Linda Le (Vampy Bit Me) Interview – Monster Hunter Love, Censorship Thoughts, and the Wondrous World of Cosplay
Over the past few years, cosplay has become wildly popular around the world. Whether it’s with video game and anime conventions, or even on Twitch and Mixer, chances are you’ll find tons of cosplayers, sporting costumes from pretty much any series you can think of. One cosplayer that has been huge in the cosplay scene for over two decades — from the early 2010s (that could be considered as the “booth babe era”) till now — is Linda Le, otherwise known as “Vampy Bit Me” or “Vampy” for short.
Vampy doesn’t just stick to cosplaying as characters from one anime or video game series, since, like a vampire bat, she sinks her teeth into everything. Just to give you an example, she’s rocked a Monster Hunter Generations cosplay. To say that’s awesome is definitely an understatement.
Curious to know more about her cosplay career, at Fanime 2019, we had the chance to sit down and chat with Vampy about her passion for video games, like the Monster Hunter series, thoughts on censorship in games, and much more.
Brad Crespo: You’ve cosplayed as several video game characters in your cosplay career, such as Zero Suit Samus from the Metroid series and Morrigan Aensland from the Darkstalkers series. Out of all of them, which video game character cosplay was your favorite and why?
Vampy: I would say that my favorite would have to be when I cosplayed as my Monster Hunter character. I actually learned more about Monster Hunter from Monster Hunter 3 [Monster Hunter Tri released for the Wii in 2010], which might be considered as late for some people. But, my brother originally introduced me to the series since he played Monster Hunter Freedom, but I never played it, and my brother was like, “Dude, you need to play Monster Hunter?” and I was like, “Monster Hunter?! What is that?! What do you do just find a monster and hunt it?”. However, I played Monster Hunter 4 Ultimate on 3DS and then everything changed, and was like, “This is my life. This is the cosplay I want to make.”
I really like the series because it lets the players gradually “git gud”, and I also love the aspect of being able to play with other people, especially since the Monster Hunter community is really positive, which I’ve never really experienced before.
BC: Have you played Monster Hunter World, by any chance?
V: YES! I’ve played over 1000 hours of it, and I have everything I want in it. I’m good with it, for right now, but when the next expansion comes out, I’ll be going back in it — staying up until 3 o’clock in the morning again playing it. Also, Tigrex is coming back, so I’m really excited about the expansion.
BC: To really start things off, let’s discuss censorship. Censorship has been in the spotlight in games lately, more specifically for Japanese games coming over to the west. Now, since you come from the cosplay side of the games industry, how do you think censorship for things like lewd/sexual content should be handled?
V: So, I don’t see anything wrong with the Japanese version of gaming, or anything for that matter. You know, there’s a lot of stuff censored here [in the United States], but you can also see how people are quick to react to those things being censored. The thing is, things are more risque in Japan, but to be honest, all the censorship isn’t really needed here, especially with games, because I’ve seen crazier things on YouTube.
I don’t understand it [censorship] too much, but I get why they do it because they don’t want to have anything not safe for kids, but really, older, adults are the ones buying the more mature games — like no six-year-old is going to be going out buying Devil May Cry. Censorship even is for things like costumes in games, like in Monster Hunter, and it’s odd they would adjust the costumes in any way. What’s interesting is that Japan is considered to be more reserved, but their characters are not, compared to America, which is known to be a little wilder yet we have censorship for everything.
BC: I can imagine that cosplaying clearly isn’t all fun and games all the time. What’s the hardest part about being a cosplayer, and is there anything that you would change with the cosplaying scene?
V: Well, I personally think that cosplayers need more time, especially when making costumes between events since making costumes takes a lot of time, haha. Physically, armor is just crazy, like I made a new costume with armor, and I’m just trying to figure out how to put it on my body. That’s one of the hardest things about cosplaying.
Cosplay, for me, has been really great, and people haven’t been really judgemental or anything like that. I’ve been lucky, even though I do silly stuff sometimes. But I’d say that the hardest part, and the thing I would change, is that people take cosplay very seriously, and we shouldn’t forget to have fun with cosplay as well. At the end of the day, if you’re cosplaying as a character you really like, then you should be able to celebrate that — even if someone is wearing like a cardboard box that says something like “Gundam” on it, it’s pretty hilarious and cool, and it doesn’t mean that they’re less of a fan than someone that spends dozens of hours and money on their costume. We shouldn’t forget that cosplay is also fun and that it’s a celebration of fandom. I feel like contests are very serious, which I understand, but if you’re cosplaying just for fun, well then keep it fun — if you don’t finish your costume, that’s okay! Cosplayers are very hard on themselves.
BC: Let’s go on a blast to the past and chat a bit about you growing up in Oklahoma. I actually lived in Oklahoma for a couple of years, so I’m really curious to know what life was like for you over there, and how it was moving to, and now living in California.
V: Oh, wowww! So I was born in Okmulgee, which had like 30,000 people, I think. My school was like pre-school and elementary kids on the bottom floor, and then all the middle schoolers were at the top, and all of us were in one building. The weird thing was that we would crush cans with our feet or shoes outside for the school, and I had no clue why we were all crushing these cans to begin with.
So then when I moved to California, I was just like, “What is going on?”. Imagine a little tiny Asian girl being like, “Hey, y’all!” and that was me in school in California.
I do miss Oklahoma, sometiiimes, my past is what I miss most, I think because I remember a lot from it. Also, I like that Oklahoma is slower, and you can remember everything that happens when you’re there and enjoy what’s happening around you. In California, there’s just so much going on that you can only remember some things. I used to like Oklahoma a lot.
In addition to cosplaying, Vampy is a very active Twitch streamer and does a mix of streams ranging from assembling Gundam model kits to playing games like Yakuza 0. You can watch her streams via her Twitch channel.
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