This weeks feature is truly an inspiring individual. I have been lucky to know Eric for a few years now and will never forget meeting him dressed as Borg when we filmed a short video for a friend. Click here to see the video. Eric is one of the most caring and humble people I have ever met and he has ever reason not to be! This man is well known throughout various costume communities in the western United States. He is very involved in Salt Lake City Comic Con appearing on stage with celebrities. And he is even in two different Star Trek documentaries! Some people would let this get to their heads but Eric remains down to Earth and is a perfect example of how people should be! – Mala
Location: Salt Lake City, Utah, though I grew up in Bellevue, Washington.
What got you into CAUSEplaying? This will sound made up, but this is absolutely true– about 13 or 14 years ago, I was at a smaller, local convention called CONduit, dressed like Aragorn from Lord of the Rings. I was in the main hallway, just looking around at some of the booths, and an older lady I had never seen before, maybe in her late 50’s, dressed like a gypsy, came up to me. She looked up at me (I’m six feet tall, and she was about five feet, and somewhat stooped), looked me in the eyes and pointed at me, and in a slightly accented voice, she said, “You must ONLY use your powers to do GOOD!” She was very earnest, and I didn’t feel threatened or alarmed– I had the feeling that what she said was true. I took a moment as she looked at me, and I responded, “I will.” She smiled and nodded and walked away. I stood there for a moment, pondering what had just happened, and when I started to look around again, she was lost in the hallway crowd. I never saw her again.
Flash forward to a couple of years later, and I had found a Jedi robe at a thrift store and I bought a lightsaber. I started to attend events the local Star Wars clubs appeared at for charitable causes. I soon bought my first real superhero costume, Spider-Man, and I appeared at a couple of events I saw publicized on Facebook. Through those events, I met others like me with superhero costumes, and I became one of the founding members of Heroic, a superhero, fairy tale, and video game character charity costuming group based in Salt Lake City.
Looking back, I still don’t know who the gypsy woman was– a Cosplayer just staying in character? A real gypsy? An angel? Something else? Regardless, I have kept my promise to her and used my costuming abilities only for good.
What keeps you CAUSEplaying? The look on kids’ faces, and that of their parents’, when they get to meet their favorite hero in person. For that time we’re together, I can be a Superman for someone who needs a Superman.
What was your first CAUSEplay event? November 3rd, 2008. A friend of a friend had a 3-year old with pediatric cancer, and the family held a 5K race as a fundraiser to help with medical costs. The little boy’s favorite hero was Spider-Man, so I dressed up as Spider-Man, posed for photos, and ran the race AS Spider-Man. After the race, his parents videoed me leaving a message for their son, who was too ill to attend in person.
What is your costume to wear while CAUSEplaying, and Why? Superman. He is easily recognizable, his bright, primary colors don’t scare kids, and it’s fun to flex my muscles with the kids for photos.
Most memorable CAUSEplay moment: Here’s two: A couple of years ago, I was at an event at a library for developmentally disabled kids, dressed as Spider-Man. A little boy, maybe about four or five, saw me from across the room, ran up to me, jumped into my arms, and hugged me for about 30 seconds. That moment cemented the reasons that I CAUSEplay.
A few months ago, I was at an MDA event for kids and their families. A family who had lost one of their sons to Muscular Dystrophy the week before was attending, and their other son, who was maybe 10 or 11 was there. I was dressed as Superman, and the boy hung out with me most of the evening, asking me questions about my powers, the Fortress of Solitude, other heroes and villains I knew, etc. The day after, my contact at the MDA told me the boy’s mom had emailed her, telling her how excited her son was to meet Superman, and how much it had lifted his spirits after the death of his little brother the week before.
What is your favorite cause to support? Anything helping kids, like the Muscular Dystrophy Association, Toys For Tots, the Make-A-Wish Foundation, Big Brothers/Big Sisters, etc. I was at a Big Brothers/Big Sisters event a couple of weeks ago, dressed as Green Lantern, and it kind of dawned on me– in the world of comics, how would it have been if the Joker hadn’t turned to a life of crime, because someone cared about him when he was a kid? What if Lex Luthor had had friends, instead of being bullied as he was growing up? What if Norman Osborn had more self-worth, and didn’t feel the need to unhealthily compete against others? In the real world, how could creating a positive, memorable experience for a child help him or her grow up happier? How many lives can we change for the better in small, simple ways? How many “supervillains” involved in crime, addictions, and hopelessness do we AVOID creating later on in life, because we helped a child who needed help today?
The silliest/strangest thing you have done for a cause? Public appearances for causes, like collecting toys at the side of the road as Superman, the Green Goblin, and Two-Face for Toys For Tots, bell ringing as Spider-Man and Ghost Rider, or swimming as Aquaman with other cosplayers as Mermaids at an aquatic rec center during a rubber Ducky derby for the Make-A-Wish Foundation.
Who inspires you? A couple I became friends with through MySpace, and later Facebook, who I have never met in person- Ned and Margie Cox. Back in the MySpace days, I went looking for other cosplayers from around the world that I could follow to trade tips and tricks. Ned and Margie are both excellent Costumers, but beyond that, they put their costumes to work in an organization called Heroes Alliance, that exists to provide characters for kids’ hospital visits, appearances at libraries, etc. Seeing their examples from the the photos they posted of events they attended in Georgia made me want to do something similar in Utah. Their inspiration was a major contributing factor to my wanting to become part of Heroic during it’s formative stages.
Advice for CAUSEplaying: Stay in character. Learn as much as you can about your character, because kids will quiz you and want to talk about the character’s friends, foes, and backstory.
What CAUSEplay events do you have coming up? Especially in the summer, we can have 2 or 3 events each WEEK. Coming up we have several Super Summer reading kickoffs, a fundraiser for anti-child sex trafficking efforts, a fundraiser for a boy who needs a stomach and intestinal transplant, a bike rodeo, and a Relay for Life event, among others.
Do you prefer to be called a cosplayer or costumer? I used to be weirded out by the term “Cosplayer”, thinking it only applied to fans of anime, but as the term has been used more commonly, I don’t mind it. Nowadays, “Costumer” seems more like someone who makes and wears a costume, and “Cosplayer” seems to more accurately describe what I do– playing a role in costume.
What was your first costume/cosplay? When I was 10, I made a robot costume out of some cardboard boxes for the torso and head, dryer hose for the arms, and plastic bleach bottles I sewed together with fishing line for legs. I couldn’t bend in it, so my dad literally picked me up and put me into the back of his pickup truck, lying me on my back, and drove me to school for the Halloween party. I got first place for the best costume. When I was 11, I LOVED an anime called “Star Blazers”, AKA “Space Battleship Yamato”. The villain was an alien with blue skin named Desslock/Dessler. For Halloween that next year, I used blue food coloring to color my face, neck, and hands blue. The color didn’t come off for FOUR days, so I don’t recommend that technique 😉
What is your day job (a.k.a. how I pay for my expensive hobby)? I’m a Corporate Trainer for a large telecommunications company. I train new employees on our computer systems, troubleshooting techniques, customer service soft skills, and sales techniques. I also get to dress up in my day job– I dress like Sherlock Holmes when I train troubleshooting and deductive reasoning. I dress like a doctor, with scrubs and a lab coat, for a module called “Healing the customer relationship”. Plus, we frequently have other theme days like “Superhero day”, “80’s day”, etc.
If you could have any job what would it be and why? I would love to be one of the characters at Disneyland that interact with the guests and poses for pictures- preferably NOT with a mask, like Prince Eric, Peter Pan, etc.
Tell us something random about yourself: I enjoy making hand built pottery in the shape of monster faces, and firing them in the Japanese Raku style.
Star Wars or Star Trek: STAR TREK! I like both, but I go to the Las Vegas Star Trek convention every year. I Cosplay as several different versions of Data and his evil brother Lore, a Borg, Captain Kirk, an Andorian, and a Klingon. I’ve been interviewed by William Shatner, and I’m featured in his documentary on Star Trek fans, “William Shatner’s Get A Life”. I am also featured in “Trek Nation”, a documentary by Rod Roddenberry, son of the creator of Star Trek, the late Eugene Roddenberry.
Marvel or DC: I like both, but I’m more of a DC guy. I have cosplays of Hal Jordan, Guy Gardner, Superman, Green Arrow, Batman, Aquaman, Captain Atom, Two Face, the Riddler, the Scarecrow, and the Joker.
Favorite Comic Series: Kingdom Come. BEAUTIFUL artwork, cool Easter eggs, and awesome storyline.
Favorite Comic Character: Green Lantern. When I was a kid, I watched the Superfriends on Saturday mornings. I think I identified with Green Lantern because we both had brown hair, and I liked that he could make ANYTHING he imagined by using his ring,
Least favorite comic character and why? I’m old-fashioned. I don’t have a least favorite character per se, but I don’t like heroes who don’t act like heroes. There’s been a trend to make comic book heroes “grittier” and dark. I prefer the noble heroes that kids can look up to and emulate.
Favorite Book: Where The Wild Things Are.
Favorite Video Game: Twisted Metal 2 on the original Playstation.
Favorite Convention: Ooh, this is hard. I’ve been to the Emerald City Comic Con in Seattle, the Salt Lake Comic Con, Salt Lake FanX, CONduit in Salt Lake, MountainCon in Salt Lake, LTUE in Provo, Utah, numerous Star Trek conventions in Seattle, Portland, Vancouver BC, and Las Vegas, and a couple of smaller comic conventions in Los Angeles and New York City. My tie for different reasons are the Las Vegas Star Trek convention, because I get to spend time with my friends from around the world, dressing up and enjoying the Trek life, and Salt Lake Comic Con/FanX, because it’s close to home, I get to work with my friends at our Cosplay charity’s booth, and For the past two conventions, I’ve been the MC of the Cosplay contest.
Facebook: Eric Allan Hall (eric3060)