Andy: What was the first cosplay you went to? Who or what made you want to go to that convention? What was your first Convention experience like for you?
Mistress Zelda: The first convention I ever went to was San Diego Comic Con in 2000. I was in 10th grade then, and I initially went just for shits and giggles, but I ended up falling in love with the whole experience. The next year I was back for the full 4 days and cosplaying. Obviously I had a great time.
Andy: What was the first cosplay you wore? What inspired you to cosplay that character?
MZ: The very first cosplay I ever did was in 2001 as Meru from Legend of Dragoon. It was one of my favorite games growing up and I really loved Meru’s design (I still wish there was a sequel!)
Andy: You seem to also have a penchant for geek related modeling, what is it about the geek culture as a whole that drew you to it?
MZ: Nothing drew me to geek culture, it’s something I’ve always been a part of. Well, I guess you could say my father drew me to it. I was sort of raised playing video games, pinball, watching campy sci fi and fantasy flicks, reading fantasy and folklore. I got into comics in 10th grade (around the same time of my first convention, when I also got into cosplay – although I’d always been into dressing up). Tabletop gaming and re-enactment came a few years later. I’ve been into geek culture way longer than I’ve been into modeling (only 5 years). Of course my modeling would center around the things I love as much as possible 🙂
Andy: Some of your modeling is sans clothes, when did you become comfortable enough to take off your clothes for the camera? Why did you choose to start nude modeling?
MZ: The very first photoshoot I ever did was actually a nude cosplay shoot for Cosplay Deviants. I’ve never really been uncomfortable being naked. It took awhile to start being comfortable in photos in general, and to really hit my stride with modeling, but the nudity actually didn’t have much to do with that. There are a lot of girls who don’t shoot nudes, which is totally cool, but I personally find it to be very limiting in the kind of photos I can create. Nudity isn’t inherently explicit or sexual. There are a lot of photos I don’t think could have been captured without the naked form. It’s never really been something I have seen as “shameful” – I like being in costume, and I like being naked. The stuff in between is what bores me.
Andy: What is the significance of your name “Miss Zelda”? What part of your personality does Zelda represent for you?
MZ: Actually, the name Zelda was given to me by my ex boyfriend’s friends…we met online, and he was not a nerd. He and his friends used to bust my balls about being a nerd all the time. They named me Zelda because of all my Zelda tattoos and memorabilia, and the name just sort of stuck ever since. If I had it to do over again, I would have picked a different name, but Zelda is pretty fitting. More people call me that than by my real name anymore.
Andy: You have a well done “sexy” version of Harley Quinn, what was it about Harley that drew you to her character?
MZ: I’ve always loved Harley Quinn. I think every cosplay girl loves Harley Quinn. I’ve collected artwork of her since about as long as I’ve been cosplaying. I love her entire personality, I love her design, I have always had a penchant for clowns (I have done a lot of other clown photos and costumes beyond Harley Quinn).
Andy: You also have a very interesting interpretation of the cheshire cat? What was your thought process in making this cosplay? What did you do to embody the character at the convention you wore this at or the photo study where you took the photo?
MZ: I’ve also loved Alice in Wonderland for about as long as I can remember. I have a bunch of Alice tattoos, and I’ve actually also cosplayed Alice and the Queen of Hearts twice. I’ll probably do a Mad Hatter someday. The Cheshire Cat photos were done for a photography/modeling group I run and art direct for called Alt+3rR0r. We meet up and do group photography once a month, and we had decided to do an Alice in Wonderland theme. Most of the stuff in that shoot is mine, although it was (and always is) a collaborative project. The Cheshire Cat makeup was all dreamed up by the Makeup artist. The costume was all made by me the night before out of hot glue…I work well under pressure, lol. Embodying the character is easy, I’m such a big time goofball. Put me in a character that allows me to be a goofball, and I will.
Andy: What do each of your tattoos symbolize for you? What do you think they add to your cosplays? What do they say about you?
MZ: Man, that’s a deep question with no short answer. I have a lot of tattoos, and they’ve all got a lot of individual meaning for me. To be honest, they aren’t things I really like to talk about publicly. Some of them (like my geeky Zelda, Bioshock, pinball, Futurama tattoos) are because I love the subject matter and the tattoos make me (and other people) laugh. They are good conversation starters and I like that they make people smile on a regular basis, but even the sillier ones have personal meaning attached. Cosplaying with tattoos has always been sort of a double edged sword for me. A lot of fans don’t like it because I don’t look exactly like the character (but total accuracy has never been a major concern of mine when cosplaying in the first place). For me personally, of course I like them, because the tattoos are me. Even when I’m cosplaying, it’s still important for me to have some personal identity. I like to be me underneath the costume. I like that it’s easy to tell it’s me even when I’m in cosplay. It’s always cool when someone goes “You really nailed that character for me!” but I still like being able to be identifiable somewhat. I wish I could finish all the work I wanted! I’m heavily inked, but far from complete.
Andy: What do you know now that you wish you knew when you started cosplaying?
MZ: Oh man. Nothing really. I have enjoyed the journey. I wouldn’t want to ruin it for myself.
Andy: What is your advice for cosplayers that aren’t yet confident with wearing a more scantily clad female cosplay, but want to?
MZ: Good question. Modeling nude isn’t for everyone, if ever there is a doubt in your mind about whether or not you are comfortable doing it, don’t. This stuff on the internet doesn’t go away, and once you do it, it’s out there forever. Don’t ever feel pressured into doing this kind of modeling and always make sure if you do, you are doing it for yourself and nobody else. Of course, it’s important for you to have a thick skin. It doesn’t matter what you look like, how amazingly talented you are at what you do, how much passion and effort you put into your work, how beautiful you are, how perfect your body is there will always – ALWAYS – be someone who is going to critique you. It will usually be unnecessarily vulgar and/or mean, but this is the internet, and there is anonymity, and you are putting your work out there to be judged. There will be tons and tons of fans who appreciate you and what you do, so try not to focus on the few assholes out there. It’s hard not to focus on some of the negatives at times, and you will gain criticism from within the cosplay community too, but if you like what you do, then go for it. It’s important to be into it for yourself more than anyone else. At the same time, it’s important to be open to criticism (when it’s constructive). A girl who loves herself is sexy!