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Amy Wilder – Model and Cosplayer – Get to Know Her Better…

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.

Amy Wilder, Steampunk Cosplay

Amy Wilder, Steampunk Cosplay

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?

A.  The best way to contact me is to e-mail me at AmyWILDERness@yahoo.com, or message me on my Facebook fanpage at http://www.facebook.com/AmyWILDERness. 🙂

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. 🙂


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Interview with Aurora O’Brien

Interview with Aurora O’Brien

 By Michael Bradley

[Note:  This article is for publication in The WOD Magazine and a future podcast of KWOD Radio.  Aurora O’Brien is one of the many awesome Arizona cosplayers and models.  Haven’t moved to Arizona yet?  LOL, you have no idea what you are missing.]

 MB:  Today our interview is with Aurora O’Brien, an outstanding young cosplayer and professional model.  Most people see you at events or photos and have no idea the true diversity of your interests.  You studied at the Art Institute of Phoenix and are an artist as well as a model correct?

AO: Yes! My dream has always been to be an artist. To create something from nothing is the best feeling in the world.  After attending though, I lost interest in art completely, not drawing for over five years. I soon realized I had to let out my creative energy somehow so I decided to give modeling a try. I later linked up with famous American comic book artist Steve Rude and became his model in exchange for lessons! He helped me regain my passion for art, and now I can’t stop!


MB:  Tell me about your outdoor lifestyle.  I know you have an interest in motorcycles, riding horses, and even welding.

AO: Oh yes! I’m just one of those people who loves an adventure! These are my escapes from reality. There is nothing like hopping on my bike to go see my horse, spending the afternoon with her, then making my way back home to help fix something. A fun lil fact, is that I did not learn to ride before getting my bike or horse. I just decided I wanted to do it, and learned along the way!


MB: How long have you been into cosplay now, and what got you started?

AO: I first became interested in cosplay in middle school…well, I mean I wanted to dress up like my favorite anime characters. I went to my first con in 2009 and had the time of my life! I felt like I had finally met people I could connect with. Sadly, I did not have much money and I was only able to attend two others in the next few years. After I began modeling though, things changed. One my amazing photographers paid for my ticket and gas costs to get in just so he could take my picture and hang out. Then I began getting paid to be a booth babe and asked to cosplay more characters! It’s so amazing how things work out sometimes!!


MB: What are some of your favorite characters to cosplay?

AO: Revy from Black Lagoon & Red Sonja for sure! I just love their rough around the edges attitude and the way they rose up from a rough past. As they say, the flower that blooms from adversity is the most beautiful…or in this case, badass!!


MB:  Do your cosplay choices match those you read and watch, or are there some differences?

AO: Yes, 100%. I cannot cosplay the character unless I can connect with them in some way. Otherwise it just isn’t all that fun. If I have a request for a cosplay, I will check out the series first. Besides, it’s just another excuse to watch more anime!

MB:  How many cons and events/photo shoots are you doing per year?

AO: That is a hard question…Sadly I cannot afford to attend many cons. Usually, I only get the opportunity to go to about three or four a year. As far as photo shoots go, I average around 75 per year and the events are always a surprise. I am a brand ambassador so I work anything from a cigar girl at Barrett Jackson to promoting liquor at clubs on the weekends or holidays, and even caddying for golfers (including the D-backs) for charity events. What can I say? I am all over the place.


MB:  You look a lot different in many of your shots, which is a credit to your modeling skills.  When I saw you at Amazing Arizona Con with Mary DeBalfo, I at first did not recognize you.  You even had a contest to find you this year at Phoenix Comic Con.  How many people were able to found you each day?

AO: Thank you so much, it’s something I take a lot of pride in. I was shocked at how many people found me each day! I certainly felt the love! It was so great to finally meet the people who follow my page in person! It’s much better than just reading messages!


MB:  No one naturally looks good on camera.  I never met a model who had it easy.  When you wore your Red Sonja outfit one day at Phoenix Comic Con, I was kind of shocked at how ripped your abs were.  It reminded me of Toni Darling, and I know she does physical training for a living.  Do you have a special diet and exercise regimen as well?

AO: Oh my, you are so sweet to say that!! Well, honestly I don’t enjoy working out in conventional ways. Sure I do some crunches and yoga from time to time, but I find that hula hooping, dancing, riding my horse, jump roping, and playing Kinect on Xbox is WAY more fun!


MB:  Are there certain photographers you have recently worked with that you would recommend to other cosplayers/models?

AO: Adam Patrick Murray is fantastic!! He is so easy to work with, creative, and catches the character in a simple, clean, yet engaging way. Another one would be Dave Kelley. He is sort of my go to guy, and one of my best friends. We just had our 30th shoot together the other day!! He is amazing and SOOOO creative!! As far as professional modeling photos go, Michael Luna is the best Arizona has!!


MB:  What are some of your favorite events or locations?

AO: The geek in me loves Amazing Arizona Con! It’s not too big, not too small….its juuuust right! You have much more time to get to know your favorite artist and authors. Not to mention you can actually walk in the aisles without getting bumped and crinkling your brand new comic book!! The rebel in me however, loves working bike week selling cigars! The crowds are so free spirited, fun, and are always offering me free beer!


MB: Do you make all your outfits or do you have some preferred helpers?

AO: Here is where the pros will get mad at me… I cannot sew. Instead I go on the hunt. Thrift stores are wonderful for piecing together outfits, and finding other clothes to bring to photo shoots.


MB: What are some of your best cosplay moments?

AO: Meeting fans is always a touching moment. It’s still hard for me to believe that people are legitimately interested in meeting me and hearing my opinions. That being said, one of my all time favorite moments, was at an anime con before I was a ‘public figure’. It was help at a hotel that had a bar in the center. Since I was cosplaying Revy, it only seemed appropriate to have a drink…you know, get into character and all. As soon as I sat down, a man ordered me a shot of rum, winked, then walked away (Black Lagoon fans will understand).

Soon after another guest approached me & bought me a shot then handed me a six inch moveable Revy statue (which I still use today for my art). He said I did an excellent job with the cosplay and he would consider it an honor if I took the gift, and a shot with him! We downed our drinks, hugged and he left…I think there were about three others that came almost immediately after to have a shot with “Revy” before I decided that was enough.


MB: Do you cosplay just for fun, or do you have a store and blog site we can plug for you?  Also, for photographers out there and people needing advertising or spokespersons, what is the best way for them to book you?

AO: I cosplay for the fun of it! What other reason is there? I do have a store where prints are available, but that’s only to help with some of the costs of cosplaying. You are welcome to visit my store at aurorart.storenvy.com. If anyone is interested in hiring me for an event they can contact me on my website, www.auroraobrien.com or send me an email at dmobrien88@gmail.com


MB: How safe do you feel at cons now that the attendance has grown so much? Is it safe to walk from parking lots in costume? Are the bigger crowds bringing out “touchy” people who break barriers they shouldn’t?

AO: I am exceptionally thankful to say I don’t really get messed with at cons. I think I have a natural aura around me that says, “ I may be cute, but I can kick your a**”. I’m pretty thankful for that too, because I would hate to subconsciously knock someone out over a wandering hand… again.


MB: What advice do you have for people starting out?

AO: HAVE FUN!! There are no rules, you are among friends. Be fearless, and if anyone makes fun of you, just laugh it off. For those people, just aren’t your people, and are probably just jealous of how awesome, brave, and fun you are!! Just be you, and make new friends. That’s what it is all about, don’t forget that.


MB: Who would you like to give a shout out for being someone who helped you get started with modeling and cosplay and friends you look forward to seeing at events?

AO: My shout out would be to all of my amazing fans, photographers, family, friends and supporters! If it wasn’t for you all, I wouldn’t have the confidence, nor the drive to get as far as I have. Before I entered the modeling world I was not in such a good place. Since then though, I have met countless amazing people who have shown me what it is to be happy, strong, loved and simply not ashamed to be me.



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Toni Darling Interviewed On KWOD Radio

I am glad to have helped setup the interview between Patti Hulstrand, great friend and Editor of The Wod, ConNotations Newszine, and KWOD Radio (all of which I contribute writing to) and Toni Darling, known for Lady Thor, Lady Death, Halibel, and other cosplay roles.

Here is the radio interview:


Hailing from the Empire State, Toni Darling busted into the scene at the Zombie Bikini Contest in downtown Mesa, AZ in January of 2012. Without any fear, she dressed up as a cowgirl zombie and with that she paved a path of her own in the local geek community.

From the California conventions to the Arizona convention scenes, you have most likely caught a glimpse of this striking beauty always working it in front of the video camera. Toni is a hard working lady who enjoys helping the art world through her passion for cosplay.

She has promoted Kipsworld, Knightingail Comics, and Paolo Parente’s Dust through cosplay, most recently doing a cross-play of Thor and Lady Death. Along with her beauty, fun personality, and intelligence, her ambition has propelled her to the forefront of the geek community.

Pictures of Toni Darling:

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Interview with Cassandra S. Kyle

Patti Hulstrand of KWOD Radio and yours truly, Michael Bradley, interview local cosplayer Cassandra S. Kyle on life as a cosplayer.  Her outfits are varied and she is one of the nicest people I know.  You won’t believe my voice, I grew up at the beach in California and then lived in Hawaii, so I sound like a twenty year old surfer.  Here is a link to the interview:


michael and cassandra

Cassandra S. Kyle with Michael Bradley at Phoenix Comic Con 2013. I am twice her age and she is a size 0, so I look huge lol.

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KWOD Radio Interview at Phoenix ComicCon 2013

Patti Hulstrand, the host of KWOD radio is broadcasting live from Phoenix ComicCon 2013.  She will be interviewing many bright stars among movie actors, TV actors, and great authors.  Then…after she interviews those people, she has been gracious enough to add me to the list as well.  I have appeared on her radio show once before and she was a gracious and captivating host.  I will likely be discussing the new anthology, Twisted Nightmares, just out last week in print form.

My new picture

Michael Bradley, Author

Remember, you can stop by booth #1629 at Phoenix ComicCon 2013 to say hello and get your autographed copy, right off the presses.  Thanks to Patti Hulstrand and all of you who give me your time and support.  It is much appreciated.


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