South African wins Cosplay crown before coronavirus took toll on global events_1

South African cosplayer Kelsey Atkins was invited to travel to Chicago after she showcased her elaborate costume at Comic Con Africa (CCA) back in 2019.

First prize for Priestess Bathory cosplay


Also known as JinxKittie Cosplay, the talented Atkins attended the Chicago Comic & Entertainment Expo (C2E2) from 28 February to 2 March 2020.


There, she won first place in a competition that saw her going up against cosplayers from the United States, Australia, China, Austria, Singapore, Indonesia, India, Korea, France and the UK.


Atkins collaborated with artist Cinderys to create and cosplay Priestess Bathory. While cosplayers usually draw inspiration from mainstream characters, Priestess Bathory was her own creation.


View this post on Instagram

I'm back home from Chicago and it's already been a whole week since C2E2!! It truly was a whirlwind! Here's a really good pic of my Bathory cosplay taken by @tmronin 🖤 I'm excited to be working on some new projects! I'm gonna be doing a few simpler cosplays to clear my mind of the chaos of building Baorhty, but then I'll be back working on Persephone from Smite! Look forward to seeing Misa from Death Note and Nurse Princess Peach coming soon! Some cute sewing projects are much needed! xD 💜💀 Priestess Bathory design by @cinderys_art 🖤 #cosplay #cosplayer #jinxkittiecosplay #jinxkittiebutt #cosplayersofinstagram #cosplaydetails #c2e2 #championshipsofcosplay #crownchampionshipsofcosplay #southafricancosplayer #bathory #bathorycosplay

A post shared by JinxKittie | Kelsey Atkins (@jinxkittiecosplay) on



Priestess Bathory cosplay: 1 000 hours of work


Atkins said that Bathory was “the most challenging” costume she ever created. It took more than 1 000 hours and many trips to the fabric store. Speaking to Citizen, Atkins explains:


“I don’t know how much I’ve actually, physically spent on the costume in terms of money … but it was a lot”.


Other than the lace trim, the costume also called for hand embroidery, ribbon work and beading. In addition, Atkins used 3D-printed pieces to complete the look.

3D-printed cosplay props


Priestess Bathory’s staff – which featured a hand-sculpted skull spinning on a gyroscope – was powered by a small motor. The devil’s in the details, they say, and the skull’s eyes were lit by two red LEDs.




Atkins also drew her inspiration from Victorian corsetry and other historical methods of the time when creating the costume. Design elements included artificial rust, tea staining, dyes and inks.


“It’s been a really long journey working on this costume, working almost every day on it for months, right up until the day I left for C2E2.”

Bathory is ready to face the world


Atkins added the final touches with a light grey wig, white-out lenses, and a ‘bloody tears’ makeup effect. The final result was out of the world and worthy of the C2E2 crown.




Atkins described the love, care and dedication she put into her Priestess Bathory and how grateful she was that it came through in her work.


Her hard work and attention to detail and accuracy paid off and Bathory looked as realistic as she looked horrifying, even though the hard work “took it out of” Atkins. She concludes:


“I would like people to know just how much work went into this, because this really took a lot out of me. Now that I’ve won, it still hasn’t sunk in. It feels like a huge title, like huge shoes to fill. I just hope I can live up to it!”




What does the future hold for Atkins?


For now, Atkins has new, simpler projects to work on to clear her mind of the “chaos of building Bathory”. She says:


“I’ll be back working on Persephone from Smite! Look forward to seeing Misa from Death Note and Nurse Princess Peach. Some cute sewing projects are much needed!”