App designer by day, cosplayer-burlesque performer by night
US cosplayer's costume for S'pore event will be beautiful, 'not skimpy'
As a cosplayer who also does burlesque performances, it's surprising to learn that Stella Chuu is also a full-time mobile app designer.
"I really enjoy being part of two different industries - cosplay and tech," the 26-year-old American-Chinese told The New Paper over the phone from her native New York.
"I'm actually quite a geeky person... 40 hours a week, I'm working on apps, and then at night, I'm working on my cosplay costumes. As cosplayers, we are quite geeky people and prefer to stay home and play video games and watch TV," she said, with a laugh.
But Chuu is no wallflower.
She is very proud of her voluptuous 33C-26-36 figure and doesn't mind showing it off.
"Because I do burlesque, I'm very comfortable being almost naked in front of a crowd," she said.
Burlesque is the art of teasing audiences with elements of striptease.
Dubbed the Anime Princess of Burlesque, Chuu - who is 1.55m tall and weighs 54kg - is used to wearing very little for these shows.
She doesn't bat an eyelid doing the same at cosplay events - but only if they are appropriate for the occasion.
Chuu, who boasts a fan base of 581,000 Facebook followers and is friends with fellow high-profile cosplayers like Yaya Han and Vampy Bit Me, said one of her most risque outfits was showcased at last year's fantasy and sci-fi convention Dragon Con in Atlanta, Georgia.
"I wore a thong and a top showing underboob, but only because that convention is (for) over-18 (attendees) only.
"When I'm at conventions with children present, I'll wear something more conservative, out of respect."
Her most popular cosplays include Ivy Valentine from fighting game SoulCalibur, Supergirl Kai, a reimagined model of DC's Supergirl by Square Enix and Play Arts,and her burlesque routine as Quorra from the 2010 movie Tron: Legacy.
Chuu will be in town for this year's Singapore Toy, Game & Comic Convention (STGCC) next month and will dress as Tharja from Nintendo video game series Fire Emblem.
"I'm working on my costume now, and it's a beautiful costume, rather than a skimpy one."
While adolescent boys may be disappointed, Chuu's decision is a sound one, given the controversy a revealing cosplay outfit caused at a previous convention here.
In 2013, police were called to the Anime Fest Asia at the Suntec Convention & Exhibition Centre by an older woman outraged by a young female cosplayer's outfit.
The cosplayer, who bared the lower half of her chest and midriff, was reportedly grabbed by the older woman and left the event in tears.
Though the incident was settled amicably, it sparked debate on whether some cosplay outfits are too indecent for public display.
Chuu believes audiences are tired of simply seeing skimpy costumes, and are more interested in costume craftsmanship.
"For the last few years, there's been a saturation of sexy costumes in the cosplay scene.
"I think people would rather share a picture of a well-made set of armour or crazy hair than (one) of a sexy girl."
Chuu, who has three sisters, says her family supports her cosplay hobby and understands her love for it.
"(They're) like, 'You go do your weird thing'," she said, laughing. "Sometimes, I turn down invitations to family dinners because I'm rushing to finish sewing a costume."
To keep looking fit and fabulous in these costumes, Chuu works out in the gym five times a week and eats as healthily as possible.
"It's hard because I have a weakness for cakes," she admitted.
"But I mostly eat clean. I just had a chicken salad for dinner."
Recently married, Chuu met her husband when they worked together at the Apple store, where he's still an employee.
Chuu is excited to attend STGCC, as it marks her first cosplay convention in Asia.
"I've heard Singapore is a luxurious city, and the weather will be hot! I'm looking forward to being there as I've only been to conventions in the US and South America."
And if you feel nervous about approaching Chuu at STGCC, she assures us she enjoys talking to fans and gets awkward in front of celebrities too.
"I'm terrible talking to people who are even a little bit famous. I met YouTube personality Markiplier recently and embarrassed myself by pronouncing his name wrong!
"But I've been very lucky with my own fans, as they're very chill and don't make me feel weird."
Singapore Toy, Game & Comic Convention
Marina Bay Sands, Sands Expo and Convention Centre, Level 1, Halls B and C
Sept 12 and 13, 10am-8pm
$19 for one-day tickets, $28 for two-day tickets and $100 for VIP tickets. Visit www.singaporetgcc.com for a list of authorised retailers.