AARON: In an interview you did a couple years ago at Exxxotica, you stated that you always say, “Guys like three things: they like porn, comics and chicks.” Is that why you’re into cosplay now? Or is there something else? What’s driving you to be involved in cosplay at comic book conventions?
TERA: I’ve always loved to cosplay — I just have the outlet now! I retired from performing in adult films in 2008. I was first introduced to San Diego Comic Con in 2006 promoting my appearance in the video game Saints Row. I’ve been in and around Comic Con for quite some time, and my fans have always supported me, as you clearly saw from my endless line in Sacramento!
AARON: Cosplay is a very creative space. What does that world of comics and cosplay allow you to do creatively that you can’t do in other areas of your life?
TERA: I’ve been a fan of comics and sci-fi novels since my childhood, and I think, like a lot of people, cosplay allows me to stay in a happy state. Hello Kitty was my first superhero. I’ve adored her since I was in kindergarten — hence, why I morphed her with The Punisher. I wanted to combine two of my heroes: part-vigilante-bad-ass and part-sweet-kitten, as I feel both of these characteristics embody me. My business is still in adult, somewhat, and I completely separate these two. My husband is a specialty costumer with the union, and during my pregnancy he worked on Man of Steel. I want his job! When it comes time for me to head to a Con, making and putting together my suits is a family affair.
AARON: You describe yourself as a Mompreneuer BettyCrockerRocker. Which sounds amazing. What exactly is that, and can other moms out there be one, too?
TERA: Well, I’m a mother. My daughter, Sophia, is two, and she’s a huge Star Wars fanatic! “Mompreneur” is a mother/entrepreneur. I’ve controlled every aspect of my career and am very focused, with my paws in many different ventures. “BettyCrockerRocker” was a nickname given to me from friends, because I’m in love with cooking, gardening, sewing, crafting and classic rock.
AARON: What does that control do for you personally? Is there something you fear might happen to you if you didn’t have that control in your career and life?
TERA: I address this in my first memoir, Sinner Takes All. I was taken advantage of early in my career, so I used that experience to educate myself. You can be a better or bitter person from every experience. I choose to be better. If I can inspire someone, that’s a bonus!
AARON: Do you see a relationship between pop culture and sexuality? Is there a chance that we’re using pop culture as a medium for sexual relationships, like some people use porn? Or are these separate things? How do you understand the relationship between sexuality and pop culture?
TERA: Well, of course! “Well behaved women rarely make history”! I’m known for being a sex symbol, and I’ve built my business with my motto “Empowerment Over Exploitation.” Any news that’s “news” always revolves around sex. It’s being used as the “go to” for branding. I think we’re very desensitized, sadly. Porn, and much of today’s pop culture, needs to reel it in, so to speak. I’m a bit baffled at how men, especially, seem to need validation through social media, not just women. That’s why I actually love to cosplay. You channel who you like, it’s fun, and, for me, a creative outlet. I’m the only Hello Punisher. I combined two of my favorites, Frank Castle and Hello Kitty — my own personal spin. Who knows what I might morph into next!
AARON: Hello Punisher is a pretty impressive spin on the character. We know your fans love it, but what does that character do for you?
TERA: She’s part-bad-ass, but sensitive, too. I’ve spent most of my life traveling, working and living alone from a young age. I have a pretty thick skin and strong exterior I built up, but I’ve stayed humble and happy because I live a very blessed life. Most of my dreams have come true.