Cos­play queen

Lo­cal woman an idol of the anime sub­cul­ture

Edmonton Sun - - NEWS - STEPHEN Cook

At the Shaw Con­fer­ence Cen­tre, Vicky Lau strikes a colour­ful if unas­sum­ing fig­ure. Dressed Satur­day in the two-piece red dress of Kagura, a char­ac­ter from the Ja­pa­nese an­i­mated se­ries Gin­tama, Lau is well-suited to the mo­saic of other peo­ple cos­tumed as their favourite mag­i­cal nin­jas, star sailors and ev­ery­thing in be­tween at this year’s Animethon. But be­sides mak­ing sure the word gets out as the head of Animethon’s pub­lic re­la­tions, Lau is also an idol of the sub­cul­ture in her own right.

With over 45,000 Twit­ter fol­low­ers and 130 Pa­treon pa­trons — that is, folks who pay a monthly sub­scrip­tion to re­ceive ex­clu­sive con­tent — she may be Ed­mon­ton’s only cos­play, a blend of cos­tume and play, pro­fes­sional.

“What I mean by pro­fes­sional is sell­ing my own prod­ucts, guest­ing at con­ven­tions and do­ing these ad­ver­tise­ments and part­ner­ships with other com­pa­nies,” ex­plained Lau in a phone in­ter­view last week. Al­though there are oth­ers in the Ed­mon­ton area who make money, Lau isn’t aware of an­other cos­player who is reg­u­larly booked as a guest and flown out to con­ven­tions.

As a re­sult, Lau is of­ten jet­ting off to other cities in Canada and the United States to work with other so­cial me­dia in­flu­encers.

Yet some­how she also works full-time with Alberta Health Ser­vices, main­tains an­other side busi­ness sell­ing food-re­lated ap­parel, and even does some pho­tog­ra­phy work.

“I don’t sleep very much,” Lau ex­plained, only half-jok­ingly.

“I work my full-time job .... and then I come home and I work on my cos­play stuff and then a bit of Noms (ap­parel) back and forth,” she said. “And it’s been like this for quite a while. I don’t re­mem­ber what it’s like to not work so much.”

Part of the work of a pro­fes­sional cos­player is in­ter­act­ing with fans, a near-con­stant bat­tle to re­spond to each mes­sage and com­ment.

“I feel that the fan took the time to in­ter­act with me and as a level of re­spect I want to at least like their com­ment if I can’t re­spond to it,” she said.

If Lau were to ever get some down­time, her wants are sim­ple.

“I would sleep. And eat — I love eat­ing, I eat a lot. Sleep, eat, and read manga.”

Animethon con­tin­ues un­til Sun­day.

Shaughn Butts / post­media

Vicky Lau, seen dressed as Kagura from the anime Gin­tama at Animethon on Satur­day, has over 45,000 Twit­ter fol­low­ers and is reg­u­larly booked as a guest and flown out to con­ven­tions.

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