Exclusive Interview – Perth’s Allied Costumers
We’ve never taken the time out of the busy convention coverage to formally interview some of the Cosplayers we feature in our photo galleries. There’s so many great people putting in hard work and unfortunately it hasn’t been possible. But this weekend we did just that, because we have a group of genuine superheroes using their powers for good. How? Read on and find out.
Quick note before we dive in – this interview was conducted in an area of the convention backstage, resulting in some special guests crashing our chat!
G-Funk: This is the House of Geekery at Supanova Perth 2015 and we are talking to the Perth’s Allied Costumers. Do you want to introduce yourselves individually?
Peter Clark: Sure. My name’s Peter Clark, I’m the events co-ordinator for PAC.
Amanda Pitcher: Hi, I’m Amanda and I’m a member of PAC.
Funk: The Perth’s Allied Costumers, or PAC, you guys are a collective of cosplayers centred in Perth, Western Australia. Is there more to it than dressing up in costume and attending conventions?
Peter: Yeah, the first event we ever had was the Channel 7 Christmas Pageant. Events following that were Bowling in Costume, there was the Iron Man 3 screening. We also do a lot of charity stuff as well, such as attending the PMH (Princess Margerat Hospital for Children), the Starlight Ward. We’ve attended Telethon twice, and raised money for all sorts of charities such as Lifeline, Therapy Focus…what else have we raised money for?
Amanda: Lifeline mainly this year, Therapy Focus, Starlight Foundation…every charity I think.
Funk: We’re talking about some pretty good charities right there in Perth – how many do you have involved in doing this?
Amanda: There’s roughly 100 members. We all have very different costumes, we all talk to each other and help each other a bit….(Amanda seems to lose focus).
Funk: Did somebody famous just walk past? You spun out, who was it?
Amanda: That was Elizabeth Henstridge (from ‘Agents of SHIELD’).
Funk: Oh, she’s really nice.
Amanda: Oh. My. God. That was awesome.
Random Voice in the Background: Heeeeey, how you guys doing?
Random Voice: Oh, sorry, I interrupted the interview.
Funk: No, you’re ok if you want to take a photo.
Random Voice: What’s happening?
Funk: Do you want to say hello?
Random Voice: I’ll say hello!
Funk: And who are we talking to?
Random Voice: Hi, I’m Liam McIntyre from Spartacus and other things like The Flash.
Funk: Are you having a good weekend?
Liam McIntyre: I’m having an amazing weekend. It’s great. Got some of my favourite people over here, some Captain Avenging stuff…
Funk: These guys are the Perth Allied Costumers.
Liam McIntyre: Yeah?
Funk: They’ve got a hundred people, they do this for charity, for the children’s hospitals…they are fantastic.
Liam McIntyre: I knew they were wonderful people. I could tell. That’s great guys, I didn’t realise. That’s so good. You champs! That’s terrific! That’s cool! Continue with the wonderful interview about doing good deeds for good people!
Funk: Thanks for saying hi!
Liam McIntyre: Well done guys, any time.
Amanda: Oh my god!
Funk: These two are geeking out on me. Go on, express it.
Peter: I LOVED from Spartacus from Andy Whitfield stepping on to the screen. Liam McIntyre was the BEST replacement and I loved him as Weather Wizard but for me he was the best Spartacus!
Amanda: That is so awesome! Oh my god…just…trying not to geek out!
Funk: Bringing it back to what you guys are doing…you’ve got a hundred members, how did it all start?
Peter: It all started with a a friend of a friend wanting superheroes for the Perth Christmas Pageant. We had barely formed, we were a combination of WA Ghostbusters and friends who knew each other who dressed up. We gathered together for the Christmas Pageant, came up with a name that was pretty neutral for everything, hence Perth’s Allied Costumers, and then we wanted to get use of the costumes but with a charity aspect. That’s were Iron Man 3 came into it, and Free Comic Book Day…
Amanda: (Oh my god!) (‘The Flash’ star Danielle Panabaker is walking by and waves)
Peter: We jumped on that. We’ve got these costumes that are awesome, people love them, let’s raise some awareness, raise some funds for charity. There’s been a lot of formation with our member meetings, with our committee, we have insurance…that’s a thing.
Amanda: It’s pretty big. It’s big for what we do and it’s so many events. It’s only June and we’ve done 50 or 60 events since with beginning of the year, give or take. There’s many more to come.
Peter: We’ve got two events next week. One down Mandurah, one down Carousel for Give Ability. This will be our second Give Ability…last year we raised about four grand in about three and a half hours and Westfield matched that.
Amanda: This year we went to Westfield for Therapy Focus for four hours, we got just under four thousand.
Amanda: Yeah, just under four thousand. There was about 20 of us, wandering around the shopping centre in costume. We had some Power Rangers, Mickey Mouse and Minnie Mouse, there were some Transformers, some princess of course. The Disney Princesses are huge right now. It was pretty good. We raised a lot.
Funk: I knew you were doing a lot of fundraising but I didn’t realise you were bringing in that kind of money for these charities. That’s amazing. Now what I’m wondering is about amazing costumes, and you’ve got multiple costumes…today you’re Captain America and Agent Carter, yesterday you were Ace Ventura and Harley Quinn. I’ve seen you as Superman as well. Have I seen you before? What have I seen?
Amanda: I was Minnie Mouse at the Christmas Pageant, and also have Princess Anna. I don’t tend to take Princess Anna out a lot nowadays because Princess Anna is so huge…
Funk: There’s four of them here today.
Amanda: …she’s so huge you kinda to get mobbed. If it’s a kid event you get mobbed by kids because kids love Anna and Elsa. They’re the two big new princesses.
Funk: They’re the superstars.
Amanda: They are the superstars. And I have Poison Ivy from the Batman series.
Funk: My question is how much time and money are you investing in this?
Peter: Time…you if you don’t have time or mad skills you invest a tonne of money. If you can’t make it you’ll find some someone who can make it better and possibly cheaper. Myself, I just modified small things when I started out. I bought everything, modified things to fit. I’m starting to make things, small things not full costumes but I’m getting there. It depends on the quality as well. There’s a notion of ‘I’m going to have to spend this much to get this quality Captain America shield’ if it’s spun out of aluminium, or if it’s plastic. There’s wigs as well, everything matters. Ot depends how much effort your want to put in and how good you want to look. Because the pay off is amazing.
Amanda: Yeah, I try not to think about how much I spent or the hours I spend on stuff because I do not want to calculate that and see how many hundreds and hundreds or dollars I’ve spent on something. I love to do it and I love to dress up and I love seeing someone for the first time seeing me in costume and fangirling over them because it’s awesome.
Funk: We’ve seen some fangirling in the past few minutes!
Amanda: Of course!
Peter: The other thing with the time and the money is when you do come to conventions and events, the appreciation you get from the kids smiles and doing backflips and all that stuff. When we went to the cinema for the PMH Foundation, and we stood at the front of the cinema while they introduced us individually and they said ‘go’. These kids were climbing over the cinema seats to get photos with us.
Amanda: And they screamed!
Peter: This was the Minions film, so these kids, it would have been the best day of the year for them.
Amanda: Just the screaming or kids, you have to adapt to hearing little kids scream to see you and sometimes you’re so real life that they’re scared that someone…they’re there! They start crying and you’re all like ‘I’m making someone feel bad’!
Peter: They get so nervous and cry because it’s real. You never expect to meet that person.
Amanda: They never expect to meet their favourite person in real life.
Peter: From Disney or from Marvel or anywhere. Yeah.
Funk: For a final question – if someone wanted to get into doing cosplay at this level of excellence, or wanted to become part of your group, what’s their starting point?
Peter: Starting point for joining the group is just messaging the page which I have no reference for whatsoever, I’m just the events guy, but message the group and we’ll sort you out and get you to a meeting. See if you like what we do first. Then you can join from there. In terms of the level of costuming, we’ve kind of inspired each other. I might have had some ideas of how some things should be done but someone else will have a different way of building things, making things, and literally we’ve all learned from each other. It’s like an open source of costuming advice. Nobody is hiding how they’ve built things. They’ll openingly tell you and make it look just as easy.
Amanda: You can also pick each others brains. If you have an idea of doing something like a prop or making something one way and your not sure if it will work out you can ask someone and they will always say ‘I’ve done it this way’ or ‘I haven’t tried it but we can try it this way’. That’s how shields get made bigger and better and props get made better…
Peter: And they get stronger and last an entire day! Or they don’t get broken by security!
Amanda: Once you’ve seen someone in that high quality costume and you talk to them and go ‘how did you make that?’…
Peter: Or ‘where did you buy it’.
Amanda: Or ‘how can I start from somewhere’. I always love when people come up and say ‘how did you get that look?’ And I’ll say ‘well I did this, and I did this,’ and sometimes they’re wearing something that they’re quite proud of that they’ve made for the first time and it’s amazing that they’ve made it for the first time. We had a guy who came up and he’d made a gun holster, his first ever time using a sewing machine and it…no way…(Funk is complimenting voice actor Billy West on his panel as he passes by)…they just…
Peter: Billy West?!
Amanda: No way! It’s always good to bounce of an aficionado…
Peter: Is that Ginny? (‘Harry Potter’ star Bonnie Wright is passing by)
Amanda: I know…I know…just…oh my God…OK, OK…fangirling…
Funk: Isn’t it fun backstage?
Amanda: I know! So much fun! And now I can’t remember what I was talking about.
Peter: One thing about the costuming side of things…another great thing that we’ve done, particularly having a booth at conventions, is teams. However long the shift is we go through a Disney group…massive!…then we go through a Marvel group like Avenger, X-Men, maybe Spider-Man if we let him, Guardians of the Galaxy. We also do the miscellaneous. There are some people who have amazing costumes who don’t quite fit in anywhere. We have a T8000 Terminator with a fill exo-skeleton and a rotating mini-gun! We’ve a Batman group, because apparently he deserves his own group, then the DC group that involves everyone who wasn’t at the Batman group. Having multiple groups, not just Frozen or The Avengers but other groups like Star Wars and Transformers…it’s great to build for a team instead of just solo.
Funk: Thanks for taking time away from the booth, you guys have been working really hard all weekend, and I’m sure you want to keep working really hard…
Amanda: Of course!
Funk: So thanks for taking a moment and we’ll see you at the next convention, no doubt!
Amanda: No worries!
Peter: Thank you!
Make sure you visit the PAC Facebook page to follow their public appearances and help support their causes!
And you might be forgiven for thinking that was the end of our adventures with PAC, but as we’re wrapping up voice actor John DiMaggio (Bender in Futurama and Jake in Adventure Time) and asks say hello. When learning of the charity work Peter and Amanda do he insists on having his photo taken with them!