There’s little doubt as to who is the Queen of Cosplay — it’s Jessica Nigri. The Reno-born model, YouTuber and convention personality has 2.8 million followers on Facebook, nearly a million on Instagram, 692,000 on YouTube, and 452,000 on Twitter.
Add to those numbers the fact that today, August 5, is Jessica Nigri’s birthday — well, if you’re gonna do a Jessica Nigri post, today’s the day. She’s turning 26, which is not a terribly special number, but a decent cap for a list of most epic costumes considering she has done many dozens. So that’s why there are 26 here.
Jessica did not start out as the most authentic cosplayer, making her splash at San Diego Comic-Con 2009 as “Sexy Pikachu.” It was just a yellow two-piece with some Pikachu-esque accessories and ridiculous boots, sort of a nerdy take on the “sexy animal” costume so beloved of sorority girls. Whether Sexy Pikachu was technically cosplay or not, the press she got for the outfit brought “cosplay” into mainstream vocabulary, and made Jessica the first celebrity cosplayer. Over the years she has returned to the “sexy _____” template plenty of times, but has also done a good deal of more faithful costumes, or inventive costumes that put battle armor on Disney characters or feminize male characters. Still, there remains a hardcore element who think that cosplay should not be about sex appeal, and to them Jessica Nigri is the Antichrist.
Antichrist? No, Jessica Nigri is not the Antichrist. She’s not even the Sexy Antichrist. At worst, she’s Veigar, the Tiny Master of Evil from League of Legends. Love her or not, you cannot deny this: She is 26 years old today. Happy birthday, Jessica Nigri.