Featured Cosplayer: Jamie Primack

BY JAMIE PRIMACK

Hi! My name is Jamie Primack and I’m a comic artist, illustrator, writer, and cosplayer. Those might seem like four very different interests and careers, but to me, they’re all just different forms of art. Growing up, I struggled with having far too many passions, so I often looked for ways I could combine them. For example, I love writing, and I love drawing, so creating comics was a way I could do both. In that same vein, cosplaying is another outlet I use to combine several of the creative pursuits that I love.

As a child, I started taking dance classes very young, and eventually, I became a competitive figure skater. Because I loved putting on costumes and performing for others, I was obsessed with Cirque du Soleil and dreamed of one day joining a circus. As I got older, my passion for performance art matured into a love of burlesque, drag shows, and cabaret, and I even went on to pursue pole dancing classes for a while. Because I enjoyed dressing up and performing, I naturally developed a passion for simply making my own costumes.

My illustrations are known for being extremely dark – often with an emphasis on body horror, sci-fi, cyborgs, and gothic fashion – so, a few years ago, my roommates and I started an annual tradition of challenging ourselves to make the best Halloween costumes possible, even if it meant starting them months in advance. My first serious cosplay for Halloween was Undyne from Undertale, followed the next year by Harley Quinn from The Birds of Prey, and then Blind Mag from Repo! The Genetic Opera. Each cosplay challenged me to learn new skills such as face painting and wig styling, but my most ambitious cosplay ended up being the Silent Hill nurse I created for Halloween 2022. I built the entire costume using fabric paints, homemade rust, plaster, and body paints, and I was thrilled with the results. I joined TikTok not long after and was surprised by the positive response my cosplay received – not only for its appearance but for the way I performed the inhuman motions of the monster. After years of being permanently parked at my desk writing and illustrating, I’d finally found a way to return to my roots as an athlete and performer.

Thus, I decided to start taking cosplay very seriously after the Silent Hill nurse, and I began to pursue cosplay as a full-time side project rather than an annual Halloween hobby. I started cosplaying characters from the Danganronpa series, starting with the iconic Junko Enoshima, then moving on to Kokichi Oma and Miu Iruma from Danganronpa V3. However, because my cosplays are homemade, I wanted to put my own personal spin on them. After all, it’s easy to spot one of my illustrations because I have a specific art style, and cosplay is just another form of art. So, I decided to start redesigning the costumes and makeup of the characters not only to reflect my own personal style but also to create looks I felt the characters themselves would enjoy.

When people think of my cosplay, the first thing that probably comes to mind is my use of rhinestone makeup. I like to joke that rhinestones have become my cosplay watermark. My illustrated art was already known for its use of metallic paints and starry ink splatters, so I wanted to turn myself into the kind of art I loved to draw. Every single one of the human cosplays that are currently in my online rotation involves the use of rhinestone face makeup that takes hours to apply. Further inspired by my love of circus fashion and burlesque, I often add heavy or clownlike makeup to the characters I cosplay, and all my costume redesigns involve the use of corsets, fingerless gloves, and intentionally visible safety pin decorations.

However, for the past few years, one of my dreams was to finally create a Five Nights at Freddy’s cosplay. With my love of sci-fi and horror, it was the perfect combination, but I was worried I didn’t have the skills necessary to create such an ambitious costume. However, when the Five Nights at Freddy’s movie release date was announced, I took it as a sign to finally give it a try.

Not to backtrack too much here, but I have some interesting history when it comes to animatronics. My dad loves to build robots, and the home I grew up in has dozens of homemade robots in every single room. Because of that, I knew I’d have access to a lot of useful supplies for my FNAF cosplay, and sure enough, my dad was able to provide me with endless spools of wires, tool boxes, and even a robot spider he suggested I dismantle for parts (for the record, I felt too guilty about taking apart the spider, so now she’s perched in my apartment living her best life).

From start to finish, my cosplay of Mangle from Five Nights at Freddy’s 2 took over three months to build. The iconic “Endo head” is a hand puppet I crafted out of cardboard, duct tape, acrylic paint, foam clay, rhinestones, wires, and a push-button light fixture. The hinge of the mouth was created using an old chewing gum container. I like to call this kind of crafting “junkyard cosplay,” and it’s my favorite way to build costumes. As for the rest of the Mangle costume, I handpainted a $3 masquerade mask, then created the wig using various hair extensions and wires. The arm straps and ear panels were made by chopping up an old corset I was no longer using. Most of the more robotic parts of the costumes were created by painting medical hoses, cable sleeves, and other small contraptions I found at a local store. The cage dress is also strewn with LED wires, and I was able to rig the blinking heart at the center of the cosplay so that I can push on the sternum in order to light it up.

While I may love creating cosplays, however, the performance aspect is my favorite part, and I spent months practicing the animatronic motions for Mangle. I even taught myself how to paddle ball, which is a reference to FNAF World. Elaborate cosplays like Mangle pose a huge challenge, of course, because my vision’s impaired by having only one eye, and that eye’s blurred by a vanity contact. On top of that, I lose the use of my dominant hand because repeatedly taking the Endo head on and off risks accidentally damaging the structure. Also, my cats think my cage dress is made out of snakes, so they love to attack it while I’m actively wearing it. However, I consider all the struggles (and accidental safety pin stabs) to be worth it because I love putting on a costume and becoming a brand-new character.

By day, I’m a socially awkward, introverted artist/writer who rarely leaves her desk or speaks to other human beings. I’m shy, anxious, and uncomfortable around people. But when I’m in cosplay, I suddenly have confidence, and I feel completely fearless and bold. I don’t worry about what people think of me, nor do I worry about embarrassing myself or acting like a fool. I’m finally free to have fun and be myself by becoming someone else. For me, my real face feels like a mask, but when I put on makeup and costumes, I finally shed the false skin and become my true self at last. When I’m in cosplay, I finally feel like I’m the person I always wanted to become.

That being said, nothing makes me happier than seeing other people enjoy my cosplays. I dress up for myself, but I create videos for the entertainment of others. I feel so much joy when people tell me my videos make them laugh, inspire them to draw, or give them ideas for their own cosplays. Being able to dress up and perform for others is truly a dream come true for me, and I want to start working on my next cosplay soon. I’d love to tackle another FNAF animatronic, and I’m hoping I can keep improving my skills with each new build. Maybe someday I’ll even work up enough courage to enter a cosplay contest!

If you’d like to see more of my cosplay content and art, or if you want to follow me to see what I’m working on next, you can find me pretty much anywhere on social media under either my name, Jamie Primack, or simply @jamieprimack. The absolute best place to follow me is on TikTok @jamieprimack where I post a new cosplay or art process video every single day!

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