Julia Steinhour: We were sitting around the dinner table one day and were thinking up new ideas to do for our next group cosplay for the next convention that we all want to go to. We were just tossing out ideas left and right and everything seemed fun and cool but didn't seem to stick. Then we ended up on the topic of Disneyland. We talked about the Haunted Mansion ride and the Hitchhiking Ghosts . All of a sudden a lightbulb light up! DING! That's it! That is what we are going to do. Ever since its been set in stone, that is what we are going to do.
Jessica Nicole Steinhour: Back in September we are just spitballing ideas at each other over the dinner table. We remembered that Comikaze ( as it was still known back then ) was just around the corner. We did our first group cosplay together last year as Disney's Aladdin cast of The Genie, Aladdin and evil Genie, Jafar. Everyone loved it , but we knew we could raise the bar. We started to think of more iconic characters, especially ones in which all generations of people from across the globe can detect and appreciate. Since Disney was fresh on our minds, the Haunted mansion was brought up and it all hit us, what could be more iconic than the Hitchhiking Ghosts? Thus the magic began.
Victor Oki: After our Aladdin cosplay, I felt a little down. I felt that we could have definitely done better, especially with my own cosplay as The evil Genie Jafar. I felt my costume just did not quite work out the way I had envisioned it. And being the procrastinator that I am, I didn't try on the complete costume until the very last minute. We made it work, but we knew... We just knew we could be better. Like the girls said, we were around the table just shooting ideas at each other.. What trio can we pull off? Some ideas sounded good.. Others.. Well we will not discuss. HA! But the Hitchhikers just fit the bill. And I could still see the looks on their faces when that idea came up. It was golden and our decision was made.
Julia: Believe it or not, but it only took a couple of days to do it all. We had been talking about it for months , but it wasn't really until the last two weeks leading up to LACC that we needed to get our stuff started and put together because time was definitely running out. We went to a thrift store and looked around for about 2 hours and got about everything we needed. We left everything for our Uncle Victor to spray paint and detail. The costumes were finished a couple of days before the con and the "GOING THIS WAY" sign was done the night before we arrived. It wasn't put together until the last day of the convention when we finally applied the face paint and the three of us saw each other for the first time, fully dressed in costume. It turned out perfect and I wouldn't have had it any other way.
Jessica: Our costumes consists of items we got at thrift stores, some old burlap material , a few Halloween accessories like make up , and a whole lot of spray paint. Cosplay doesn't have to cost and arm and a leg to be badass.
Victor: Julia's and Jessica's mother ( my sister ) is just awesome. She knew where to go and took the time out of her way too busy schedule to take her girls out shopping for this event. I was amazed that they found all the stuff they needed in just one day of shopping. For me, I began my character , a few weeks ago. As soon as I started to see Halloween costume stores opening up, I began my shopping spree. I already knew that I would be doing a lot of the painting, but I didn't know exactly what colors. I did a lot of research on the Internet. I looked up all kinds of images from the original hitchhiking ghost to group cosplay so that some other people had done. Speaking for myself, I lean toward being a perfectionist. It's gotta be just right or it's not right at all. Racking my brain around the colors and items that would look the best was literally giving me a headache! HAHAHA! Ultimately , I trusted my nieces to find the right stuff for me to work on and I just took a step back and said in regards to my character of Gus, ( the one with the ball and chain ) , simple is better. I found a latex mask of an "Old Wizard" , two sets of chains and shackles, some cheap to woven gloves, two yards of burlap and a whole bunch of spray paint. At the end, I stopped looking at all the images I was burning into my mind and just went with my gut feeling on how it should look. Ha. My degree in illustration and art pays off again!
Julia: The response at the convention was much more that what I expected it to be. I expected only a couple of people to be like, " Oh my God! You're the Hitchhiking Ghosts! " and "Awesome Job!" Or " Can we get your picture?" But as soon as we walked in, everyone and their mother ( literally! ) recognized us immediately and wanted our picture. As soon as we all got into that classic hitchhikers pose , an instant swarm of people rushed us to take more pictures. We had experienced this kind of response of excitement before, but never at this magnitude! We have had our pictures taken when we were Aladdin, Genie and Jafar, but this time people wanted to take pictures with us! Not just of us, but WITH US! It really put into perspective just how everyone really loved our cosplay. They loved us enough to not just want a picture but to be part of the experience and forever have a memory of something they saw and loved.
Jessica: Five words: Pictures, Compliments, and MORE PICTURES! It was so difficult to see everything ( on the sales floor ) because every few feet we were stopped and caused a paparazzi like scenario. Even when you look up the tag #hitchhikingghosts on Instagram, you'll see 3 to 5 pictures of us. It was exciting and overwhelming. Overall , we loved the reactions everyone had. One of the highlights was getting stopped by voice actor, Dino Andrade and basically "fangirling" over us. He told us about all the props for the attraction that he had in his personal collection. Also taking photos with the Ghostbusters in their booth was pretty rad!
Victor: Simply Unreal! I have been cosplaying for several years now. Each year, I get better in my skills from making props, to installing electronics to picking out fabric and material to painting etc. I have cosplayed Raiden from Mortal Kombat, The evil genie, Jafar from Aladdin, Master Roshi from Dragon Ball Z, Mega Blastoise from Pokemon to name a few. But this group cosplay was the most well received, by far! Jessica hit it on the head when she said that we were stopped every few feet for pictures. People were chasing us down to get pictures with us. A couple got out of a line for a signature just for the chance to get a shot with us. The response was amazing. I think we even blocked traffic down several aisles! Hahah! Ooooops!
Julia: Cosplay means so much to me. I am an artist, so making something with my own two hands is amazing. But to wear a cosplay that you put so much time and effort into to make perfect and to look right and say, " Yea, I made that" makes me feel awesome. To go to a convention like this one or a party or someplace and have at least one person say, " Oh my God! You made that?! You did an amazing job!" Makes my whole world! And it's addicting too! You want to see even more cosplay you want to MAKE more cosplays. You see something in the media and say to yourself, " I wanna cosplay that!" As an artist, looking back to when I first started cosplaying to now, I can tell I became much more skilled in doing so. Cosplay involves many different skills like sewing, prop making crafting and acting to complete the costume. You get better at your skills on cosplay over time.
Jessica: Honestly, just to dress up as a character from a tv show, movie , anime or video game and interpreting your own creative twist is really what cosplay is to me. Cosplaying as either an exact replica of a character or even fusions of two or more characters for whatever genre into one entity is just plain awesome. It doesn't matter if it is simple or full blown extreme, you know someone will appreciate that cosplay. The best part is to see the smiles on everyone's faces. People who are starting to cosplay may get inspired by other cosplayers. That is what cosplay is: Inspiration. Someone was inspired by that creativity from the tv show , movie or video game. Cosplay is our escape from the downs of life. We get to forget who we are in the normal world and enjoy what we can be in the cosplay world.
Victor: I am glad you asked this question as it has even posed to me before and I had a lot of time to think about it over the years. So why do I cosplay? The simple answers are: It's fun. It's a challenge to me artistic skills. I enjoy the look on people's faces when they recognize character from when they were kids, suddenly come to life right before their very eyes.
But the real answer is this: I can make a kid forget the cruelty of this world, the stupid people that will affect them for the rest of their lives and yet, never meet them, or worse, they do come face to face. But then, for one fleeting moment, the evils of this world is meet by a superhero... Their SUPERHERO! They get to hug them, smile and take a picture. They get to tell stories to their friends later on how they met ... Basically, you! And the world is okay for both the kid ...and you. Right then and there , there is a smile, a spark , a small chance of hope perhaps that will last for all eternity. And perhaps...just maybe... That will help make this world into a slightly better place.