By Rawson Jahan and Raghava Lakshminarayana
A spectacled Rapunzel led a mask-less Deadpool, a lanky Spiderman and a Caucasian Naruto into Farmingdale Lanes. These costumed adults, more commonly referred to as cosplayers, gather at least once a month in different locations across Long Island. Members and newcomers alike joined the Long Island cosplay organization, White Duck Events, for three hours of bowling, unlimited pizza and drinks, last Friday, Nov. 11.
“It’s a culture,” Jacqie Rutzler, the CEO of White Duck Events, said. “It’s not even like strangers anymore, it’s all my friends getting together once a month to hang out all the time.” Since its launch in January 2016, Rutzler’s Facebook page has gained 400 likes. But there are only 15 to 30 active members who attend each event, Rutzler said.
Cosplay is short for “costume play,” Robin S. Rosenberg, a clinical psychologist and professor at the University of California, San Francisco, said. “Because they are playing a role, it is different than costuming, which is simply dressing in costume.”
Rosenberg wrote a research paper on cosplay psychology called “Expressions of Fandom: Findings from a Psychological Survey of Cosplay and Costume Wear.” It was published in Intensities: The Journal of Cult Media, an online media research publication by Brunel University, in 2013.
To some cosplayers, “cosplaying,” is much more than just dressing up.
“It allows a lot of socialization, a lot of people will become friends because they like the same series, and from there you can form relationships,” Alexa Bauman, an attendee dressed as Stanford Pines from Gravity Falls, said. Sometimes people ask her questions about her appearance, but that shouldn’t stop people from cosplaying, Bauman said.
“Like any hobby that a noticeable percentage of people engage in, cosplay enjoys a certain visibility and curiosity by non-cosplayers,” Rosenberg said of cosplay’s impact on pop culture. “Moreover, people’s choices of characters are a reflection of popular characters in the culture.”
The San Diego Comic Convention and New York Comic Convention are the two most popular events for cosplayers to attend, Rosenberg said.
White Duck Events tries to bring the same atmosphere in a smaller setting to the Long Island crowd. Each month, the organization holds a karaoke night and one other activity to bring both familiar and new faces together in their cosplay community.
The difference is, “In Long Island, the cosplay culture is a little less extravagant than in New York City,” Deanna Hermida, a manager at Think Geek, said.
Cosplayers don’t have to shell out large amounts of money for their costumes.
“I mostly sew the stuff myself or otherwise visit thrift stores and alter things as needed,” Elisa Sabella, an attendee dressed as Kariya Matou from Fate Zero, said.
While there are other cosplay organizations in Long Island, most cosplayers mainly know of White Duck Events, Hermida said.
“Right now we’re planning out the next year so we can do double what we did this year and do more events and get more people involved in LI,” Rutzler said.
White Duck Events will be holding their next karaoke contest this Friday, Nov. 18, at Lizard Lounge in Bohemia.