Interview: Perth's Allied Costumers
Written by Riri (@lillyums)
While many of our followers are mostly USA based, we have been expanding our reach out to cosplayers overseas, including Europe and Asia. Our cosplay community not only includes individuals from these areas, but also include groups of individuals who meet together to do a greater good for the community within and outside our community, spreading cosplay positivity and most importantly help raise money for charities. This time, we have an organization from Western Australia who go by the name, Perth's Allied Costumers. The members of the organization attend a variety of events including charity fundraising events, hospital visits, conventions, and many other events with the goal to put a smile on every child's face.
I had the opportunity to speak with the social media director, Ashayla, and was able to interview her and a few members of the group! We are very excited to hear more about the Australian cosplay community just an ocean away from Seattle! Here's what they had to say about their group.
Riri: Hi Ashayla! Thank you for being a part of this interview, I'm really excited to hear all about your organization. Can you introduce what your role is within the group, and describe what this group is all about?
Ashayla: I’m the media coordinator of Perth’s Allied Costumers (PAC). I run the team that runs our social media accounts, along with our publicity and media projects, such as our most recent photoshoot , the Pocket Princesses photoshoot, a recreation of the Pocket Princesses comics. PAC is a group of like-minded individuals that enjoy volunteering and cosplaying. We attend events, pose for photos, entertain the public and shake tins for charity. Sometimes we are asked to attend events, such as fundraisers, movie screenings, community events etc, and sometimes we visit the Children’s Hospital and the Ronald McDonald house.
Riri: Wow, sounds like you guys are pretty busy! And I've heard of the Pocket Princesses cartoons, and what a great idea to recreate these in cosplay! How was this organization created and how does someone get to join if they wanted to be part of it? .
Ashayla: I joined the organization a few years ago. It was already running for a year when I joined up. The original creators started the group as a way to volunteer and give back to the community. I was recruited by a member of the group; she told me about the group and suggested I may be interested. Most of our new recruits see us at events or conventions, have a chat and decide to become involved. There are certain rules to joining, such as costume suitability and recognisability and obtaining a Working With Children’s Check, but the overall process is very simple.
Riri: I see, that's good to hear that people who want to make a difference would have no problems joining for a good cause. I'm a bit unfamiliar with the Working With Children's Check - can you go into this a little bit?
Ashayla: Of course. Working With Children's Check is a legal requirement in Australia for those working with children. It's a basically a background and criminal history check, those who pass receive a card that identifies that they are clear to work with and around children.
Riri: That's really interesting - I believe we have something similar in the USA; it's a great policy to have in place to protect our children. What kind of events does the group go to? Any charity events?
Ashayla: We attend all kinds of events. Recently we attended the Ant Man premier, wandered around a local shopping center for Therapy Focus, attended a small community fair to raise money for a young family recently orphaned and a Make A Wish event. Every year we attend the Channel 7 Christmas Pageant and Telethon and our members attempt to attend as many community fundraisers as possible. Events vary in size, but we always put our energy into entertaining and fundraising. Some events PAC attends are for specific charities and on their request, such as Therapy Focus, Telethon, Brain Cancer etc, whilst some events we attend of our own initiative, in which case we raise money for our chosen charity of the year; this year that charity is Lifeline.
Riri: It's great to hear how much your group has contributed to the community as a whole. You mentioned you chose Lifeline as the charity of the year. Can you tell us a little bit about what this is and why your group decided to support this charity?
Ashayla: Lifeline is an Australian charity that provides 24 hour crisis support and suicide prevention services. Somewhere in Australia there is a new call to Lifeline every minute. We decided to support Lifeline as many of our members have had first hand experience with mental health issues, including depression, PTSD and disabilities. We admire the work Lifeline does and wanted to aid them.
Riri: I really admire your group for supporting a cause that assists with mental health issues that even many people around the world suffer from. If anybody else would like to know more about Lifeline, I have provided a link of all of their information at the end of this article. Does the group make appearances at the local comic or anime conventions?
Ashaylay: PAC normally has a presence at every con here in Western Australia. When we are not able to hold a booth, we encourage our members to attend and mingle with the community. Good relations between PAC and other local cosplay groups are very important to us.
Riri: I absolutely agree with you there. While it is great to contribute inside and outside your community, the relationships we build with others is what helps a community become even stronger. Is there anything else you’d like to accomplish with this group?
Ashayla: We’re all about bringing joy to people, especially children. Hopefully one day our ranks will be large enough to cover every event we are invited to and encompass the whole of Western Australia.
Riri: At this rate I don't doubt that your group will be big! Thank you for describing this organization is such great detail. I'd like to move on and hear more about you and the group member's personal experiences with PAC. Thank you Ashayla for contacting the Disney Princess cosplayers from the Pocket Princesses shoot for this next interview! Can you tell us why you all decided to join the group?
Ashayla: I’ve been volunteering since…well before I can remember. I’ve always enjoyed helping people. When I heard about PAC, my childhood fantasy about being a superhero or Disney Princess took full flight and so I joined up.
Carmen (Snow White): My partner (who does Green Arrow) got invited to join the PAC group at the Christmas pageant and I begged him to ask them if I could tag along. There weren't many princesses in the group back then, so I think that worked in my favour.
Rachel (Aurora and Rapunzel): I have always wanted to dress-up as my favourite TV/movie/Disney characters and at my first ever convention (Supanova 2011 I think) I dressed up as my childhood hero Sailor Moon thinking..."NO ONE is going to be dressed up...I'm gonna look like a weirdo!!" I arrived at Supanova to find that EVERYONE was dressed up in AWESOME costumes!! We made friends at that Supanova with a guy who was a PAC member so that's how I found out about PAC. I thought that it would be awesome to be able to do something I enjoy (cosplay) and be able to do it for multiple good causes...so I joined :D I was also overjoyed that I had found a bunch of wonderfully kind and very talented people with an interest similar to mine :D :D
Jessie (Cinderella): I met a few of the members in October of 2013, I was costuming to an event in Northbridge and was so sure I was the only one in costume. Sure enough, a few of the PAC guys were there and they told me about their cause, seeing as I was just getting into cosplay, I figured it would be a great way to make friends and give back to the community doing what I enjoy.
Amber (Ariel): I met some of the members whilst I was volunteering at Telethon in character and they told me a bit about what the group did and asked if I would consider joining their ranks so of course I jumped at the opportunity to be involved in more amazing events and with like-minded people.
Riri: I can tell you are all extremely happy joining this group! What roles do each of you have within the group? Do you all usually only cosplay Disney Princess characters?
Ashayla: As mentioned earlier, I am the media coordinator of the group. When I attend events in costume, I’m usually Queen Elsa or Supergirl. I don’t always play Queen Elsa, but she is my go to character and I feel a very strong connection with her. Outside of PAC, I work as a children’s entertainer, usually as Elsa.
Carmen (Snow White): Mostly Snow White and Belle. But I also do Wonder Woman and Dorothyfrom The Wizard of Oz, and I'd like eventually to do Vidia from the Tinkerbell movies. I always cosplay often as a princess, but sometimes other outfits depending on how I feel.
Rachel (Aurora and Rapunzel): At the moment I mainly cosplay Aurora (Disney's Sleeping Beauty), I also have a Rapunzel (Tangled), Alice (Alice in Wonderland), Phoenix (X-Men 3) & of course Sailor Moon (my first ever). I almost always cosplay a Disney princess.
Jessie (Cinderella): I am also a costumer in the group; I, like most of my fellow members, attend events to provide entertainment to children and adults alike, usually with the intent to raise money for charity. I, myself, also run our social media facets such as our Facebook page (/perthsalliedcostumers) and Instagram account (@perthsalliedcostumers). I keep our fans updated on events, where they can meet us as well as provide and creating some graphics, humorous memes and photos to give a better idea of who we are as a group.
For now Cindy is my only workable charity approved costume, I also have Batgirl but that is in repairs at the moment. As a female cosplayer with an audience of children, I find being a Disney Princess to be a sure-fire winner. It is what young children; especially young girls are brought up on and exposed too. The more current princesses are definitely more popular.
Amber (Ariel): I have a lot of characters most of which are all Disney Princesses. My favourite roles are Ariel, Elsa and Belle. I often go shopping in full character, I never need an excuse to dress up so definitely for any official events I always attend in character.
Riri: That's all really super cool, I have never cosplayed a Disney character before but I do hope that I get the chance to someday! I agree that Disney Princesses are a sure-fire hit for young children, who doesn't love Disney Princesses and other characters? Speaking of kids, how do they all react to you, and how do their reactions make you feel?
Ashayla: They’re always so excited to see Elsa. On some occasions I bring some homemade snow with me, as it doesn’t snow in our part of Australia. The joy and wonder in their eyes when I sprinkle some on them is just amazing. I’ve had all kinds of reactions, some are too nervous to approach me and some run and fling themselves into my arms. How the children make me feel is probably the reason I’ve stayed with PAC for so long. There’s something so…heartwarming, innocent, special…about a child’s joy. Making a child smile is the best feeling in the world, especially with some of the circumstances we meet these children in.
Carmen (Snow White): I used to work at Disney World as a character and the one thing they always went on about was waving. So I always wave at everyone now, just out of habit. It helps let people know that we're approachable. Some kids go nuts and run over to me, others just smile and go shy. But it's always a positive reaction - even the boys don't seem to mind princesses! It makes me feel like I'm helping to make a special memory for them, something to make their day that much better. And that's really the main reason I cosplay as princesses. Well, that and the dresses are so gosh darn pretty.
Rachel (Aurora and Rapunzel): Sometimes smiles, sometimes blank faces and stares (in awe), sometimes kids are too shy so they hide but most of the time the hugs and high-fives are endless! I feel like I am the real Aurora or Rapunzel or whoever I am portraying at the time. It makes me feel so happy to be able to make the kids smile and lighten their day :)
Jessie (Cinderella): Most kids are really shy and sometimes unwilling, but who can blame them? They have only seen smaller versions on screens or doll-sized, now they are bigger than them! There are those kids however that are thrilled to see you and will not hesitate to run straight for you. Cinderella in particular, even with the recent movie, despite myself wearing the original ball dress, doesn’t get recognized much, I’ve been mistaken for Elsa before however once I flash the shoes they usually click to the character. And this is honestly the most rewarding part. Nothing compares to the starry-eyed, grinning from ear to ear look on a child’s face when they see you. It really warms the heart and is just an amazing feeling. Even if a child is nervous, just getting down to their level (great for Leg Day!) and just talking to them, helping them come out of their shell is such an uplift.
Amber (Ariel): Kids are always excited to meet their beloved characters, as it is hard to do unless you can afford to go to Disneyland. Sometimes meeting their favourite characters can be too overwhelming that they hide and then it is the fun of trying to negotiate with the child to come out for a photo. I absolutely adore the feeling. I know growing up I would have done anything to meet my favourite princesses so knowing how much that means to them just warms your heart.
Riri: This is all so very touching. You all are simply amazing and have done so much good for the cosplay community and for charities around Western Australia. From my perspective, it appears that everyone here have become so much happier knowing that they are a part of a great cause, changing lives, and putting smiles on everyone's faces. Kids, teens, adults; it doesn't matter how old you are. We love our superheroes and princesses! Thank you everyone for your time!
We hope you enjoyed this interview. Please follow and support the Perth's Allied Costumers - check out their facebook page HERE.
As mentioned earlier, we want to provide our followers with information on Lifeline. Please see the links below for your information.
On a national basis LifeLine provides:
- 24 Hour Telephone Crisis Line – 13 11 14
- Online Crisis Support Chat
- Service Finder - free directory of local health and community services
- Mental Health Resource Centre
- DValert - Domestic Violence Response Training
- National Cannabis Information and Helpline
On a more local basis their services include:
- Suicide prevention and bereavement services
- Face-to-face counselling
- Financial counselling
- Gambling counselling
- Youth services
- Disability services
- Welfare programs
- Rural outreach
- Migrant support services
- Family and mediation services
- Counselling services for children
- School based education programs
- Information education and support groups
- Aged care visitation; and
- Indigenous support services