I recently became acquainted with Chai Chen (pictured at left as Silk Spectre II from the popular comic book Watchmen), who’s been into cosplay just little more than a year but in that short time, she’s become one of the most well-known cosplayers on the Philippines’ cosplay scene. Chai belongs to an online cosplay community based in the Philippines called “Filocosplay” and she often attends events and conventions where she and her fellow members interact in costume as some of the most popular comic book, anime, and game characters.
Chai was a little reluctant when I first approached her about doing an interview, citing some more popular and seasoned cosplayers I should try for instead, but after some gentle persuasion (and flattery), she obliged.
CHRIS CHARLES: So, how long have you been into cosplay?
CHAI: Just a little more than a year now.
CHRIS: Are you a member of a cosplay society or group?
CHAI: Well there’s a local Filipino community here residing at the website cosplay.ph but there’s no real membership required (laughs)
CHRIS: What’s the name of the community and have you met many of the other girls that belong to it?
CHRIS: Filocosplay and yes, I have met many of the other girls. In fact, I’ve worked with a very popular member, Ara, in our Tekken photo shoot
CHRIS: Do you have a regular photographer for your photo shoots?
CHRIS: Your costumes look quite authentic and detailed. Do you have them custom made or can you buy them somplace?
CHAI: They’re custom made.
CHRIS: So, I assume you spend a lot of money on costumes?
CHAI: Not really …I make it a point not to overspend (laughs)… say I’m “thrifty.”
CHRIS: Haha, I see. So do you and your site members attend a lot of cosplay events and conventions?
CHAI: I don’t attend too many conventions now Because I’ve been pretty busy at work, but there are a lot of conventions posted in the local community website (Cosplay.Ph) up to the folks reading if they want to attend or not! (laughs) Recently, there have been a lot of events I think over the course of last year until now.
CHRIS: Who are some of your favorite characters?
CHAI: Lili Rochefort and Tsunade.
CHRIS: I’m afraid I don’t know who they are. I’m only familiar with the well-known characters such as Sailor Moon and Gogo Yubari.
CHAI: (Laughs) That’s been quite some time now (since they were popular)!
CHRIS: Well, I guess I’m old school. So how many costumes do you own?
CHAI: Hmm ….I guess 9 or10 different character sets for right now.
CHRIS: Who would you say is the sexiest character you’ve ever dressed as?
CHAI: Silk Spectre II from Watchman.
CHRIS: Ahhh.. the black and yellow outfit?
CHAI: Yeah. (Winks)
CHRIS: So how often do you dress up?
CHAI: Well, a lot! I dress up every day. That’s different from cosplay though! (laughs)
CHRIS: So, besides conventions, you dress up for …?
CHAI: The office and when hangin’ out.
CHRIS: Really? Does your job have to do with cosplay?
CHAI: Naaah it’s too far from cosplay.
CHRIS: But you dress up as a character at work?
CHAI: Well, folks here say I look like a Kpop or Jpop character when I’m at work … maybe that counts!
CHRIS: Haha! I’d say so. Anyway, it seems like you’re too modest to say you, so…who would you say is the sexiest member of your community?
CHAI: I dont have a definite answer to that, because I dont know all the members of that site, but if you mean, who’s the sexiest cosplayer I know thus far in the community, I’d say it’s Ara.
CHRIS: Okay Ara…got it. By the way, are you familiar with Kekko Kamen?
CHRIS: Really? I though she would be really well-know in the cosplay scene. Anyway, I guess you can read my entry on her and get filled in.
CHRIS: Haha well, she’s not totally naked. She’s wears a scarf, gloves, and boots.
CHAI: That doesn’t count Chris! She’s freakin’ nekkid!
CHRIS: Well, I’m sure you’d make a great looking Kekko Kamen if you so chose. Just learn to use nunchucks and…
CHAI: Nope, I would never do that. Not my kind of thing, lah!
CHRIS: I see. So, moving on, would you say that with you, cosplay is more than just a hobby, but a way of life?
CHRIS: So, how would you respond to those that attach sexual overtones to cosplay?
CHAI: Porn and nudity and cosplay don’t really coincide. Cosplay is not on the same level. My view is, it (cosplay) should be more wholesome for the general market, considering that it targets kids, too. Adding a sexy slant on it entices a different market which ain’t what cosplay really is about. Sure, some cosplayers can be sexy.
CHRIS: Cosplay doesn’t really have to be all sexy. But don’t you also feel like your eluding a certain sexiness when you dress as some characters?
CHAI: Like Ara, to whom I say, I’m all hands up to that girl … she’s very good in her craft, but I don’t think her being sexy is all the same meaning as the porn & nude market. I mean, no offense to those who prefer that. We all have our own preferences … to each his own, I say, but still, cosplay ain’t meant to attract the same market.
CHRIS: Would you say there are different sides to cosplay?
CHAI: I guess so, it has evolved to a lot of different sides.
CHRIS: Also of people equate it to sexual fetishism. You know; fantasies about sexy female characters dressed as schoolgirls, nurses, cheerleaders, etc.
CHAI: Yeah, I guess some people do. CHRIS: For example, your Silk Spectre II sure seems sexy, as does DJ Lilina “Lilith” Hinazuki, whom I’ve also seen you in costume as. CHAI: Well, Silk Spectre II IS sexy. Talking about Malin Akerman, the actress who portrayed her. CHRIS: You seem like you’re a little conservative? CHAI: Yeah, traditional. CHRIS: Don’t tell me you’re the type who wears a t-shirt and shorts to go swimming rather than a bikini? CHAI: You bet! (Laughs) Well, I don’t really go swimming anyway. CHRIS: In closing, are there any other cosplay friends you’d like to give a mention to? CHAI: Well, more of the celebrity-like Alodia Gosiengfiao. You can see her at her website; Blackmage9.DeviantArt.com. CHRIS: Thank you, Chai and it was a pleasure chatting with you. I’ll post this interview at my site, but as I mentioned, it won’t get nearly as much attention there as it would at Asian Sirens. CHAI: But Asian Sirens does call for a different attention and I wouldn’t want THAT exposure anyway! (Laughs) CHRIS: Haha, gotcha. Oh, and by the way, Kekko Kamen also wears a mask, you know. So if you did ever decide to portray her, nobody would know it was you! CHAI: (Laughs) Still, I wouldn’t!
Some other lovely cosplayers from the Philippines include ….
Ara as Final Fight’s Poison (who has a secret that even Chai
didn’t know about until recently)
Ara looking very sexy as a Vampirella-like character from a 2008 convention
Ara as Dauntless Vixen
Ara as Rin Tohsaka
Alodia Gosiengfiao in a print ad for Kojie San cosmetics
Alodia as Mirai Suenaga
Alodia as The Baroness III
Alodia in a still from Misa Misa’s Happy Sweets Show
Originally from the San Francisco Bay Area, Chris flirted with the music business there and in Nashville before joining the U.S. Army and serving in South Korea. He remained in Asia for several years afterwards, teaching English, traveling, and covering the regional entertainment scenes. Currently in a mindset between Seoul and San Francisco, besides Idol Features, you can also catch his writings in the print edition of the monthly magazine, Effective.
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