In 2012, we took the time to interview Genevieve Lesch; a local cosplayer who goes by the name of KomboKitten. She was also our very first South African Vamers Virago.
Now, five years later, I have had the privilege of ‘touching base’ with KomboKitten in order to see how she has been and what has transpired since we last spoke to her. In short, when she is not kicking butt in the cosplay world, KomboKitten fills her days with work at Raru, and continues to keep herself both spiritually and physically fit, all whilst continuing to play a role in her community.
[Editor’s note: the following interview has been edited for spelling and grammar only]
Cosplayer Spotlight: KomboKitten
Real name: Genevieve Lesch
Current Location: The Mother City
How have you been since your first interview with Vamers and being our inaugural South African Vamers Virago?
Thanks for having me back! It has been a beautiful and intense journey for me since our last interview, not only creatively but also spiritually. I have persevered through the most difficult hardships I have yet experienced & found myself in the process.
You mentioned that you were pursuing some personal goals with your Executive management diploma?
Yes, I completed that. It lasted for two years after which I immediately began working in that industry (administration). I spent seven years working admin in the manufacturing industry. However, in March 2017, I was headhunted by Raru. Now I do accounting, administration and some customer service related work for them. It really is a dream setting for me to work in during business hours. A thriving online retailer where I am surrounded by amazing people who are huge geeks, just like I am, and also who create amazing things! The universe is being really good to me!
Where in the world are you now?
I am still based in the Western Cape, behind the Boerewors Curtain as the souties put it, lol!
Is KomboKitten still the South African representative for “I Love Nerd Girls” and an active ambassador for Mixed Chicks?
I don’t represent I Love Nerd Girls right now, besides in my heart of course. That was a fun exercise at the time. Currently I also do not maintain membership in any gaming clan. Mixed Chicks disbanded since back then, but it was a lot of fun while it lasted!
What is your feel on the current Cosplay scene and are you still quite involved, not only as a cosplayer but a costumer as well?
Cosplay is my secondary career right now. I am very much involved in it locally. I still make all my costumes from scratch for my own fandom based cosplay. Cosplay is an exploding niche market in South Africa, and a HUGE global entertainment industry by now.
What do you feel are KomboKitten’s latest and greatest achievements since your last interview with Vamers?
To me, achievement is how I continually manage the present moment. How the best quality comes from being present! Right now really is where we unlock our deepest potential. I am just so in love with that. In terms of the local industry, I have been pioneering many cosplay related event and contest arrangements and acting as MC for those instances. Even though I have also acted as a cosplay contest judge in the past at smaller events, I started doing this on a bigger level by landing my first judging gig at a big convention, Fancon. At Fancon I also got to spend a lot of quality time with Calssara, an AMAZING German cosplayer and person who attended Fancon this year (the 1st South African international cosplay guest ever!). She has inspired me so much and I cannot wait to implement her teachings even more in my life. Besides having so much fun with friends and with creating new costumes since our last interview, some of my favorite recent accomplishments involve successful Patreon work as well as my shiny new website www.kombokitten.co.za!
Which are your current favourite characters? Are you planning on Cosplaying any of them?
My favorites are warrior/fighter women right now! I have a nice bunch of them lined up for cosplaying soonest! One of them, who I have been spirit bombing for since 2015, is Kawaii Pop Bastet from Smite as well as some DOTA 2 heroes. MOBA and Fighting Games are going to be my favorite genres to cosplay from going forward from here! I am also keen to do some more comic book cosplay.
What games are you currently playing and are you still a die hard DotA fan?
I still love DOTA but I don’t get to game right now due to my strict work schedule. When I do get the gaps to jam, I will probably go for Smite, Paladins, DOTA and some new indie and local titles [that] I still want to explore.
Any words of advice for the “new kids on the block” trying to get into the cosplay scene? 5 tips or tricks?
Newcomers need to learn the true nature of cosplay. It is a form of art like any other, where we use our bodies as a canvas to show our fandom of different characters or concepts. You can tell a story with cosplay and tug at the heart strings of other fans who also love what you refer to or represent with your art. To me that is where its at. Yes we can win contests, gain influence & make money through cosplay – but it need not be forced. Keep doing what you can with what you have, where you are in the present moment continually, and your best work will arise! After that practice is in motion, one can delve into their particular cosplay related interests/focus, like competing or making beautiful photos, etc.
As for breaking down 5 tips/tricks, here goes:
- Re-cycling and re-purposing of things can really boost resources!
- Don’t go crazy with buying wigs and lenses! Focus on one costume at a time! It really is so easy to get lost in purchasing all the shiny wigs and lenses available in the market nowadays! It is an easy way of wasting resources, so watch out for that!
- Get a sewing machine! It’s cheaper and more custom to get into creating your own parts! A sewing machine speeds up the sewing aspect SO MUCH and there are tons of tutorials online to help you out! Empisal is a good entry level sewing machine brand in case your funds are on the low side. I worked with one of those for 5 years and it cost me R700 on special at Game. You can use a sewing machine to earn back the money you spent on it (and so much more). Alternatively you can focus your resources on maining a different skill tree such as armour or prop work. Sewing just covers so much base ground in my opinion – a good foundation to have in this industry!
- Don’t be comparing yourself to others. We are all individuals. Shared fandom is just that, shared – and can be enjoyed together. It is not the end of the world if someone else wears the same character you are to a particular event! On the contrary, it means you have something in common!
- Unwelcome critique does not need to be taken to heart. We don’t need peoples critique unless it comes from a judge in a contest. Other than in cosplay contests, THERE ARE NO RULES.
Are there any cosplayers, locally or internationally, that you would like to collaborate with?
I am going to collaborate a lot with my close Capetonian friends such as Baka Sakura and Zaubermaus. They are two of my much loved sisters in life! I also look forward to cosplaying again with Kinpatsu Cosplay from Johannesburg, who has been doing so extremely well on a global level. She is owning at representing South Africa on the world stage and she is my favorite cosplayer from South Africa. Her quality of work and focus is such a huge inspiration. Internationally, I would be honored to cosplay alongside any of my favorites like Calssara, Yaya Han, Jessica Nigri, LeeAnna Vamp, Nadya Sonika, ItsLiviaChu, Kaybear and Stella Chuu! Those are just a FEW of my favorites, and I look forward very much to travelling overseas to cosplay or to have any of those cosplayers visit our country!
If you could be any character in the gaming world who would it be and who would you choose to fight alongside with?
Rikimaru alongside Dazzle from DOTA, lol!
If KomboKitten was attacked by Winnie the Pooh and his friends in a dark and dodgy alleyway late at night, what would be your weapon of defense and which friend or family member which you want fighting by your side?
My weapon would be my body. If they really want their asses kicked I’ll whip out some ninjutsu on them. I doubt I would need any help beating up some plushies.
Tell us a fun Kombokitten fact or secret?
I do Flow Art now with an LED Baton and Hoop – it is one of my fun hobbies which I plan to film.
What are some of the events that KomboKitten is involved with?
Each year gets so much more exciting in terms of cosplay related events here in Cape Town. Our biggest events each year are Fancon – Cape Town Comic Con as well as the Electronics & Gaming Expo! We always see not only the constant stream of awesome newcomers in our local cosplay melting pot, but also the experienced cosplayers busting out their biggest works. I exalt the management of these events for truly caring deeply about the cosplay community and gifting us their consideration and investment – so that each year things just get better and better! It has been amazing to be involved with them in terms of arranging cosplay elements that the community can enjoy and grow through. I am challenging myself with new horizons in terms of my costuming which I will debut here this year. Many new smaller events spring up all the time too. I will for instance be visiting Port Elizabeth at a new convention they are hosting called Con’Fuze – to which I was invited alongside Baka Sakura as a cosplay guest.
Talking with, and interviewing, KomboKitten was really great. It puts into perspective how challenging being a cosplayer can be, how important it is to strike a balance between work and hobbies and how empowering it can be to dress up and impersonate your favourite characters from the geekosphere.
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