The challenge of creating my steampunk persona has started me thinking – how many people completely immerse themselves in their characters while cosplaying? I know there are a number of folks on cosplay sites who are known in their respective communities by their screen or character names. When they go to cons, that’s how they introduce themselves to each other. It’s a simple way of making sure that what people know of you from the web carries over to when you meet in real life. This is certainly not the only community in which this happens. Browncoats, as Firefly fans are known, do this as well. So do Klingons and some Pennsic groups. In fact, I’ve actually had an online forum name carry over to non-forum discussions: when I was a visitor and, later, moderator on Barb and JC Hendee’s forum, I went by the name Ameme (a Munsee word that I claimed for an alias). A friend of mine went as Blade, another as Lucrezia. For a while, even communications between some of the forum goers outside of the forum itself maintained use of the user names. Eventually, much of the communications shifted and we addressed each other by our real names. Occasionally, though, I still use some of the “fake” names. For instance, I can’t remember what Elfie and Ocy’s real names are.
Now, some of the groups I’ve mentioned above certainly embody their characters fully while in the process of cosplaying. I point again to the Klingons, who can be rather hard-core. Their cosplay personalities, in many ways, can not be separated from their everyday personalities. They may not go around shouting at the bank teller in Klingon (or, they might…I really don’t know), but the very thing that made them choose to be a Klingon rather than, say, a Tribble will continue to be a major facet of their everyday personality.
But is this the case with everyone who goes out cosplaying? I know that, for many, there will be a level of separation. I mean, I’ve seen plenty of folks who cosplay as assassins or tentacle-wielding monsters, but they aren’t necessarily going to turn around and put a bullet in your head or a tentacle in…er, an oriface. One hopes.
So to what level do people immerse themselves in their characters? Do you respond to questions as the character? If the person you are pretending to be is, say, a dirigible mechanic (an old steampunk standby), do you pretend to know what you’re talking about if someone asks you about engines and pistons and so on? Or do you look at the person asking the question with a glassy stare and simply reply “You do know I’m playing a part, right?”
Why do I ask this? As I mentioned at the beginning (and in the previous post) I’m in the midst of creating my steampunk character. I know I want her to have an accent. So…when out at cons in my gear, do I talk all day long with the accent? Does that count as lying? Being crazy? Or simply acting without the presence of an actual stage or camera. Got any ideas?
This entry into cosplaying as Tesla is certainly not completely new – I have been creating characters for some time. Some of these live on the stage, some on paper, some in ongoing inside jokes. A vast majority simply live in my head. It’s awfully crowded in there at times. This seems to be a safe way to let one out for a bit.