About a week before the internet’s favorite superhero Deadpool stars in his own movie starring the glossy Ryan Reynolds, I’m on the phone with another internet favorite: D-Piddy. He’s a cosplayer/sketch comedian who dresses like Marvel’s mouthy assassin at different comic conventions making YouTube videos that turn into GIFs on Reddit and Imgur.
To add to his mystique, D-Piddy refuses to disclose his real name. But he’s surprisingly soft spoken, and sounds defeated. He wants to retire Deadpool.
“There’s this stigma that Deadpool is the worst character you could cosplay at a convention now,” he says to me, “because [people are] being jerks.”
When D-Piddy started cosplay, barely anybody knew who Deadpool was. “People mistook me for Spider-Man,” he recalls. “I had a lot of fun because the people who knew who I was, they were like ‘Oh my gosh, there’s Deadpool.’ It was fun being the only Deadpool.”
But how D-Piddy used to stand apart now drowns him out. “At the last couple of conventions I would hear, ‘There’s another Deadpool.’ I asked if I could shoot a video, and they said, ‘You’re trying to be like the D-Piddy guy.’ And I’m like, ‘No, I am the guy.’”
“I started a bad rap for Deadpool,” he adds, referring to the recent intolerance for Deadpool at conventions. “Some of my videos turned into GIFs, and [people] would see me slap a butt or grab Elsa’s breasts or something you’re not supposed to do. But they do it, and they think it’s just because you’re Deadpool.”
With the new Deadpool movie releasing, I reached out to D-Piddy to talk about his impact on fandom. Instead, I found a man who’s unsure about it all.
So, do you love Deadpool, or was he just a way to express yourself?
Both. I didn’t grow up reading Deadpool. I was always a Spider-Man, X-Men guy. I collected trading cards, and I remember seeing Deadpool, I just didn’t really know who he was until I started reading Civil War. He was a funny guy! I started reading back issues and became a fan.
What is it about Deadpool that you like?
I like antiheroes. Spider-Man is my favorite hero of all-time, but I do like edgy characters. [Deadpool’s] not a try-hard like Punisher; he’s an extremist in his methods but he has a funny side. It’s not grim reading his books. It’s lighthearted, but, at the same time, has an edginess to it.
I can’t say I act like him, but I do like a lot of the things he talks about. I’m online a lot; I play games; I’m into things in pop culture like anime. The little hints he throws in from pop culture and that kind of thing resonates with me. He does a call back to Naruto, other things that are not in the Marvel Universe. He has awareness. My fandom has an extension to Doctor Who and video games and stuff, so seeing all of my fandoms in one comic book is cool.
You dress as other characters besides Deadpool. How do you decide the characters you pick?
I started doing Deadpool in 2009. I’ve been cosplaying since 2004. Before the whole secret identity thing, which was a total accident, I did characters without masks or anything to cover my face to hide my identity. So I did other characters I like: I did Ichigo from Bleach. I did K49 from King of Fighters. I did a lot of other characters from video games, comic books, and anime that didn’t cover the face.
But then when I did Deadpool, a couple of my videos went viral on Reddit and people were wondering who this guy is. I wanted to reveal myself, and then my friends were like, “How cool would it be if no one knows who you are and you’re just this guy who messed around with everybody at the conventions?” So it’s been an on-going joke since my first video.
Now, the characters that I pick for my YouTube channel, I try to do characters I like and also have some type of thing to cover my face. Luigi doesn’t wear a mask at all, but I figured out to cover my face with a big nose and fake eyes.
So you don’t keep your identity secret for privacy reasons?
It started off as a joke, but I do have friends in the cosplay community who have large fanbases and they get creepy letters. I hang out [with my friends] at conventions when I’m not in costume. My friend who is popular gets stopped, people taking pictures, and I’m just there thinking, “Thank goodness no one knows what I look like.” I can roam around and do my own thing without being stopped. Looking at the repercussions of being internet famous, I prefer to not be known at all. I can go to a panel at a convention, do things I want to do at conventions like before I became D-Piddy.
I was wondering if you have any thoughts on you being this new kind of celebrity.
I think the internet celebrity is a new type of celebrity. They make content. Some people will recognize them, mostly at conventions. Last month we were at a restaurant and two girls recognized one of my cosplay friends. They were like, “Oh my God, are you. …” A lot of younger people are online more than they watch television and read print, and a lot of companies are using these faces to promote stuff via selfies and YouTube videos.
What are your favorite cons to visit, especially as Deadpool?
Anime and comic cons are different in terms of people and cosplayers. Comic conventions are a little more snobbish; it’s a little harder for me to convince them to do something. Maybe because they’re a little older. Gaming conventions, I don’t cosplay because I want to play the video games.
My personal favorite is New York Comic Con because it’s a mix. It’s a comic convention, but, at the same time, there’s anime and other fandoms. Dragon*Con and Katsucon, which is in a week or two.
Do you get permission to do the skits with strangers?
I do. I ask and explain to them exactly what I’m going to do step by step, if it’s OK to grope their breasts or anything. I’ve had a couple people say no, but most people say yeah. It’s entertainment, it’ll be funny. A lot of them are pretty chill about it.
Do you think you’re a victim of your own success?
I announced I would not be doing Deadpool at conventions anymore. I would still be Deadpool for YouTube, but I wouldn’t be going to conventions as Deadpool because I have so many ideas and costumes I want to do. I can’t do them at conventions [right now] because the convention that invites me, I’m under contract to be Deadpool for a number of days. I’m trying to lay off Deadpool at conventions now.
Are you excited for the movie?
Yeah, of course. It looks great so far. It seems like they have a mix of dark [Marvel writer] Fabian [Nicieza] and somewhat goofy Daniel Way in there.
I’ve said the same thing about other movies and I was wrong, though. Like Man of Steel. When I saw the trailer for Man of Steel I thought it was going to be the greatest superhero movie ever, it’s going to make a billion dollars, and Iron Man 3 beat it! It wasn’t great. The fight didn’t make sense.
I read scoop sites. I’m up to date with casting news, and whatever. I get excited, then I see the trailers and get excited, and then I see the final product and I’m like, “Shit, they blew it.” I think it’s going to be good, but if it’s amazing, then great! If it sucks, then I’ll be like, “Oh, yeah.”
What’s next for your YouTube channel?
It’s hard to do sketch comedy that doesn’t involve some fandom. I mean, that’s my fanbase. Also, I hide my face. I think people assume I’m a big Marvel fan, but I’m a bigger Star Wars fan. I’m planning to do a Kylo Ren for London Comic Con, and I’m planning on doing the FN-2189 Stormtrooper. I’m working on the baton right now.
An Update from D-Piddy
A few days later, D-Piddy sends me an email.
“I kinda figured out why I was quitting Deadpool at conventions,” he writes. On Feburary 9, X-Men star Hugh Jackman posted on Facebook a meme showing none other than D-Piddy himself. The Hollywood star didn’t shout out D-Piddy at all.
“That original photo is a picture of me from 2011, and the picture he cropped it’s actually from a meme I made,” he explains. “I didn’t invent Deadpool, but all the jokes and gags and sketches I’ve made are material me and team has thought of.”
D-Piddy clarifies he isn’t demanding compensation. He just wants props.
“I was basically promoting this movie for years before it was even greenlit,” he vents. “A lot of my followers have even admitted they’ve never heard of Deadpool before my videos, and seeing how a majority of anime geeks are now into Deadpool since I used to only attend anime/manga conventions, I think says something. A lot of people also started cosplaying Deadpool.” (Emphasis his.)
“[I]t’s not just Fox,” he adds, “but also BuzzFeed, 9GAG, and countless other Facebook pages and superhero Twitter and Instagram accounts stealing material boosting their fancount … there is zero mention of me 90 percent of the time.”
Deadpool isn’t his creation, but D-Piddy knows his role in the character’s popularity. But his own efforts have left him the blame for fandom’s worst, and is ignored when it comes to its best.
“I don’t want to sound all conceited and high and mighty and that I started the whole Deadpool revolution … but I kinda did.”