Today we get to feature a gorgeous cosplayer and published alt model - Carmillo Jo - from the San Francisco Bay Area! Read her full interview below!
How and when did you get into cosplay?
I first heard of cosplay back in middle school, when my then-boyfriend and some friends went to anime conventions and cosplayed. I was very young and had strict parents who thought sewing was a waste of time and wanted me to focus on school (they also hated my boyfriend), and I also never had money to buy my own materials. It wasn’t until I got my first full-time paid internship in college (that happened to be a block away from a fabric store!) that I finally took the plunge to learn to sew and create my first cosplay.
How did you come up with your cosplay name?
It’s also my model name, and I wanted a name that looked like it could belong on a birth certificate. I was obsessed with vampires in middle school, and I loved the name Carmilla from the titular novella by Joseph Sheridan Le Fanu. Carmilla was also the villainess from the film Vampire Hunter D: Bloodlust, which I watched many times as teenager. I even considered legally changing my middle name to Carmilla. Jo is what everyone calls me in real life, and I wanted a name I could respond to. So, I became Carmilla Jo.
What do you do when you're not in cosplay or geeking out?
Currently a healthcare student, with the intention to eventually get my Master’s. I’m also a published author under the name Jo Wu and have short stories in various anthologies.
How do you choose your next cosplay?
I have a long cosplay wishlist, and tend to play it by ear. It depends on how confident I feel with my skills, my level of enthusiasm at the time of making it, and how much of a challenge I want to take on.
Who is your cosplay idol/inspiration?
This is a cliched answer, but Yaya Han. I’ve been following her on Deviantart since middle school when I stumbled on her Mulan cosplay, and I was inspired by her entire gallery. Her Carmilla cosplay from Vampire Hunter D: Bloodlust is one of my all-time favorite cosplays. I find it so inspiring that even at her skill level as a veteran, she’s still constantly challenging and pushing herself. I love reading her detailed write-ups on every one of her costumes, and it’s very clear she prides herself on craftsmanship. Her dedication never ceases to inspire me.
As for other cosplay idols/inspirations, I met two of them at Anime Expo this past summer. J Hart has godly sewing skills. His panels are wonderful, and I recommend checking them out in person if he attends a con you’re going to! I love his bodice construction panel, and I had a lot of fun studying it and taking inspiration from it when I was working on my Lust cosplay. His costumes are enchanting and beautiful in person!
The other cosplayer is Vampy Bit Me. She’s incredibly sweet and bubbly. The line to meet her at Anime Expo took hours to wait in, and her assistants were even telling us that they were encouraging her to take breaks, but she told them, “No, I want to keep going and meet everyone!” I was impressed by how down-to- earth and kind she is. Not to mention absolutely talented and beautiful in person.
What cosplay(s) are you working on right now?
Currently genderbent Hanzo from Overwatch.
What is your dream cosplay?
Sieglinde Sullivan was one of my dream cosplays that I’m very proud to have made a reality this year. I was in awe of her costume ever since she debuted in the Black Butler manga. For the longest time, I thought I had to be a master at sewing to create her costume. Once I got a good amount of sewing practice (though nowhere near master level), I took the plunge.
My costume isn’t perfect, and I may alter it in the future, but I adore cosplaying her. She’s an obscure character, so I’m always giddy whenever someone recognizes me, or even take the time to tell me that they love my costume and ask me which series I’m from. She’s one dream I brought to life. I have quite a few dream cosplays. Hanzo is one I’m currently tackling. Captain Harlock and Vampire Hunter D are other characters I’m still building my confidence for.
What is a random fun fact about you as a cosplayer or one of your cosplays?
When I was walking through Artist Alley at Kraken Con Fall 2016, I met one of the official Samurai Jack comic book artists, Ethen Beavers. I was so excited, because I grew up watching Samurai Jack ever since it first debuted on Cartoon Network, and it’s one of my all-time favorite shows.
My second cosplay was genderbent Samurai Jack, and I showed him one of my business cards with that cosplay, and I guess he was impressed with it, and showed it to a couple of other cosplayers who was also checking out his booth. I also commissioned him to sketch me in my genderbent Samurai Jack cosplay, and when he was done, I fangirled so hard over the results. Having a sketch drawn of me in my genderbent Samurai Jack cosplay by an official Samurai Jack comic book artist? I’m happy it happened!
Do you have any cosplay or convention pet peeves?
Photographers who try to act stealthy and take photos of you when they don’t think you’re looking. It’s incredibly invasive and creepy, and I’m probably not looking my best, especially if I’m just resting and am not wearing parts of my costume. Let me tell you, buster, I do see you standing in my periphery awkwardly wielding that giant camera of yours. I’d much rather a photographer come up to me and ask if they can take a few shots. I guarantee they’ll have much nicer photos if they just ask.
Do you have any horror stories or mistakes you've made that others can learn from?
Never try to jam a needle through hardened hot glue, especially if it has just hardened from cooling down.
Where can we find you on all things social?
Photos provided by FotoKai Photography, Kelly Dun Photography, Dietaryfiber Photography, and Jaykid.
I loved her story about her Samurai Jack cosplay! Pin the above photo and then go follow Carmilla Jo on all things social!!