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What This Is
Who are you?
No, I don't mean your character. Who are you?
I wonder this question every time I go to a con. I try to find a quiet spot and people watch. And my eyes are always drawn to the cosplayers: the young, the old, the experienced, the store-bought newbies, everybody. And yes, I ask for photos when someone dressed as my favorite character strolls by.
But even as I pose and smile, as the flash goes off, I wonder, who is this person? This person standing next to me, who has devoted so much time and so much more money to becoming this character? What is it about you, yes you, that compels you to travel, sometimes very far distances, to a con and give up an entire weekend to pretend to be someone you are not?
It took me a couple of years to get the guts to start actually asking these questions. When I did, I wasn't disappointed. And that's where Masks Off came from.
What You Can Expect
Every two weeks, we will share a story and a photo spread of one cosplayer (or pair, in some cases) from the St. Louis area. For the most part, I write the stories, and Natale takes the pictures. (But we have each dabbled in the other's area of expertise at least once, just for fun.) The photos were taken in locations that we believe symbolize something about the cosplayers, the character they represent, or the STL, this city that we call home (warts and all).
These cosplayers agreed to be a part of this project for a variety of reasons. Some want to prove that under all that pleather and makeup, they are regular people. Others wanted to share personal hardships and tragedies, letting others like them know that they are not alone. Whatever their reasons, all of them love cosplaying and want more people to understand what it truly means to embrace the hobby of cosplay.
They all deserve your respect: It took courage for them to take their masks off, so please, be kind in all responses to their stories.
Who We Are
Natale and I have been geek friends since middle school, and we never grew up. Not completely, anyway. I am a former journalist and now a middle school English teacher, so I get to combine my loves of all things geeky and of writing stories about amazing people through this blog. I am a proud mommy of a 2-year-old son, who can easily respond to "What does an orc say?" with "Rawr-rawr-rawr!"

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July 2013

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