I met Liza Rodriguez and her daughter Ayla in the same way that I’ve met most of the cosplayers, at a convention, specifically the Pop Culture Expo 2007 held at the Puerto Rico Convention Center in San Juan, Puerto Rico. As all my first encounters with cosplayers at conventions this one was also limited to say hello, ask permission to take a picture and give thanks. On that first occasion Liza didn’t have a cosplay but her daughter did. What was left in my mind from that meeting was the image of Liza as a mother accompanying her daughter to this type of event, showing a proactive attitude in the development and cultural enrichment of her daughter. That image became recurrent in future meetings with Liza but it stopped being the only image. That’s because once I started to see Liza the cosplayer and my perception of her would never again be the same.
Liza is a fascinating cosplayer who has explored a variety of areas in the many fields of popular culture with her cosplays and she does it with a charm and sensuality that is very hers, very unique in its kind. Each cosplay that she uses shows that it has been prepared with thoroughness and attention to detail. Once Liza puts on a cosplay her transformation is complete. It is quite an experience to see her in action.
Liza has been active in the local scene since 2007 and has been leaving since a fabulous and distinguished legacy in the puertorrican cosplay scene.
And now THE FEMALE INTERVIEW WITH LIZA RODRIGUEZ.
When did you discover the pastime of cosplay?
Well, when I discovered it we didn’t call it cosplay; it was rather recreating the character. It was during my fourth year of high school in 1989 and Sandman’s “Death of the Endless” which was the favorite comic of mine and my friends. Then in United States at Star Trek conventions when I lived there I saw that it was something more accepted by the community “geek/sci freak” and turned into something more challenging. After returning to Puerto Rico and seeing that there was a “small” movement starting, I slowly followed it until my daughter asked me to go to the Pop Culture Expo of Puerto Rico, in which I could not dress up as my character (Suigintou from the anime Rozen Maiden) even though I had the clothing in the car but because of all that many people at the place overwhelmed my daughter and I realized that this was not as small as it seemed. The rest is history.
What motivates you to practice this hobby, why do you do it?
The truth? Love for the art, it is an extremely great outlet for creativity. The power to make something out of nothing and see how little by little it takes shape is wonderful. Also it is a hobby that for several years I have practiced with my daughter and it unites us. Few parents can say that they do this with their children. I just love to have been able to see how she has grown with this hobby in particular and how she has developed in it.
Are you a fan of some area of entertainment in particular (comics, anime, video games)?
Well I like anime, but I also have my “fan-moment” with comic books and sci-fi movies. I’m not a gamer but I have a spot in my heart for two or three games. I am one of these cosplayers who are not well defined in its base of choice in a matter of fandom.
As I said before, “Death of the Endless” of Sandman. She is so unique and dark and that attracted me from the very beginning. The fact that they made her a woman, beautiful and gothic in a comic “just killed me” in a good way because it was always a character that has been always projected as masculine, ugly and dangerous. She is quite the opposite.
Do you build your costume you alone or with help?
I get help. Any cosplayer who says that he/she makes their costumes all by themselves, or that they do not ask for help, or do not buy ready-made components, they are lying meanly. I’ve bought, commissioned and built; everything depends on how complicated is the work and how much time I have to do it once I decide on a character. I think that all the cosplayers are such perfectionists, at the end of the day if we rather not like how it looks, we will ask for help. We do all for reverence to the character that we recreate and not to damage the dream to someone.
Which one do you think that has been your most challenging cosplay to make?
Lol, Cher! That was all a love/hate relationship! I wanted to do it, I always said that I liked, but it was one of those in which I felt insecure, exposed and nervous. But comically, it was one of those that I built alone and the things I bought were the shoes and the wig. I did receive help from my roommate making the tattoos since it was difficult for me to draw them where they belonged because I had to be with the bodysuit on.
How did you feel the first time that you put on a cosplay?
Rare and happy? It was not a common thing at that time.
Do you feel that you express something of your personality in your cosplay?
Oh definitely yes! From Death to Cher all have something with which I identify myself and which I can get from my inner self to be able to interpret the best character. American McGee’s Alice is a good example of this, because often I feel that my reality is not going along with my everyday life, Suigintou from Rozen Maiden with his desire to be the best knowing that, Lucy de Elfen Lied is not complete with her personality split for reasons unrelated to her, Sarah Sanderson of Hocus Pocus the not so silly able to bewitch anyone with her silliness, Cher with their adaptive capacity even with the passage of the years… etc. I do not continue because I just won’t stop lol.
When did you do your first appearance in cosplay?
Local? In the first Kaisen, Death was for a private party.
Have you done any cosplay appearances at local or American conventions?
Sacramento Scify, Texas Trekki Gathering, Pop Seattle, PR Pop Culture Expo, Comic Con, CFF, Expo/Science 2012, Kaisen and a few others.
Do you use the services of professional photographers?
No, I have not been in need. I do what I do for my enjoyment and share it as it is. If one day I decided to I would seek one that really was worth it and had the patience to work with and vice versa.
Do you have experience participating in professional meetings of “photo-shoot”?
Yes, but not as a cosplayer and not I have patience for them.
What has been the response from the public towards your cosplays?
Like everything else, they like and don’t like. It all depends on the vision of the person. What I care for is the satisfaction of doing them well.
Have you been subject to criticism, mockery or discrimination for being cosplayer?
Bah, of course, here we are all loved and hated alike. Jealousy kills and there will always be those who loathe or those who do not like you enough so they want to hurt one for the mere pleasure of seeing one humiliated. The question is coping with it.
Do you feel that your life has changed, that you’ve changed since you started to do cosplay?
Yes and no. I have learned many useful things; I’ve met more people with this hobby and developed very good relationships. But otherwise everything stays the same. I’m still all a geek!