Thursday, November 29, 2012

Cosplay Spotlight: Ruby & Jennifer

It's a match made in costuming heaven! At this year's DragonCon show, the cosplay community was in a buzz over Batman's marriage proposal to Batgirl (she said yes)! Veteran cosplayer Ruby Rinekso popped the question to fellow cosplayer and girlfriend,  Jennifer Haviland.  Ruby not only had the support of his fellow cosplayers for the surprise proposal but also had the assistance of Superman himself, Dean Cain.  I contacted the power couple for an in depth interview regarding costuming, falling in love and the moment Ruby asked Jennifer to be his wife.

Victoria: How long how you been cosplaying?

Ruby: I pretty much started cosplaying before I ever knew of the term "cosplaying". Growing up, Halloween was always my favorite holiday and I was upset in the reality that it only came once a year. Like many other kids, I used to run around the house in some superhero costume and raise hell. Upon Adolescence, I realized that behavior became a bit inappropriate or "uncool" I ended up suppressing that behavior to fit in better with any teen aged social circle. But for years I would always have the coolest Halloween costume party. Years later, after I started to play music, I even formed a KISS tribute band partically because I love the costumes.

Even upon after meeting Jennifer, we both realized that we both loved Halloween, but really didn't have an outlet for our love of costumes until we started going to conventions in 2005. At this point we had been marching around in the annual NYC parade for years. And I dove into it, head first. That's when I first discovered the term "cosplaying".

Jennifer: Well for me, any opportunity to dress up in anything different from daily "street clothes" was a welcome one. My mother enrolled me in requisite dance classes as a child. This was particularly fun for me because not only did I get to study dance, which I loved but I suddenly got to wear these amazing costumes for the recital. Some of these costumes even worked their way to Halloween rotation. I've always loved going to parties and getting dressed up and I may have been perceived as a fashion victim in my teen years by wearing things that weren't so mainstream. But I was fiercely confident and had fun with it anyway. It was around this time that I started getting into vintage fashion, which influences me to this day, and started peppering my wardrobe with items that were electric and perhaps a little costumey.

As Ruby mentioned, we brought the cosplay bug out in each other. When the Halloween season rolled around, we were never satisfied buying mass produced costumes and pieced our own outfits together. I've been sewing since High School so costume building became a great outlet for that skill. The one convention that really sealed it for us was, and maybe it was the second convention we attended together, was Star Wars Celebration III in 2005.

Victoria: Do you make your own costumes?

Ruby: It all depends on the costume. Most of my costumes are partly scratch built/ commissioned / or sewn by Jennifer. Nothing is ever bought and worn off the rack. I keep having to tell people that my name is in no way associated with RUBIES costumes ;-)

Jennifer: I try to make as many of my costumes as I can. I would say that I've made 90% of my costumes. I've been sewing since my Junior year in High School and I continually build on my skills and try to learn new techniques so that I can try to make whatever I might like. Occasionally I will commission parts that I would be unable to create due to my limitation in skills or access to equipment or materials.

Victoria: If you had to select one, which one is your favorite costume to wear?

Ruby: Well our usual "go-to" costumes are our 1966 Batman and Batgirl costumes. Those are the ones we always anchor to. I also have additional favorites that I favor from year-to-year, such as Black Manta, and Solomon Grundy etc...

Jennifer: '60s TV Batgirl. There is no contest. I dreamed about having that costume ever since I was a little girl!

Victoria: How did the two of you meet?

Jennifer: The short story is that we met through a mutual friend that used to be a bandmate of Ruby's...... That's dull, so here's the fun, longer story. One of my friends, who was a coworker of mine at the time, used to frequent a weekly Punk Rock/Heavy Metal karaoke night with a live band at a club in on NYC's Lower East Side. He asked if I'd like to check it out because it was a lot of fun and a good show. So late one Monday night (This karaoke night was only held on Mondays) I showed up at the club and midway through the show, this guy named Ruby with shaggy black hair got on stage to sing a KISS song with the band. It was clear that this was not his first time on stage as he was doing a really good job of working the crowd and keeping the energy going. It was impressive considering that most of the singers were nervous wrecks or hopelessly intoxicated. As his finale to punctuate the final chord of the song, he took a seemingly giant leap into air. As they say in the Olympics, he didn't stick the landing and ended up falling backwards into the bass drum. I had a good chuckle and enjoyed the rest of the show. Some time elapsed and in conversation my friend told me he was going to be joining a KISS Tribute band and that this guy that I had seen wipeout on stage was in this band as well. It is a small world after all. Some time later we were introduced to each other and continued to run into each other at the same social functions. Eventually Ruby asked me for my phone number and we started dating. That was 11 years ago.

Ruby: Let me just add to this.... the funny thing is that I was frequenting this club because I was trying to get a lead singer for my band,.... I had no idea that once I found him, he would introduce me to my future fiance.

Victoria: Ruby,  at this years Dragoncon you proposed to Jennifer in front of a large crowd and Superman himself, Dean Cain, was there to help you pop the question. How did you pull that off?
Ruby: Okay, this is quite a bit of a story.... I knew (secretly) exactly one year prior in Dragon*Con 2011, that I wanted to propose at Dragon*Con 2012 and I wanted to do it BIG. (after 11 years of dating, it HAD to be big lol) Months later, in mid-summer 2012, I contacted Allan Lee Hansard of The Superhero Costuming Forum ( to ask if I can do this proposal during the annual D.C. Comics photo shoot at Dragon*Con. I originally was a bit sheepish in asking him, thinking that I might be stepping on toes or getting in his way by doing this. Lucky for me (and thank you again, Allan) he was more than happy in helping me make this moment happen for me.
...... Cut to Saturday September 1 2012, proposal day.... and Enter DEAN CAIN.
The "Dean-Cain-thing" didn't happen until the day of the proposal, about 3 hours prior. I had my plan set and ready to have it in motion. Only a select few of my friends knew of this planned. They included Bryan Morton, Bryan and Jennifer Nguyen, and Thad Laskowski. As fate would have it, Dean Cain was signing in the autograph room. Dean has known us from prior conventions and has always been great to us and even referring to us/remembering our names.
It was around that time that we had joked about getting DEAN to participate in the proposal in some way and it was Bryan Morton who took that somewhat seriously. In fact, the conversation was something like this....
Bryan Morton: "Dude,...I'll go ask Dean...... Bryan Nguyen, Thad and I will go to his table to ask!"
Ruby: "ARE YOU NUTS?!?!? lol Don't bother him man, I don't wanna be THAT kind of guy that bothers the celebs....."
Bryan Nguyen: "Don't worry man, he likes us. He won't get mad!"
Ruby: "Guys,..I can't STRESS about this now man.... I gotta get to the DC comics photo shoot. I'm nervous as it is to begin with, and now you wanna throw SUPERMAN in the mix???"
Bryan Morton: "It'll be fine. If he can't, then he can't... but what's the harm in trying?"
Ruby: Okay guys, I doubt this is gonna happen. Just text me and let me know whats up.....
And we went our separate ways. They left to visit DEAN, and I went with JENNIFER to the get ready for DC Comics shoot. What exactly happened within the next hour or so, I will never know, but I suddenly get a text from Bryan Morton stating....
"Dude... It's a GO. DEAN wants to do it"
WHAAAAAATTTTT???? Is this for real???
Upon texting back and forth to Bryan, he told me the logistics of this, that he and the guys had to wait until DEAN was finished and ready and escort him. They were also going to inform ALLAN LEE HANSARD of the Superhero Costuming Forum on the details and Dean's involvement. There was also one small detail that had to happen.... I had to surrender the RING to them.
Bryan Morton: "Dude you gotta give us your ring so we can have DEAN present it to you in public before you propose"...
....... and THAT leads me to the next question.....

Victoria: Were you nervous if Jennifer would accept your proposal?
Ruby: Yes I was, not only of her acceptance, but her reaction. After all this planning I was a bit nervous that she would think that this was a joke and not serious. There was a part of me worrying that she would think this is some bad prank or something. I was comfortable and secure that we both wanted to get to the next stage in our lives (I took a bit longer than her lol), I just hoped that she would be okay with how I did this.
I'm a worrier when it comes to logistics, and adding DEAN CAIN into this scenario made me more nervous. Having surrendered my ring to the guys (THAD to be exact), I was sweating under my BAT COWL, waiting for them to come. During the photo shoot I got the sense that ALLAN was stretching this shoot long to wait for DEAN to arrive. There was no DEAN, there was NO RING, so I was on pins and needles. Then all of a sudden, I hear on ALLAN's megaphone, "Will everyone please give a warm welcome and applause to Mr. DEAN CAIN....."
Dean Cain had arrived, and with my ring secretly in his pocket. He looked at me and winked/nodded.... and the rest was "RUBIFER HISTORY".
Victoria: Did you have any clue what was going on when Dean plucked you from the crowd?
JenniferI honestly didn't know though in retrospect I probably should have. There have been cute, unique things done at these group photos like holding up signs and taking photos for people who couldn't make it, singing "Happy Birthday," making video messages, etc. I really had no clue where this was going and actually was concerned that maybe someone had gotten their facts wrong and told Dean it was my birthday or got me mixed up with someone else. It didn't dawn on me until Dean pulled the ring box from his pocket.
Victoria: Will you be having a traditional wedding or will you be getting married in costume?
Ruby: We probably are leaning more towards the traditional side. DEFINITELY NO costumes. (There might be a little wink/dash of that Ruby & Jennifer "Spice" to it though). The advantage I had with the proposal was that it was up to me 100% as to what kind of a scenario I wanted it to be in. The wedding itself will probably involve the opinions/wishes of family etc. I can't really foresee asking my father to dress in spandex and a cape :/
Jennifer: It will definitely be in a traditional vein with some non-traditional touches. We definitely want our tastes to be represented while being able to accommodate our family's more traditional ideals.
Victoria: Have you set a wedding date?
JenniferWe don't have an exact date set but we have a time frame in mind. Ideally we would like to have it in May 2014.

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