Amazing Cosplayer Vampy Bit Me Interview At Fanime 2017
Linda Le, best known by her fans as Vampy Bit Me, is a cosplay veteran beloved for her geeky charm, modeling charisma, and impeccable cosplay crafting skills. She has an extensive list of cosplays she’s done from all types of media, and uses all different types of supplies to make the final touches look just right from the series that she loves.
CFG had the pleasure of chatting with Vampy during FanimeCon 2017.
Interviewed by Arlette Agati Photo by William Hong
Your costumes always have such precise detail and you can see the labor of love that you put into them. Do you have any pre-rituals that you do before diving into them?
Okay, that’s actually a really good question, thank you so much! The thing is I do a lot of research, before doing like, anything. So before I start any project, I look at all the materials I could use. So I write them down, and I have a budget. I always have a budget…I budget all my costumes. So I get to the point where I know where to get materials, and then budgeting those materials and then knowing how to use those materials . So before you start any project, make sure you know your materials first. And that’s the most important thing because if you buy the wrong fabric that’s not four way stretch for a really stretchy costume, you’re gonna…..
Have a bad time! (laughs)
Have a horrible time in fact! And that costs a lot of money! So I always try to do research on the materials. Choosing the right materials will eventually have a better outcome. So I think that materials and research on those things is number one.
Well, going off on that, are there any materials that you love working with and any that you aren’t the biggest fan of?
Okay, this is actually a very personal thing! A lot of people don’t quite know what I use sometimes and I do list them, but then they still ask. Maybe this will clear up a lot of things. I don’t use a lot of worbla, but I used to. The thing is a lot of places where I cosplay are really hot, so it pops off of me. Its not because I did not secure it, I just think because it’s malleable. You can make it more stiff , but it’ll still be very expensive. It’s like buying a pair of shoes or a nice jacket. I was like if I’m gonna wear this costume, let’s be real here, a robot costume, I’m gonna wear it, maybe once or twice. It’s really hard to wear around so I was like; “You know what, I’m going to use foam”. Foam is probably my favorite thing. If you mess up you aren’t going to get that mad at yourself since it’s really easy to use with a heat gun. So foam and citra are my favorite materials.
Your cosplay library is quite extensive. Do you have a favorite genre you enjoy making cosplays from?
Video games, yeah! For sure! I would say like most of my life is gaming. I have a PS4 in my room I brought just in case I had more time to level up on my Persona game, so I had to have that with me. I usually have a 3DS, but Monster Hunter Double Cross is not out yet, so I have to level up my characters. So I hadn’t gotten to play it yet since I’m doing a few little minor things in the hotel room for my costume that I’m wearing on Sunday. We all do that stuff, you know? Just last minute things. And that’s okay, as long as you finish! I think on Sunday I’ll get to play some games. But yeah, generally gaming!
Since you also do modeling photoshoots as well, do you feel any differences when shooting your costumes than when you’re shooting just a fashion piece?
Yes! Before this, I was a stylist and I was much too small. I’m really short, so I’m chibi-sized compared to my actual persona. Online, I’m tall, so in my mind I feel like I have to pretend I’m tall. It’s like a fantasy thing for me. So I think fantasy to me were the models I styled, so it’s also to me how I take it as cosplay. Fashion to me is like cosplay because it’s really not me. Everyday I’m not like that, though. I’m usually without make up, my hair is in a bun, and my nails are not done. Doing fashion shoots is another way for me to express myself and be that tall lady that’s usually in the magazines. I think that in general that’s the big difference. You can be angry in fashion shoots, just more stoic. Those are big differences, but yet very similar.
I know this will be a toughie, but do you have any cosplays that are your favorite or a shoot that stands out to you?
So another personal thing, I really love Gundam. I still build model kits. My favorites are Zeon and I just think they are really tough, like they are military, they are so crazy! Those are my favorite costumes because the kits I build at home on my table I also build for my body. Which I think that’s hilarious and I laugh at myself while I’ll hold the toy. I’m sure a lot of people feel this way when they buy a figure and they’re like that’s me! It’s a cheesy feeling and you’re just like happy from that, you know? That’s how I feel about Gundam because I wouldn’t cosplay it anyway if I didn’t love it since it takes a lot of work. That and Monster Hunter. I love those two a lot.
Your genderbent Nightwing cosplay is super cool and I always love seeing genderbent cosplays. Are there any other characters you’d like to do a genderbent cosplay of?
Yes! I really like genderbending because I think that women can feel the same things obviously nowadays as men. We feel that strength now and the similarities of how they feel when they battle or when they converse with other team members of the same crew. I really love Daredevil, so I bought Daredevil’s fabric five years ago. This was before the show, too, so I was like I really want to do a genderbent Daredevil really bad! But I used that fabric for another costume since I didn’t want to go to the fabric district, so I’m eventually going to make that.
Among your costumes, are there any characters you cosplay you feel that you relate to the most?
Oh, that’s all of them! Because every costume I make I feel deeply about and that’s because cosplay is very personal to me. It’s a very passion based thing , almost obsessive, like otaku you know? Like very obsessed, so I think that the one I relate to the most would probably be Nico Robin of One Piece. Most of my characters that I cosplay are very stoic characters, but she’s like always very caring and randomly she’ll call things cute. Then it’s like she’s really quiet, but she’ll be like “Kawaii!” like out of nowhere! And you’re like what? She’s an archaeologist, she’s very stern, and she’s very strong, so the men respect her in the crew. She’s kinda like the girl that hangs out with the dudes kinda person. But nowadays, men and women are pretty much the same, so it’s like we’re nearing that point where Nico Robin is very much like her crew everyone else.
I notice a lot of your costumes are from fighting games. Would you say that’s your favorite kind of game to play?
A lot of my costumes are from fighting games because the first games that I was really obsessed with were fighting games. So Street Fighter. Everyone would do this at the time, they would get the quarters, and they would go play Street Fighter. I think the one that I played was probably in the arcades and my brother battled me all the time on all the games like SNK. I sorta went into Guilty Gear and every fight game because my brother and I were very competitive with each other. He’s only year apart from me, so that’s what drove me to really love fight games.
Do you have any dream costumes you’d love to tackle someday?
Yes! So I used to play a lot of table top games and a lot of MMOs. Those costumes are really crazy because there’s a lot of armor that even cover the face, so a lot of them doesn’t make sense to try and translate it into cosplay. I’ve always wanted to do a WarHammer costume, especially Sister Adele because I used to paint the little kits.
I was really looking forward to interviewing you because you have such a positive voice in a community that’s not always the kindest. Do you have this kind of voice with purpose or is this just natural to you?
I just really like people. Ever since I was really little, I had this really deep connection with trying to converse and connect with people. So right when Twitter started I was like “Oh my gosh I can write anyone!” I don’t want to sound typical, but when I was growing up I didn’t have too many friends and I had like one friend. She really loved the same things I did and throughout high school I didn’t have those kind of positive influences in my life. So I think that now that I have people writing to me, I’m like “This is like high school for me everyday!” I like that! You just feed off that positive energy even though you are sleeping 2-3 hours every con. I slept like 4 hours today because I was so excited to meet with the One Piece gathering. I feel that intense energy so I think that I really love connecting in general. That’s my thing, I like connecting with people. It’s not even about cosplay.