Over the weekend, a friend of mine texted me to wish me a happy first Mother’s Day and to recommend a TV show called Cosplay Melee for DrBetharoni.com. Here’s the basic rundown of the show:
Cosplay Melee is a SyFy series that premiered on March 21, 2017. If you’re late to the game like I am, the entire series is available On-Demand. It’s a little bit Project Runway and little bit RuPaul’s Drag Race, but geekier. Also, instead of having one long competition that only determines one final winner, each week, four contestants compete for a grand prize of $10,000.
The idea of blogging this show is an interesting one for me. I certainly have opinions about anyone’s ability to construct a garment with limited materials in a fixed amount of time. Years of blogging Project Runway and RuPaul’s Drag Race have trained me for that. However, though I am nerdy about some things, my nerdiness does not generally extend to science fiction. For example, this week, the contestants were asked to create costumes for a character that they create who could belong in their favorite space opera. For starters, I have no idea what a space opera even is, but based on context clues, I’m guessing it’s a soap opera in space. Secondly, once the contestants created characters and back stories, I had no earthly idea what they were talking about because I know little-to-nothing about Star Wars, Star Trek, Guardians of the Galaxy, or the Chronicles of Riddick, the four space operas the contestant chose as their inspirations. So when a contestant says that her character is from the planet Wherever and the Evil Emperor Whomever killed her entire family in the Battle of Whatnot, I have no idea whether that’s cool or lame or even what the heck she’s talking about. But I can tell you whether or not she looks good, and I’ll be happy to do that.
Oh, and I should also point out that I am not a cosplayer and I do not attend cons. This probably instantly disqualifies me from having opinions about any of these things, but I’m going to spout my opinions anyway. I hope everyone is okay with that.
Let’s talk about the judges first:
The host of the show, the RuPaul, if you will, is Yvette Nicole Brown. I have never seen Community, so I don’t really know much about her as a person, but she seems warm and funny, and she is apparently a big nerd who loves all things geeky.
Then we have Christian Beckmann. He is the Nina Garcia of the group. He designs costumes for big Hollywood movies, and he provides the negative feedback, or areas for improvement, for each of the contestants.
Finally, there’s LeeAnn Vamp. She was introduced as a cosplay model. Does this mean that she doesn’t create any of her costumes? She just wears them? That’s a career now? Anyway, she’s the Heidi Klum. You know how Heidi can’t really provide feedback any more substantial than “I would wear that” or “I would never that?” Well, LeeAnn’s feedback was surprisingly more insightful. For example, she asked one of the contestants if she was able to see through the mask, which is an important question, I suppose, when one wears costumes for a living. So I suppose her point of view is also valid, and she’s not just there for pretty.
The show starts out with four contestants every week who are given eight hours to create an accessory. Based on this accessory, one cosplayer is eliminated and the remaining three get two days to create the entire costume. The accessory this week was a helmet. Here are the four players:
Grace is a police officer from Austin, Texas, She chose Guardians of the Galaxy as her inspiration. She made a helmet that she can’t see through.
Fred is from Bristol, U.K. but now he lives in Jacksonville, FL. He is 49 years old. The top of his helmet looks like shit, but it lights up, so that’s cool. He was inspired by Star Trek.
Xavier is from Georgia. He is a chef by day and a prop-builder by night. When he put his helmet on, he was able to sound like Darth Vader, and I don’t think he used technology to do that. He just made his voice sound awesome.
He was the winner of the first part of the challenge.
Alicia is from Orange County, California. She decided to disregard the directions given to her and create an ornate headpiece inspired by The Chronicles of Riddick instead of making a helmet, so she got sent home.
Christian said the helmet looks unfinished in the back. Not to be a bitch, but so does her hair.
So then the three remaining players got to finish their costumes, and as an added twist, they had to use either a leaf-blower, AC ducts, or a muffler to make it appear as though their characters can fly. For the record, each of these people created badass costumes. Anything negative I might have to say would just be nit-picking. I do think the judges chose wisely when they chose the winner, but any one of the three looks deserves recognition.
She seemed to have a lot of fun creating this character, who enjoys catching bad guys because of her intense moral compass. Also, her weapon was impressive.
It was pretty funny watching Fred strut down the runway like Quasimodo in his bulky costume.
Xavier deservedly won. Also, he was the contestant who was the most moved by the experience. He is a shy, introverted geek who enjoys cosplay as a way to express the superhero he wishes he could be. When he won the game, he said “Anybody can be who they want to be, and representation does matter.”
RuPaul couldn’t have said it better.