My name Is Julz, also kinda known as Bearded Leia. I am a Cosplayer/Crossplayer from Denver Colorado. I, like many cosplayers I have met, found my love for costuming at a young age because of Halloween! I always loved being able to become someone/something else. Whether I was Dracula or Oscar the Grouch, I always had so much fun pretending to be that character. I looked forward to Halloween all year long, and once I got older I even had “Halloween” inspired birthday parties just so my friends and I could have a reason to be in costumes.
Now, a full grown adult (yeah right), I attend conventions a few times a year in costume. However, my costumes are a bit different now, than when I was a kid. Instead of putting on my home made head to toe, Ninja Turtle costume (thanks mom!), I am shaving my legs, putting on a makeup and a wig to become some of the coolest, strongest female characters that I have loved growing up.
My first crossplay wasn’t actually even a crossplay at all, now that I think about it. A few years back, I talked my coworkers into dressing as characters from the movie, “To Wong Foo, Thanks for Everything! Julie Newmar”. Patrick Swayze, Wesley Snipes and John Leguizamo all played fantastic roles as drag queens who get stranded in a small close minded town and stir things up a bit. I played John Leguizamo’s character, Chi Chi. From the moment we started planning (which included watching the movie of course). I knew it was going to be amazing! People didn’t know how to react to us. Imagine walking in for your scheduled tattoo on Halloween to find your artist completely dressed in drag. Lots of people hadn’t even seen the movie so they just asked why the heck we were dressed as women?! The majority, however, enjoyed it. They laughed and commented how brave we were.
Fast forward to today, I am having a blast crossplaying fun characters such as the incredibly imaginative Baby Doll from SuckerPunch, the badass tomb raider Lara Croft, and of course my personal favorite, Princess Leia Organa, as seen in Return of the Jedi… metal bikini Slave Leia. Carrie Fisher as Slave Leia was one of my ultimate childhood crushes. Crossplaying her has been so much fun! The reactions I get at Cons are always so entertaining. I, of course (being a man with a beard) get a lot of guys who grew up crushing on Slave Leia, tell me things like, “you have absolutely ruined Star Wars for me.” Or laugh and say, “Man, that’s so wrong!” all immediately before brandishing their camera and asking to take a picture with me! So funny. Some of my favorite reactions are those that see me from behind or off to the side at first. I hear things like “Wow she is hot!” or “Look at those legs!” all the while I’m trying not to die from laughter. I hear, “Leia! Can I get a photo?!” the looks on their faces when I turn around and they see my beard, then realize I am a man are unforgettable! It always ends in laughter and they still ask to have a photo taken with me.
I like to hope that people remember me. That they remember how I made them laugh or smile. Of course, there are negative people as well, but they are mostly only on the internet. My experience in the cosplay community thus far has been fantastic. The people I have met have been terribly accepting and kind. If you are one who is on the fence about crossplaying, afraid of being judged for this reason or the next, I say DON’T BE! Do what makes you happy and do it to the fullest!
Whether you are male or female, there are people out there that will appreciate the work and courage you put into becoming what might be one of their favorite characters as well!!!