A regular in magazines like FHM and Maxim, international model Holly Wolf has three Playboy covers to her name and was the Czech Republic's 2014 Playmate of the Year. She'll also be featured in an upcoming installment of the Treadwater graphic novel series alongside Chad Coleman from The Walking Dead.
Her true passion, however, is cosplay. A long-time gamer and anime fan, she has portrayed characters like Asuna from Sword Art Online, Sailor Venus from Sailor Moon, and Princess Zelda of The Legend of Zelda franchise. For Zelda, she dished out $1,800 for the wig alone.
theScore esports caught up with Holly to talk about the best (and worst) parts of cosplay, how a girl from a religious family ends up in Playboy and why people are so hung-up on her predilection for Asian men.
Why do you cosplay?
I think it's just being a girl and loving to dress up and having lots of fun with different hair, and makeup, without having to fully change things. Wigs are fantastic. And it's just so much fun to embody characters. And when you cosplay characters, it's like you create a bond with them almost.
I find that if I don't have like props in my hand now, guns or swords or stuff when I'm doing photo-shoots, I feel awkward sometimes. "What do I do with my hands? Oh yeah, I put them on my hair, I put them on my bikini, oh yeah! Sexy!"
What are your favorite characters to cosplay as?
I do a bit of everything. What I normally tell people is, my first that I love is anime, secondly is video game characters, and then third, like on a lower spectrum is comic book characters. Just because I do watch a lot of anime and I just find their character designs super-amazing and cute, they have great armor sets, all that kind of stuff. So it's what I'm drawn to just because it's so beautiful. But obviously I play a lot of video games so that's second when it comes to cosplaying. Super heroes I like, I just find them more boring.
What is your cosplay pet peeve?
People literally commenting, saying "Oh, they don't look like that character." or "Oh, she's too old for that." For example, that was something I got on my Zelda, was "Uh, isn't Zelda supposed to be 17?"
Well yeah, that's great. But listen, this game wasn't out—like for the Zelda: Breath of the Wild, I just did—the game wasn't out 10 years ago, so I wasn't able to cosplay it (laughs). So you get these weird, judgy comments for no reason and it normally comes from people who have never cosplayed a day in their life or have no real love for it. So that's really interesting and I guess that pisses me off a little bit.
I read that you only date Asian guys and the whole interview was literally that one question. Why would someone ask that?
It's very interesting, I guess because I do work for big modelling companies like Playboy and Maxim and whatnot, so people get really hung-up on the whole "Oh my goodness, this white, blonde, Playboy Playmate who's also a lover of video games, Oh my god, she's gorgeous, she should be dating another white person.
I don't know, they get really hung up on the fact that I've dated several Asian boys, and that my current boyfriend is of course Asian. So yeah, I get a lot of questions about that and why and I don't know. It's good because I've had quite a lot of people message me from those interviews, y'know Asian guys that I guess have a little bit of self-confidence issues, they'll send me photos of them-self and be like "Do you think I'm good looking? I'm having problems getting girls" and I'm like "You're stunning! What are you talking about?" So I like helping guys out like that because I feel like society does put pressure on Asian culture a lot for weird reasons. But Hollywood and everything kind of classifies Asian men as either dorky nerds or Kung Fu fighters.
So you're a four-time international playmate, you have Playboy covers and Playmate of the Year. How did that career trajectory come to be before even the Cosplay stuff and how do you balance everything?
So I had a few friends in Toronto who are a bit younger than me who knew they wanted to be with Playboy from the moment they were legal, basically. And I was friends with them and so they were very gung-ho about that. So the Playboy thing I kind of fell into just because of who I was with and whatnot.
I went to school for musical theatre at Sheraton College in Oakville so like singing, acting, dancing. Lots of vocal classes, all that kind of stuff. I loved it, so from acting and doing dance and being in music videos with lots of local people like Shawn Desmond—I'm in several of his videos—a bunch of cool stuff. I just kind of started modelling slowly and the more I was just in the community, the more I felt that nudity is a great thing and there's nothing wrong with nudity. So I was just like "I don't mind being naked and modelling" and I guess I was just decent enough to fall into the Playboy land of modelling!
I just went with it, I was like "This is fun! This is great!" Like, my parents are Mormon, so it was pretty funny because they were like "Ughhh...okay, as long as you're happy."
With modelling, it's cool because I'm one of the only Playmate cosplayers at the moment. They've had a few gamer girls in Playboy, kind of like past generation of maybe 5, 6 years older than me or so, that are now directly working with Nintendo and stuff and it's fantastic. It's still rare, it's very rare, but people love it. It's great for my social media. People think it's great. I'm like "Oh great, I could talk about Zelda more and people aren't going to get annoyed?"
When I was a kid, I didn't really talk about video games. Through High School and college, I kind of muted it all because it wasn't as acceptable I felt. But within the last five or six years it's become more mainstream, which I think is great because, like I said, I've been playing N64, Sega Genesis, like I grew up watching my grandma play Sonic and I would get my friends to come over and beat like Ocarina of Time for me because I was too scared of certain bosses when I was a kid. I was playing games throughout my life, but in High School I felt it was a little...it wasn't cool enough. And I was like "I need to be popular girl."
Have you ever had a cosplay malfunction? If so, how did you recover in that situation?
Oh yes. FanExpo Canada in Toronto, 2 years ago almost, I was wearing a brand new Spider-Gwen outfit that I bought, like a sub-dyed outfit. Treadwater was there. So I was working with Treadwater but I was going up to visit my parents, we were going to the other side of the hall because there is North and South at FanExpo, and the zipper is from the knees up, so a big U up your crotch.
Well, I apparently have big thighs and within five minutes, the zipper broke and I wasn't wearing any underwear either because you don't want them underwear lines when you are taking photos, so luckily, I had a little flannel sweater around my waist. The zipper broke while I was taking selfies near a window, so luckily it wasn't like in an overly populated area. I was like off to the side a little bit, and so I'm taking selfies and all of a sudden I just hear a snap and I was like *gasp* and I look down and it's just a gaping giant hole and I was like "oh my goodness." So I had to tie my shirt around my waist and then through my legs and walk all the way back to the Treadwater booth.
If you want to see more of Holly's cosplays (and other assorted work) check out these links:
This interview has been edited and condensed for clarity. Photos courtesy of Holly Wolf.