of six cats will always be for an older, special cat that no one else wants.
There are so many more cat stories I could tell. Like Adam and his sister Gaige. Captain Peanut and Bellatrix Cabal. Baba who was blind most of the time he was with us until he got surgery. Lorraine our real first foster who had cat leukemia. Hundreds.
So many of them need help, even a little. We do what we can. And to all the other fosters and cat parents and anyone that rescues…
Happy National Cat Day
I am thrilled to be featured alongside some amazing cosplay artists. It is also a huge honor to be responsible for seeing “Mr. Clever” on the cover.
Thank you CosplayZine.
I haven’t written a blog post in a while. Recently I uploaded some new photos from a photo shoot and there were a few comments that could only be described as trolling so I thought it was time to get something off my chest.
It wasn’t just the trolls that made me decide to write this. After a few “Facebook friends” made their comments, I doubted myself, so in a moment of weakness, I deleted the whole album.
Doing that shoot was incredibly hard for me. You may not realize it when you see me running around a con with grapes and rope but I am very self-conscious. And I delete far more than I post. And in that brief period of self-doubt after the trash people thought they had a right to tell me what I could or couldn’t wear, I thought it was just easier to delete it, delete myself, off the screen, and deal with all later. Or not, depending on how I felt.
After some soul-searching, and some convincing by my close friends, my partner, and the wonderful photographer, the album is now back up.
The reason I reposted it isn’t just because I didn’t want the trash people of the internet to win, but the larger reason is that when I see these photos I am reminded that even though these pics are “of me” they aren’t just about me.
I think a lot of people in the cosplay community will agree with me – when I see a professional cosplay photo I see a team effort that goes into making those beautiful photos. And when I share mine I am not only sharing my own art (like the cyberplanner) that I have painstakingly created (with the emphasis on pain) but the art and skill of my friends and colleagues.
There are so many people that have helped me over the years, that have also invested time and talent into helping me make Mr. Clever come to life in these photos and in person.
The insane number of amazing photographers alone. It is not easy to capture (and edit) a wonderful photograph. It is even harder to work with someone like me, who has severe anxiety in front of the camera. Cosplay photographers often go unnoticed and are truly the unsung heroes of our community. The photographers that I have met and worked with over the years deserve a medal for putting up with me. Many times, they have worked with me for free, so yes of course, I am going to share their photos everywhere (and give them credit as often as possible).
Or the hair stylists that have helped me over the years. Running into the salon with pictures of Matt. “This is the color I need”. And the random make-up artist we met while in NYC for NYCC that color matched me and taught me how to put make up on for photos. Never would have known any of that if not for her.
And the friend who felt bad that I couldn’t wear the Abbyshot coat who went and got fabric for me. And the other friend who made me the coat that I wear now. This coat is amazing. The curator from the DW experience loved it. The person who made it should be proud of herself.
Even down to the tattoo artist who worked with me to make my cybermite tattoo come to life.
And that doesn’t even cover the emotional challenges that people help me work through: how hard it is for me to overcome the fear of cameras, the challenge of my body image issues, getting into character, overcoming the severe pain that I am in all the time now, and with this shoot in particular there was the added fear of because of my injury I was terrified that I was going to be unable to move.
Everyone knows how much this character and cosplay means to me. I have lost much in 2017. For a fleeting second, there was the thought that I could lose that too, and that was devastating. And I know there are people that don’t get that Mr. Clever is both my first and last cosplay. It is who I am and I cannot imagine cosplaying as anyone else.
But trolls will be trolls and after battling my own demons and winning, at least this time, I have taken the trash out, and that album is back up. Not just because I need it, or because Mr. Clever is who I am, or because I don’t want to let the haters win, but because all those other people deserve to have their work talked about too.
So the last thing I want to do with this blog is thank (some) of those many people and give everyone who reads this a way to connect with them and make some of that cosplay magic for yourself.
Above photos were taken by the amazing Vignette of
Not enough “thank you”‘s for the Rodster, Rodney Brown. The first photographer I met, always supportive and always got my back.
MAJOR hugs to my stylists over the years – Ashley, Alicia and of course
And my very first professional shoot:
And of course John of
I finally made a HP/DW crossover for MISTI-con 2017. Professor Clever, head of the Wizard Chess club.
I made a Slytherin themed cyberplanner piece, themed cybermite, cyber wand, and added a time turner.
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!
I’m so thrilled with this new edit. Amazing work! He even had to do many of the symbols by hand since Nightmare in Silver is such a hard episode to draw from. Original pic by JT Petrin
No real reason to post this except for, well. reasons. My cat. One of 5. Foo Foo Cuddly Poops.
Yes, she is named after the baby saber tooth moose in ATLA. And she has more costumes than I do.
Pic by my friend Kelly Singco
I was recently interviewed for an article about cosplay, drag and gender identity. It was published in The Mary Sue. Thank you Jan Finnick and Emily Roach.
Photo by Grey Roamer Photography I am so thrilled that I was finally able to get such a great shot of my completed chess set! Finally finished.… Read more “LI WHO 4 – Mr. Clever”
One of the best close ups I have to date! This photographer is amazing. Pic by Juarez Films and Photography
Breyer MFT repainted into a bay pinto
Anime Boston 2015
I always do a side-by-side comparison shot before I think my costume is worthy of “going public” as it were. The wonderfully talented Matt Smith as… Read more “Doctor Who Mr. Clever comparison shot”
“Frances” Taken at the Sleepy Hollow Cemetery, Concord, MA USA
“Contemplation” Taken at Sleepy Hollow Cemetery, Concord, MA USA On the 150th anniversary of Nathaniel Hawthorne’s death. Gorgeous cemetery – I highly suggest going there… Read more “Contemplation”
The ridiculously beautiful and talented Leanna Renee Heiber speaking at a panel during Misti Con, 2013. She is a very talented writer and her… Read more “Leanna Renee Hieber portrait”
Romanov – 15 year old Danish Warmblood Taken in Hidden Hills, CA USA I had the pleasure to not only photograph this stunning horse, but also… Read more “Romanov”
Burkland’s Suite Inspiration Owned by Ellen Alden, Byfield, MA,USA .Taken at her barn. Stunning Morgan mare, bred by the famous Burkland Farms. I need to find… Read more “Burkland’s Suite Inspiration”
Narcissa ( now named Samantha) She was one of 7 foster kittens that a foster momma cat had. We ended up keeping two of the kittens,… Read more “Narcissa”
Taken at Windrush Farm, Boxford, MA USA
Stone Bench Taken at the Huntington Library, Pasadena, CA By far one of the most beautiful places to visit in LA!
Taken at Forest River Park Salem, MA 2013
Small, roadside cemetery in Boxford, MA off of Main St
Katie and her Standardbred mare, Rosie. Taken at Candlewood Farm, Ipswich, MA USA
The Devil – mixed media photograph for “The Devil in Salem’ art show at the Scarlet Letter Press in Salem, MA 2013
Kerouac, one of the many foster cats and kittens we raised while living in Los Angeles. We fostered through a rescue called Cat Connection.… Read more “Kerouac”
“Anubis“ taken at the Linwood Cemetery, Haverhill MA
Driftwood, Morro Bay, 2012, Lisa Roberts Photography
Major Tom – 20 year old Irish TB Taken in Hidden Hills, CA Owned by Bess Djavdi and Jennifer Djavadi Kaufman We joke that… Read more “Major Tom – 20 yr old, Irish Thoroughbred”