By AL J. Vermette
When night falls and the moon is high she hits the streets
in search of prey. With long savage claws and ripping teeth
this She-wolf is on the prowl, but its not human flesh she
seeks tonight, but a good time. She's out to show off one of
the best werewolf suits ever created outside of Hollywood itself.
For this she-wolf is artist Melita Curphy and she…yeah
that's right boys (SHE) is the creator of the werewolf suit
that you see before you. A woman after my own heart who is
so into werewolves that she herself (made) her own werewolf
fur suit. Now how cool is that? And this is no cute fuzzy little
critter, nor is it sexy and all chicked out but one scary ass
creature who looks like it will rip your head off. But when
this she-wolf dose go out, she is a hit at all party's events
and conventions and any other place this big black wolf goes.
The moment I first saw Mel's wolf on WerewolfCafe.com I just
knew I had to get an interview with her. Its damn good to know
that werewolf lovers are not just a boys only club anymore.
Mel you rock girl!!!
Al: When did you first discover your love for werewolves?
Mel: I'm not sure where I first saw werewolves
but I remember being really fascinated by them since I was
pretty young. I remember being really into animal/human hybrid
type characters as a kid with all the bizarre cartoons and
games that were coming out in the early 80's... I guess I should
blame Thunder cats, ha-ha. I do remember seeing American Werewolf
in London and The Howling and thinking how awesome it would
be to be able to turn into a monster. I was never afraid of
werewolves, Freddy Krueger and Jason, I feared. I just really
wanted to be a werewolf. I got in big trouble with my mom for
drawing werewolves all over some church pamphlets during service
on Sunday when I was about 8 or 9. They worried about my monster
obsession a little being hardcore Christians. I think for awhile
they thought I was going to grow up and join a satanic cult
or something. I was just a weird kid is all, ha-ha.
Al: The werewolf head and suit you created is just amazing,
how did you make it?
Mel: Thanks! I used a plaster mask and built up foam and celluclay
over it. Then made the jaw and hinged it to move. Then just
covered that in fur and trimmed it to look realistic and added
longer hair to the mane and stuff. The teeth are made from
sculpey which I actually don't recommend using just because
it's pretty heavy and brittle. Someone got really careless
with the head once and allowed it to drop off of a chair into
the floor...one of the teeth flew off. I was so pissed, I had
to be at a costume contest in an hour. So yeah, sculpey isn't
a great choice, ha-ha. I'll be using plastic or something next
Al: How long did it take to make your werewolf and what was
it like creating it.
Mel: Well, I started the head a few years
ago. I wanted to try to top my demon costume I had built in
2005 so I began the werewolf. However, a few things came up
such as relocating to the other side of the country and it
got put on the back burner. Being a freelancer I literally
can't afford to put much time into non paying or personal work
so the poor werewolf was ignored for awhile. Then I finally
got the costume bug again and started to build it again last
fall. I'd say if I could work on it every day all at once,
I could have had it ready in about a month, maybe a few weeks.
However from the very start to the very end, it took me about
a year and a half, ha-ha! Creating it was both fun and horrible.
It got really hot up in my little attic studio and fake fur
was everywhere. I think the worst part was severely burning
myself with hot glue. I still have two scars on my arm that
I'm actually kind of proud of...they make me think of my costume.
It hurt like crazy though. I also hated getting discouraged
when certain parts didn't look right and having to redo them.
But you can't let that stuff get you down...you have to follow
through and keep plugging away until it looks right. However,
the first time I tried on the head my heart jump ed... I was
so happy with it and was so excited to see my hard work turn
into something pretty awesome!
Al: Where do you go when you become the werewolf?
Mel: I usually go to conventions with it,
though I did think about wearing it to a concert. The band
had werewolves on their album cover but I re thought it and
figured it would be too nerdy and strange. Plus drunk people
and costumes in a small space is always a terrible idea. Although
I did wear it to my group show gallery opening here in Chicago
and had things go just fine. People got a kick out of it and
it was like wearing my own art. I had also wanted to nerd it
up and take it to the Renaissance Faire but it's far too hot
to do so. Plus it's tough to drink mead in that thing...
Al: I bet you are the hit at all costume party's and the like.
Mel: Yeah I do okay, ha-ha! People at costume
parties had great reactions this past year and a lot of funny
photos have been taken. There's one of me playing Guitar Hero
at our Halloween party we hosted... though I can't actually
play well because of the oversize claws. Funny story though:
I entered my first costume contest last October at a bar here
in Chicago. The audience loved me but I lost out to some dork
in a store bought Sloth mask from the Goonies. Ugh, come on
Al: How do people react to you when you are in the suit?
Mel: I get a lot of great reactions
in it. Mostly "hey
bro! Nice costume!" or "hey wolfman!" or they
howl at me which is cute. Ha-ha, everyone assumes I'm a man.
Some people have actually asked my boyfriend, when he's wrangling
me, if he made it. He says "no my girlfriend made it.
That's a HER." Then they freak out so hard and scream " YOURE
A GIRL? AND YOU MADE T HAT?" . I guess most people assume
that if you are a girl, you have to wear sexy costumes or that
girls don't build monsters. I enjoy changing their mind. It's
funny because people either get way into it or go out of their
way to ignore it. It seems to be a hipster thing like "if
I don't look at it, it won't come over here and make me look
uncool" or something. But I can see them stealing glances.
Other people want to shake my hand or hug me. I'm actually
a pretty friendly werewolf... although when I make kids or
even adults scream I LOVE it. It's kind of perverse but I really
like being someone's monster and getting a real, honest fearful
reaction. Some full grown women have refused t o come near
me...so of course I chase them. However, if a kid goes into
total meltdown I will leave or act scared or try to win them
over with a high five. Some people act like jackasses and pull
my fur or grab my tail. It's mostly older women or frat boys
that do that stuff. I try to always have a wrangler to watch
out for me and make sure I don't get hurt or damaged. Sometimes
women hit on me which is so ridiculous ... I love to burst
their bubble and tell them I'm a woman, ha-ha. I did hand out
candy in my old neighborhood as the werewolf. SO much fun,
kids got really, really freaked and one had to be dragged from
his hiding place by his hood. A few people had dogs and the
dogs got very, very upset with me. Glad they were on leashes,
I think I would have been in a little trouble.
Al: What other creatures have you created as well?
Mel: I also have a demon suit I built. She is made of foam
and celluclay and has a full set of leather armor that I made.
She's also got hooves and digitigrade legs that are similar
to the wolf's. Her head got stolen last spring so now I am
working on a new, better head with help from some SFX friends.
Al: As an artist, what other methods of work do you work in
other then creature design?
Mel: I also make clothing and costume accessories like jewelry
or armor pieces. I also paint and sculpt all kinds of fantasy/graphic
type stuff but...yeah it's mostly monsters, really.
Al: Where was the craziest place you took the werewolf to
Mel: Hmmm, I haven't gone anywhere too nuts
with the werewolf yet. I guess a bar would be the craziest
place though it was a tame time. Although I did go as the demon
to see Brendan Small of Dethklok go play before he was big.
It was at a smaller bar in Austin during SXSW and people either
loved me or did the hipster ignore thing. I thought it was
pretty fucking metal to have an armored demon show up to see
Dethklok music but whatever. I ended up getting photographed
with a group of super skinny high heeled bikini models for
something or other....it was an odd night. If I was gay or
a guy I guess that would have been pretty awesome, ha-ha. The
models all thought it was neat that a girl was in the demon
Al: What are your all time most loved werewolf movies?
Mel: Hands down, American Werewolf in London.
Best looking werewolf, the face of that thing is so INTENSE
and angry!! Best, most realistic transformation sequence...
I loved that they actually took comparative canine/human anatomy
into consideration. It was funny and fun and gross and had
a tragic ending... I love it so much. The sequel they made
to that was terrible though, ugh. The werewolves looked like
feral hog-monkeys and they even managed to mess up the transformation
sequence when the chick is changing in the sewer. I'm pretty
sure they made her knee bend backwards because they didn't
understand digitigrade anatomy and then somehow she grew another
knee in the middle of her thigh, it made no sense at all. It's
been years since I saw that movie so maybe I'm wrong...but
I remember being really pissed about that. Ha-ha, sorry to
nerd out ,there... I was just so let down. Dog soldiers is
pretty cool too and I do kind of like Ginger Snaps, it was
an odd one. There really aren't many good werewolf movies out
there. I liked the way the Van Helsing werewolves transformed,
with ripping off their human skin, but the movie overall was
pretty ugh. The Underworld werewolves were also fun to look
at but I hate to admit it, I can't stand those movies, ha -ha.
Al: For anyone out there reading this, what would you say
to them if they too would like to build their own werewolf
or any creature suit?
Mel: I'd say go for it! We need more good monster costumes
out there. No offense but I see so many costumes that are just
copies of already existing characters. I respect the technical
ability it takes but I also like to see original character
monster type stuff. Just go make something up and have fun!
Costuming is a blast! If you make something over the top, make
sure you have a handler, someone to watch you and keep you
safe from overexcited people.
Al: What other creature do you have on the drawing board next
that you would like to see brought to life as a full size costume?
Mel: Right now I plan to get the second version of the demon
head ready. After that, I may create a suit of a monster in
a Victorian styled suit and bowler hat or some sort of made
up post apocalyptic mutant costume that's not so heavy and
tough on my body. Less fur and foam, the better!
Al: And Lastly, what's next for your werewolf and oh by the
way dose the creature have a name?
Mel: I'm afraid he might be retired soon. I just wore him
at comic con and while he was loved very much by the crowd,
he's just so dangerously hot. I should have installed a fan
or a cooling system but it's too late. I'd rather move on to
something else for now, maybe bring him out for certain conventions
or events. I will probably mount his head for display. He doesn't
have a name, he's just sort of a standard werewolf. I just
call him the Wolf.