Progsheet - A Few Words With...Penny Brown

Interview by John A. Wilcox

I first came across Penny Brown quite by accident on the internet. Her beautiful face and incredible body immediately caught my eye. Watching her videos on Youtube, including her reading of H.P.Lovecraft's Call Of Cthulhu showed me other layers under the skin of the beautiful cosplayer. Check out her website and her Patreon account after you finish reading our interview. I found Penny to be thoughtful, open & engaging. I'd say she's a rare case of the artist also being the art. Read on and you'll see what I mean...

PS: Where were you born?

PB: A tiny town in the outback of Queensland in Australia.

PS: How big an influence did that area have on your youth?

PB: Not much of one. We moved a lot - so I was born in one place but we'd lived in three different towns by the time I was five.

PS: At what age did you find yourself drawn to art?

PB: As early as I can remember - I was drawing and singing and doing all manner of artistic nonsense.

PS: Were cartoons/comics/anime an important part of your childhood?

PB: Absolutely. My mother was very ill whilst I was growing up - so I did watch a lot of television. Likely the most important show to Little Penny, was the original Pokemon series. For comics, it was the Bone series, and Asterix The Gaul. Not exactly the triple A title comics - but I did get into some of those eventually in my early teens. I think though the biggest escape and pleasure for me - still is, and has always been, fantasy literature.

PS: Who were the fantasy writers that most inspired you and why?

PB: My favourite is Robin Hobb - she is flawless to me, and there is nothing about her writing that doesn't inspire me in most ways. Tamora Pierce was important growing up - she really helped me feel at home falling outside of the range of socially normal habits. Tolkien inspired me to write and create - and for a while there I became obsessed with riddles. Of course - J.K. Rowling was important.
There's actually a new author that I've found who also is very important to me named Patrick Rothfuss - and I'm sort of a person who has old favourites, and it's tough to get me to fall in love with something new, but he very easily did.
Honestly - this topic is one that I don't feel comfortable going too much into without it being intended for a mini novel. Books mean everything to me.

PS: Did you also venture into horror and/or science fiction?

PB: Not really. I mean - I've read a lot of H.P Lovecraft's short stories, and I guess Anne Rice counts as horror? But she never really carried me away. The Pern series by Anne McCaffery are considered sci-fi - but to me, if it has dragons it's fantasy. So, I think the only sci-fi I seriously loved was Ender's Game.

PS: By the time you were firmly entrenched in fantasy literature, how old were you & where were you living?

PB: Five-ish - Honestly it was that first time that my mother opened up The Hobbit to read to me. As to the other half of the question, I need to stress that we moved a lot, and I don't feel like listing all of the small towns I have spent time in, in my life.

PS: What comics commanded your attention in your teens?

PB: I loved a lot of female comic heroes and villains. I got super obsessed with Barbara Gordon, and inhaled a tonne of Birds Of Prey. Her as Batgirl was good, but I liked her better as her own character. Also Mystique was a lot of fun to read about. Harley-Quinn is naturally a fan favourite, and there is a reason for that. I also got super in to Elfquest - but that's kind of dissimilar to the rest of this list. My teens were also heavily engulfed by web-comics. I'm 26 - so I was there for the birth of Penny Arcade and other similar artists that catered to my interest in games and general nerdy culture.

PS: At what point in your life did you find yourself interested in cosplay?

PB: Around age 14 - I tried a few back then, but decided I was miserable at it and I hated the attention, so I stopped doing it till after my career sort of picked up.

PS: What aspects of cosplay do you find to be most inspiring and fulfilling?

PB: Just playing a character. I enjoy creating things, but actually walking around in costume to me is the truly fun bit. I'd be fine if someone else made all of my costumes for me - though I know the community would rip me to shreds for it. But for me, the fun comes from playing a role for a day. =)
Creativity for me can easily be vented in the form of drawings or singing or any other of my various hobbies.

PS: At some point you made the decision to alter your physicality. What led to that decision? Walk me down that road.

PB: Blarglarble. Okay - so this is a tough one to really answer. I love my body - but I don't really see it as being that big of a deal. I never have. It's just the fleshy outside bit that lets me do the things I enjoy. I personally really find tiny waists and giant boobs to be very aesthetically pleasing things to look at - and that has always been the case. From as young as I can remember - the figures I liked looking at were the extreme hourglasses. I also like chunky legs a lot too though - so saying I took complete inspiration from any particular cartoon figure (like the media does with Jessica Rabbit) is bollox. I didn't know what I would look like when I got older when I decided that I wanted to have giant breasts and a tiny waist. So I can't say that I was sure I wanted surgery when I was five - because I had no idea how I'd turn out. But in a way - yes - I knew I wanted surgery at age five - since logically I understood that the figure that I enjoyed looking at so much wasn't one that most people could achieve by just existing.

PS: What was your pre-surgery bra size & your post surgery size?

PB: Bra sizes are dumb - and I want it officially on record that I hate this question. Bra sizes mean almost nothing when compared to the same size on a different person. Female clothing sizes are a total joke to begin with - but bras are the absolute kings of bullshit in the industry. I may as well just say "I started large, and I went larger" because that is all the numbers and letters actually mean.
That being said - my natural size was around a 36H (for sciencey people, my natural flesh was around 1200cc, since that actually means something.) and my augmented size is a 36O (My implants themselves are 2530cc. Then you add the natural flesh on top, which is why they are more "realistic" than most extra extra large fake breasts tend to be.)

PS: Did the surgery cause any loss/gain to the sensitivity?

PB: Yep. Both. I lost over all breast sensitivity, and I gained nipple sensitivity.

PS: Has it changed any aspect of your daily life?

PB: Nope. I've never had small breasts - so it's not like I am suddenly experiencing a new world of bewbage.

PS: When did you move to Japan & why?

PB: My husband is military. I moved here in 2011 to get married to him.

PS: What aspects of daily life in Japan differ the most from other places you've lived?

PB: Well - I live on an American military base - so all of my culture shock comes from being an Australian dealing with Americans, not Japanese people. ;)
But I guess the biggest differences about Japanese culture specifically would probably just be the sorts of food you can find here and the limiting factors of clothing sizes.

PS: You mention that the cosplay community would rip you to shreds if you didn't make your own costumes. Is that a fair expectation? A guitarist isn't expected to build their own guitar.

PB: It's not the same thing. Being a cosplayer, you are expected to make your own costume. That is part of the experience. People would treat it like a chef creating a recipe book, only they get all of their recipes from other people. Sure - the general public isn't going to bash them for it - but other chefs may lose respect for them.

PS: After you achieved the dimensions you sought, what was the very first outfit you wore?

PB: I'm not really an outfit kind of woman. I like my tank tops and my short skirts / shorts because they are comfy and easy to wear. I only got into putting together "outfits" because I have fans that expect that. Honestly - before I spent so much time in front of the camera, my wardrobe looked like one that you'd see on a 90s cartoon. The exact same outfit X 100. Costumes are different, but it's playing the character that I enjoy. So I don't get in the outfits to just chill about my house. That would be silly.

PS: Sorry if I wasn't clear - I meant what was the very first cosplay outfit you wore?

PB: Tifa Lockhart. I was 14, it was truly awful.

PS: You mention Japanese food. Is there 1 item that those in other countries might never know to try that tastes brilliant?

Ahh! But taste buds vary my friend! Personally I'd recommend either Okonomiyaki or Takoyaki. The first is a dense, savory pancake sort of thing, the second are octopus balls. They are my two very favourite Japanese foods.

PS: What criteria go into what cosplay outfits you choose to wear?

PB: Well - I have to like the character. I'd never be comfortable cosplaying someone just because I felt like it would look good on me. Then I mostly like to stick with characters that I feel comfortable portraying. Anything that looks too annoying to wear too is generally off the table, because I enjoy movement too much.

PS: How much does the outfit decide the background you choose for the shoot?

PB: Currently - not much. I live on Okinawa, which is a teeny tiny island, south of Mainland Japan. It is made of sugar cane fields, beaches, and military bases. If I can find somewhere beautiful, I take full advantage of it, regardless of what costume I have going. But I do try and fit the theme as much as I possibly can.
For example, I knew I wasn't going to find any "haunted" places that were legal for me to visit whilst in my Velma cosplay, so I was just looking for somewhere that looked kind of run down. I found a rusty fence in a secluded area that didn't have too much noise in the background, and that became my set.
For the Fluttershy photos, I went to a botanical gardens, being sure there would be a backdrop or two that would work. I was actually very wrong. That garden didn't suit her at all - but I made the colours work afterwards in photoshop. We do what we can with the tools we have.

PS: lol It seems I was still unclear. What was the 1st cosplay outfit you wore after your surgery?

PB: Oh - um - I don't know. I guess my Rarity one. It was several months afterwards though. Healing takes time, and I wasn't thinking about costumes at that point. Sorry to not have a better answer to this.

PS: How did the H.P. Lovecraft reading project come about?

PB: I love Lovecraft, he's in the public domain, more people should know the actual story, rather than just the pop culture associated with it... It seemed pretty natural to me. =)

PS: What drew you to start a Patreon page?

PB: The desire to earn a reliable wage off of my content. Patreon really does make being an Internet content creator into a real job, rather than just the odd weird little paycheck every now and then from a few print sales, or a good month of youtube views.

PS: Beyond cosplay, what other creative endeavors are you looking to pursue to a greater degree?

PB: I'd very much like to get into burlesque. I'd also like to get some voice training, since I think my voice is fairly nice, but I have no knowledge of how to control it currently.

PS: What sort of voice training? Singing or voice acting or both?

PB: Singing - though I'd love to do voice acting. I do already have pretty good control over accents and character portrayal.

PS: What has being in the public eye added to your life that you did not expect?

PB: Nothing - to be honest. It's all pretty much what I expected.

PS: Has the attention you get had any profound emotional effect on your life at all?

PB: I'm not going to lie and say I don't get more attention now- but I've always had a fair bit, I've always been weird and fairly stand-out. I personally am a very introverted person, so some days I am just not up to leaving my house, even if I need to get stuff done, because the concept of someone recognizing me, or complimenting my appearance and trying to start a conversation is just too hard for me to deal with. It can be tough to know that it's almost impossible to blend in with the crowd and just be ignored. Even if on the streets nobody has ever been violent or cruel with their words, it can still just be too much some days.

PS: My site deals a lot with music, so can you please tell me 6 albums or artists you never get tired of listening to?

PB: Pretty much everything by the Beatles, David Bowie, and Queen.
Sonata Arctica - Ecliptica.
Tenacious D's self titled and first released album.
Caravan Palace.


Photos are copyright Penny Brown and used by kind permission

Table Of Contents