INTERVIEW WITH REUBEN “DEADPOOL” ROSE
Recently, headlines were made internet wide that a Deadpool cosplayer was mistaken by train commuters as armed and dangerous due to his cosplay weapons being on display.
Headlines like these..
and one of the many videos posted by the public of him dancing the tango with a random passenger.
The story quickly went viral among mainstream media around the world and especially on cosplay sites and forums with many debating the pro’s and con’s of the incident, a lot felt that it cast a negative pall on the cosplay scene in general but what might not have been known from the media, is that this cosplayer was doing it for the charity Bear Cottage (you know the bandaged bear that you might have seen in hospitals). We sit down with Reuben Rose, to get the story straight and what happened from his perspective on that fateful commute to Blacktown station.
Where were you going on the day and what were you cosplaying as Deadpool for (aside from the fact that he’s awesome)?
The short answer is that I was going to work, and I was cosplaying as Deadpool as part of Superhero Week to raise money for Bear Cottage.
The long answer is that I was a fan of Deadpool and for a laugh, picked up a morphsuit at Halloween last year. When Supanova came around, a friend invited me and my kids and suggested we dress up for fun, and I used it as an excuse to train harder and drop some weight coz having a deadline and an incentive always worked better. My boss Phil kept heckling me and telling me if I ever ate something remotely tasty or even went to lunch that “be careful, your bum will look big in your costume” and so on.
Once we hit Supanova, I was blown away at the number of cosplayers and the detail they went to and also how amazingly friendly everyone was, stopping and taking pictures with one another. There were other Deadpools there too so I decided that I wanted to go a bit further on my suit for the next event. I showed my boss and he laughed at me a lot.
Anyway, Phil saw an ad for Superhero Week on Foxtel. My mum had been a paediatrician and was the head of the Child Protection Unit at Westmead in the late 90’s (she died in 2003), so I had a bit of an affinity for most things Bandaged Bear-Related anyway. He suggested I sign up and said I would be too chicken to wear the whole costume on the train. I said …challenge accepted. Sent out a thing to all my work colleagues and set a small goal; when it didn’t get taken up very quickly. It didn’t seem like many people were into Superhero Week or hadn’t even heard of Bear Cottage, I started setting incentives for various stupid activities (which I thought would be Deadpool-esque) for various targets.
It wound up being broken down like this:
$0- I’d dress up as Deadpool
$100- I’d wear the costume on the train, all day at work, back on the train, and then to the youth group I run at Ropes Crossing, and take a picture at my desk pretending to argue on the phone with someone.
$250- I’d put a pinafore over the top of the costume like Deadpool did when he was hiding from Hit-Monkey with Spider-Man in Volume 3, and serve cupcakes my wife had agreed to make to all the people who had donated. I’d also make an announcement on the train about Bear Cottage.
$600- We got past the $500 goal so I came up with some random suggestions to keep things moving- I’d convince a random stranger to tango with me holding a single rose between my teeth down the aisle of the train carriage, or I’d get a cowboy hat and find a replica bomb and pretend to ride it ala Dr Strangelove. Phil said that if I actually managed to get someone to dance, he’d double his donation.
$1,000- Only thought of this the day beforehand coz we were at $935 or something. I said if we hit a thousand that I’d find a police officer and convince them to do something shenanigan-wise; didn’t think we’d get there, but as soon as I put it on Facebook, a friend donated the remaining amount and said that it had to happen now. I spent that morning racking my brain as to how to involve a police officer without getting them in trouble or getting arrested, right up to the point where they surprised me by storming the train.
Did anyone on the train say anything to you personally? Was there anything different in the way they looked at you besides the usual staring at a cosplayer?
It was actually pretty funny- I had presumed people would turn and take some pictures, but everyone stared straight ahead very studiously and the carriage was absolutely silent. When I got up to do the speech about Superhero Week (introduced myself as Deadpool or Wade Wilson, whichever they preferred, and assured them I had not recently escaped from a mental hospital), people started snapping pictures, and then I announced that I needed one person to dance with me because we’d reached a fundraising goal, and the whole carriage went silent again and looked at their feet. But once that brave lady said yes, the phones and iPads came out again.
What cosplay weapons did you have with you at the time and which were in view in of the public?
Two pistols in holsters on my legs (they do say “electric toy pistol” but I guess you have to be close to read), the bullet belt (if you count that as a weapon), two plastic grenades with red lights on the top, the two plywood swords and my complete lack of sense of shame. I also had a plastic MP5 in the bag on which I’d written “Deadpool’s Gun” and “this end towards enemy” in white out the night before, but I didn’t bring that out on the train, that was just for office photos. In theory. The cops did check that one too.
So there really wasn’t anyone who made a complaint to you or anyone who appeared to feel threatened by your costume and/or weapons from what you experienced?
Nothing that happened directly; I can’t comment for the commuters on the level above, but plenty of them had their phones out when the cops turned up and most appeared to be laughing. I did unfortunately bump a lady in front of me in the head with one of my sword handles when I was bending over to pick up my bag, but she seemed to accept my apology and gave $5 after the announcement about Superhero Week.
The lovely lady who danced seemed a little nervous, but the carriage was applauding her at that point so it felt reasonably positive.
Had you felt any concern that there might have of been an issue with carrying and wearing your toy weapons? Or was it just the fact that you knew they were toys (some of which as you explained, were labelled to be as such), that you didn’t think there would be any concern raised by members of the public?
To be honest, I hadn’t thought about it. It was the second time going out in public in costume and the first time; Supanova with my friend Anthony, so that was a much softer introduction given that thousands of people were dressed up. I had imagined there being a number of costumes on the platform that day to explain my sudden presence; I had not expected to be the lone nutter on a brisk winter’s morning with a tiny layer of stretchable fabric between me and the public. In hindsight, that sentence seems pretty concerning on its own, quite aside from adding in fake weapons.
An argument could be made that I really hadn’t thought it through, and that would be broadly correct. My primary concern was making the train on time and not dropping or ruining the cupcakes and thereby incurring the perpetual wrath of my lovely wife who’d gotten up at 5am to make them specially. I figured the most trauma I’d cause would be when I took off the mask and they could actually see my face.
I guess I also assumed the costume part would be a big enough give-away and that more people would be aware of Superhero Week and just assume that I was a nerdy guy who lacked decorum, which would be a pretty reasonable description even without the costume….I grew up extremely shy and kind of hid away a lot so the mental version of myself is very different to the physical version, even though I’ve worked at getting over the shyness in recent years.
I’d just finished dancing with the lovely and kind commuter who had agreed to assist me per the terms of the $600 goal. I gave her the rose and pulled a cupcake out and then went and sat down- not 20 seconds later we pulled into Blacktown station and the train stopped. The guard announced, “Ladies and gentlemen, we will be temporarily delayed due to a technical issue.” My mate Rob turned to me and joked “it’s probably the coppers coming for you!”
We both chuckled until they came. I thought they might just be there to check tickets, until they looked in the window and pointed. Then four of them came for me and the one who had pointed couldn’t get on the train coz he’d started laughing and had to turn around.
Rob stood up and said, “Guys, they’re toys, he’s dressed up for charity!” but they told him to sit back down and took me off anyway. I wasn’t upset- they were being pretty reasonable and weren’t super aggressive and it had only just then dawned on me how it must have looked to folks who were just trying to get to work. The train guard was holding the train for me, so I told him to go and I’d catch whichever one was available. I told the cops it was fundraising for Bear Cottage. Two of them were super supportive and seemed reluctant even to make me put the weapons away when I’d told them the whole story, but said it would be for the best, so I complied. A female officer was aware of Superhero Week and she was really great throughout, asking about the character and complimenting the costume detail. But they pulled everything out and checked it all to be safe.
One guy took the lead and seemed to want to impress upon me the gravity of the situation, so he told me that they could fine me given 4 cop cars and 8 police officers had been involved, and that things needed to stay in the bag. But they all helped me rearranging the bag contents so that it could all fit. I asked them if I could get a picture with them to comply with the terms of the $1,000 goal, and they refused, even though I was doing my best puppy dog eyes impression. 20 minutes later, we were all done and it was back to waiting for a train.
What has been reaction from people (be it family, friends, work and the public) to what happened, especially with the publicity of the situation?
I said to my wife; “How’d you like to go to bed with a famous person?” And she thought about it and said, “Sure, if you’re ok with it. Do you think Chris Hemsworth is available?” So obviously their support is invaluable.
My boss read the story…and he laughed for 100km and had to pull over twice to wipe the tears out of his eyes.
The coolest thing has been the cosplay community. I mean, this was my second go dressing up and they’ve really welcomed me into their fold like a long-lost relative who called them up for bail money. Actually, that might not be the best metaphor.
I don’t know, actually. Depends what you mean by “what you did?”
If you are talking about charitable fundraising, my advice is this: if the cause is good, pride is irrelevant. Talk to your audience regularly, appreciate them, and remember it’s not about you, if you can. Stories are powerful things- I think the cosplay community understand this better than most- so the honour of becoming a character within one is its own reward but it’s a role, not an end itself.
If you mean dressing up on public transport, my advice would be: find a forum and ask them what you need to think about first. I’m a pretty affable and easygoing guy, which gets me out of a lot of trouble, plus the cops were supportive of the charity notion, but it’s worth noting that I’m a lucky schmuck rather than a hero of charity. Had The Telegraph not been there or the news day not been as slow, and had the police officers been less in the mood to have a laugh with me, I’d have had to be raising money for fines. So, I guess, my tip would be stow what you can stow and if you’re going to pick a wise-talking obscure mercenary, perhaps let the police know a day in advance so that they can reassure concerned commuters who have missed out on a comic education.
Also, lobby your local government for comics to form part of the school curriculum. Starting with Deadpool Vol. 3.
I did steal a Deadpool line and said to the cops, “that IS a pistol in your pocket but you don’t seem happy to see me.” So my final tip is that humour can defuse a tense situation. Maybe Spider-Man could have appreciated that.
Finally, cupcakes solve everything.
So there you have it, straight from the mouth of charitable Merc with a mouth cosplayer. This was very much a situation of misunderstanding but all with good intentions all round from all involved. We thank Reuben Rose for his time in telling his story.