This instalment of WAYW introduces us to UK-based Kerri Summers. In this article she explains to us how cosplay can be so much more than just putting on a costume.
Who are you wearing?
Buffy from ‘Buffy the Vampire Slayer’. This is a character that spans a film, 7 years of TV and 4 seasons of comics, not to mention stacks of novels and a spin off series. I concentrate on the TV series character, simply because I don’t want to personify a drawing and am not that interested in comics anyway.
How long did it take you to complete the costume?
So far, over 2 years of scouring the internet and 2nd hand shops for clothes I could use or modify. I comissioned a few dressmakers to make some items from scratch. I built my own props, sourced official replicas and screen used items. I’m currently at 26 complete outfits. When I say ‘complete’ I mean not just the clothes, but the props, hair, makeup, jewellery etc. All as accurate as I can manage. I have most of the weapons she handled during the shows 7 year run. I even changed my name and have learned Tae Kwon Do, which is the same martial art used by the original stunt double Sophia Crawford. I rehearse most days, even if it’s something simple. I know so much script off by heart and can act whole scenes from memory. I not only know the lyrics to the musical, but have trained my voice to sing them and learned the dance steps too. This is much more than costume for me.
What does this fandom mean to you?
Buffy fans will use the phrase “Buffy is life”, and people outside of this fandom won’t really understand the meaning. It’s literal – Buffy *is* life. The entire show is a metaphor for real life. Every situation, monster, problem and challenge represents that of real life in one form or another. Fans (myself included of course) will say the show either saved them or helped them at some point in their life. So we can be united in that as well as our love of the show. I’ve been to so many events and met fans all over the country. All wonderful people that I can share a bond with that I cannot with anyone else. Let’s not forget the cast members. There’s always the fear of ‘meeting your heroes’ and a worry that somehow they will shatter the image you know and love. Yes they are their own person and not their on screen character, so it’s all about getting to know them again. But I’ve met more than a few now and they are so nice.
What is special about this character?
Big question.. My Dad left when I was young and I’ve been brought up by my Mum. I also got kicked out of school and had to start over somewhere new (I didn’t burn the gym down though). I seem to have a similar attitude in that I want to ‘save everyone’ and help people. Not a clue why but it’s just the way I am. I know what it’s like to have been chosen for something. Okay, my destiny was a little different (and quite personal), but I still had to answer a call that would mean hardship and sacrifice. I also know what it’s like to feel different to people around me, to feel cut off from the world and alone. I get the dark side of her calling.
What advice would you give to anyone new to cosplay?
At first it can seem weird. Going out into the world dressed in a costume and perhaps looking odd, but so what? Worse is not doing it because that’s missing out on so much fun. I can understand the first time nerves, so probably my best advice would be to go out to a convention in normal clothes first. Meet cosplayers, see that there’s nothing to worry about. Get tips and ideas, then do your thing. I mean *your* thing, not anyone elses. Cosplay is for you, it’s an expression of your fandom. Who cares if you’re a 20 stone hairy guy that wants to be a Disney princess. Cosplay isn’t about being the same size and shape, or having the same facial features as the character. It’s about using your own resources to be who you want to be, and it’s a seriously addictive buzz.