From Jade to Shao Kah, cosplayer Alicia Marie, found across the internet under the handle Alicia Marie Body, is known as an avid Mortal Kombat fan. Her costuming skills have landed her the gig to create official MK looks for celebrities, including UFC fighter and WWE Superstar Ronda Rousey as Sonya Blade — a character the fighter also voices in Mortal Kombat 11.
With the reveal of Mileena, Alicia has once again picked up the sewing needle, making a show-stopping look for rapper Megan Thee Stallion. With 2020 hits like WAP and SAVAGE, Megan is coming in hot. Inven Culture sat down with Alicia to talk about how she created the look in four days, what the vibe on-set was like, and her love for gaming.
So, we’ve known you for years, but tell us about your history with Mortal Kombat.
Oh my god. And it's funny because I think I've probably told you this before, my obsession with Mortal Kombat. Like it goes back so far. It was when I was very, very little. I was visiting a relative in New York City. And we were in some store that had arcade cabinets in the store for some reason. And there were some teenage boys like playing and—I remember the machine— had to be really short to have to look up over and look at what they were playing. And I was like, ‘What are you guys doing?’ Like, ‘We're playing Mortal Kombat, get out of here, kid.’ And I've never actually been really good at playing Mortal Kombat, which is kind of funny and sad, but I still play.
I've always been in love with the artwork. I've always been in love with Sonya Blade. I like how the women are represented because they're like, super owning their sexuality and they're beautiful and sensual, but they will rip your spine out at the same time; I love that whole idea.
And I also love the Mortal Kombat culture and community. Because, to me, they're like the OG hardcore, fighting-game-community people. They're really invested in the game and the characters in the story.
And you’ve cosplayed (yourself) a lot of the characters over the years!
My first, obviously, was Sonya Blade, and that's the one that sort of put me on the map as a Mortal Kombat cosplayer because it's so long ago, and I played MK vs DCU and everybody had problems with that particular game. I don't know why, I think maybe they just didn't like the artwork, sometimes it comes down to that, but I loved Sonya Blade’s sort of get-up in that game. It was really accessible as a costume; all I had to do was style. It was all upcycling. I was like, ‘This is easy.’ I was in Florida at a convention and I posted it on the fly, and put my phone away. After the convention, I rechecked my phone, and the notifications had gone wild. And I was like, ‘Huh, people liked it.’ It was like the easiest costume I put together. Holy crap. It was so much fun.
Then I did classic Sonya Blade and then Jade from Mortal Kombat; that was with a friend of mine who really wanted to do Mileena. That costume is, like, super sexy, so we got a lot of backlash for that costume, which is sort of weird because that's how they looked. I mean, we were walking around San Diego Comic-Con and Tom Cruise stopped us and was like, ‘Hold on. Hold on. What is this?’
I've done Shao Kahn as a gender-bend, I've done Sindel as a cos-look during pandemic—that one I just did for fun because we were all shut down—and people really liked it. And I happen to love Sindel because she's ‘Mom.’ I just like all of her skills and her foot walk over, and the screaming. I think she's a cool character. I have not done D’Vorah for reasons, obviously. So I'm always trying to find one to do.
That Shao Kahn was iconic, and you were a partner with Warner Brothers to do that look, right?
Yeah, they put together a team of artists to help launch Mortal Kombat 11; they brought together 10 artists from different walks of life and I was one of the cosplayer artists they brought in. They literally sat me down and were like, ‘We want you to have fun with this because this is what you do.’ I said, ‘Well, who do you want me to make?’ and they were, like, ‘We want you to tell us who you want.’ And I was, like, ‘I know what I want to do.’
They were so open to my ideas and they just let me just sort of fly with it. And I had fun even though the turnaround had to be very fast. I liked the fact that I got to research where the styling for that character came from; it's super based on samurai stuff. I got to experiment with textures. And I love armor craft. It's like taking something like a piece of foam—a piece of freaking craft foam—and knowing that you could make it look like war-forged armor with the right painting and shading. It is something glorious.
And that's also why I like upcycling so much. Like, not to get all weirdly environmental with you right now in this interview, but when you see these pictures on the internet of landfills, full of disposable clothing that's like just thrown out, I get so sad for some reason. I'm thinking, ‘But that shirt and that jacket could be something so magical!’ Someone just has to have some imagination. So I love it when I have an opportunity to use something that exists that I can just destroy, or tear up, or Frankenstein into something amazing because I love showing people this used to be this and now look at it. I think that it makes it that much more special to me.
So, now that people know a bit of who you are, let’s talk about your most recent project. You just wrapped a shoot with Megan Thee Stallion, officially with Mortal Kombat. How did this project start for you?
So, people have been clamoring for Mileena to come back in the game. And I'm like, ‘Did you guys not see how she died? She's dead.’ But you know, people come back. The Mortal Kombat community was like, ‘We don't care, figure it out. Bring her back.’ Ed Boon played the part. He was like, ‘She's gone. Give it up.’ Like, literally every day. This guy is hilarious, and then—of course—they've been planning the story all along. I don't know how he did that for two years. They released that she's going to be coming back from the game, and people lost it on social media, they lost it in the community, pretty much everybody lost it.
So, I knew obviously we know Meg—Megan Thee Stallion—and who doesn't right now; she was number one for weeks and weeks and weeks. I knew she was kind of a geek because she's done cosplays before; she did Sailor Moon, she's done a whole Mortal Kombat cosplay before with a group of friends. She wanted to be made into Mileena, and Mileena at that point, they only had really two looks for her. She was in contact with Warner Brothers, and they brought me on and I got to actually talk with her about what she wanted, and Megan is, she's the body. She knows what she wants to look like; she has a brand. And I was like, ‘Sexy? I’m all for it, you know. The sexier the better. Let's go!’
What I loved about working with her is that she was really open and flexible. You never know with people who are in the public eye, people who are celebrity types. They are usually very fiercely protective of their brand and their image and how it's portrayed and stuff. So it can be, you know, sort of back and forth working with people. But with her, it was absolutely amazing. She was very much open. I was like, ‘Okay, do you want to do the Mileena version and do the prosthetics to your face?’ She was like, ‘Heck yeah.’ So that's what I brought on a makeup artist friend of mine who’s insanely talented. He did my body paint when I did Revenant Katana. So what I loved was that I got to turn her into what I would want to look like if I did that Mileena.
So how did you bring that authentic Mileena and Mortal Kombat feel to the build with Megan?
This is where it goes back to what I was saying about the company, and how they kind of just look at me and they say, ‘Okay, we are giving you the opportunity to show us what you can do,’ because for them, what we do is out of their realm. So they’re trusting you as a professional to make this work and make this happen in four days. Okay? in four days.
Yes! I was like, pull the team together, get the materials, start designing! Of course, I went a little insane, as anybody would, but a lot of things in the universe did sort of coming together very well.
The hardest part is, if you're designing something for someone who has very little angles in their body it's very easy to design for those people, because they can fit, like, samples. So just slap it on, anything looks good. But, you know, Megan's curvy. She's got very womanly curves; she owns them. So I was, like, she's gonna want something that celebrates all of that. She's not gonna want something that covers it up. So when you're designing something that's like a one-piece bodysuit, if it's on the person wrong, it can make the person look like a weird shape. So I kind of had to look at the angles of her body. Because of the pandemic, I just had her measurements, and I kind of just worked around that.
I have this skill where I can look at a woman's body and know exactly what she needs to do to make certain parts look good, and that part I think just comes from liking clothes, and fashion, and stuff like that over the years. So, I looked at her and I was like, I know what we're not going to be able to do, and what we're going to have to do to make her look like the picture. She's got this crazy Jessica Rabbit-type body. I was, like, her waist is so small! Then she's got the hips, she's got the chest, and I was, like, ‘Okay, we can't just slap something on her and hope it looks good. We have to do things that are going to accentuate and make it look even more exaggerated.’ And she was like, ‘I don't care, it's sexy.’
She put that on, and I was like, ‘Is it too much like butt?’ She was, like, ‘No.’
That's what I loved about it. She was just so open and fun with it. And I loved it, it was like dressing a Barbie.
And one of the fun things of cosplay is getting to embody and to be the character. Once you got her dressed, what was it like seeing her take on the Mileena vibe?
Well, first, Kelton Ching did her prosthetic, and she was such a good sport because that takes a lot of time and work. Even seeing yourself as a monster, she looks like a Barbie doll. She's so pretty. To be okay with being a monster, to me, you get props for that. But then putting on the costume, and seeing how it looked on her, and how she grabbed those weapons and stepped up on that stage... When the music hit she just took off. I was stressed because I was still in stress mode. When you make something, you're waiting for it to all fall apart on you.
But nothing did.
I'm proud of what my team was able to do in such little time, with no fittings, whatsoever. It was so fast, but I knew I had to learn how to rely on the stuff I do really know about costume construction and putting things together and making them look good. It's okay to admit that you do know something.
Did you say you did it in four days and with no fitting? That’s insane for a costume like that. It’s 100% a no-fitting nightmare.
Stretch suits, specifically, need fittings and need fittings even for people who are what they call straight size. When you have someone who's curvy, like you have someone who has certain, very exaggerated curves, they can be the same size, same measurements but the measurements can be different like angles. It's such a small costume, it isn't like there's a lot of forgiveness anywhere. So one thing I did was having multiple points of adjustments on that costume. There was a way to adjust it at the neck, the front, the chest, and the back. Then I added an internal corset; a sort of tied and connected network that every woman wants in every costume, to be honest, we all want that, like, sculpted waist. I also separated it into two parts instead of one; two parts with multiple points of adjustment because if it was finite it would have I would have to deconstruct it and re-sew it there on the set which would have held up the whole production. So, a lot of pressure.
How was the overall vibe on-set?
Everybody was really excited. Everyone was excited that she was going to be there, and her and her team were so cool; they were so relaxed and so excited. Everybody was in such a good mood, and even though we had to undergo, like, 15 COVID tests and everybody kept their social distance; everything had to be adhered to with the compliance officers. Everybody was still really in good spirits to be back in the creative sector and doing what we all like. Everybody was playing their part, and everything went like clockwork. It was perfect.
She was professional. She got in there and did the makeup without a hitch. Directors were on their game. I literally told you, I drove home that night I just cried like a baby because I was, like, I think I need sleep and food and water. But the fact that it actually could have like completely gone one direction, but it went totally in the right.
What was it like seeing that crossover between music and gaming so perfectly played?
I don't know if it's the result of everyone being locked in, or not being able to do everything they want to do right now, but certain cultures that we're familiar with—like nerd and geek cultures—Hollywood, media, music are all showing their love of it. So you have all these people in music that are playing games on Twitch, or showing their love for Mortal Kombat or Phasmophobia or Dungeons & Dragons.
And that's been really fun to see and very unifying, I think, especially right now when everybody feels so separated and sort of weird, it's nice to see how certain things like gaming are unifying cultures. To see someone like Megan, who is so huge, does not appear like the gamer-type in your mind, you can literally watch her stories and see her playing games with their friends. You know, sitting on the floor, totally playing games. Everything's just sort of coming together and seeing someone like her bridging that is really cool for us.
Make sure to follow Alicia across social media at @AliciaMarieBody, and see more of her awesome work! Also, let us know what celebrity you’d like to see cosplay, and what gaming character you think they’d be perfect for!