Interview with Amy Wilder
By Michael Bradley
Today we are interviewing Amy Wilder, an extraordinary young lady involved in Steampunk Cosplay, the con scene, and professional modeling. A photo collection follows. You can click on the first picture and then arrow through them to see them full-sized. NOTE: This interview will appear in an upcoming issue of The WOD Magazine and an extended version will be podcast in the future by Patti Hulstrand on KWOD Radio.
Q. Amy, thanks so much for this chance to get to know you better. I first noticed you on a Steampunk site and reposted your picture on my blog with about forty other pictures. Immediately, people popped out of the woodwork to let me know it was you in the picture, so you have some fans out there. What got you involved in Steampunk cosplay and how long have you been doing it?
A. I guess you could say I was always a fan of steampunk style, though I didn’t hear the word till my first DragonCon in 2008… I thought it was just a cool way people dressed at cons, and for photoshoots. I discovered steampunk culture, and fell absolutely in love with it when I wandered into AnachroCon in Atlanta in 2013, and I’ve been immersed and obsessed ever since.
Q. I was impressed that after working at Hooters for just a few years, you were selected as a candidate for their calendar and you made it all the way through. How was that experience and was it exciting to be chosen from thousands of Hooters Girls nationwide?
A. Oh yes! That was my very first publication, and being one of just over 200 girls picked was amazing. I even had my own shot glasses, it was so cool. During my time at Hooters, I was also the regional “Hooters Girl of the Quarter” and a state finalist in their swimsuit pageant. I worked hard there, and gained a ton of modeling experience, but it was time to move on to bigger things. 🙂
Q. You created your own Hooters Girl Superhero. What gave you that idea? That must have been a lot of fun?
A. Oh goodness, that one WAS fun. Working at Hooters, I always joked that getting into uniform and doing that job made us superheroes, but one day while helping a friend buy fabric for one of her cosplays, I found a few yards of neon orange fabric on sale, and the rest was silly history.
Q. You have two sides to you in pictures. In your regular photos you’re the sweet girl next door with dreamy doe eyes and a pet cat. In your modeling photos you transform into a sultry bikini supermodel with a bold look. Do you feel different modeling or cosplaying than just being at home? Do you take on the persona you are playing?
A. I think I always feel like me… but there’s something about an awesome costume or outfit, and hair and makeup to the max that can bring out the sexy bombshell in anyone. I have tons of fun playing different roles and being different people in front of the camera… but behind all that, I still make faces and talk about my cat. 😛
Q. Recently at San Diego Comic Con some haters criticized you for a skimpy outfit not being “Steampunk.” I know many came to your defense. Women wear less at the beach or at nightclubs but there are haters out there for cosplayers. How do you react to this type of controversy?
A. I think that cosplay and steampunk, just like anything else, attracts all kinds of people, and I’m never going to be everyone’s cup of tea. The outfit in question actually went over very well in person at SDCC, as I was able to explain the cheeky joke behind it. I just ask that everybody try to be a little kinder to each other and remember why we’re here. We didn’t get into steampunk to tell other people how to have fun, we got into steampunk to dress up in cool costumes, share our fantastical devices and mad ideas, and shoot each other with modded nerf guns. 😉
Q. You work a lot with Thomas Willeford, one of the top Steampunk crafters. Are you two friends? How did you come to meet him and model his Steampunk outfits?
A. Thomas is one of my all-time favorite people. I had been a fan of his work since I tried on a corset at my first DragonCon, his work is actually what first got me interested in steampunk. It wasn’t till years later that I got up the guts to introduce myself, and ask if I could model for him. But now I am one of his main spokes-models, an occasional apprentice in his shop, and consider him one of my dearest friends. Without his advice and support, I don’t think I would have taken my love of dressing up a step further and started modeling seriously.
Q. You are tall but maintain a zero size and a curvy figure. Do you have a strict exercise regimen and diet, or some other secrets to share?
A. I have a workout regimen I stick to pretty faithfully including weights, body weight exercise, and tons of cardio. I like to think I’m strong enough to defend the innocent from petty villains, and fast enough to outrun a zombie horde… As for diet, I cook my own food when possible, and try to use fresh ingredients, but I eat what I want.
Q. You are very young now, but like with athletes, models work long hours, have tough demands and a limited career length. What are some of your long term goals, or are you taking it day by day and enjoying the current ride first?
A. Though I love modeling, my real hope is to finally get a workspace of my own set up and start designing. I actually studied fashion design and sculpture in college… I have a lot of ideas.
Q. You had a man sculpt you from scratch and recreate one of your Steampunk poses. Who was that artist again? That must have been very exciting?
A. Yes! Madsculptor! I was so honored when he chose to sculpt me, and he did such an incredible job! It is really an amazing experience watching your own visage come to life before your eyes. In fact, recently my likeness was also reproduced by famous pin-up artist Armando Huerta… As an artist myself, knowing I inspired someone else’s art will always be a big deal to me, and a huge honor.
Q. As a southern girl from Georgia, do you have that Georgia Peach accent? Does it get lighter when you travel and stronger when you go back?
A. Nope! Actually, growing up with a dad in the Army, I have lived in every corner of the US, and been exposed to all manner of accents. I’ve been known to pick up the accents of people I am having conversations with… But no accent whatsoever to call my own.
Q. You go to quite a few pop culture events and conventions. As these have gained popularity, do you feel the security is adequate? As an attractive young woman have you had issues with some of the inappropriate comments and touching that other cosplayers have experienced?
A. I will be honest, I have never been harassed at a con… Maybe an enthusiastic suitor here and there, but always harmless and quite respectful. Of course I know that a skimpy, skin-baring cosplay is likely to draw more comments of the “misguided compliment” variety, but I’ve never felt offended or unsafe. In fact, I was THRILLED with the level of respect and politeness, (and the fantastic security that missed nothing) I encountered at SDCC, which I’d been warned would be a madhouse. The only times I’ve ever felt truly harassed at cons are when I have had to leave the con space in costume, I think sometimes the general public takes not understanding why I dress up as a license to be extremely disrespectful.
Q. You have a fantastic look, so I am not surprised you were “found” by photographers. Still, who was the first person to ask you to get involved in pictures?
A. The first modeling I ever did was at Savannah College of Art & Design for a fellow student majoring in photography. Corey Crowley (now Vampman Studios) approached me in the lunch hall simply because I was tall. I did tons of photoshoots for him, I gained a ton of confidence through that, and learned a lot about modeling, and how to act in front of a camera. I don’t know if I would have ever pursued modeling had I not done those fun shoots.
Q. What would you suggest for others interested in getting into cosplay and into modeling?
A. Just do it, and do your best! Make contacts, attend events, and most importantly, HAVE FUN.
Q. With all the travel you are faced with, what keeps you centered and so happy? You always seem so positive.
A. I guess that one is a weird answer, staying positive IS what keeps me so positive. We all have hard times, and get stressed or discouraged… We all have “everything is terrible, I’m terrible, and my goals and dreams will never work” moments… But I always try to look forward, see the silver linings, and hope for the best. Dwelling on something negative will never make it better, but reaching past, grabbing something positive, and running with it? That is what keeps a person going.
Q. Who would you like to give shout outs to? Great photographers, friends, supporters and others who have helped you on your path?
A. Oh God… Everybody… can I say everybody? Every photographer who thought I was good enough to shoot with, every friend who encouraged me. Every designer who had me wear their work, every con organizer who hosted me. Every nice comment, every “like”, every photo share… Every person who recognizes me at a con, or doesn’t, but comes to introduce themselves anyway… You all keep me going! Thank you! ❤
Q. Where can people contact you for photoshoots and other events?
Q. Where can fans follow you online?
A. I am on Facebook, Tumblr and Instagram. You can follow me @amywilderness. 🙂
Q. What else would you like to add?
A. Thank you for interviewing me! Hope the read is enjoyable and that I didn’t sound too silly. 🙂