Cosplayer Of The Month: Chris Riley
Hey folks! 😀 We have an awesome cosplayer for you this week! His name is Chris Riley and not only does he do great cosplays but he actively participates not only in the cosplay community but also in the LGBT community! I originally reached out to him because of his cosplay and then was blown away by just how hard this man works to bring his community into far more progressive states than when he first entered them that way all future LGBT geeks won’t have to feel the conflict others had faced!
I appreciate his dedication and wanted to share this interview with you all! Enjoy!
The Geek Lyfe: There may be a few Geek Lyfers who have not seen your work before, would you be alright introducing yourself?
Chris Riley: I’m Chris Riley. I grew up in the Los Angeles area and have been cosplaying on the convention circuit since 2005. I work with many LGBT+ Geek organizations and clubs. Prism Comics which advocates for LGBT+ comic book creators. The Imperial Forces Rainbow Squad which is a Star Wars fandom group that raises money for local LGBT Centers. I am also the creative mind behind Geek Pride Entertainment, a production company founded by Jesse Lopez that produces themed nightlife events, pop culture convention diversity panels, as well as cosplay photography/new media projects.
TGL: How long have you been into cosplay and what led you down this path?
CR: I had created a comic book series that featured a gay male as the central lead character. In 2005, I formed a team called “The Legends” and we used to cosplay as the characters all over Hollywood at red carpet and charity events. We also hit up every convention we could to promote the idea that an unassuming gay guy could be a loved leader of a team of superheroes. At the time, I was bullied, mocked, and was said to have committed career suicide in a homophobic industry for wearing my “sexuality”. I was told by decision-makers that having a gay character on a comic book cover was an absolute joke. Captain Lucky was my character’s name and I carried that torch for half a decade. Currently, there is an LGBT+ character in every film/tv/comic book franchise. Gay characters now grace the covers of mainstream comics. Society has evolved towards equality.
TGL: What has been your favorite moment?
CR: My favorite moments are when I present LGBT+ Panels at conventions. I provide a platform for cosplayers and entertainers to “come out”, share their stories, and become empowered. They find support from the community and become beacons of hope for other LGBT+ geeks who have struggles in their own lives. When I hear that the experience had changed their life for the better, its the best feeling in the world.
TGL: What was the worst day for you in your cosplay career, what happened, and how did you deal with it?
CR: The worst day I had was when a long time best friend decided to disown me because I wore the character he wanted to do at the same convention. It was the catalyst for the dissolution of our friendship. I dealt with it by developing an emotional barrier against people with toxic personality types. That experience sucked but I am stronger because of it now.
TGL: When you aren’t doing this, what do you do in your spare time?
CR: I’m an Xbox gaymer who loves RPG’s. Seriously obsessed with World of Warcraft: Hearthstone. I have a huge heart for dogs and have 3 of my own. In the past few years, I adopted dogs out to celebrities like Sarah Hyland from Modern Family, Andy Biersack from the Black Veil Brides, Justine of IJustine, Shawn Christian from Days of Our Lives, and many others.
TGL: What geek medium(Video Games, Comic Books, Novels, Movies, etc.) made the biggest impact on your life and why?
CR: They all do. As a child Batman: The Animated Series, Power Rangers, and the 90’s X-Men cartoon had a major influence on me. They where like soap operas for kids. In junior high, I loved the Marvel Masterpiece trading cards. I had a comic featuring all the art and was sent to the principals office for trying to draw the characters in my free time. I spent a class period being lectured on how comic book characters are evil. It was a religious school and they put the fear of God in me. I didn’t touch another comic book until I was in college when Marvel’s Civil War came out. Marvel comics and the X-Men had the largest impact on my life. Mutants and LGBT’s face the same struggles of being accepted in our world. Emma Frost was my favorite character. She wore her sexuality with pride and was powerful for it.
TGL: If you could live in any geeky universe, which one would it be and why? (Naruto, Harry Potter, Pokemon, Lord of the Rings etc.)
CR: The Harry Potter universe would be a blast. The X-Mansion explodes every other month. Hogwarts has it’s troubles but the majority of time it seems like a fun time of magic and wizardry.
TGL: Do you have any projects in the near future we should be excited to see?
CR: On October 27th, Geek Pride is presenting a Halloween Party at Precinct DTLA, featuring the men of the Year of Fear Calendar. It’s a night dedicated to all the male horror icons you love like Freddie Krueger, Jason Vorehess, and Scream. On November 20th, in the same location we are throwing our main Geek Pride event for all LGBT+ nerds and their allies. We bring in a cavalcade of guy & gal go go dancers, burlesque performers, and entertainment acts. Most people cosplay in their most funny or sexy costumes. It’s an inclusive environment where your sexuality and fandoms are celebrated by all. I love these events because LGBT’s bring their straight friends to experience our culture in a very welcoming environment. Also… it gets pretty wild.
TGL: What advice do you have for any aspiring cosplayers out there?
CR: When you first start, cosplay the characters that you love. Get a group of friends together and form a themed group. You will have an exponential amount of fun. Also, don’t get caught up in your social media numbers. Never pay for “likes”. Social media platforms come and go. I had a ton of followers on Myspace and now that’s a ghost town. Facebook fan pages will become obsolete because of the migration to instagram. It’s not about the number of people who follow you. It’s about the quality of your work, whether that be in prop making, costumes, or social service.
TGL: Out of the costumes you have done in the past, which one has been the most difficult and why?
CR: The most difficult is my most beautiful. My MALEficent cosplay was made by world famous fashion designer Perry Meek who has worked as a costumer for many pop stars like Lady Gaga, Cher, and the Spice Girls. It exudes masculine sexual energy and the horns on my helm are extremely tall. When I walk through doorways I have to bend and charge forward like a bull. I become statuesque and have to maintain a perfect posture. I can last about 3 hours like that before it wears me down. The excitement I see on peoples face when they see it makes it totally worth it. Perry has made my best costumes. If it weren’t for him, I would not be the man I am today in the geek world.
I had a blast interviewing Chris Riley on himself and him as a cosplayer! I hope you did as well! Be sure to follow Chris Riley on his various social media pages such as Facebook, Instagram, and Patreon!
Header image: Yorkinabox
Geek Pride: Witches & Wizards https://youtu.be/2RdFpruNYPY