Today, AiPT! is fortunate enough to interview our first European cosplayer, Giorgia. This lovely lady hails from Italy, has a Sailor Moon obsession, speaks multiple languages and offers an insightful look at the growing pains of the cosplay community.
AiPT!: Tell us a little bit about where you’re from and what you do when you aren’t cosplaying!
Giorgia: I was born and raised in Vigasio, which is a small town just a few miles south of Verona, the city of Romeo and Juliet and love.
Nowadays, I mainly work with my voice, recording commercials for the radio, and presenting programs for a couple of web-radio on a regular basis. Theater is a big passion of mine, so I also teach in a theater class for kids.
In my free time, I like to go to the movies or read a book or a comic (whether it is American, Japanese, French or Italian, I’m pretty omnivorous in that regard).
AiPT!: Growing up, were you always into nerd culture or is that something that slowly developed over time?
Giorgia: You either are born a nerd or you become one. I was born as such. I have a picture of me wearing the costume of Heidi from Alps No Shojo Heidi that goes back to when I was only 2.
Apart from that, I’ve been into Japanese animation for as long as I can remember, so I think nerd culture is something with which I’ve lived my entire life.
AiPT!: A lot of people had/have to hide their nerd passions growing up due to bullying. Was that something you had to deal with or were you always open about it?
Giorgia: I have been always open about it, even when it led to bullying, so I guess it’s both. I’ve been bullied for various reasons and loving nerdy things was one of them, but I’ve never let that keep me from pursuing my passions.
In the end, I got my revenge: nerd is now almost mainstream and people from my past come to me as an expert in pop culture or even asking me out.
AiPT!: Walk us through that first moment when you decided you wanted to cosplay. What was the discovery process like?
Giorgia: As I said before, I had my first costume when I was 2, but maybe that is something that can be expected when you live in a country with such a strong tradition for costumed carnival.
The first “real” cosplay I wore was Sailor Mars from Sailor Moon and I put “real” between quotes because at the time I didn’t even know I was cosplaying.
I just had been seeing people dressing up like characters from Star Trek and fantasy RPGs (like AD&D) when attending comic conventions.
So I said to myself: “if they can do that with their favorite characters, why can’t I do the same with mine?”
I told my idea to my best friend and pronto, we were Sailor Mars and Deedlit from Lodoss War, attending the spring 97 edition of Lucca Comics And Games, the biggest comic convention in Italy (and nowadays one of the biggest in the world). As I said, at the time we didn’t even know we were cosplaying, and we called that “dressing up.” It was only after we had internet access that we came to learn that the hobby was worldwide and had a name.
AiPT!: I’ve noticed a lot of your cosplay work is anime-based. Is it fair to say anime is where you derive the most passion and inspiration from when creating a new cosplay?
Giorgia: To me cosplaying is also a way of paying tribute to the characters that were with me during my childhood and expressing my love for them.
Growing up, the Italian television (mainly the private ones) broadcast a lot of anime, so it is safe to say that this is the reason why the vast majority of my cosplay involves anime. But I do have Catra from Masters Of The Universe, for example.
While there could be exceptions, mainly when I’m asked to make a particular costume, the rule of thumb for me is to look at my past and/or at characters that gave me something. And that is why I will only occasionally cosplay as the character of the moment and never just to have the big and bold costume that makes me look epic.
Don’t get me wrong, there’s nothing inherently bad in simply trying to look good in cosplay, but it is simply not for me.
AiPT!: Who’s your favorite Sailor Soldier and what’s your favorite moment from the series (anime or manga)?
Giorgia: I grew up liking Sailor Mars the most, but when Sailor Pluto got on the scene, she immediately became my favorite. As for my favorite moment, I will say the finale of the first season, when Sailor Moon fights the evil Queen Metaria and the spirits of all the other Sailor Soldiers come to help her.
It is one of those “all for one” moment that the Japanese animation masters do so well and that resonates powerfully even if you don’t know anything about the Japanese culture. After all, if you think about it, there’s a similar scene at the end of Harry Potter and the Goblet Of Fire (Harry Potter is of course another passion of mine).
AiPT!: As a fan of cosplay and an active member of the community you interact with a lot of different people. What’s the best interaction you’ve had, whether it was as a fan or while actively cosplaying?
Giorgia: Oh, this is a tough one. May I just bring this home by saying a category instead of a person?
I absolutely love when, while I’m cosplaying, little children come to me with their sparkly eyes and they ask me if I am the real one, if I have powers and questions like that. And it gets even better when it’s whole families, because maybe I’m cosplaying a character that appeals to wider range of generations.
People have come to me saying I inspired them to explore their creativity and It’s always so good to see you can inspire confidence in others.
AiPT!: Out of all the cosplays you’ve done, which is your favorite and why?
Giorgia: This is like as a kid being asked if you loved mom or dad more. But there are actually a couple of costumes of which I hold dear memories.
The first one is Alcyone from Magic Knight Rayearth, which is the costume that allowed me to be selected as the Italian representative for the World Cosplay Summit in 2005. The other one is Silen from Devilman which allowed me to win that competition and so to meet both Leiji Matsumoto (author of Starblazers, among others) and Go Nagai (Devilman, Mazinger).
AiPT!: With the help of online social networks such as Reddit, Facebook and Instagram, the cosplay community has grown exponentially over the last few years. Do you have any concerns for the community or the art, given the fast growth and exposure occurring?
Giorgia: Ever since Facebook got on the scene I have been worried that the cosplay community was going to spread among a number of personal pages instead of the few reliable and steady points of aggregation which the forums of the early internet days provided.
It might sound counterintuitive, but the social network allowed for sociality between the cosplayers and a wider audience, but at the cost of a reduced sociality between the cosplayers themselves.
Apart from this, I worry that the exposure will lead some people to try and take advantage of the situation, trying to exploit the hunger for visibility that some cosplayers show. This is something that happens on a regular basis, with people from different backgrounds and organizations that basically ask cosplayers to work for free to be at events, to promote products or the like … you get the idea.
Also, a greater exposure also means that companies will be looking, and there might come the day when they start asking for money for the right to cosplay a certain character if you profit from it.
AiPT!: When you decide you want to cosplay a character, do you research their backgrounds and history or focus exclusively on the costume?
Giorgia: It depends. If I’m going to cosplay one of the characters from my childhood, I usually already know enough of them and their story and I can focus on the costume, looking for details that I might otherwise overlook.
On the other hand, if I’m going to cosplay a character that I was asked for, I like to do a little online research to at least be able to pull the correct poses, and answer questions if needed to.
AiPT!: To build off of the previous question, how into the character do you get when you cosplay? Simple poses, notable quotes or full on roleplaying?
Giorgia: It depends on the character. Some allow only for simple poses because they might lack a catchphrase or memorable quotes. But if they do have those, I like to play them, because I strongly believe cosplay is costume and playing, both important in equal part.
Then there are those characters that allow for my imagination and improv skills to run wild, like they do when I cosplay Baron Ashura from Mazinger Z for which I like to act stupid and funny like the character is in my mind.
AiPT!: What’re you most looking forward to in 2017?
Giorgia: Fame, glory and money! … and of course, World peace 😉
AiPT!: Lastly! Where can fans find you online?