Heroes Behind the Masks: Cosplay Collective

This weeks feature not only thinks about charity in the community but the costume community as well!  From podcasting to conventions and charity events to inspiring their community they do it all!!  There is so much to say about this weeks feature that I will let them tell it all!!   –Mala

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2014 Toy Drive with The Rouges Gallery

Group Name: Cosplay Collective

Interviewee: Dee Volpe

Location(s): Nashville, TN (Including all of Middle Tennessee and anyone else who wants to be a part of it). We have a presence on Facebook and welcome input from anywhere.

Mission Statement: We connect cosplayers and cosplay groups for support, inspiration, development, and to bring hope, strength, and joy to our communities.

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Batwoman

When was the group started? And by who ?
We began activities at the end of summer 2014. The founders are Dee Volpe (myself) and Nancy Arch. We have had great help and support from Johnny Dellarocca, Leeanna Player, and Tina Veda.

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Nancy as The Riddler

If you are the creator of this group what inspired you to create Cosplay Collective or CAUSEplay in general? If you are a member of the Cosplay Collective what made you want to join this particular group or CAUSEplay?
As a cosplayer in the Middle Tennessee area I noticed the diversity and many small groups and individuals, yet no real connection between them all. I wanted to unite them for support, advancement, and community causes. As a whole we can do so much more for ourselves and the community at large.

Brief history/overview: We were lucky enough to be acquainted with someone who asked us to work with IndyPopCon 2014 after developing, setting up, and then running the Cosplay Lounge and at the last minute the Cosplay Contest. We had such an incredible time bringing the cosplayers together and spending time with so many wonderful people we started to see a real reason for bringing them together in an effort to create community for them and bringing our love for cosplay to the general public. We offer to bring our Cospitality Suite to conventions where we can set up a place for cosplayers to relax, socialize and even repair costumes while getting off the con floor to avoid photographers for a time. When we realized that our ideas about our group were much different than our acquaintance we decided to split from them and Form Cosplay Collective. We immediately began events introducing our ideas to the community with a room party at Geek Media Expo and then a Toy Drive and Photo Shoot to collect toys to deliver to The Children’s Hospital at Tri-Star Centennial Hospital and the Monroe Carroll, Jr Children’s Hospital at Vanderbilt. Since then we have visited several Hospitals and Assisted Living Complexes. We are lucky to have contacts where we are able to set up visits at places who have not had this type of events before and we have had great success from them, being asked for return engagements.

We also are a part of a larger group that brings programming to conventions. The Powerhouse Project includes, BDC Entertainment, Unlockable Characters, Comic City Conventions, and Cosplay Collective. As part of this group we provide our Cospitality Suite, run cosplay contests, and produce panels on cosplay. We intend to local charities and hospitals in the cities of the conventions we participate.

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Tina as Tomb Raider

Do you have a 501(c)3 nonprofit organization status or other designation? If not, do you consider yourself a charity group or just a group of friend who do good? And are you looking into getting a 501(c)3 status?
We are beginning the process of getting a 501(c)3 status for our charitable work. We consider ourselves a cosplay community that supports cosplayers while doing good works, if that makes sense. We believe you can’t do the charity work if you don’t support and advance the members that are doing it.

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Visit to Cennennial Childrens Hospital in Dec 2014

How can someone join Cosplay Collective?
Anyone, group or individual, is welcome to join Cosplay Collective. We do most of our contact through Facebook, conventions, and local events. We are an inclusive group and encourage all fandoms to join. No shaming or bulling is allowed in this group. We also encourage as much participation as possible.

Is there a website people can go to search for a local chapter?
Right now we have only this chapter, but hopefully that will change after we get our status. At this time our web address, cosplaycollective.org, directs everyone to our Facebook page.

What type of costumes do you accept? Do you have a costume approval process, if so what is it? What do you look for in a costume?
As a general rule, all cosplayers are welcome. It is not all about the superheroes. We want to not only do the charity work, but we also want to be supportive of the cosplay community and include everyone who cosplays and even those thinking of doing so. We are planning to have “maker meet-ups”, photo shoots, and events for cosplayers outside of cons. So, everyone is welcome. We also have a “no shaming” rule, as I said, everyone is welcome.

Charity events are a bit different, as we want the best representation of the characters, recognizable and well made. We don’t seem to have a problem with finding this. Everyone who volunteered so far has had great costumes. I believe there is a general understanding that we need good costumes for any visits we make. Some members have reached out to get help to make their costumes better just so they can participate in this side of the group.

Do you have people willing to help with the costume making process or a resource guide to help with the process?
We do and are gathering more information everyday of local artists that are willing to help others create. We try to connect with those who use our services at the Cospitality Suite we provide for cons. Those who create are welcome to let us know they are willing to help others. We are also happy to support cosplay businesses in this fashion.

How many people are currently in your group?
Our Facebook page currently has almost 450 members. There is smaller amounts that participate, but most all of us have day jobs and can’t make all the events.

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The founders Dee and Nancy

Leadership structure: Right now, the leadership structure involves all those mentioned earlier. As we set up our Non-profit that may change as we want others who participate to be more involved in the planning of events.

How is the leadership determined?
That will be determined as we get further into the process of getting our Non-Profit status.

What have you done for charities (types of events)?
We are a very young group, but we have been fortunate to have created several events.

We began with a Christmas Cosplay Photo Shoot and Toy Drive. We invited cosplay photographers and cosplayers to come for a meet and greet. We also invited the public to bring a new toy and they could get their pictures with the cosplayers. It was quite successful and we collected many toys to be delivered to children in the hospital at Christmas.

The toys were delivered to two hospitals by some of our cosplayers. Getting to meet and show support for some little ones who had to be away from home at such a special holiday.

We have been very humbled by being invited to a local hospital that has never had cosplayers make appearances. We visited the adults on the Oncology and the Pallative Care floors and, to me, this was amazing. We collected items that would be useful for them while they were hospitalized and delivered them during our visit. Families and staff were so grateful and we put smiles on faces that needed something to smile about. This is what I do this for. We have been asked to make regular visits from now on.

Events at some senior living facilities have been a joy to do also. After our first one we have been asked back and others have reached out to us to make appearances at additional places.

We are part of a live podcast called Comixstravaganza Live that can be found at graphicpolicy.com on Wednesdays at 7pm CST. We have had several local cosplayers on the show discussing why they cosplay, giving tips about costuming and more. We hope to expand on that in the future.

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Nashvilles Dark Knight at 2014 Toy Drive

There is also our Cospitality Suite that we provide to cons where we have a location at the con where cosplayers can get away from the crowds and regenerate and/or repair if needed. We provide many items that can be used to do this from sewing machines to hot glue guns.

Do you create your own event or make appearance when requested?
We create many of our events, but we also make appearances. Our idea is that not only will we do our thing, but if you are a cosplay group and want more participants we are happy to reach out to our group to find some for them also. Any event programmers are welcome to reach out to us for participation.

How did you build you “clientele”?
Mostly by putting ourselves out there and telling people about ourselves. We do this at cons and events. I love to talk about cosplay anywhere and it has surprised me how many people become interested when they hear about and see pictures. We are lucky to have a great network of contacts that have asked for our participation or have referred others to us.

Do you have particular organization(s) or cause(s) you work with regularity?
The Children’s Hospital at Centennial Hospital and Vanderbilt Medical Center has asked for regular visits along with several senior living facilities.

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Batwoman and Superboy

What is the most amazing thing Cosplay Collective has accomplished so far?
Everything we have done has been amazing! Seeing smiles regularly at our visits makes my heart sing! There would be no way to pick just one accomplishment; it is the whole that is amazing!

Where do you see Cosplay Collective going in the future?
We hope to continue locally providing a resource for local charities and event planners. We would like to help other areas of the country to create their own collective, bringing their communities together for great causes.

One thing we hope to do is to be able to make appearances at locations near the conventions we attend. In connection with the Cospitality Suite we provide, we feel that we have the ability to get groups together to make appearances locally during the conventions.

Do you use any fun terminology specifically for Cosplay Collective?
Of course “Cospitality” is something we use a lot.

Do you have advice for someone interested in creating a CAUSEplay group or getting into CAUSEplay?
Do it! It takes work and perseverance to get it off the ground, but if you put the work into it the rewards are amazing! Find the people that make the decisions and ask. If you ask, usually, they are happy to work with you.

Anything else you want to add about your group or CAUSEplay: The first time I put on a costume I paid close attention to the reactions I got! I saw what this can do for people. A smile is the best thing you can give someone because it gives them hope for something better. Why would you not want to do something like that?

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Visit to Vanderbilt 2/2015

What future events do you have?
Right now we will be creating a regular schedule for visits to the local hospitals and we have several senior living places on the schedule.

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/SouthernCosplayCollective

Website: www.cosplaycollective.org (Directs to Facebook at this point)

Twitter: @coscollective

Email: cosplaycollective@outlook.com

Podcast: Comixstravaganza Live @ graphicpolicy.com every Wednesday at 7pm CST

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Hero Behind the Mask: Nashville’s Dark Knight

This weeks Hero Behind the Mask has a great Batman costume!!! Some of the pictures he sent for this interview seemed to be out of a movie!  I completely geeked out when I saw them!  He was also a guest at Toymania in Murfreesboro, TN.  Something many cosplayers dream of but few actually get to do!  In addition to making appearance, this man also focuses on charity and his community.  Which is why I selected him to be part of this interview!  I hope you enjoy this week’s  interview with one of the biggest Batman fans I have met so far!  – Mala

 photo 4_zps2enrwrp5.jpgName: Adam Prince (Nashville’s Dark Knight)

Location: Murfreesboro, TN

What got you into CAUSEplaying?
The love of the fictional character Batman.

What keeps you CAUSEplaying?
I love to entertain. I love what the character stands for and the impact he gives others.

What was your first CAUSEplay event?
Shelbyville Autism benefit

What is your favorite costume to wear while CAUSEplaying, and Why?
Anything Batman.. The character means a lot to me. In my life whenever things got bad I looked up to Batman as a child. When I’m Batman I feel proud to represent a iconic character.
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Most memorable CAUSEplay moment: I have so many… I was at an autism event in a small town seeing kids and families. My mother told me to grow up and stop wearing a mask until the day she saw me show up to a event and walk up to a kid in the hot summer heat , get down on my knees and hug the little boy and then hold his hand and talk with him while walking. I looked up at her to see her cry with joy.
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What is your favorite cause to support?
Children’ s hospitals . Helping promote literacy in all age groups. I like to show support to as many causes as possible, whether it’s supporting adult groups or children there are all equally worthy.

The silliest/strangest thing you have done for a cause?
Dance at a 5k event

Who inspires you?
Batman… As a child growing up in school I was picked on for my weight. I got into fights all the time with bullies. Girls and guys of all ages. My parents loved me and tried to help me the best they could until they decided to home school me after it became too much. I got to the point where I was suicidal and depressed until one day I was looking at a comic and realized I’m stronger than what the world throws at me. I went into karate and joined a volunteer fire dept around my high school years. I lost 105lbs. I got involved in volunteer work in my area. For the last 13 years I have been Batman. If I can reach one or two and help them then I feel that I’m doing what Batman did for me… to never give up.
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Advice for CAUSEplaying: Treat the character with respect. You don’t know who is watching you. You might make a difference in someone’s life.

What CAUSEplay events do you have coming up?
May 1 I have Free Comic Book Day. June I’ll have Fanboy Expo in Knoxville, TN. Superman Celebration in Metropolis IL. Dickson County Public Library in June. August Shelbyville Autism Benefit. September Nashville Wizard World. Ghouls at Grassmere in October. November GMX… I have random charity events and hospital visits I do randomly through the year. Not sure on exact dates.

Do you prefer to be called a cosplayer or costumer?
It doesn’t matter to me.

What was your first costume/cosplay?
1989 rubber Batman suit

What is your day job (a.k.a. how I pay for my expensive hobby)?
I’m a farmer and a painter and a writer/mascot for a batman website (www.darkknightnews.com)

If you could have any job what would it be and why?
I would say Fireman but I did that for 5 years. I would say any job that I was able to break away when I want to vounteerl my time seeing kids as Batman and still have the wealth to not worry about paying the bills on time would be awesome!
 photo 3_zpseia7vyp1.jpgTell us something random about yourself: I love going hiking in the mountains with my wife.

Star Wars or Star Trek: Star Trek

Marvel or DC: DC all the way 🙂

Favorite Comic Series: Batman No Mans Land

Favorite Comic Character: Batman

Favorite Book: Batman The Ultimate Evil

Favorite Video Game: All the Batman Arkham games

Favorite Convention: Nashville Wizard World

Affiliations (clubs or groups): The Bestine Fanforce / The Rogues Gallery / Heroes Alliance / Dark Knight News

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/DknBatman

Instagraminstagram.com/nashvillesdarkknight/