Scores of attractive women made their way to Comic Con in San Diego, Calif. last week to don skimpy cosplay outfits to entertain the conventions superhero fans. Many do it just for fun, but for some its a job that pays well into the six figures.
In addition to a per diem and travel costs, popular professional cosplayers can make at least $5,000 to $10,000 a show, comic book expert Christian Beranek told FOX411. If you add in mail order sales, crowd funding contributions and YouTube ad revenue, the top talents are pulling in close to $200,000 a year.
Boy Meets World actress Maitland Ward has become one of the most popular cosplay stars. She said a “Star Wars” themed photo shoot she did in 2015 got the ball rolling.
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It actually started when a few photographers who covered me and my daring red carpet looks thought it would be a cool idea if I became the girl that posed in ‘Star Wars’ gear for the holiday and annual Star Wars celebration, May the Fourth Be with You, she said. I thought it was a cool idea to shoot as slave Leia, and didn’t give it much thought. It was only after the photos came out did I realize how much fans enjoyed seeing me dressed up.
Ward wouldnt tell us how much she made for her appearances, but said theres plenty of money changing hands at the conventions.
I’ve seen cosplayers charge $20 to $30 for selfies, and they charge just as much for their autograph. I could never do that, Ward said.
Ginny McQueen has been dressing up in character costumes in 1998. Her website features a hire me section as well as a support section that allows fans to donate money to her projects, including cosplay, but McQueen said she does it because she loves it.
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(Copyright: Kyle Johnsen)
While I have received many opportunities over the years because of cosplay, it is still first and foremost a hobby for me, said McQueen.
Ward said if you don’t like it, you won’t last long.
The key to having longevity as a cosplayer is first you have to enjoy it, because most days you are on your feet all day, the costumes aren’t that comfortable, and the shoes have to match the outfit, said the 39 year old. So if you are in it to make money, you will burn out fast.
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But some critics say the original intention of celebrating comic book art, shows, and movies at the conventions has been tainted by cosplayers looking to cash in on their looks.
Some Comic-Coners probably dont appreciate the half-naked women in body paint and sexy costumes gathering crowds,” said Bill Swift, editor of Egotastic.com, a site that features many of the popular Cosplay women. “But as is the case of half-naked women in body paint and sexy costumes, the majority of fanboys are well in favor.
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Swift added that while not all women who dress up as Leia or Lara Croft are genuine fangirls, they work hard for what they earn.
The popular ones communicate with the nerd fan base 365 days a year on social media, he said. So its not as if they just show up to Comic-Con and suddenly have cred.
Fox News.com Reporter and FOX411 host Diana Falzone covers celebrity news and interviews some of today’s top celebrities and newsmakers. You can follow her on Twitter @dianafalzone.
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While conventional zoos have moved to enclosures for animals for at least part of the day, animals at some roadside zoos can spend their entire lives in a cage
I have driven by many roadside zoos in my time, but have never stopped at one. It seemed unlikely they could be any less depressing than a conventional zoo in fact, it seemed likely that they could be even more depressing.
Roadside zoos generally provide less enrichment for the animals and less education for their public. While conventional zoos have moved to enclosures for animals for at least part of the day, animals at some roadside zoos can spend their entire lives in a cage. The difference between the two is not euphemistic. At a roadside zoo, a single chimpanzee might live its entire life behind bars on concrete. Half a dozen wolves pace a cage smaller than a studio apartment. Tigers might appear to be surrounded by trees, but there are no trees in their cages they are only a backdrop used to trick the tourist into thinking that the animals live out their lives in a space that is as wooded and lush as the one the tourists are visiting. Roadside zoos are, in many ways, the way conventional zoos used to be before zoo visitors demanded more.
You might have thought that bottle feeding bears, cuddling chimpanzees and swimming with tigers are not things you would be allowed to do, even if you wanted to. But at least 75 roadside zoos in the US sell interactions with dangerous animals, such as tigers, lions, primates and bears.
This information comes from a report put together earlier this year by myself and my colleagues at New York University for the Humane Society. The report which is not publicly available summarized roadside zoos that offered interactions with dangerous animals. Searching both online text and images, we found 77 distinct facilities that allow human interactions with endangered wildlife. Florida alone has 15 roadside zoos that offer these interactions, while California has a dozen. While federal laws regulate animal exhibition facilities, state and local laws dictate whether individuals can possess dangerous animals. So, I decided to visit one of the more notorious roadside zoos that sells these interactions with dangerous animals.
When I arrived, I was asked if I was part of an animal activist group, and was warned to not talk about in person, internet, mail, fax or in any way about the visit, and to not record video or audio. Is there another family activity that refuses these basic vacation rights? (I cant say which zoo because I signed the nondisclosure agreement sent to me as a condition of my visit. An NDA is required for all visitors.)
What about swimming? A roadside zoo charges $200 to swim with baby tigers. Even without the swim component, the Humane Society estimates that a single baby tiger can bring in $65,000 in one summer (assuming 30 photo sessions at $50 per photo and five private interactive sessions at $300 per day, as was documented at one roadside zoo in Virginia). Often, the money is in photographs of the tourists interacting with those baby animals, the preservation of the experience being at least as important as the experience itself.
But life for the zoo animals is arguably more dangerous. The Animal Welfare Act is the federal law that is supposed to protect these animals from poor living conditions, except that it is too weak and infrequently enforced, with inspectors usually visiting facilities once a year. The law also does not extend to all animals reptiles are exempt, for instance, which explains the reviewer who reported that you can pay $5 at a roadside zoo in Florida to get a photograph with a small alligator with its mouth taped shut.
Although government inspections of roadside zoos are rare and the database of the inspection reports is not easy to search, the evidence suggests widespread negligence and cruelty. A 2014 report from a roadside zoo in Arkansas documented a spider monkey that lost the tips of its fingers and several baboons that lost the ends of their tails, reportedly from frostbite. These sorts of reports seem less about documenting enforcement than about formalizing a record of complacency.
That is why one of the first steps to improving roadside zoos is to ban dangerous interactions at the federal level. These would make these animals less valuable and therefore less likely to be bred, mistreated and commoditized. There is currently a petition under evaluation by the government to amend the Animal Welfare Act Regulations and prohibit public contact with big cats, bears and primates of any age.
Contrary to how it might feel, fondling dangerous animals only accentuates the divide between us and them. Havent we done enough to force that divide already?
That any roadside zoo would ask visitors to choose between advocating for animals and entering their zoo only underlines on which side of the fence I would rather be.
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The budding optimism that lifted U.S. equities to a seven-month high couldnt stand up to Fridays employment report.
Stocks in the the S&P 500 Index ended the week little changed despite a late rally that pared losses in the final session, after the weakest labor report in six years strained hopes for a quick economic rebound. As traders pushed back expectations for the Federal Reserves next interest-rate increase, banks had one of their worst days since shares bottomed in February.
The flat week followed the longest streak of monthly gains in two years, reinforcing concerns that the S&P 500 remains trapped in the same trading range that has prevailed since the index last hit a record 12 months ago. Slowing employment growth put the emphasis back on market challenges such as earnings, which are mired in the longest decline since the financial crisis, and the highest valuations in six years.
The jobs report does give ammunition to those in the market who have been defiant in their belief that the economy is not gaining momentum and cant handle a rate hike, said Quincy Krosby, a market strategist at Prudential Financial Inc., which oversees more than $1 trillion. Its been very much a traders market, because youll see some days one sector is leading and some days another sector. If you are of the belief that the economy is not gaining momentum, you may see this market become more defensive.
The S&P 500 ended Friday at 2,099.13, compared with 2,099.06 a week earlier, after briefly climbing above 2,100 for a second time this year and closing Thursday closer to its May 2015 record than any time in seven months. The Dow Jones Industrial Average slipped 66.16 points, or 0.4 percent, to 17,807.06. U.S. markets were closed Monday for Memorial Day.
The addition of 38,000 jobs last month was less than the most pessimistic of forecasts in a Bloomberg survey, bucking the trend of improving economic data that in the past month have shown strength in housing and consumer spending. The report cooled a rally that sent the S&P 500 within 1.2 percent of its all-time high. Before the week, the index had surged 15 percent from its February low as confidence grew that the economy will be strong enough to weather a rate increase as soon as this month.
Stocks in the S&P 500 erased about two-thirds of their decline Friday on hopes that a weakening labor market may force the Fed to keep rates lower for longer. Based on Fed funds futures, traders are now pricing in a 27 percent chance of a Fed boost by July, down from 55 percent earlier, while odds for a June hike have fallen to 4 percent from 22 percent.
This has moved investors not only to the idea that the Feds backed off but truly to question of if this thing is rolling over, said Jim Paulsen, chief investment strategist at Wells Capital Management, which manages $349 billion. Weve gone from the Fed may tighten to rates in two weeks to My gosh, are we recessing? I do think some of the intensity of that emotion will fade as we get through the next week.
The Chicago Board Options Exchange Volatility Index, a gauge of investor fear also known as VIX, climbed 2.7 percent to 13.47 for its third weekly advance in four.
Financial shares slumped the most among S&P 500 industries on Friday, leaving them down 1.3 percent for the week, as lower interest rates and bond yields curb lenders earnings power and erode profits at insurers that make money by investing premiums in fixed-income. Energy producers fell the second most of any industry over the four days, sinking 1 percent, as members of the Organization of Petroleum Exporting Countries rejected a proposal to adopt a new production ceiling.
Utility shares touched an all-time high and jumped 2.5 percent for the week, as investors turned to equities that pay out more as dividends relative to their share prices. The shift to defensive shares is a reversal from the last three months where companies more geared to economic growth, such as commodity producers and banks, led the markets advance.
Fridays decline did little to change the sideways movement of the market. After closing up or down less than 0.5 percent for six straight days, the longest stretch since November, the S&P 500 finished with the smallest weekly change for the year. At 18 times forecast earnings in the next 12 months, the index traded at a multiple thats near the highest level since 2010.
There is no real catalyst to drive valuations higher simply because everyone is waiting to see whether in fact things are going to continue to get better as the market has pretty much priced in, said Brad McMillan, chief investment officer of Commonwealth Financial Network in Waltham, Massachusetts, which oversees $100 billion. People are desperately trying to figure out whats going on, but the news keeps changing and there is no secular trend to ride.
To get your hands on Bitcoin, you need a computer with some considerable processing power to mine the cryptocurrency for you. Bitwalking has a different approach for distributing its virtual cash: Just put one foot in front of the other.
The idea behind Bitwalking is harnessing human movement. It tracks stepsjust like a standard fitness tracker or pedometerbut with a different outcome. As your steps rack up, so does your money. The smartphone app keeps a counter of currency along with distance traveled so users can see cents stacking up through the day.
As the money comes in, Bitwalking takes on an additional role as a digital wallet, storing the Bitwalking dollars (BW$) and allowing users to partake in transactionsbe it sending some of the custom cryptocurrency to friends or cashing it in on the app’s marketplace.
Andrew Whyte, a spokesperson for Bitwalking, told the Daily Dot the team behind the app believes “everyone should have the ability, and freedom, to make money.”
The concept has been in development since since 2014, with a mission to make walking worth something. “It doesn’t matter who you are or where you are, a step is worth the same value. What matters is how much you walk,” Whyte said.
Bitwalking insists that it isn’t simply dangling cash as a motivator to get people to walk more, nor is it just creating a “points system” for rewards or trying to “gamify” walking. What it has created is a legitimate cryptocurrency that is generated through movement; the app is just the platform for collecting it.
“At the heart of Bitwalking is allowing everyone to generate their own money by walking. The added benefits of this mining processincluding healthier lifestyles and cleaner environmentsare certainly welcome,” Whyte said.
According to the BBC, Bitwalking has already attracted the attention of Japanese investors, who have infused the platform with more than $10 million to help create the currency and the accompanying bank that handles transactions.
It’s tempting to draw comparisons between current king of cryptocurrency Bitcoin and Bitwalking dollars. (One could even say they invite the comparison by using the “bit” moniker.) Whyte explained that he and his team “align with Bitcoin-related technologies and the vision of modernizing the world economy. Blockchain technology, for example, is used to secure Bitwalking transactions. “
Despite sharing a similar vision, the currencies are still completely separate from one another; Bitcoins are generated by computer power, Bitwalking dollars by human power. That basic difference changes a considerable amount about the currencies, because while Bitcoin creates increasingly complex equations that have to be cracked by computers, Bitwalking is capped primarily by physical limitations.
For the time being, it takes 10,000 steps to generate one BW$. While there is an artificial cap placed on earnings at three BW$ per day, the 30,000 steps (about 15 miles) threshold isn’t likely to be passed by the majority of peoplethough running is tallied by the app, so a marathoner could reach the limit and keep going. Whyte said that will direct the amount of BW$ in circulation.
Unlike Bitcoin, which exchanges at more than $450 USD for one BTC, Bitwalking Dollars is linked to USD; one BW$ is equivalent to $1 USD. “This value will fluctuate as the Bitwalking economy grows, within reason to our central management,” Whyte explained. He also said that users would be able convert BW$ to fiat currencies, or currencies with no intrinsic value. Once that process begins, an exchange rate will become more clear.
That cash can be used in a variety of ways once it’s in the wallet of the walkers. Within the app, Bitwalking offers a marketplace of curated goods that can be snapped up for BW$ or USD. Going forward, the company hopes BW$ will take form as a currency that is accepted at retailers and other locations. Whyte said Bitwalking is working on partnerships with “sports brands, fitness technologies, health clubs, and insurance companies” to help legitimize the currency.
One of the more interesting aspects of Bitwalking is its potential to be utilized in developing markets. Because it doesn’t require an overclocked processor working day and night, just an increasingly affordable smartphone to passively count steps while a person goes about their day, it presents a possibility to generate additional income without extra effort.
According to a Pew Research poll conducted earlier this year, nearly 25 percent of people in emerging and developing countries have smartphones, a figure that has risen considerably over the last few years. Young people in particular are much more likely to own an Internet-capable device, making Bitwalking a tempting prospect.
If Bitwalking can make its way onto fitness trackers or pedometersdevices that can penetrate a developing market at an even lower cost than a smartphoneit could create a secondary economy for those with the technology and access to utilize it.
The app is still in its early stages, releasing only a handful of invitations to the platform at a time. With an entire economy functioning within the app, volatility among the currency and scarcity of products that can actually be bought present concern. But the ambition behind it seems plentiful, the intent noble, and the method intuitive.
Sites charge $100 a year to access private photos and videos of non-porn stars in the nude, usually posted by spurned ex-lovers but it doesnt end there
Six years ago, Rebekah Wells Googled her name to see what turned up. The results horrified her: nude photos of herself taken by her ex-boyfriend, along with her name and address, on commercial porn sites such as ImageFlea, ImageEarn and PinkMeth.
She went to the police in her home town of Naples, Florida, and a sheriffs deputy was assigned to her case. One year later she became romantically involved with the deputy, and after the relationship fizzled, Wells claims the police officer threatened to upload a new batch of her nudes.
She felt nauseated, embarrassed and angry. Wells managed to get her photos removed and filed suit against her ex and the sites, but the lawsuit fizzled. She also launched a site, Women Against Revenge Porn, to help other victims of abuse, though it is closed for now. But the sites that posted her photos werent just trying to satisfy her exs pathological desire for revenge they were there to make money.
According to the Pew Research Center, four out of 10 people have been insulted, shamed, stalked, bullied or harassed online. Revenge porn is just one of the ways sites are profiting from internet abuse. And even sites that dont profit directly may benefit in other ways from the attention online abuse can bring.
Cops dont do this cyber stuff
Revenge porn sites such as SeenMyGF or MyEx charge $100 a year to access private photos and videos of non-porn stars, almost invariably women, usually posted by spurned ex-lovers. But it doesnt end there. As with every adult site, theres an entire ecosystem supporting them from domain registrars and web hosting services to upstream bandwidth providers and online payment systems. Everybody gets their cut.
I have had clients tell me the cops confessed to them they dont do this cyber stuff, he says. Another barrier to prosecution is the blame the victim mentality, which is still fairly prevalent.
A handful of victims have also won high-profile civil lawsuits. Last December, a Texas court awarded Bindu Pariyar $7.25m after her ex-husband posted thousands of nude photos and videos of her online. (She also claims that he forced her to work in a strip club and as a prostitute.) But Pariyar told a Nepali news site she doesnt expect to collect much from her ex, and the damage is probably irreparable: her nude photos have spread to mainstream porn sites.
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