Des is an event host in Scotland and has had the opportunity to travel around the country meeing new people. Des agreed to tell us about what it's like being and event organiser and a cosplayer.
So Des, tell me about yourself?
That supporter of question, I am male, Caucasian, early 30s…. This is not sort of thing you’re looking
for is it [laughs] I am an Irish actor, former stand-up comedian slash stage host who is very into the
cosplay community. I came over from Ireland to Edinburgh to study drama and that has led me to
this career of stage hosting at events. Which I love.
What made you choose to be an event host?
I sort of just fell into it, I think it was 2015 for the first Edinburgh comic con I entered the cosplay
competition as Dr Spengler from Ghostbuster and I came second. After that the event organiser had
asked me to post thereafter, and then I enjoyed doing that. After that the organisers from capital sci-
fi con had asked me to do the same. It just spiralled from there. There is no interesting story I just
tripped and fell into it in a good way.
Would you say you’re a people person then?
Absolutely, whenever someone asks me that, I think of a quote, I’m a huge fan of quotes, I always of
Steve Rogers from Captain America who says “my faith is in people. Individuals. I am happy to say
that, for the most part, they haven’t let me down.” I really like that that. I enjoy being around people
I enjoy talking to them finding out the interest their hobby is what makes them tick and very
introverted myself, like most nerdy people, so I like my own time myself.
Do you find this job stressful?
Yes, it can be for particular conventions. For most first-time conventions they don’t have a full grasp
of what it takes to be a stage host. I won’t name any names, but they expect it to be an easy job,
you’re just up there talking, they want you there by 11 o’clock in the morning and finish 5:30, is no
breaks, no food, no water for seven hours straight. So that can be a very difficult part. And timing
can be a very difficult element, so when you’re doing something like a cosplay contest these people
put a lot of effort into their costumes, I don’t want them to be on stage for just 10 seconds while I
say who they are, they pose and that’s them off stage. I like to talk to them and find out why they
did that costume, many characters of different costumes, so why they chose that particular one. It
takes a lot of nerve to go up on the stage in the first place and I don’t want to dismiss that. I want to
celebrate that they have come up there and show off their costume and ask them questions like why
they have chosen to wear it. But when you’re doing that and event organiser is clicking their fingers
and tapping their watch it ruins the momentum and that is an element of pressure it can be very
very stressful. It’s not an easy job but it is something that I thoroughly enjoy.
Coming from a cosplay point of view, I know how much it takes time and money it takes to do a
cosplay. I don’t want to dismiss that. Cosplay and pop culture has really exploded over the years with
good quality TV shows like the revival of Doctor Who, firefly, Star Wars, Marvel series, DC movies, it
really has made pop culture open to everyone. And cosplay is no exception to that. It has really
come into the light as well. It used to be very dismissed whenever I was growing up like “oh look at
those weird people who read comic books and all watch those particular shows” but the more you
think about it this type of nerdy element is everywhere. Just because you’re nerdy about comic
books doesn’t mean you can’t have people who are nerdy about soap operas, people who are nerdy
about celebrities. Things can be a little bit more obscure about what we want, and when you find
people who want to cosplay make those costumes I would never dismiss that. I want to show the
passion that goes into these things.
What would you say your favourite part is about the job?
Do I just have to choose one, can I choose several? [Rebecca nods “go ahead”] oh great, meeting the
cosplayers, sharing the stage with people who I admire, getting to go to these conventions all over
Scotland and the UK, hopefully abroad in the future. To see these people both on and off the stage
to talk to them and find out more about them. Meeting really enthusiastic cosplayers that have met
other conventions and come to say hello to me. There is no major thing that I would say would be
my favourite part of this, it’s a combination of things that make it enjoyable. There are a few
elements that are tough about this job, but the pros definitely outweigh the cons. I’m a nerd that
gets to participate in hugely nerdy things. What’s not to love about that. I’ve met some truly
amazing people that am proud to call my friends and the second and most important one thanks to
being a cosplayer I met my future wife. A young photography student who put out a Facebook post
that she wanted cosplayers for her final project for college and I had responded that I had cosplayed
as 10 th Doctor and Doctor Spengler from Ghostbuster. Went there did the photo shoot, and that sort
of lead to where we are now. I think if I hadn’t been a cosplayer I wouldn’t have met her. The thing I
love the most about being a cosplay is that it got me lifelong friends and a wife.
What are your responsibilities as an event host?
Before this, when I went conventions, I would go watch certain panels, you see event hosts op there
and they asked the standard question that they have googled and you can see they don’t have a
passion for it, so this allows me combined my interests and hobbies into this job. I know most of
these characters because I’ve seen them, I know them I know why piece people resonate to them be
they Marvel, DC, I know what that element is and that is both good and bad. I used to watch movies
and TV shows because I used to like it, but now I have to keep on top of all the culture to be on in
touch with the fans and understand why they do these things. Anime is a bugger because it is just
exploding everywhere I don’t have the time to watch every anime show everywhere so that can be
particularly difficult. That and doing some conventions that haven’t got a full grasp on how stressful
these elements can be and I don’t want that to reflect on people who are the up there on stage, I try
and keep the stress level down for people to enjoy themselves, that can be very very difficult and
you try and be all smiles and happy but internally you’re worried about the time, things are coming
up in the cosplay contest, what cosplays are going to be there on and off stage. Those elements are
what you need to look out for when you’re at a convention. It really isn’t just getting on stage and
talking for hours on end, I really wish it was but some conventions are not like that. It takes a long
time to get that skill down. Some days go well and some days less so but it something you have to
learn but it’s a trial by fire. Or goblet of fire if you will.
what others other skill have you learnt on the job?
This is a weird sort of one, but I have had to learn how to register with people. When you get a
cosplayer on stage, you can tell by the way they talk to you, by what character they’ve chosen to tell
whether or not they are confident on stage. There was a girl at a convention that I met recently in
the north of Scotland who had dressed as Arya Stark from Game of Thrones. This was her first
cosplay and was very nervous about how people would respond to her.It wasn’t for a cosplay
competition, it was just for a masquerade so she just wanted to show off her costume but she was
very quiet and used single word responses to questions so I was able to register that and allowed her
to show off her amazing costume which was really well done by the way and keep the question short
and let her off the stage with that. A few people later there was a young fella who was cosplaying as
the Joker and he came on and was very loud so I just gave him the stage, there was no point me
trying to control that, he was very excited. So just let him show off on stage, if you wanted to betray
that character let him do that. But only give him enough to do what he wants to do. If you give
someone too much rope they will hang themselves with it, if you give them too much leeway they
will do something that could be potentially harmful to them, which did happen at a few conventions
unfortunately. I girl once came up as Catwoman and try to do a cartwheel and failed, another girl
dress as spiderman came on and through her knee out. We thought that was part of her routine
until she wouldn’t stop screaming in pain, so we had to cut the music and clear the room and call an
ambulance. So those type of elements can happen, so you have to give people freedom for people
to show off their cosplay who are confident but be in control enough to take them off the stage
when you feel they are done. There is a lot in this job that I have learnt and a lot and hopefully learn
loads more in years to come.
What would say are your personal highlights?
Meeting two doctors, Paul McGann and Sylvester McCoy who are delightful people, so sweet and
lovely. Working with many organisers who are open to ideas and questions and are very supportive.
Favourite parts… Okay so for the first cosplay competition I was hosting a lady went on as a human
representation of the TARDIS from the doctor’s wife and her costume was amazing really well done
but she had a surprise within the costume. As soon has she had done the speech from the episode
she turned around and turned into the TARDIS. Which was amazing, it was so simple, she had a
towel of the TARDIS sewn into the back of the dress which was propped on two sticks, so that as
soon as she was done, she would turn lift the sticks up and would revert back into being the TARDIS
which was amazing I have never seen anything like that before and since. It was incredible. I’ve seen
so many weird and interesting and truly jawdropping cosplay and to see them on stage is amazing so
not only do I get the chance to meet many actors that I’ve admired through films and TV shows and
grown up with, I’ve met some truly talented cosplay is and had the chance to talk to them on stage.
So this started because you were a cosplayer yourself. How long have you been cosplaying for?
I would say from about 2010-11, I got my first element of my cosplay in the most embarrassing way
possible. I used the last of my student grant to purchase a proton pack from eBay. You can’t have the
proton pack without the rest of the uniform, it’s just wrong. So I spent the next few years getting the
suit, the belt, the boots, then I started making the props like the trap, the power goggles. Things just
escalated from there, buying a few things here are a few things there. I was just in love with the
David Tennant’s representation of the tenth Doctor so I got that suit and wore it for most of my
university days. It was probably 2014 when I went to my first proper convention as a cosplayer, so
maybe a good few years. As far as I remember “cosplay” as a relatively new term, people would
usually just say they would “go in costume” it’s only recently that I started during that term and
adapting it to my vocabulary. Costuming has been around for a long time but I think the term of
cosplay is only recent. Because most people don’t wear a costume and walk around with that most
people become that character and that is cosplay, to me.
To have any future cosplay plans?
Yes. There will be a bit of a wait but would like to do Steve Rogers the MCU version of Captain
America because I think he’s the most interesting character in that series. He has this unwavering
sense of right. In his first movie he says that he doesn’t want to kill anyone he just doesn’t like bullies
and he has had that throughout all the movies. And I adore that character, I adore his questions. To
be honest, I just want his shield, plus it would be something more comfortable to wear.
I’m also working on an eleventh doctor cosplay so hopefully that will be with us within the next year
or so after my wedding. I do quite like the idea of doing the variations of our han solo so if I had to
pick to it would probably be Steve Rogers and han Solo.
Who do you admire? Who is someone that you look up to?
When I was growing up I had a connection with Dr Spengler from Ghostbusters. I connected more
with characters who tended to be the tech nerds. From Ghostbusters it was Dr Spengler, from the
Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles it was Dotello, from Power Rangers it was Billy, so characters who not
as much strong of body but strong of mind. And that’s how I kind of you myself. Now that have
grown up I see past the characters and more the person who portrayed them. Because a trained to
be an actor I admire actors and the way that they do things. I’m always interested to see who takes
the role of the doctor because he has a very specific moral compass and the person that plays them
can take that into any direction. Like with Christopher Ecclestone you could see his character as
someone who started off as very dark because of what he did in the time war until he turned into
David Tennant. David Tennant was a bit lighter of character but still had a dark side to him and then
you had Matt Smith whose very foppish and quirky with the way he dressed. But I love how Matt
Smith was the youngest person to play that part and how had this amazing ability of showing the age
of that character.He was only 25 when he took on the role but certain times you could see the 1500
years of that character, and I love that about actors. When you get a really good actor and a really
good character you can merge them together. Can you see anyone else play Tony Stark other than
Robert Downey Jr? Probably not because he went through all that stuff, he went through all the
alcohol and the drug abuse, so he could see that character as someone who can be reformed and
that was great. There is no single person I admire it’s a combination of people. I think the people
worth admiring don’t have to be famous or rich or popular, pages have to be who they are and be
happy with that, and I really like about some people.
What’s next for you?
Keep doing what I’m doing. I don’t have an end goal. When I came to Edinburgh I wanted to be an
actor and when that fell through I wanted to be a stand-up comedian and I didn’t enjoy that, so I
have just fallen into this and I really love that I get to do this as a sideline job. I’m happy with my
little corner that I have built for myself. I’m going to keep doing what I’m doing, get married and just
enjoy anything that comes my way as much as possible.