A successful model and costume designer from the province of Quebec in Canada, Marie-Claude Bourbonnais also happens to be a proud geek and is well-known in many conventions around the world as a professional cosplayer. I am very happy to have her for the very first interview at Bruno’s Geek Reviews and I think you’ll find her answers honest and fun.
Q- Some would say you’re living a geek’s dream, making a living related to the things you like. Do you feel like that, or is there a point where what used to be a hobby does become ‘the job’?
A- My life is a mix of many things! I was already making clothes, costumes and prom dresses for a living when I started as a model. Being a model allowed me to create costumes for me, which I have never done before. And being a comic fan made me want to sew costumes from characters I liked for my photoshoots. All this led me to cosplay and many hours of hard work led me to where I am today. Am I living a dream? Maybe. Working passionately? Definitely.
Q- As someone who makes a living dressing up as different characters and with your cosplays being your personal interpretations of widely spread and known source materials, how do you feel about having a character like Hornet from ‘Heroes of the North’, who people associate directly with you?
A- That’s the kind of great surprises I would never have expected! Having a figurine that looks like me, with the short blond hair and everything, is an impressive experience. Looking at this figurine and reading Hornet’s comic still gives me that strange, but exciting feeling. And above all, I have the opportunity to get my portrait, or should I say Hornet’s portrait, done by all these amazing artists!
Q- What is the latest Anime or Manga that you’ve really enjoyed?
A- My schedule keeps me from enjoying as many Anime or Manga I’d like to! So I usually go for Anime cause I can listen to it while I’m sewing and that’s why I’m currently learning Japanese basics. I’d like to listen to an Anime and understand it without having to watch at the English subtitles.
An Anime I take the time to watch every week is Bleach. I appreciate the fact that there are so many characters with different interesting costumes, from the most complicated to the simplest, elegant ones. (Sorry guys, that’s the seamstress in me…) I really enjoyed Strike Witches too, girly and funny. And on the other hand, I started watching Queen’s Blade and I felt in love with the series… for obvious reasons. ;)
Q- Who’s your favorite comic-book super-hero or super-villain and why?
A- I didn’t know a lot about American super-heroes, except what I knew from the blockbuster movies. As a teen, I enjoyed J. Scott Campbell’s artwork. He was drawing my ideal women! I read Danger Girl and Gen13.
When I started attending American conventions, people started making me suggestions. It made me realize how popular American super-heroes are in the pop culture and I quickly understood that as a cosplayer, I would have to go for both American and Japanese characters. So I did my homework. Fans keep asking for Powergirl, so I bought Powergirl comics and learned about her and enjoyed it. Now I can say I’ll certainly cosplay her at some point, with my personal touch. ;)
Last year, a photographer requested Dazzler for a photoshoot, so I read about her too, made researches about her different styles through the years, learned her story and finally went for the Disco Dazzler (NYCC 2011). When it comes to American superheroes, I usually discover characters through people’s suggestions. Then I’m seduced by the character’s look. Is that costume gonna be a great technical challenge? Or does that character’s bodytype fit mine? I’m still learning and the important thing for me when I make any cosplay, is to know enough about the character to make a proper, realistic adaptation that will please the fans, which doesn’t mean I won’t do anything that may surprise them!
Q- Your Frost costume from Mortal Kombat has been very popular on the internet. Do you play a lot of fighting games or you simply happened to really like her design?
A- I was a huge fan of Mortal Kombat as a teen! I knew every MK character and its moves by heart! I even saw the movies on theater! (Hey, I was young…) The problem is that I sucked at playing video games, so I started watching my friends playing. One of them was particularly skilled, it was like watching a movie! I grew up watching that friend playing video games every weekend. Actually, it started even before with computer gaming and UFO: Enemy Unknown. (and now you know how old I am!) I spent hours watching MK, Duke Nukem, Battlefield, Grand Theft Auto, Vampire: The Masquerade and many more… I don’t have the time for video games anymore, but when I saw Frost, with her short, blond hair, I thought that it could be my way to do homage to MK, as a souvenir of these years of my life.
Q- Is there something you’ve wanted to do for a while, professionally or otherwise, but couldn’t find the time for yet?
A- Tons of projects that would require to create 36 hours days to be done in this life. Oh, yeah, and sleep, too. ;)
I want to learn more and more about different techniques that could be useful to built props and accessories for costumes. So many things from various domains… I’ll work on it this year!
Q- O.k, let’s go there… Could you share a creepy fan story from one of your convention appearances?
A- I guess I’ve been really lucky so far because I don’t have any nightmare story to tell! People are always nice and enthusiastic, sometimes nervous, but always respectful. No matter if people ask to get a picture, an autograph or just come to say hello, all of my convention appearances always went in a positive mood. Let’s only say that some people are more imaginative than others when it comes to comments! lol I’m used to all the boobies related jokes you can think of, I’ve heard them all! But the weirdest compliment I ever got is: ‘You have the most beautiful… teeth I’ve ever seen! Did you have braces when you were young?’ And it made me laugh!
Q- In every picture I’ve seen of you where you don’t need to change your hair for a costume, you always have your trademark haircut and color. Would you ever change it, or do you think people associate it with you too much at this point?
A- That’s an interesting question! When I started as a glamour model, each and every photographer I collaborated with first told me that I would have to wear hair extensions or wigs, or to consider to let my hair grow, because girls with short hair were not popular in the industry… 4 years later, you’re right, my haircut and color are definitely my trademarks (yeah, with the breasts, I know.) I often choose a character because it has either short or blond hair. Seras Victoria from Hellsing or Frost from MK allowed me to use my real hair. I lately went for Dazzler, Ms. Marvel and R Mika who are all blond girls. I think it helps people who are not necessary into cosplay to recognize me through the costumes. Many people associate me to my hairstyle and that’s why I get some suggestions on a regular basis, like Powergirl and Ivy from Soulcalibur. I’ll definitely have to cosplay both of them one day or another!
Q- A lot of people still seem to think that geeks are supposed to look and act a certain way, like they should have stepped out of ‘The Big Bang Theory’ or something. As a geek, have you ever been in a situation where people who just met you had trouble actually believing you are one?
A- lol You should have seen me when I was a teen! I was definitely a nerd, studying all the time, doing homework on lunch time, preferred going to the library than attending a gym class. I had huge glasses and long, natural brown hair… and clothes we’d all wish to forget about! Hey, I grew up in the 80’s and the 90’s… Remember how fashionable those years were? lol Let’s say that people I knew and who haven’t seen me for many years are a little surprised… or shocked when they see me today. I’m comfortable with the person I am today. People’s reactions don’t bother me at all.
Q- What future project of yours (that you can tell us about) are you the most excited for?
A- I’m thinking of having a new surgery, maybe 2 more arms grafted to work faster… just kidding. Basically, I’m excited about any creative project! Actually, there are many things going on, but hey, you’ll have to wait a little more to know about it. Let just say that I don’t take it easy and go through a lot.
You can see more of Marie-Claude’s work in the following links. If you enjoyed this interview you should deffinitely like her Facebook fan page, which she updates many times a week:
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