For some people, the magic of Halloween is in the costume. We talked to nine Cincinnatians about costume creation, their favorite Halloween memories, and what they have on the docket for this holiday.
Name: Amaji Finnell
Occupation: Photographer, Majide Photography
How did you get into costuming? When I was around 12, I found out about anime conventions. I used to only go all-out twice a year: Ohayocon and Halloween. But when I was around 18, that all changed. I had a friend who was big into cosplay and pushed me to do whatever character I wanted and to make costumes with her. I ended up falling in love.
Are you a big fan of Halloween? Am I? I’ve loved Halloween since I was old enough to know what it was. Favorite time of year, for sure!
What’s your favorite Halloween memory? My mom couldn’t afford [for] me to get a new costume every year, so I remember having to wear the same costume until it no longer fit. I remember getting to go to Party City and pick out my new costume and I had stars in my eyes. I picked out a renaissance costume I still have to this day.
What costumes are you most excited about now? I’m doing two cosplays with my cousin—Velma and Daphne from Scooby Doo and Raven and Starfire from Teen Titans. Just by myself, I’ll be doing Tiffany from Bride of Chucky and a female Jason Voorhees.
Has the pandemic changed your approach to costuming at all? It’s made me slow down making costumes, and I don’t get to be a part of big groups. I end up cosplaying with just my closest friends or alone. During the summer, we used to wear costumes to the arcade or parks, the mall, just to have fun and take photos. That’s a little too hard now with the pandemic.
Name: Dorasae Rosario (a.k.a. Akakioga Cosplay)
Occupation: Mental health therapist
How did you get into costuming? When I was around 12 years old, my mom and I went to my very first convention. I had no idea what cosplay [costume play] was. We were both really into anime, so I asked if we could go for my birthday. As soon as we got there, I was blown away at how many people were in costume dressed as some of my favorite anime characters. I started making my own cosplays around 16 and it really took off when I was in college. Now, I make the majority of my costumes from scratch.
Are you a big fan of Halloween? Halloween is fun! Cosplayers usually use it as a day to wear something simple. I like wearing some of my costumes to pass out candy to the kids in the neighborhood. I definitely wouldn’t wear any of my complex costumes, but it’s a super fun holiday and I love participating in it!
What’s your favorite Halloween memory? My husband and I went to Ireland for our honeymoon and we happened to stay at a castle resort called Dromoland Castle on Halloween night! The castle was gorgeous, but what made it so special were the amount of kids running around in costumes! I wore my Princess Zelda cosplay and all the kids followed me around calling me “princess” as I walked by them. It was definitely the most memorable Halloween we’ve ever had.
What costumes are you most excited about now? Now I’m into building a lot of costumes from video games I currently play. I’ve been really into Final Fantasy XIV and Mass Effect, so I will definitely be making some costumes from those two games.
Do you have any special appearances/events scheduled this month? None for October. My last convention in 2022 will be Holiday Matsuri in Orlando.
Name: Stixen Stones
Occupation: Full-time drag performer
How did you get into costuming? I got into costuming when I was younger, which led me to getting a degree in costuming for theater.
Are you a big fan of Halloween? I love Halloween! I am known around the drag scene as the Halloween queen. I’m usually performing Halloween night, so I don’t get to celebrate the same way. But working at Halloween Haunt at Kings Island was one of my favorite ways to celebrate the holiday.
What costumes are you most excited about now? I’m excited for a creepy tooth fairy look that I’ll be working on. I usually do a costume theme for every Halloween season, so this year I’ll be focusing on urban legends, which I’m excited about.
Name: Kat Starrett (a.k.a. Teknicolor Caliko)
Occupation: Works at White Pavilion, a leather goods shop that travels to renaissance faires around the country.
How did you get into costuming? I’ve loved wearing costumes since I was a little kid. Growing up we had a couple chests in the basement full of random clothing, accessories, etc., that my sisters and I would play dress up with. Attending my first anime convention in 2008, my friends and I all decided to wear costumes. [That] pushed my love for costuming further.
Are you a big fan of Halloween? Halloween has always been my favorite holiday. I love seeing the different costumes, dressing up in costumes, getting decorations, attending haunts, etc. I honestly enjoy everything about that time of year.
What’s your favorite Halloween memory? If I had to pick one, it would have to be the time I made my little brother a grim reaper costume. I made the costume from scratch and bought him a scythe to go with it. He absolutely loved wearing it.
What costumes are you most excited about now? I have couple in the works or in the planning stages. I’m working on a fantasy shaman/witch outfit which is a smaller project for me but I’m excited about it. My next big project is something from the game Elden Ring, which is going to take me awhile to make, but I’m excited about that one as well.
Has the pandemic changed your approach to costuming at all? The pandemic put everything on hold for me. The costumes I build aren’t always cheap, so I had to choose eating or costumes. I chose eating! But I’ve reached a point where I can start making things and attending events again, which I’m more than ready for.
Do you have any special appearances/events scheduled for this month? I’ll be working the Ohio Renaissance Festival during Halloween, which is always a fun weekend for the kids.
Name: Mike Rochester
Occupation: Haunt actor/entertainer
How did you get into costuming? I started doing costumes as a kid when I saw the movie Batman Returns and made myself a water-shooting umbrella.
Are you a big fan of Halloween? I am Halloween. I’ve always enjoyed haunted houses. I volunteered at St. Rita’s haunted house when I was around 13. I feel sad for anyone who does costuming but somehow isn’t into Halloween…just seems counterproductive [laughs].
What’s your favorite Halloween memory? Doing a parade of costumes at my elementary school or doing a haunted sleepover at my intermediate school.
What costumes are you most excited about now? I’m excited to finish my version of the Green Goblin. It’s really going to be more like the hobgoblin in terms of design and look but inspired by Willem Dafoe’s version from the Sam Raimi movies.
Do you have any special appearances/events scheduled this month? With any luck, I’ll be back at Kings Island as a feature creature for one more year of fun and fright as Dr. Sharp!
Name: Megan Carriger
Occupation: Jewelry maker, Mirabellaz Menagerie
How did you get into costuming? I’ve always loved it!
Are you a big fan of Halloween? Yes, it’s a 24/7 lifestyle for me.
What’s your favorite Halloween memory? My mother making me and my sisters these amazing fairy costumes with sheer curtains, paint, and glitter.
What costumes are you most excited about now? I’ve been dying to tackle Mina’s red bustle dress from Bram Stoker’s Dracula.
Do you have any special appearances/events scheduled for October? I have a shop out at Terror Town in Williamsburg. It’s such an amazing place. It’s like ren fair for horror, the spooky, and lovers of Halloween.
Name: Loren Muzzy
Occupation: Freelance artist/entertainer (emcee, singer)
How did you get into costuming? I blame my parents’ friends and my late-October origin—I share a birthday with Bela Lugosi—with an early exposure to disguises.
Are you a big fan of Halloween? I’ve always loved the spooky side of life. October 365!
What’s your favorite Halloween memory? My 18th birthday. It was the opening night of Count Dracula in a local community theater—champagne, cake, and I in the titular role. The audience sang to me.
What costumes are you most excited about now? I’m resurrecting old gear, assembling a couple original Necromancer looks.
Do you have any special appearances/events scheduled for this month? I am slated to once again emcee and perform at the Cincinnati Witches’ Ball, and sincerely hope to resume work with local dancer/teacher Zahara and her Tangled Web.
Name: Robert Dorsey
Occupation: Healthcare worker, musician/performer.
How did you get into costuming? I’ve always had a “stage wardrobe,” and enjoyed opportunities to create and wear costumes for specific themed events, and annually for as many Halloween events as I could plan to attend. In the last decade, I’ve enjoyed doing these with my wife and three kids, for steampunk events, Halloween, and now for the Ohio Renaissance Festival each year.
Are you a big fan of Halloween? From childhood, I’ve been excited and fascinated by the chance to spend a night completely inhabiting another personality and appearance. I’ve shared this with my kids since they were little, and a couple have made that transition from Halloween being a candy-focused event to a costume/acting event with friends.
What’s your favorite Halloween memory? When I was 12, I spent a week repainting a latex werewolf mask, repurposing a batting helmet, and creating an “orc” costume because of my interest in both LOTR [Lord of the Rings] and D&D. No one in my rural Ohio village had any idea what I was, but thrillingly, they also had no idea who I was, including my sister and brother-in-law when I trick-or-treated at their houses.
What costumes are you most excited about now? I want to do a casual earthly Odin from the Marvel films, with my three kids dressed as Hela, Thor, and Loki. Not sure when that will happen, but I’ve wanted to do it ever since it occurred to me.
Do you have any special appearances/events scheduled for October? I will be appearing every weekend in September and October at the Ohio Renaissance Festival as my solo act (Robert the Barrrd!) playing sets of songs throughout the day at my gazebo in front of the Rose & Crown Pub.
Name: Michael Wong
Occupation: Manages a full-service restaurant
Are you a big fan of Halloween? I did my first Halloween costume contest when I was in the first grade. I didn’t win so I guess that’s when the costume bug hit me.
What’s your favorite Halloween memory? My favorite Halloween memory is now winning Live with Kelly and Ryan in 2019 after trying 11 times. I got to meet two superstars, got introduced by Ryan Seacrest as the winner as if I was on American Idol, and interviewed after the contest live on air, and they had never done that before. It was very surreal. Equal to making it to the Showcase Showdown in 1998 on The Price is Right.
What costumes are you most excited about now? I still want to build an invisible man style Yummy Mummy but have been procrastinating a bit!
How much did the pandemic limit your competition schedule in 2020 and 2021? The pandemic did limit my contest choices, but I still managed to compete in five or six competitions in 2020.
What competitions do you have coming up this fall? I’m planning on doing some more Michigan Halloween contests, the occasional con if they pop up, and maybe a local Halloween contest or two.