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Wednesday

Well everyone, it’s that time of year again; Con season! And, as always, our season starts with the magical land that is ClexaCon at the Tropicana Resort and Casino. It was a crazy, jam-packed weekend, but I’m going to do my best to share all that happened.

We arrived on Wednesday after a very pleasant flight from Albuquerque during which the pilot took the courtesy of acting as an in air tour guide, pointing out the Hoover Dam. For the first half of the weekend we were staying in a hotel a little off the strip. (Yes, it was for another time share presentation. And, no, I DO NOT want to talk about it!) Please see ____ if you wish to know more about the trials and tribulations of time share presentations.

The soft start to ClexaCon was a mixer on Wednesday subtly advertised through their social media channels, so much so that we lost the original post and had to ask in the ClexaConnections Facebook Group to find out the time and place. If they wanted it to be intimate, it certainly was. We were the first people at Bacio, a breakfast restaurant in the Tropicana right outside of the convention area. We enjoyed an overpriced cocktail in a branded Tropicana cup and a brief, but meaningful conversation with our friend, the brilliant moderator and now published author, Dani Piccoli.

Thursday

Similar to last year, ClexaCon kicked off with the gayest of pool parties on Thursday. The Pool Party is how they really get the weekend going! The pool is filled with a menagerie of rainbow and unicorn floaties, people of all different races, body-types, and identities converse both in and out of the pool. The music is boppin and the drinks are flowing. It really is one of the most magical positive environments to be in.

Different from last year, this was also the badge pick up party which was a huge improvement over the last two years. Being able to pick up your badge on site made the process so much easier and the lines went smoother. It also provided a better space to mingle afterwards. Those who wanted to swim could and those who didn’t still got to enjoy the atmosphere and music provided by the fabulous DJ’s (insert dj names here) who would also provide beats for the Ascension After Party later in the week. While the line started out long, the wonderful staff and volunteers of ClexaCon quickly got the line down and you could just walk right up to the table to pick up your badge.

After we had our fill of swimming, we joined some new friends for dinner at the Red Lotus, a restaurant located inside of the Tropicana. Once we were full, we made our way back across the strip to rest up and steam our cosplays for Friday.

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Albuquerque Comic Con (ACC) is owned by the notorious TriCon. Naturally, I do not support these conventions for various reasons that can be found detailed in The End of Conventions as We Know Them? But if by some act of God I am convinced to attend this convention such as; a panel given by Santa Fe’s own nationally renowned foam armor-smith *cough* Leah Stevo *cough* or one of the most beautiful women on the planet guesting *cough* Gates McFadden *cough* (y’all should know how much I love Dr. Crusher but if you don’t read DIY Star Trek Next Generation Cosplay); then the question arises as to what to wear.

Something that I have not yet discussed on here is my deep and passionate love for the 13th Doctor in BBC’s Doctor Who. It is a newfound adoration for which my bank account has suffered severely. I have also embarrassingly devoted my entire personal Tumblr to unabashed fan-worship of this otherworldly goddess so much so that I hosted a Thasmin (the shipping name for 13 and her companion Yazmin Khan) Secret Santa for the Tumblr fan-base over the holiday. So, although I had planned on attending ACC as Wesley Crusher for obvious reasons my love of The Doctor won out and boy am I glad it did!

What made this one of the best experiences I’ve ever had at a local con were the interactions with fans of the new doctor in costume throughout the day. I made it my personal mission to find every cosplayer of the doctor at the convention on Saturday and take a selfie with them which I updated in our Instagram Story. They were all so happy to be recognized and eager to share their love of the newest two hearted alien from Gallifrey.

I also may or may not have dropped an irresponsible amount of money on New Who merch throughout the day. I am now the proud owner of four Doctor Who related T-Shirts and some awesome art of the show’s heroine!

I got to attend part of Gates McFadden’s Star Trek panel with Walter Koenig. There, I found only more reason to revere this feminist heroine. She shared the reason behind her leaving Star Trek The Next Generation before season two was that she was vocal with the writers about the lack of female on female conversations in the show, therefore failing the Bechdel Test which at that time had just been introduced two years prior. She also brought up the concern that her “space son” as she affectionately refers to Will Wheaton’s character Wesley Crusher always went to the males on the show for advice rather than his mother. Dr. Crusher brought up a genius boy and that genius had to come from somewhere and something tells me it was not just the dead father. McFadden also shared that she would have liked to have shown more of the struggles behind being a single parent through these interactions. For all of these very compelling reasons the writer on whose ear these concerns fell gave the ultimatum that despite her character’s popularity it was her or him for the second season. They obviously made their choice, one I hope that in this day and age would have had a different outcome.

This feminist icon before her time was an absolute pleasure to talk to when I stopped by her booth later, so intelligent and open about sharing her experiences. I shared with her how inspiring she had been to me in “The Host,” an episode where she says the compelling lines which I shared in the earlier linked blog post. She was thrilled to be reminded of that, sharing that episode had been written by the shows first out gay writer and how happy she is that LGBTQI+ rights have come so far since then. As a newly out transgender individual speaking with one of my heroines about that most intimate issue I left this conversation with a newfound conviction in the life choices I am making.

Taken at ConJikan 2018, my phone died and was charging during her panel so I didn’t get a picture of Leah at ACC

Leah Stevo’s ‘Beginning Foam Armor Techniques’ panel was incredible and comprehensive of her presentation we covered in Jessie & James at ConJikan. At the end she drew an attendee’s name to receive the book Foamsmith: How to Create Foam Armor Costumes by her cosplay sempai Bill Doran. It was a wonderful panel and Leah Stevo is such an approachable and transparent artist. If you ever have questions about foam armor I highly suggest reaching out to her through her Facebook. I left the panel ready to run home and clean off my work bench so I could begin tackling my three foam armor builds for this year! I am only sorry that I was unable to attend her ‘Advanced Foam Armor Techniques’ panel on Sunday which promised to go into more detail about painting, embellishing, and LEDs.

While I was walking through the dealers hall I happened upon a booth with two authors and their multiple trilogies. I had an incredible conversation with them about the world of manuscript submissions and publishing. We lamented about writer problems and they shared some secrets to their success. The main takeaway of which was Query Tracker, a website where your book is matched with publishers that are looking for exactly what you’ve written. This was how they both became published with agents! It was very helpful to speak with such accomplished authors as I am in the process of completing my LGBTQI+ American Gothic Romance novel and am actively submitting my poetry for publishing.

Another highlight of the day, for there were very many, was meeting our first MaeBerry Cosplay fan. Of course we have followers through various social media, many of whom we have not met in person but I guess in my head at least the majority of our followers are people we know whether it be fellow local cosplayers or cosplayers we have met at other conventions we attend. But this precious cosplayer ran up to me in the stairwell and exclaimed “You’re MaeBerry Cosplay! I love your content!” Now, there is nothing better for a creator to hear than that their work is appreciated outside of their inner circles that are morally obligated to like it. There is no amount of praise from my new professors at Central New Mexico College (oh that’s right, also big news is I began working towards my Digital Media Marketing certification partnered with Facebook at CNM, check out the blog where I will be sharing all of my creations in my courses for the next two years) or my supervisors at work which amounts to the joy that I felt in that moment. Sometimes I wonder if I’m just writing and broadcasting this inner monologue to myself. Today, that fear was dashed and so I just want to give a shout out to our fan in the stairwell who I was so shocked I forgot to ask your name. If you are reading this, you rock!

Unfortunately, this concludes my day at ACC. I had to get to my obligations at home plus I did not want to walk the five or so blocks away that I parked in the dark in downtown Albuquerque, so I was unable to attend the cosplay contest but to compensate below are my three favorite cosplays from my day one of which (Toothless from How to Train Your Dragon) I have it on good authority won judges choice:

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Albuquerque Comic Con

Date: January 11-14

Location: Albuquerque, NM

Cost: $30-20/day or $60/3 day pass

We usually try to avoid TriCon conventions, however, when Gates McFadden is guesting you have got to attend as Dr. Beverly Crusher!

Cosplays: Dr. Beverly and Wesley Crusher from Star Trek Next Generation

How to Train Your Dragon: The Hidden World

Date: February 2nd

Location: Coppell, TX

Cost: $25 movie pass

This is @skyberry13‘s favorite franchise so we are attending the movie release in theaters. Hopefully we will have our cosplays done in time!

Cosplays: Hiccup & Astrid from How to Train Your Dragon: The Hidden World

ClexaCon

Date: April 5-9

Location: Las Vegas, NV

Cost: $150/3 day pass

Our favorite queer women in media convention is happening again in Las Vegas, NV! We will be cosplay guests again giving the panel Exploring Gender Through Cosplay and judging the cosplay contest!

Cosplays: The White Canary & Nissa from Arrow and Legends of Tomorrow,

Spinnerella & Netossa from She-Ra

Carmilla & Laura from The Carmilla Movie

SabakuCon

Date: May 11-13

Location: Albuquerque, NM

Cost: $35/online or $50/at the door

A convention where all fandoms are welcome, while focused on anime and gaming, this con is open to furries and comic book geeks as well as any other fandom you can think of nerds can convene with all other geeks! This anime convention is the largest one in New Mexico, boasting: maid cafes, a cosplay contest, internationally recognized cosplay guests, cosplay photography workshops, and body paint seminars.

Cosplays: Jim & Claire from Trollhunters

Moriarty Mini-Con

Date: August 3rd

Location: Moriarty, NM

Cost: $10 at the door

This mini one day comic convention put on by local cosplayers is in it’s third year. This convention listens and caters to its fan base, drawing lots of local cosplayers, artists and writers. Though it still has room for improvement in programming and entertainment it gets better every year. Here’s hoping they continue to build upon their well run cosplay masquerade and comic trivia!

Cosplays: TBD

BuboniCon

Date: August 23-25th

Location: Albuquerque, NM

Cost: $35/weekend pass

We have been wanting to attend Albuquerque’s literary science fiction convention for years. Since one of our members is a writer, this is going to be a treat! We cannot wait to report on our experiences!

Cosplays: 13th Doctor from Doctor Who

Anime Sekai

Date: September 20-22

Location: Abilene, TX

Cost: $20/3day pass

This is a new stop for us this year. Our college town recently got their very first Anime convention so we are going to check it out and report back!

Cosplays: TBD

ConJikan

Date: November/December

Location: Albuquerque, NM

Cost: $40/weekend pass

This anime convention is run by the local university, UNM. It features interactive panels and activities for every weeboo including cosplay chess. The cosplay contest is always an event and not to be missed. The amazing winter cosplays sported at this convention are what set it apart from all other anime conventions in the area.

Cosplays: Krem from Dragon Age Inquisition

These appearances and cosplays are subject to change, but if anyone knows what conventions Jodie Whittaker is showing up at let us know because we will be there!



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If you’ve read our convention review blogs you will know that ConJikan is our favorite New Mexico convention full of great cosplays, cool guests and a unique dealer’s hall. This year was no different, aside from the fact that we were guesting at this convention presenting the panel Queer & Plus Sized Cosplay that we had premiered at ClexaCon earlier that year [see Splashing into ClexaCon 2018 (Yes You CAN Fly with a Sewing Machine)]. As guests you know that we like to premier a cosplay, but considering that with the wedding only just behind us we did not have much time to prepare something. So, we went with our go to time-saver, modified closet cosplay, which honestly tends to become some of our best costumes! As you have also come to know by now we like to cosplay characters of the guests attending the convention so since the voice actors for Jesse and James from Pokemon were going to be there we had something special in store.

Watching Pokemon Sun and Moon, outfits that immediately stood out to us were the ones that Team Rocket wear when they arrive on Alola which unfortunately only appear briefly at the beginning of an episode. You know us, cosplayers of the obscure. It’s like we don’t want to be recognized in costume, but I swear it’s not on purpose. Anyway there we are the night before the convention in true cosplayer fashion @skyberry13 sewing her shirt and me fabric painting away. We went to bed very late and had to get up early to get some last minute supplies.

Day 1

So there I was on the car ride to Joannes and then to the convention and during the first panel embroidering the emblem onto James’ hat. Yes, I’m crazy. It could easily have been fabric painted on, but as a guest I wanted to give my costume something extra…it was barely finished in time for our panel and I lost all feeling in my bleeding fingers as our thimble had disappeared and I had to resort to brute force.

The first panel we attended was “Cosplay Drag 101” which was put on by Ketsune Cosplay Cafe, a new cosplay cafe based out of local gay bar Sidewinders Ranch. The panel was a demonstration on how to apply makeup for male to female, though, some of the other panelists spoke briefly on female to male makeup as well. Mainly, it is highlighting and low-lighting following the curves of the face along with some eyelash magic. Hide your eyebrows using a nontoxic gluestick and then paint them on yourself.

This first panel was voice actress Michele Knotz’s panel “Pokemon Party” which was set up like a game show. She had her own animated digital match up game on the screen and held three rounds picking random people from the audience. I was drawn for the first round and it was great fun. I won my match earning some in game pokemon for Sun and Moon on my 3DS from her bountiful prize table! She was so fun to interact with and you can see the passion she has for the characters she plays. Her knowledge of Pokemon was impressive to say the least.

Afterwards, we tried to do the scavenger hunt before our panel, but the rules were different this year. You had to physically take items from around the convention which was more of a hassle and we ended up abandoning the search so we could get to our panel early to set up. We presented our panel “Queer & Plus Sized Cosplay” in Atrium III to an intimate crowd which allowed for a great dialogue. While this panel was a review of what we presented at ClexaCon as mentioned earlier we were also work-shopping some of our additional material which will be the subject of our panel “Exploring Gender through Cosplay” we are presenting at ClexaCon2019. This panel came out of some of the changes in my personal life and how it has affected our cosplaying which I spoke openly about in the blog Coming Out as Trans-masculine through Cosplay & ClexaCon. You can read the panel description at the bottom of our Events page if you’re thinking about attending ClexaCon2019.

Winners of the Cosplay Masquerqade

The cosplay masquerade was next, which is always a highlight of this convention. This year, guest and local YouTuber turned Twitch streamer, 505GamerGirl, added some additional pizzazz as the emcee. The skits were great including one featuring ‘The Fox’ audio with an inspired dance that had everyone laughing and singing along. Another great addition this year was the entertainment at the beginning and while the judges deliberated by local cosplay maid cafes Kirie Cosplay Cafe x Cafe Quartz and Cafe Awaken performing synchronized dances to anime songs.

After the contest there is a staff party that we are usually invited to through our friend who has a booth and manages the dealer’s hall at ConJikan every year. We had some drinks and enjoyed their company before heading off to their late night mature 18+ panel “Thot Bubbles” which was interesting to say the least. Afterwards we caught the end of Karaoke with varying rates of vocal success, but entertaining nonetheless. After hours programming has definitely increased since last year, but I miss the dance we got to attend that first year. I would not mind if they brought it back for 2019.

Day 2

Our first panel of the day was “Team Rocket Double Trouble” with voice actors Michele Knotz and James Carter Cathcart and it did not disappoint. This dynamic duo has been voicing Pokemon characters for decades. And James actually writes for the show both literally and musically. They discussed which of their favorite Pokemon were, Michele is impartial to Bewear and was additionally cast in that voice for her ability to hit the high notes!

The next panel is what we were looking forward to most since we are planning some foam armor builds in 2019. Apparently the rest of the convention had the same idea because local armor build cosplay legend Leah Stevo was sharing her secrets and the room was packed. We were in three layers of standing room at the back wall but we still got to attend one of the most informative panels to date. Leah is a down to earth and approachable Santa Fean considering she is a nationally awarded cosplayer from notable conventions like BlizzCon and DragonCon! She trustingly passed around shoulder pads and weapons of her award winning builds that she had on display with her.

She described her process which takes place in her ventilated garage where she enforces the use of respiratory protection for the glue that she uses to cement foam elements together, namely, a can of Barge. This secret ingredient is the very basis of all her builds. She suggests oiling the rim so it does not cement itself shut. The glue requires a good amount of time to dry and success is dependent upon waiting for that timeline. She suggested to coat both surfaces you are trying to adhere. For sculpting she uses large blades, interchangeable box cutters with sharp blades, xacto knifes, and a dremel/rotary tool. For shaping she uses a heat gun from Harbor Freight. As far as priming goes depending on the material she made this informative graph for ease:

She uses acrylic based paints for flexible surfaces specifically; Liquitex Heavy Body and Golden High Flow Acrylics. For wear-ability her pieces are a mixture of Velcro and heavy magnets. For small LED projects she uses a combination of fairy lights and ‘throwies.’ However, for larger and more ambitious builds she sticks to 5v USB power. For these cell phone power banks are awesome for portable transportation.

This panel was a great end to a wonderful convention and after a fun filled weekend we went home to catch up on some rest before work the next morning.

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We were excited to pull our 10th Doctor and Amy cosplays out of the closet for our drive up to Truth or Consequences (T or C). We decided on this Doctor Who duo because there was an episode in the show’s season titled “The Zygon Invasion” which is set in Truth or Consequences, NM even though it was filmed in Fuerteventura, one of the Canary Islands. We thought we might get some good photos in these costumes in it’s actual setting.

The drive was beautiful as we listened to the Thirteenth Doctor playlist on Spotify to keep the Doctor Who vibes going. It is about a two hour drive from Albuqurque which, if you compare it to our usual cross country drives to west Texas, is not half bad but for a day trip to an unknown convention is a bit of a risk. We were making this trek for the first TorC Comic Con. This will be a short blog as the convention had no programming whatsoever. It was the most wasteful $40 ($20 each) we have ever spent on a convention and that is not including the gas it took to drive all the way out to T or C. It is no surprise that they did not disclose until you were walking up to the civic center that was lined with advertising for Albuquerque and Santa Fe Comic Cons that this convention was a part of TriCon (to learn why this was a problem see: The End of Conventions as We Know Them?). In keeping with their reputation the absurd ticket price was a total scam as there were only 18 vendors within the small gymnasium whose wares I promise you have looked through multiples times if you have attended any TriCon event. The craft fair that happened to be going on at the library next door was worth more the ticket price than this convention. The “guests” were minimal at best and mostly sat at their booths.

Given that this convention is owned by an individual who has an extensive portfolio of putting on conventions there is no excuse as to the lack of guests and programming. Furthermore, to claim it was a small town and his experience is in running larger conventions I would point you to Moriarty Mini-Con (see Mini Con in Moriarty Has Potential). It is also a one day event at a remote location which is put on by a group of individuals who had no experience running a convention and even in it’s first year had four times the vendor hall and 100% more programming for half the cost. Needless to say, do not waste your money or day driving up to T or C for this sad excuse for a convention. It was quite literally highway robbery.

The convention was in conjunction with the TorC Film Festival which may have been worth the price of it’s own admission which was separate from entry to the convention. If you do find yourself stuck in TorC, though, there is precious little to do unless you wish to dip in a hot spring at which there are many opportunities throughout the town. I have heard that driving up to Spaceport America is enjoyable if you are this out of the way. We did grab breakfast at one of two local spots, but I would not recommend it. The locals stared at us the entire time, admittedly we were in “costume” but as both were closet cosplays it was not too out of the ordinary. We try every New Mexico convention at least once to report back to you all, but we have to admit that TorC Comic Con was a strange and unnecessarily expensive experience which we do not wish to repeat. Plus, there was no Zygon invasion so pretty much a bust.

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This was our second year attending Indigenous Comic Con, a convention celebrating native nerd culture that has been going on for four years. The convention has grown so much in that short amount of time that it is going international to Australia next year! Now, as you know if you read our blog we focus on the cosplay aspects of the conventions we attend and in that respect this convention is ace. The three indigenous cosplay guests for this covention were local favorites Desba Rae and Bread Sama Cosplay as well as international guest Cienan Muir from Australia. A word of advice for cosplayers before attending any convention is to review the cosplay policy of which I think I-Con has a very good one. This convention has tried to be very clear that it is a welcoming space for people of all origins which relates to cosplay in that you are allowed to dress respectfully in a cosplay of any character. Our first year attending we were going as Korra and Asami from the Legend of Korra. We wanted to make sure we were being respectful with our cosplay as Korra is a native designed character and skyberry13 is not of that race or background. We emailed the convention to make sure it was okay that she cosplay Korra. They were very kind in their response and skyberry13 was able to enjoy I-Con 2017 as Korra. So, do not be hindered from cosplaying a native character you like but be respectful in your representation of it.

The weekend started with a kickoff party at the Bow & Arrow Brewing Co. attended by Mayor Tim Keller who introduced Indigenous Comic Con describing what this convention, unique to it’s New Mexican roots, meant to the community as a whole. Incidentally Martin Heinrich was also in the house on a family outing. There were wonderful native inspired refreshments available including some atole labeled as “Blue Corn Mush with maple butternut squash and pinon,” for those out-of-towners attending. This is a delicious local dish I have not had since childhood. Whenever I was sick my mother would make it with buttered breadcrumbs as a more savory dish, but it brought back nice memories as I sipped a peach beer. It was the perfect kickoff to a celebratory weekend of native and nerd culture.

Day 1

We got up early to don our Star Trek Voyager cosplays of Captain Janeway and Commander Chakotay. Indigenous Comic Con started off early with the Design-A-Game Workshop which we attended. The convention buzz that morning was exciting due to local native schools had been invited to attend with their classes so they had the opportunity to participate in all the programming that day. The workshop had some great panelists, Elizabeth La Pensee and Allen Turner who were experts in the field of design for both digital and card games. We did leave early to help our friend Bread Sama Cosplay set up her booth, but the groups that the panel had been split into were busy at work building their own games when we left. We were also sad to have missed the “Zines: the How-to and What-for of zine making” which conflicted with the earlier panel. It sounds like it would have been fun.

The rest of our Saturday was spent in the dealer’s hall. There are three ballrooms of vendors at this convention. The first ballroom this year was an immersive experience titled Electric Chaco where all special programming throughout the weekend occurred including an actual wrestling match and the fashion show. The second ballroom is where the merchandise dealers are located. This convention has the best collection native inspired nerd clothing, books, art and merchandise you will find anywhere. Star Wars is particularly prevalent at this convention, which perhaps was enhanced this year with the presence of the entire cast of voice actors from Navajo Star Wars. Anyway, if you like native prints or art I dare say this dealer’s hall is better for native nerds than Santa Fe’s internationally renowned Contemporary Indian Market. I proudly own three T-shirts from vendors at this convention and, while I have been cut off from buying any more Star Wars shirts, I was seriously tempted by many throughout the weekend. What made hanging out in this dealer hall all day fun is that they have live DJ, Gila River Monster, playing all day.

The third ballroom is the artist’s alley featuring local convention artists that, while smaller than the other two, boasts many treasures to be found. If you are hungry from walking through all those ballrooms and buying art as con goers tend to do there is nothing more deliciously native to New Mexican cuisine than Indian tacos. Carrying on the vibe from the night before of delicious native inspired food, this local favorite is not to be missed with soft fry bread as the base drenched in calabasitas (little squash food) meat, beans and chili it is the perfect convention boost.

As a continuation of the amazing food here, if you stay at the convention hotel as we did Isleta’s dining area has crab night buffet on Friday which I was more than happy to partake in. For those readers who do not know crab is literally my favorite food and, living in the desert, good sea food is scarce. Definitely not the best crab dinner, but it was a welcome surprise. We went back to the room to restyle Lars’ wig for cosplaying the next day.

Day 2

This morning I was cosplaying Lars from Steven Universe which had entailed washing his wig the night before, letting it dry all day and restyling it last night. I am happy to say that his hair looked better than it ever had!

One of my favorite panels at this convention, Industry Inside, started off our day. Last year it had been given by Jim Terry who was joined this year by two more comic book legends Timothy Truman and Weshoyot Alvitre. These leaders in their field are open and honest about their struggles to the top, their successes and their learning experiences in this panel. Each described their individual journey to comic book illustration success, their processes and priceless advice for aspiring illustrators on how to navigate a increasingly difficult industry.

Cosplay Perspectives, with all three cosplay guests, was an unexpectedly deep and meaningful panel. The panelists discussed their experiences as native cosplayers in a community where they were a minority. They further delved into the many characters they seek to reclaim for their people through their cosplay, namely the women of Star Wars whose alien hairdos continue to be inspired by Hopi hairstyles. There were many native influences in Star Wars which is perhaps why that franchise has the most merchandise at this convention, but the constant fight to reclaim these and other characters that were taken from native cultures is what keeps these artists cosplaying. They discussed resistance they had met within their own tribes to their cosplaying hobby and how they have had to justify that they cosplay for the purpose of doing honor to and returning these character’s to their native roots. It is a cosplay perspective unique to this group

Next on our schedule was the Adult Cosplay Contest, which we were asked to judge for as MaeBerry Cosplay. I cannot reveal much behind the process other than we tried to ensure that the winners had hand made costumes with the most indigenous inspiration. The winner was a two person manned cardboard constructed AT-AT from Star Wars which was truly impressive.

You cannot go to a native convention at a casino without playing some slots. So, after the convention we had an amazing dinner at the steakhouse at Isleta and finished out the night on the casino floor on some slot machines.

Day 3

We started off the day with the last cosplay panel of the convention, Cosplay Emergency. The cosplay guests were joined by the individuals who run the Cosplay Rest and Repair Room. They discussed how you should not use glue on your skin, to stay hydrated and take lots of breaks and find safe spaces when you are feeling uncomfortable at conventions. The Cosplay Rest and Repair Room local to New Mexico conventions offers a safe place for cosplayers, there are healthy snacks and water as well as some supplies to ensure your cosplay is wearable for the rest of the day if you should run into a snag. We rushed out to this panel on the heels of Bread Sama Cosplay who was also one of the models for the Fashion Forward (Indigenous Futurisms Fashion Show). This fashion show featured native designs by native artists with a science fiction twist.

After this was the Childen’s Cosplay Contest which was hands down the cutest thing about the entire weekend. I was asked to judge as MaeBerry Cosplay for this contest as well so, along with my two other judges I had the unenviable job of choosing the best children’s cosplays. There were so many adorable and good ones. The one who stole ours and everyone else’s hearts was a very young child dressed as Edward Scissor Hands. SO CUTE!

The best thing about the last day of Indigenous Comic Con is the free unlimited Laser Tag room. It is too bad that this is limited to the last day of the convention, but it is not worth missing. There are blow up barriers throughout the room and two bases with a red and blue team. So, grab all of your friends and head to the laser tag room for a great end to an amazing convention!

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I came out as a lesbian in my senior year of high school which defined me for most of my formative years. I faced allot of homophobia in my family, within my high school and even more when I went off to a Christian college in the Bible Belt of Texas where I had my music major stripped from me because of my sexuality. The only thing that got me through those dark times were the queer characters I idolized. If you are queer, have attended ClexaCon’s representation panels or any panel at a convention devoted to queer fandom you will know that queer representation in media is seriously lacking. We were erased in entertainment before the government ever thought to erase us. My idol in college was Helena G. Wells from Syfy’s Warehouse 13. She was a cannonly bisexual character that was played by the incredible actress, Jamie Murray. I was totally ecstatic when I got to meet this actress at Fan Expo Dallas in college, but something which has been in the spotlight lately is that we need representation of characters portrayed by actors/actresses who are, themselves, part of whatever community they are representing onscreen. There are, of course, some media entities that are representing us right. Steven Universe has been happily accused in multiple articles of being the queerest animated show ever and the Dragon Age franchise pretty much covers the gender spectrum where your character can romance either sex and there is even my beloved Trans-boy, Krem. He is a minor character that, while un-romanceable, is still more representation than us trans-men can almost hope for. (He is definitely on my list of future cosplans.)

MaeBerry Cosplay was born out of my partner’s and my desire to increase visibility of these queer characters through our cosplays. We named our cosplay duo after our shipping name from college where I first experienced cosplay with my partner, who introduced me to this art form that allowed me to parade around as these strong characters I idolized. Cosplay has since been an incredibly positive presence in my life. We did a group cosplay with our sorority in college as Monster High characters for our Halloween philanthropy, which to this day is the best group cosplay we’ve ever participated in. The idea to start cosplaying more professionally and even create a blog site to record our experiences at conventions in cosplay was inspired by my cosplaying a queer character for the first time. We cosplayed Holtzmann and Yates from Ghostbusters (see Ghostbusters 2016 Cosplay) and it was the first queer character I’d ever cosplayed. I loved it. I felt more myself than I ever had in Holtzmann’s jumpsuit. I was fearless in our costume contest presentation, jumping around wildly and shouting her lines from the movie. I’d also used power tools to construct our two proton packs which made me feel really manly and I wanted to feel more of that. So, we began cosplaying consistently and attending all the conventions we could in New Mexico. The opportunities afforded by our cosplay presence at conventions, which we recorded in our online blog, led us to ClexaCon. This convention for queer women in media held in Las Vegas, Nevada began in 2017 with a small cosplay presence, which we contributed to as queer woman Zoie Palmer’s character, Android, and Five from Dark Matter. The response to this cosplay presence and the convention itself grew so much that the next year we had the honor of giving a panel on Queer and Plus Sized Cosplay which you can get a feel for in our blog Bringing Hollistein to Life for ClexaCon.

ClexaCon 2018 kicked off with a pool party at the Tropicana Hotel the night before the convention began. I was afraid that ClexaCon would no longer be the haven it had been for me the year before since I had recently come out as non-binary. This could not have been further from the truth. I watched enviously in my rash guard as bare chested post-op trans-men gleefully splashed into the pool as their true selves, completely accepted by the queer community around them. However, it was the next evening attending the Trans and Non-binary meetup which would change my life. I was sitting there besides my partner in a room full of people like me at different places in their transitions, but all proud to share who they were. We went around introducing ourselves and sharing our reasons behind attending ClexaCon. When I opened up about my Trans-journey and the limitations I had from taking Testosterone (T) because of a PTSD related fear of needles, three trans-men immediately jumped up and began informing me of all the other options that were out there: creams and gels. This singular group of individuals helped me realize the possibility of my, not only coming out as Trans-masculine, but also achieving my transition through medical options that, up until then, I did not even know existed. It was the most accepted I have ever felt in my entire life. I was in this room where everyone was supportive, everyone had a journey which had brought them to this convention at this meetup and they were so willing to share their knowledge and experiences to lift us trans-babies up. In this group I made lasting friendships with people whose daily interactions about their unique trans-experience still inspire me through social media. Two of whom were a couple of trans-men that quickly became our companions for the weekend and my text pal support system in navigating the twists and turns of finally getting on T. Our fellow cosplay guests, whom we had given a panel and judged the cosplay contest with, were also at the meetup and able to talk me through what it would be like on gels from experience.

I can honestly say that it is because of this meetup and my experiences resulting from it throughout the weekend at ClexaCon that I promptly went back home and came out to anyone I could, including my family. At work in the new job I started right before ClexaCon I came out to my boss with everything to lose, but was pleasantly surprised by the overwhelmingly positive reaction that I received. She immediately mobilized human resources to work towards making the office as trans-inclusive as possible. I began working with an art therapist to get to a point where I could face needles again in order to get the blood work necessary for my Endocrinologist to prescribe me Testosterone gels. I would never have done anything like this towards coming out even for my own comfort if it were not for the support I found at ClexaCon. So, I just have to say that if you are a trans-identifying individual on either end of the spectrum or anywhere in-between and you think ClexaCon couldn’t be for you, please attend anyway. It is such an uplifting experience and it will change your life!

I have transitioned into cosplaying only male characters now, but with a queer twist. My most recent ones are Lars from Steven Universe and (while not queer) I pulled my very first male cosplay out of the closet and strut him around some local convention floors. My man, Wesley Crusher, from Star Trek: The Next Generation is the character I debuted my first binder with when I was still closeted and questioning my identity. I had never considered binding until it came up at some crossplay panels we attended. If it were not through the guise of wearing it for cosplay purposes which helped me ease into wearing it in my daily life I would never have found the courage to go out in public binding which was the first step in my journey to figuring out my true identity as a Trans-man.

I am still transitioning, learning who this better and fuller version of myself is, but cosplay and ClexaCon are an integral part of who I am now. I am happy to report that I faced my greatest fear in transitioning and survived the initial blood draw without incident. I am booked through the next year with doctor’s appointments, therapy sessions and blood work, but I could not be happier to celebrate my first three months on T.  My family is still adjusting, but they’re supportive. My friends and coworkers are actively referring to me with male pronouns and my new chosen name. I have even started a new workout routine to begin muscle building in my arms and upper body. None of this would have been possible without the support that I found at ClexaCon which inspired me enough to take some risks in becoming the man I was always meant to be, a man who will never be erased.

Please feel free to reach out to me if you ever have any questions about cosplay or my transition. You can follow my transition and other random tidbits from my life (mostly me swimming) at @DapperDorian on Instagram. As with everyone in my life now, thanks to these incredible experiences and people, I am an open book.

If you’re..

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MaeBerry Cosplay Blog by Maeberrycosplay - 1M ago

So we’re getting married in October, as we may have mentioned in a couple blog posts by now. Wedding stress is at a super high, so we thought to de-stress we’d compile the romantic tales of how our friends found fandom love. While our rustic lodge/succulent themed wedding is not reflective of our secret life as semi-pro cosplayers, we have definitely utilized our sewing and crafting skills in our DIY wedding. But we are especially envious of these geeky brides and grooms who were able to make their fantastic dreams come true.  We’ve had the pleasure of attending two of these ceremonies ourselves, however, the pictures say it all for how much fun these nerds had tying the knot.

Evelyn & Connor’s Superhero & Disney Themed Wedding

Connor and Evelyn, after falling in mutual (nerdy) love, knew that their lives would forever be filled with one another’s favorite fandoms. Connor had his love for Lord of the Rings; Evelyn had Harry Potter. Of course, they both agreed that they could both get into Disney, Star Wars, and superheroes. For their wedding, they decided to share these fandoms with their loved ones. Before their wedding, a family friend serenaded attendees with a compilation of Disney love songs—everything from Aladdin to The Little Mermaid. For their reception entrance, they walked in to the Imperial March. Their cake was half Batman and half Wonder Woman with small cake plates to match. The gestures were small but easily became happy memories.
Jeremy & Andy’s Superhero Themed Wedding

Jeremy: My whole life I have enjoyed comic books and superheroes. Many of them helped me through tough times and they also played a big part in shaping me into who I am today. When it came to my wedding, I had seen different things done before such as the groomsmen ripping open their shirts to reveal heroes underneath or the groom having his own separate cake devoted to his favorite movie or comic book hero. I loved the idea of integrating that aspect of my life into the wedding and felt only right to do so. Luckily my fiance, now wife, was on board for allowing me to do so. It also helped that she is slowly becoming a comic nerd like me.

When it came time to decide how we were going to apply heroes to the wedding we decided that we wanted it to be subtle and a mixture of traditional wedding style with the nerd culture.

We did this in two ways. The first, was with my three groomsmen gifts. For each of them I purchased a tie clip and cuff-links that I found from a shop called GreenersWeddings on Etsy. They all had different members from Batman comics. To my best man I gave Nightwing; He was the oldest and most mature. The next was the Red Hood; A bit of a rebel of the group and more kept to himself. Last was Robin; He was the first of our group and will be a friend for life.

The next thing that had my nerdy influence was the cake. My wife had found pictures of a cake online that had your traditional wedding cake look on one side, but on the back each layer was represented by its own hero or character. I instantly fell in love with the idea. It was a perfect combination and it felt like it also represented the merging of our two personalities. Our cake came to be a four layer cake so we chose four different characters.

  • Harley Quinn: Chosen because she was the first character that both of us had a mutual love for
  • Iron Man: I used him as a team mascot when my wife and I used to work together and he is one of my all time favorites
  • Spider-Man: Number one on my list of favorite heroes and a huge part of my life
  • Superman: Her favorite hero as well as a favorite of her sister that was not able to be there with us

There aren’t a ton of areas to put comics and heroes into a wedding, but I’m just glad that they were able to be represented. To find someone that accepts it as part of my lifestyle and is supportive of it was something hard to come by. It also makes me happy to know that my wife was just as excited as I was when she first saw the cake and the gifts.

Star & Jose’s Dragon Ball Z, One Punch Man & Star Wars Themed Wedding

Star: Jose and I met a year ago through a mutual friend and we instantly clicked. He had an Attack on Titan tattoo that caught my eye so we compared Animes that we liked and disliked. Later, we began dating and our favorite thing to do would be watching movies/anime. When we decided to get married I knew that I wanted our wedding to reflect who we are. Nerds. So we talked about animes that we liked and decided to incorporate it into our cakes. One Punch Man (because it was funny and he strengthens through any situation), Dragon Ball Z, he is my hero and I his loving faithful chichi, and the sharingan (his favorite) to always see truth. ALSO I decided since we both love Star Wars I had to have a lightsaber handle with my wedding bouquet. I guess you can say, there are traditional weddings and then there are wedding where you share and show people what it is that we enjoy. I believe that anime has a unique way of teaching us life lessons and what better way to include those lessons then by including them in a major part of our life?

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Monster Battle 

I suppose the cosplay themed shenanigans began a week before at Meow Wolf’s Monster Battle on the Plaza to cap off the Santa Fe Bandstand for the summer. We had never attended before and did not know what kind of costume presence to expect so I wore a So So Happy monster hoodie and @skyberry13 wore a dragon kigu from Target. We ended up pretty under dressed for semi-professional cosplayers because there were costumes ranging from store bought, like ours, to self constructed from the ground up. We will definitely have to up our cosplay game next year for a shot at the $500 costume contest prize at the end of the night which was taken home by a tiny Ghostbuster this year. Throughout the evening there was music by DJ Snaggy and Commodore 256 which can be herd on their SoundCloud.

Cosplay, Fashion, Anime Sale!!!!

This weekend was full of local cosplay events and we tried to attend as many as we could by booking a hotel room in Albuquerque so we wouldn’t miss out on any of the fun driving back and forth from Santa Fe. On Friday afternoon local cosplay legends Maddest Maddi Cosplay, Lady Zia Cosplay, Kamon Tari Cosplay and others had a cosplay sale to share the wealth of their incredible costumes. The event was held at Maddest Maddi’s residence which, if you’ve ever had the honor of visiting her abode, you would know that upon arrival in the living room you are greeted with her numerous cosplay awards and portraits displayed on the mantle above her fireplace along with a signed photo from cosplay god Ya Ya Han. That day they were covered with sales racks full of costumes in all shapes, sizes and colors. It is also difficult to miss the spiral staircase in her living room leading to the upstairs where the sale racks continued, overflowing upward and outward onto the patio as well. I came late since I was working that day, but the sale started at 1PM and they said that they had consistent customers all day long. They’d sold about half of their stock by the time I got there which is saying something about the bulk of cosplay they had since all of their racks were still full. I attended with the intention of documenting the event and showing my support for the local cosplay community, but quickly saw some props we couldn’t live without. The first one was an EVA foam and thermoplastic detailed ax by Maddest Maddi which was perfect for modifying into an ax for @skyberry13‘s Astrid cosplay from How to Train Your Dragon which will premier sometime next year. The second was a silver PVC pipe bo-staff in Lady Zia’s collection upstairs which is perfect for my White Canary from Legends of Tomorrow and Arrow which we barely finished for ClexaCon, but has yet to premier. There were still people pouring in when I left to take advantage of all the awesome cosplays available for purchase.

Aqours Pool Party! ★

On Saturday afternoon was the Aqours Pool Party put on by Kirie Cosplay Cafe and Cafe Quartz. We were greeted upon arrival by members of the cafe in their Love Live! swimsuit cosplays donning rainbow leis around our necks like we were being welcomed to a tropical island. This long awaited cosplay and swimming mashup had been rained out earlier this month and rescheduled. I am happy to say that, despite ominous clouds throughout the afternoon, the swimming was only halted for half an hour around 5PM due to some faraway lightning. Fortunately, the cafes had planned for this and had some fun lawn games prepared: a hula hoop game, beanbags and a nautical themed version of “werewolf” using some gummies from a goblet. This interlude was also the perfect amount of time for the cafes to perform their rehearsed idol performance on the grass. The party ended with some heated water gun battles in the pool with the cafes. What is summer without a cosplay pool party, amirite?

Indian Market

While not exactly cosplay related, Indian Market occurred concurrently with our other events this weekend. Held on the Santa Fe plaza, it is the largest market for native american art in the world. We were unable to attend this year, however, one of our dearest cosplay friends, Breadsama Cosplay, not only was a model for the Shayne Watson line in the Indian Market Fashion show, but she, perhaps more importantly, fulfilled a lifelong dream of her’s by entering a clothing piece into the Native American Clothing Contest. In true cosplayer fashion she stayed up for 24 hours

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MaeBerry Cosplay Blog by Maeberrycosplay - 1M ago

We have had so much content and been so busy attending conventions that we are only now getting to this award nomination. Thank you so much to A Geeky Gal blog (she has the cutest logo btw) who nominated us for the Sunshine Blogger Award. This award is bestowed from blogger to blogger for sharing warmth in the world through inspiring positivity, joy and other sunshiny emotions. We are so honored to be thought of in this light and excited to answer her questions:

What was your first fandom? (Or what was the first thing you obsessed over?)

I, @operadivablock (O), was a total Star Wars nerd growing up. My parents showed me the original trilogy and that was it. This was way before Star Wars was cool again and there was no merch to be found. I would also get bullied allot for being a Star Wars dork, but now its “in” again? I don’t get people, but I’m just glad there’s so much merch available. I’m pretty sure that I own as many Star Wars T-Shirts as all my other T-Shirts combined.

I, @skyberry13 (S), have, am, and will always be a huge Disney fan. Due to my Hufflepuff nature I am extremely loyal. This includes food places, actors, and many other things. Disney is one of those things. Like they really can’t do wrong by me. I grew up on Disney and I have every intention of having my own children grow up on Disney too. My favorite game to play with my friends/family was Disney scene it. I never lost.

Who is your favorite fictional character?

O: I feel like this is a multifaceted question. There have been different favorite characters for different stages of my life. Growing up it was Anastasia from the animated movie, then in 6th grade it was Violet Incredible from The Incredibles. In college H.G. Wells from Warehouse 13 was my hero. Now, Lars from Steven Universe is my man. So, I guess the answer is I don’t have a single favorite fictional character.

S: As I mentioned before I am fiercely loyal. I have been a long fan of One Piece and Monkey D. Luffy is my favorite character. Lately (and by that I mean since it came out in 2010) Hiccup from How to Train Your Dragon has had my support and love. Now that I am writing this out and am realizing that both of these characters have a really strong sense of morals and friendship. Hiccup would totally be a Hufflepuff.

What is something you love about your favorite fandom?

O: My favorite fandom is not a show I necessarily like or follow very closesly because The 100 is a great post apocalyptic sci-fi show (everything I love) and it does have queer characters (the only mandatory element for me to watch anything), however, the writers queer baited their audience into watching it. [spoilers] Lexa dies by a stray bullet immediately after consummating her relationship with Clark. Cue the Bury Your Gays trope. Anyway, all of the good that came out of the fandom through this horrible queer-baiting is what I love so much. Arising from Lexa’s ashes was ClexaCon, the best convention for queer women in media hands down! Coming together every year to celebrate all of the movies, shows, games etc. that are representing queer women right is the best fandom experience I have ever had. This community helped me come out as TransMasculine, not only to my family, but to my work as well.

S: Ok, I’ll go with One Piece on this one. My favorite thing about One Piece is how important nakama is to the Straw Hat Crew. They will literally do anything for each other and protect their beliefs in the most dire of circumstances. They have a strong sense of right and wrong and never attack anyone for no reason.

What is something you hate about your favorite fandom?

O: I think I kind of answered that in the first one accidentally without knowing, but the queer-baiting is definitely something I hate in any fandom. Writers have a responsibility to their audience, particularly an audience they specifically sought out to represent them with dignity and respect no matter how the characters are written.

S: There are not enough female characters, but I guess that’s what I get for liking a shonnen.

Are you a fan of something that doesn’t seem to be that popular?

O: Are we fans of anything that is considered “popular?” When we cosplayed from Dark Matter I think we were the least recognized out of all of our cosplays. Warehouse 13 is all but extinct. I feel like a fossil. But Jamie Murray will be at Dragon Con this year, so trying to see her again at that.

S: I haven’t really been actively watching anime so all of the ones I really like are old and out dated.

What do you watch/read/play the most?

O: What I watch the most is probably Warehouse 13, and the game I play the most is definitely Dragon Age (all of them) on PS3.

S: I watch so many things thanks to Netflix, but in terms of most hours put into a show it is One Piece. Have have seen the first 500 episodes two or three times now. I read the most Tamora Pierce. She writes stories about strong young women and their journeys into adulthood. Most take place in the land of Tortall, a country that she invented with pretty extensive lore. I definitely play Dragon Age the most. I currently have 95+ hours put into my character in DAI. The Kingdom Hearts games are a close second though.

What fictional place/house would you love to live in?

O: My dream home is the one from Meet the Robinsons. I’ve always wanted somewhat of a space house, but just earthly and tactful enough to still be recognizable as a residence.

S: Is it weird to say Berk from How to Train Your Dragon? Because that’s what I want to say. It seems like a beautiful place and who wouldn’t want a dragon as your bff.

Where would you take a fictional dream vacation?

O: Orlais is beautiful this time of year in Dragon Age or Naboo from Star Wars. I would love to vacation in either of those places.

S:  San Fransokyo from Big Hero 6 seems like a pretty cool place to visit.

What character has a wardrobe you’d love to have?

O: I want La Fontaine’s wardrobe from The Carmilla Series & The Carmilla Movie. I would also love the suits that Isabella and Syd wore in One Day At A Time which Isabella discussed in her ClexaCon interview for me [see Heres to Hollstein Saturday (Just Because Its Blue Doesn’t Mean its Cinderalla)].

S: I don’t think I could pull it off, but I really enjoy Kenzie’s many looks in Lost Girl.

What Hogwarts house does you pet belong in?

O: I think we have conflicting opinions on this. Jinks, our tuxedo cat and my sweet boy is a Hufflepuff. And Myka, I think, would be Slytherin or Ravenclaw.

S: Personally I think they are all Hufflepuffs, the fish included. Myka just wants to eat and cuddle and sleep and that sounds pretty Hufflepuffy to me.

Tell me about your favorite day in your life so far.

O: It is hard to narrow down to one single day. Recently, one of the most impactful experiences I had was at ClexaCon sitting by the pool in my rash-guard observing all of the post-op trans men in the pool splashing around bare chested. Later that night I had the pleasure of sitting down with them and discussing avenues to transition that I had never explored before. Those experiences gave me the courage to come out as Trans-masculine to everyone I know, including at work. Hearing my boss refer to me as “he” for the first time definitely makes the list of favorite days in my life.

S: December 23, 2011. It’s the day we officially started dating. However, I imagine that October 14, 2018 might top it (we’re tying the knot)!

The Rules:

  • Thank the blogger who nominated you and link back to their blog.
  • Answer the 11 questions the blogger asked you.
  • Nominate 11 new blogs to receive the award and write them 11 new questions.
  • List the rules and display the Sunshine Blogger Award logo in your post and/or on your blog.

Our Questions:

  1. What is the most intricate costume either you have made or have seen someone wearing?
  2. What character was your first nerdy influence as a child and why?
  3. What is the most expensive nerdy thing you’ve ever invested in?
  4. What is your most memorable experience at a convention?
  5. What would your perfect convention look like? What guests would be there?
  6. What is your dream cosplay?
  7. What is your favorite planet?
  8. If you could meet anyone in the world, who would it be and what would you tell them?
  9. Who is your fictional crush?
  10. What is your dream fictional job?
  11. Print out and make this Origami Sorting Hat. What Hogwarts house did you get? (bonus points for pictures)

Our Nominations: 

  1. The Gamer’s Journey
  2. Kleffnotes
  3. Capes Are Cool
  4. Anakin and His Angel
  5. Geek Gals
  6. Just Geeking By
  7. The London Geek
  8. Magic Cat Jenny
  9. Mind Garbage
  10. Wintendo64
  11. Geeks Who Eat
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