All images credit KING ANGEL
Fancy being served by waiters and waitresses dressed in cute glittery anime-esque maid costumes and butler uniforms for a change?
Turns out, maid cafés are a type of cosplay restaurants where its staff play the role of servants who treat customers as their masters (and mistresses) rather than as café patrons.
This literally takes the phrase ‘customer is king’ to a whole different level!
Originating in Japan, this subculture has spread throughout the world and is gradually gaining popularity amongst the Malaysian ACG (Anime, Comic, Games) community.
“I think it’s because of the services. Customers get a lot of attention from the cute maids and handsome butlers who serve them,” 22-year-old maid Angel, also known as KING ANGEL or Angel HalloQween Chooi, says.
What’s more, patrons get to bond with the maids and butlers through conversations and games. It’s a completely different albeit a unique makan experience!
Hailing from Puchong, Angel is currently a full-time kindergarten teacher and is pursuing her degree in Early Childhood Education.
During her free time, she freelances as a model and makeup artist, and runs her own maid café – Her Majesty’s Mansion.
Angel has been in the ACG community since 2011, but her foray into cosplay only began in 2014.
“It all started out with my passion for makeup and styling. When I got into the ACG community, I instantly fell in love with the colours and energy of the community to bring their favourite characters and ideas to life.”
“I cosplayed as Ciel Phantomhive from Black Butler first. It was for an assignment for Author’s Day when I was studying in SEGi College Subang Jaya.”
Ever since then, Angel has cosplayed at least 10 different characters.
In 2015, Angel actively got involved in the maid café scene, joining Comic Fiesta first as a volunteer for their maid café, La Petite Fox (LPF).
Here is where she insists that being a maid is different than cosplaying.
When I dress up, it is not acting. It’s not just throwing on a costume with hair and makeup to role play as a character; I am simply being myself.”
“I like to dress up, it doesn’t even have to be an event or a special occasion, I just do it because I feel like it. The way I dress reflects my daily mood.”
Angel adds that it is not necessary to create a persona when one works as a maid or butler. The individual merely has to be their best self.
“All customers have a specific ‘type’ that they like, but it’s not up to us to please everyone,” she adds.
Interestingly, Angel did find it awkward calling customers masters at first but over time she got used to it.
“Calling our costumers ‘masters’ is one of the things we practice during our training sessions,” Angel explains, adding that it takes hours of training to be a flawless maid or butler.
Within a year, she got promoted to the position of a head maid after training and had been working in all LPF events for 2015 and 2016. She had also joined other maid cafés for anime events in other states.
“Being a maid is a profession to me, it is an occupation. Because of that, I don’t see it as cosplay. I see the outfits as uniforms and not costumes.”
“As a maid, you have to be in your best behaviour and always have the best customer service game on while smiling for the entire day and interacting with patrons.”
“In a café, even when your closest friends come, you have to stay professional and treat them as your other masters,” she reveals, adding that the hours being in costume is longer.
Her toughest challenge is to keep up with all the friends and ‘fans’.
“I am bad at remembering names and faces and I could be introverted at times. I rarely initiate communication with people in the community, but it’s a necessary ‘skill’ to ‘stay relevant’ in the community.”
One of the most memorable moments that happened to her was when a customer confessed his feelings for her.
“It was during the second year I worked at Comic Fiesta. He said that he ‘felt something for me’ ever since I spoon-fed him the previous year. He even performed magic tricks for me after confessing.”
Angel considers 2017 to be the year her maid career really took off. In May this year, online ACG media platform MAGIC RAIN approached Angel to help create and conduct a maid café for their event.
Angel took this opportunity to create her own maid café, Her Majesty’s Mansion, and ran their first event, Secret Garden, with MAGIC RAIN. In just 6 months, Her Majesty’s Mansion has successfully conducted and collaborated in a total of 3 events.
“Her Majesty’s Mansion is an event based maid and butler café. We create events with different comforts and themes to suit the event. We strive to spread quality maid and butler café experiences in Malaysia,” Angel explains.
Now, she hopes to one day operate her own maid café at a fixed location.
“I would like to keep the maid culture as active as possible in Malaysia because I can see how happy our masters are to see us every time they come home.”