Welcome to Cosplay Corner, the first in a series of interviews with some of our favorite cosplayers. Our inaugural interview will feature none other than Las Vegas local cosplayer and philanthropist, Lara Duffin a.k.a. Viva Wonder Woman!
Thank you for taking the time out to speak with us today. Let’s start off easy, why Wonder Woman?
I fell in love with Wonder Woman back in the day when Lynda Carter was playing her on television. I always wanted to be Wonder Woman. I actually have a picture I drew of myself at the age of four as Wonder Woman. I still have it, it says "Lara, 4" in my little crooked handwriting. She’s just always been my favorite person, so it was just easy.
Wasn’t it not too long ago that you posted a picture of you as a little girl dressed as Wonder Woman?
Yes, yes! I have tons of pictures, I even have my original Underoos! [laughs] It goes way back like thirty-something years.
Are there any other characters that you cosplay as?
Yes. So, I have my own costume business and we specialize in sexy women’s costumes. Any of the costumes that we design and make, I cosplay and model. I have been, wow, Harley Quinn, Poison Ivy, Huntress, Batgirl, Punisher, Phoenix, Dark Phoenix, White Phoenix, Captain America, Elektra, and it goes on and on. I’m actually working on a Sailor Moon right now for the Los Angeles Anime Expo, so that will be my first anime inspired costume, and I’m a little nervous.
That sounds fun though, it’ll be something new and different.
Yeah, anime is kind of weird, though. Those fans are intense, it makes me nervous. I have to do all my homework on Sailor Moon, I don’t really know all that much about her.
Yeah, anime fans can get pretty intense about their cosplay.
I know! I mean, Sailor Moon has so many versions and each one is different. Jewels here, a broach there, so you gotta make sure you get everything right with the right version.
How long have you actually been cosplaying?
Only, I think, four years. So, not that long. It’s only been in the last couple of years that I’ve gotten really serious about it. Before that it was just making costumes and having fun.
With that, are you an actual comic book fan?
Yes, but, I don’t read tons of comics. I mean, I love superheroes and stuff. And when I do it’s pretty much only ones with Wonder Woman in them. I will read others though, like Blackest Night, I’ll read that because Wonder Woman looked awesome in that black and silver outfit, but I would never read a Green Lantern comic other than that. [Laughs] That’s my rule: If Wonder Woman is in it, I’m down.
So your favorite comic is obviously Wonder Woman.
Well, I do love that Superman/Wonder Woman comic book in the New 52 where they’re boyfriend and girlfriend! That’s a good one, too! They’re like “I love you!” and kissing and kicking butt, it’s awesome!
What’s your favorite movie?
Well, can I count DC animated movies cause they’re my favorite?
They’re awesome! I love Under The Red Hood, Flashpoint, and Apocalypse because Wonder Woman is just super awesome in that one, that was a really good portrayal of her. She’s not even in Under The Red Hood and I love that one. They should make a live-action version of those, it’d be a good movie.
You would think so, but they’re too busy making Batman fighting Superman.
Exactly, let’s hope that movie turns out well. I’m a little nervous. There’s Wonder Woman in that one. I want them to get it right so that way we can get a Justice League movie. I’m a total DC girl, so I want DC to start taking over the box office again.
Did you ever watch the pilot for the Wonder Woman TV show that fell through?
Yeah, with Adrianne Palicki. I wasn’t a fan of her costume or the story, that was kind of a downer. It was this shiny blue awkward stuff, so from a costume designer point-of-view, I just didn’t like that.
Do you follow what other cosplayers are doing?
No [laughs]. I just do my own thing. In fact, when I started doing it, I didn’t realize there were “cosplayers” and there was this hierarchy, and even famous ones. I just thought we were all in costume having fun. So for the longest time I didn’t realize there were cool ones to follow. Occasionally I’ll see a picture online of someone and I think it’s really cool, but I don’t follow anyone.
Now, you were saying that you make all your own costumes.
Yes, I make them and have a business where we actually sell my costumes all over the world. We’ve shipped to places like Brazil, Denmark, Australia, New Zealand, Canada, United Kingdom, and all over the U.S. So people are actually wearing the same costumes I wear, all over the world.
About how long does it take to make one?
It depends. I’ve gotten so big that I’ve had to hire people who work for me that make different parts. If we really had to we could turn one around in like 4 or 5 days. For a custom costume, I feel like that’s pretty good.
I saw on the site that you actually have costumes for kids as well.
Yeah, yeah, my sister does a whole line of costumes for kids. Mostly girls, but there are a few boy's things there and they’re pretty cute! They’re fun!
Moving on to your charity work, what is Heartfelt Heroes?
Heartfelt Heroes is a full non-profit organization. It just allows me to do any type of charity work superhero related. Actually, last Saturday on the 16th marked 3 years that I’ve been doing charity work as Wonder Woman, but I didn’t actually start the non-profit until last year. I go to hospitals, women’s shelters, schools dressed as Wonder Woman. We do special events, we partnered with McDonald’s last weekend and did a book drive for those in low income areas so they could have books for the kids. The weekend before I did a baseball game for The Miracle League; they take adults and kids with either physical or cognitive disabilities and teach them how to play baseball. I also have a program called Kids For a Cause, where people nominate kids around the country with special situations such as a disability or a loved one passed, and I make them a custom superhero cape in their favorite color with their initial on it. If they’re local, I deliver it in costume and if not I make a video in costume telling them that Wonder Woman made the cape. It’s like a part time job, I have 2 more charity events this coming Saturday, it’s just a little crazy.
Yeah, from what I see you’re pretty busy consistently with this.
I know! I’m in my Underoos like half the week! I’m either in gym clothes or Wonder Woman, there’s no in-between, ever. [Laughs] It’s busy, for sure!
Are there any other charities that you work with?
Yes, we pair with a few. There’s one called Comic Books for the Masses, that was founded by Mark Navin, he does a lot of the same things we do, so he comes to the women’s shelter with us every month. Then we just got partnered with Win Win Entertainment, it’s a huge local non-profit and they local headliners and entertainers from The Strip and put them into different charity opportunities. They’re the ones who put with the baseball league. We’ll also be doing things with the military. Comic Care in Phoenix, AZ also. For the most part, if anyone has any charities that will work with Wonder Woman, I’m down.
I noticed you partner with Jay Bosworth quite a bit.
Jay from Maximum Comics, yeah. I’ve been to his shops for Free Comic Book Day and other events he has. I’ve been with Jay at the Comic Cons, and in fact, on the 30-31 of this month, I’ll be at his booth for the LVL UP Expo! I’ve never been to a video game Con before, I’m sure it’s like a Comic Con right?
My experience with LVL UP is that it’s not as big as the Comic Cons but their fans there are, in my opinion, a lot more hardcore about cosplay. They get the video game, card game, and sometimes comic book cosplayers, too.
Oh, dang! I gotta be all legit! Well Wonder Woman is showing up so they better get excited for that! [Laughs] I think Wonder Woman works in any place right? I feel like she’s just awesome no matter where she is! We’ll see, I don’t have a video game cosplay so…
Are there any other upcoming appearances?
Okay, then there’s the Amazing Las Vegas Comic Con in June. I’ll be going to the Los Angeles Anime Expo with Flex Comics, they actually sponsor me. Then, still figuring it out, but pretty sure I’ll be at a booth at San Diego Comic Con, so I’m really excited for that! That is so far, I’ll post more when they come up.
You’ve gotta have one good story from a Con or something about a creepy fan.
Well, I have what I call “Linger Longers.” They’re the guys that just kind of linger right there, you know? There’s always a linger longer somewhere next to me. That’s why I always bring my “handler” who is my husband, so he can slowly step in. Or the Flex Comics guys are these big buff guys who can step in if need be. My husband is my handler, photographer, my airbrush tanner, my lipstick/gloss holder, he has to do everything. [Laughs] He’s kind of the one-man-show to keep everything going. I tell him, “I know you love it, because when we’re at the Cons you can turn to people and be all, yeah Wonder Woman is my wife.” But I can’t think of a creepy story off the top of my head, I know there’s been some… I think people are extra creepier online than maybe in person. In person you get the guy that always wants to touch me or touch my pantyhose. There’s a whole pantyhose fetish thing. But, online I think it’s no holds barred, so they just say stuff that is totally inappropriate. I gotta stay on top of it and delete comments all the time.
So who is Flex Comics?
They are where fitness and comics collide! That’s they’re motto. It’s a free digital comic strip about fitness related stuff, but then they make merchandise like t-shirts that are all superhero related. Like, Wonder Woman doing squats and it says, “You Wonder Why I Do This, I Wonder Why You Don’t.” The picture has her squatting and her butt is this perfect little round thing. Then there’s the Thor one and he’s lifting a huge barbell with one hand it says “Dost Thou Even Lift?”, so it’s really cool. They sponsor me as a cosplayer, so I model all their female fitness stuff and then they donate 20% of their sales to Heartfelt Heroes. It’s really awesome.
Where can people follow you?
If they want to buy a costume then , they can contact me on Viva Wonder Woman. If they want to just follow me then I’m on Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter at @vivawonderwoman. But, I’ll be honest, my Twitter is super lame, and my Instagram is slightly less lame. I don’t know, for some reason Facebook just works better for me. So, I sometime neglect the other accounts. Heartfelt Heroes and Flex Comics also has Facebook pages, just type in their names and like them!