Interview with Mystery of the Mystery Style Cosplay

Richard Wong - AKA Mystery of the Mystery Style Cosplay duo is a cosplayer from Ottawa, Ontario. His transformation from a civil servant to cosplayer was documented in The Secret Lives of Public Servants which was screened in Los Angeles. Richard has been featured in news broadcasts and radio interviews, and has been a model for newspapers, magazines, calendar, and a novel. When he's not cosplaying, his first-love hobby is cooking.

Photo taken by Open Shutter Photography

JM: Let’s start off with something easy, What got you into cosplay? And how long have you been doing it?

MMSC: To be honest, I bought a VIP ticket to Ottawa Comic Con 2012. My intention was to meet Patrick Stewart for a photo-op and then never go to another Con again. I hadn’t come out of the locker yet, as it were. In saying that, I also figured if I was paying that price for an event, I should get the full experience. Miya Cosplay offered to help make me a costume, I asked for Spider-man, she suggested Captain America … and I’m like “Ah… I’m Chinese… I don’t think that’s gonna work…” but it did, and I got addicted to cosplay.

JM: How many different cosplays do you have?

MMSC: 16

JM: Why did you start to cosplay, What does Cosplay mean to you and What has kept you doing it for so long? Is cosplay a hobby you could see yourself continuing to do in 10 years from now?

MMSC: I think cosplay is the ultimate escapism. Not only do you get to live your fantasy of being your favorite fandom, but other people experience it with you, and in many ways complete that experience. For me, the majority of the cosplays that I pick require that I diet and train with purpose, so it has a very positive influence on my life. That’s a huge part of why I stick to cosplay, another is that my dream cosplay hasn’t been created yet ;). I think instead of creating costumes as frequently, I’d just take more time to create more epic costumes.

JM: Do you have a dream cosplay or bucket list of cosplays?

MMSC: I sure do… I would like to complete phase 2 of my King Triton cosplay, I would very much like to finish a Scorpio Milo cosplay for next year as well as The Heartbreak Kid Shawn Michaels… that’s the shortlist

JM: What is your fav cosplay to date or cosplay genre and why?

MMSC: For me, He-man may be my favorite cosplay. You know when you were in kindergarten and the teacher asked what you wanted to be when you grew up? Most boys said, “Policeman, firefighter, doctor, sportman” … I said He-man. My teacher told me that I couldn’t be He-man… Well, I showed her!

Accompanying model Ballistic Bambi Photo taken by Open Shutter Photography

JM: What is the biggest challenge you have faced as a cosplayer or even as a male cosplayer in a mainly female predominant industry?

MMSC: I’m very fortunate that my peers are some of the very best cosplayers in Canada. I don’t think of cosplayers necessarily in terms of male vs female. These are individuals with incredible talent and drive that I can learn from. My biggest challenge I think is during the research phase, a lot of times, the cosplays that I choose haven’t been done before. I have to find similar female cosplays and figure out how to adapt those techniques to what I’m working on. I think the root of toxicity in our community comes from the need to compare yourself to other cosplayers. This can be male-female, but more and more I’m seeing female-female disagreements. As long as you’re wearing your cosplay because you love it, why worry about anyone else?

JM: Do you have any advice or words of encouragement, you would give to someone who is just starting out or thinking about cosplaying?

MMSC: Cheap, fast, effective, you can only have 2 of the 3. The chances are if you’re starting now, the cosplays that you pick most likely have been done before, research multiple versions of it and see if you can learn the techniques that these cosplayers used to create it. Research and planning out your cosplay should be at least 1/3rd of the time you spend on it, especially at the start of the journey. Reach out to the community and try to make friends. There’s no necessarily right or wrong way to make a costume (unless you end up in the hospital… that’s wrong), but the more people that you talk to, the more you can make an educated decision on what the best way to make a cosplay is.

JM: What accomplishment or project(costume) are you most proud of and why?

MMSC: Shao Kahn probably represents my style the best. It’s 14 pieces of armor, made of worbla, and the leather work is genuine. There’s also some electronics involved in the hammer, and it’s probably one of the rarest cosplays out there. I dieted and trained basically for 9 months to get into that shape.

Photo taken by MTKS Adventures

JM: What is your favorite con and what con is your dream con that you hope to one day attend if you haven’t already?

MMSC: Dragon Con so far is my favorite. Put quite simply, it is the Olympics of cosplay. If you want to be humbled, go to Dragon Con. The average level of cosplay is so high there, and the sheer number of cosplayers bends reality. I would like to go to Blizz Con in the future. It’s not really a cosplay focused convention, but in saying that I love Starcraft and Diablo.

JM: Who are you favorite cosplayers, Or cosplayers that have been an inspiration to you and why?

MMSC: Lucy Luxe Couture - she is one of the most genuinely nice people I’ve ever met. She’s constantly perfecting skills that she already has, but also learning new skills. The amount of hours that she takes to learn and make costumes is pretty mind boggling, especially when you consider her skill level. She’s definitely an example to aspire to.

JM: Do you have any Cosplay pet peeves, If so what are they and why do they get under your skin?

MMSC: I hate when (most often) guys harass (most often) female cosplayers. We’re people attending an event like anyone else. The fact that we’re in costumes doesn’t give anyone the right to help themselves to our personal space or disrespect us. Part 2 of this, what really boils my beaker is when people try to downplay the harassment online after the fact. I’ve been dragged into these arguments “Hey, you dress in not much clothing, do you get targeted by harassment?” First of all, I’m usually around 190lbs, and it’s on display, people don’t really want to mess with me. These guys don’t understand why these girls who are have their size are scared of them.

Photo taken by Echo Cosplay 

JM: How do you decide or choose a character, what is your process on starting a cosplay to finishing?

MMSC: Usually, a prerequisite for a cosplay is that I have to have a connection to that character in some way, and I haven’t seen it done before. I should add that frequently, I chose villains, because no one wants to be the villain, which is a paradox, because without the villain, there’s no reason to have a hero.

JM: What are your thoughts on paid and unpaid photo shoots? Do you prefer on location shoots or in a controlled studio?

MMSC: Well, I’ve done both, and as long as I have fun doing it, I don’t mind. I’ve done both location and studio shoots before, not just for cosplay, but I’ve modeled for books, newspapers, magazines and I’ve been in a documentary on cosplay also. I think for convenience, the studio is fantastic, but if you truly want to get that fantasy shot to complete the illusion of your cosplay, you need to go to a location.

JM: There’s so much drama that surrounds the community. What are your thoughts, do you think it’s always been that way or is there more drama now with geek culture becoming so mainstream?

MMSC: In Ottawa, the geek community has always been pretty tight knit, but definitely before it became mainstream there was much less drama. There’s a neat theory that communities can only really have between 150-300 people before it implodes. Again, there’s no reason to feel unnecessarily inadequate beside other cosplayers, you can learn from them.

JM: So what is next for you? Tell me your secrets.

MMSC: Phase 2 of King Triton, I’m going to build a chariot and have a pair of seahorses pulling it. Hopefully I can hook up a motorized skateboard to it so it can roll along all on it’s own. I’m hoping that cosplay really brings it for 2020.

Photos below taken by CAZ ART and DESIGN and MNC Props