Friday, May 12, 2017

Cosplayer Amber Love says appeal of dressing up 'is just simple fun'

September 2010 -- Amber Love made her first superhero costume in 2006.
Amber Love cosplays as Firestar.
JOHN HUDSON/Courtesy of Amber Unmasked

The New Jersey woman created her own character Amber the Superhero Stylist to audition for the competition TV show, "Who Wants to be a Superhero?"

"But I chickened out," she said.

Since then, Love has portrayed quite a few female characters: Wonder Woman, Power Girl, Harley Quinn, Supergirl, Catwoman, Susan Storm/Invisible Woman, Rogue, Kitty Pryde, Firestar (from the 1981-1983 "Spider-Man and His Amazing Friends" cartoon), Alice in Wonderland, Rumor/Allison (from the Dark Horse Comics series UMBRELLA ACADEMY) and of course, her own character, Amber the Superhero Stylist.

Her snappy looking creations can be found on her website, Amber Unmasked. (CCC family-friendly warning: Some of her galleries contain slightly edgy, PG-13/NSFW photos.)

Love, in a lengthy email interview she did with me, said the hardest part of making her own costumes are the accessories.

"I don't sculpt or mold armor so my accessories are usually pretty bad unless I get them from someone else," she said. "I don't have the skills for sculpting; I don't have the power tools required for some of the hardware builds. I tried to make a chest plate once and threw it in the Dumpster."

Finishing any project is the most fulfilling part of costuming for this 38-year-old fan. (2017 editorial note: She'd be about 45 now.)  

"You start with just an idea and whether it's a modification or a full build project, you just want to be done and see it," Love said.

Amber Love cosplays as Sue Storm
(aka the Invisible Woman)
from the Fantastic Four.
JOHN HUDSON/Courtesy of Amber Unmasked
When people see her in her costumes, the voluptuous Love said she gets "every kind of comment from 'You look amazing'" to being told she's too fat and ugly.

"I try to make my responses appropriate and tactful; I'll take the high road whenever I'm called fat and reply that anyone who wants to call me fat can opt to not look at my (online) galleries," she said. 

"Then I point out that since I'm no longer 200 pounds, they can call me whatever they want because I know what I am and I know why I'm the size and shape I am. Do I wish I was 110? Sure, but I'm not and it's not an issue in 300-plus days a year when I'm not in a costume or lingerie."

Here is part of our 2010 interview (which is now apparently lost to the Internet ghosts of websites goneby):

CARY'S COMICS CRAZE: What's your favorite character(s) to dress as and why? 

LOVE: "I have three top favorites for different reasons: Wonder Woman because she's most recognizable; Firestar because I loved to pretend to be her when I was a kid; (and) Susan Storm because it's the most comfortable of all my outfits and she's the most powerful of the Fantastic Four."

Amber Love cosplays as Rogue of the X-Men -- the favorite of Cary's Comics Craze.
Courtesy of HARMONY PHOTO PRO, LLC
CCC: How did you get into costuming? What is its appeal? 

LOVE: "I didn't realize that adults could costume, meaning that they were 'allowed' by society to go out into public in costume. I thought it was something saved for Halloween or Masquerades. When I learned what Ren Faires and Comic Cons were all about, I couldn't wait to see the costumes.

Amber Love cosplays as Catwoman.
JAY FIFE/Courtesy of Amber Unmasked
"The appeal is just simple fun. You can be creative by bringing something to life. You get to escape your real self for a little while whether it's just changing your hair color with a wig or transforming into a monster.

"After a first few appearances in costumes, I realized it's no different than the sports fans that wear jerseys and paint their faces up. We're just fans of something else and the people that make our products of enjoyments, the comics, don't make the kind of money pro athletes or coaches do."

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