When you hear the words "Puddin" and "Mr./Mistah J," the first thing that comes to mind is a character we all know and love, Harleen Quinzel or famously known as Harley Quinn.
Unlike most comic book superheroes and villains, Joker's partner in crime, henchwoman, and antihero first appeared on the small screen. Created by Paul Dini and Bruce Timm, Quinn’s character debuted in Batman: The Animated Series way back in September 1992. The people behind the show loved how her character evolved within the storylines, which led to a comic appearance that cemented her place in the DC Universe.
This year marks the 25th anniversary of Harley, and as we look back on how we grew fond of her crazy, sexy, and funny antics, we interviewed local female cosplayers who took the Harley Quinn fandom up a notch:
Karen de Vera, freelance writer/events host
"I grew up watching Batman: The Animated series, where Harley was originally by Paul Dini. I was drawn to her unhinged personality, the manic smile, that distinct voice, and the tricked-out costume that I wanted to bust out at a '90s Halloween party (but no, I think kid me ended up as Esmeralda from The Hunchback of Notre Dame who was just as badass). I remember her origin episode and it was fascinating to see her descent into darkness, and horrified at her toxic relationship with the Joker. (I was low-key shipping her with Poison Ivy.) With such a messed-up past why do I like her? She's definitely not a good girl, but she's not villainous—she's somewhere in between.
"Plus, she was able to subdue Batman (even the Joker couldn't do that in the series) and only for the latter. So, she's highly skilled on her own if she puts her mind to it. And speaking of, she may look cray but she's also intelligent; well, love makes you do dumb shit. And we can all relate to that. I can't speak for other people, but she's probably really popular at conventions because it's fun to portray her. No pretensions, just let loose, and fuck shit up (and looking hella cute while doing it). You know, let your guard down, and just have fun. I love her because she has no shame, is unapologetic, flawed (not a goody-two-shoes), and there's never a dull moment with her."
Kanra, medical student
"One of the many reasons I'm a medical student is because I've always been inspired by Harley's story. No, it isn't because I aspire to fall in love with a psychopathic abusive clown, but because that despite of all she's been through, she's still standing tall and even sticking out for the little people. In The New 52, you'll even see how she's working as a psychiatrist because she sincerely still wants to help people (albeit, not in the best ways). She's crazy, but with a heart of pure gold. Not to mention, it's always awesome to portray her! As someone who does theater, acting her part, doing the Jersey accent, and even the occasional gymnastics is so challenging but fun!"
Meili Merin, 27, graphic designer
"I fell in love with Harley Quinn when I realized that she is the true me. I never felt awkward portraying her as compare to other character because she is the real personality hidden inside of me, screaming to get out so badly. Cosplaying her gave me the freedom to be who I really am. I'm not normal and I believe that nobody is. There's madness inside all of us; every day we battle our own demons. Wearing her costume is like taking a break from that fight and embracing it with joy, love and understanding.
"Physically, I used to be so insecure about my wide smile until I started cosplaying her. And I love her style. She's never afraid to wear crazy outfits just like I do. That's why most of my cosplays are different versions of her outfits. The greatest thing that I love about her is despite all the hardships she went through, she never lost her charm, sense of humor and her crazy grin. A lot of women can see themselves in her because she is a glimpse of all women encapsulated in a person. She's a silly, funny, sometimes stupid, smart, and beautiful psycho who warms our hearts. Sometimes she's bad, sometimes she's good. She's the reality of women. As they all say, 'Women are complicated creatures.'"
Morgaine Svanhildr, 23, administrative associate, @morninmorgaine
"I first cosplayed Harley at Toycon 2013 because I instantly fell in love with her Arkham Knight design. From then on, I read the comics and learned more about her. She represents different personalities, and has her faults and misses, which I think is special about her. My favorite version is the one from Injustice 2, where she finally gains her independence. However, the one that I'm fond of cosplaying is her Suicide Squad version in the clubbing scene. Each part was sourced and handmade by me—a first. I am still improving and hope to perfect it someday."
Jacqueline Ji, 21, student
"I've been a fan of Batman movies and series since I was a kid. I really relate to Harley's jolly, badass attitude and her crazy nature so whenever I cosplay her, it feels natural."
Luna Age, 19, freelance writer/student, @lunatricxx
"In my life, I've had a string of bad relationships but there came one person who wrecked me to the point of insanity. It caused a huge rift between me and my family, causing me to have frequent breakdowns after he left. After a long period of healing, I told myself, 'I would never let anyone or anything hurt me again.' To be frank, Harley slid into my heart late 2014 when I was watching Batman: The Animated Series. The more I knew about her history, how she fell in and out of love and how she bounced back to be one of the best antiheroes in comic history.
"Her confidence and ditzy attitude drew me in. Everytime I don my Harley duds, I feel empowered. No one can stop me. Not the world, not some ex-lover, or a few haters. Whenever people approch me and tell me that I'm doing a great job as Harley or I see children fangirling because I'm Harley Quinn, that's why I do it. Harley is my hero. Though she didn't start out as one, she eventually saved herself and continued to save other people. That's what makes her my hero."
Izabel Cortez, secretary, @izzy_quinzel
"She's my favorite DC villain besides Catwoman because they represent the two sides of my personality—serious and crazy at the same time. I always have fun cosplaying her because I can just do whatever I want and mostly be whoever I am."
Aya Ezmaria, full-time events host, photographer/videographer, @ayaezma
"Harley's playful aspect is something I found to have an affinity with her. I started my career with kids. Whenever I host, I make sure it's fun for everyone and I can be as wacky and crazy as I can get being carefree of what others think. It's also her side of being colorful that attracts me. I have always loved colors and it's something that can describe my personality as well. I loved the jester Harley on the animation series even before Suicide Squad. But I think they really upped her costume this time and already had my eyes on her. So, I took on to challenge and brought her to life through cosplay."