Happy Wednesday, gay geeks and gaymers! We have a special treat for you guys. We got to talk with Anthony Grillo from Dallas Texas. He’s a 2nd-degree black belt and GumDo Master in Tae Kwon Do and co-owner of the geeky-training inspired brand Muscle Geek Physique. You may have seen our Cosplay Crush of Reese a few weeks back.
He’s cosplayed as ShiShi Ranger (Daigo, Green DaiRanger), RedFalcon (Choujuu Sentai Liveman), Black Kyoryuger (Black Dino Charge Power Ranger), and the Black Mighty Morphin Movie Ranger. You may have seen him a PowerMorphicon and Dallas Comicon this year.
How old were you when you started doing cosplay?
Well, you can honestly say from the moment I turned 8. I was the original red ranger for Halloween, countless years. Professionally, I have been Cosplaying for only a year.
What got you into cosplay in the first place?
Growing up as an only child, I met a lot of pushback from family and friends about my personal life. I didn’t have siblings to turn to, so I found refuge in the superhero universe. I found an attachment to the American version of Super Sentai. I knew that one day I had to become a power ranger! Now that I have the abilities in life to focus on my personal goals, I chose to start cosplaying those that I grew up admiring. As an adult, I get to be a Power Ranger! I connected with a close friend of mine, Billy Celiz, who has become my Big CosBrother. He gave me the nudge I needed to order my first helmet and put together my first cosplay. I couldn’t thank him enough!
What is it about cosplay that you like the most?
It’s the fun and joy that I love the most about cosplay. For the day, I get to be an actual superhero. I get the ability to walk around with others who love the superhero universe and portray some that impacted my life and made me into the man I am today. The happiness I get from it makes it all worth the time and energy spent putting together an epic cosplay.
How do you define cosplay?
Cosplay to me is the portrayal of a person’s inner power. Being able to express your inner geek and showing off your true form. Who wouldn’t want to be a SuperHero… or SuperVillan… for a day!
Cosplay is an escape from reality. Every day is a new challenge, regardless of work, social media, the world around us, Cosplay means the ability to live another life, a life filled with hope and capacity to create good for everything around us. Sometimes we get lost in the constant cycle of life, why not become something that is a symbol of good!?!
Since I started cosplaying, I have found a whole new world of friends and colleagues. Cosplay allowed my to meet my partner – James Reese – who is someone that I can suit up with, be nerdy with, geek out with. He and I have the opportunity to plan and design what we want to do next. I have someone in my life now that I can wear a Ranger helmet around without criticism or judgment. He makes me want to be a better ranger! Cosplay has allowed me to become involved with a community of people that understand me when I make a comic book reference or get giddy about the release of the new Power Rangers movie. It has allowed me to express a side of myself that I find pure happiness in and I don’t have to hold back from expressing!
What are your views of being body positive when doing cosplay?
My partner and I both agree that being healthy and body positive is a daily thing. There is something about putting on spandex that makes the mind think, “What else can I do to be in the best shape possible?” I look at cosplay as a form of motivation. If you are comfortable in your skin and can look in the mirror with confidence and strength, then I say wear your character proudly! Everyone wants to be #RangerFit or #FitWithTheForce, why not use Cosplay for the motivation to do just that and mold yourself in the hero or villain you’ve always wanted to be!
What’s your most memorable experience while cosplaying?
I would say my most memorable experience was my first Cosplay at PowerMorphicon 2016. I had the greatest honor of teaming up with five other individuals to suit up as the full cast of Gosei Sentai DaiRanger! This was also the first con that my partner and I attended together. Walking in with my team and holding my boyfriend’s hand proudly, was a pivotal part of starting my Cosplay lifestyle. From shooting footage of the crew to walking around the con with James at my side, every moment felt like I was writing my action adventure novel. Having children recognize your uniform and asking to take pictures, to meeting the original stunt actors that wore your suit, it’s all priceless.
What’s a tip you give to others who want to get into cosplay?
I would say, always choose your favorite characters. Be someone you want to be. If your not going to enjoy the portrayal of a character, then its hard to be excited and play the part. Start easy, have fun with it, and don’t forget, you’re doing this for you! ENJOY THE MOMENT!
What’s an interesting fact about yourself outside of cosplay?
I have a weakness for all fruity candy. I love sweets! It’s a horrible weakness, especially living a healthy lifestyle that involves dawning four-way stretch on a regular basis. Keep it away from me, and I’ll eat it all!
Besides cosplay, what other nerdy/geeky things do you do?
Watch all things Super Sentai and Power Rangers related. Mortal Kombat Gamer
Follow all things DC and Marvel – Flash, Green Arrow, SuperGirl, Legends of Tomorrow, Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D., X-Men Movies and Anime, Deadpool, etc. just to name a few 😉
What upcoming events will we see you cosplay at again?
Alamo City Comicon – October 28th through October 30th – San Antonio TX
Marvelous Nerd Year’s Eve – December 29th through January 1st – Dallas TX
C2E2 – April 21st through April 23rd – Chicago IL
San Diego Comicon – July 20th through July 23rd – San Diego CA
Do you have a cosplay “team?”
I don’t have a set cosplay team, but I do have a group of people that I will always team up with for cosplay:
My CosPartner: James Reese (IG: musclegeekphysique)
My CosBrother: Billy Celiz (IG: billyceliz)
My CosSiblings: Sebastian Victor (IG: arealdorkiehero), Katja Mimms (IG: krabbit84), Kevin Gadzalinski (IG: kjeezy87) and Wilson Sommer (IG: virtuallywilson)
What was your most expensive/hardest cosplay you did and why?
I think my most expensive and hardest so far was my first – ShiShiRanger – and it’s still not complete. Each component came from a different design and seamster. I had parts coming in from all over the world! It looks amazing put together, and I could be happier. There are more components that I want to add on, holsters and sidearms, additional weapons, but all in good time. Learning the moves also complicated things. ShiShi was a part of a six-person team up. Like the suit, everyone lived in different regions of the US, so we had little practice time together. It all looked amazing when put together. No one knew that it took a year to complete!
Do you have any cosplay pet peeves?
Walking around without AC! You can be in your best Cosplay, ready to take on a con and show off all your hard work… but without temperature control, things get uncomfortable and sweaty really fast! Venues, please… make sure the air is turned on, maximum blast!
Anything you would like to say to your fans?
Cosplay isn’t just about how cool you look in a suit, it’s about being something that inspires you and makes you a better person. A real cosplayer isn’t someone who belittles or disrespects another cosplayer, it’s someone who leads others towards being happy in their own skin. It’s not about a status and the number of followers you have, it’s about showing off your pride as a character and allowing people to see what makes you function, from the inside out! No one should ever be bullied for their cosplay and designs. Be yourself and love your Cosplay! Own your character and your creations. Never let anyone put you down for your work.
Has being LGBT affected how you cosplay?
Not at all! Regardless of my personal life, I go to have fun. If anything, it has helped me to be a better cosplayer and become a role model for those looking for a way to be able to express themselves openly! Do what you do, be yourself!
What issues have you noticed between being a cosplayer and being an openly out LGBT cosplayer?
I personally do not feel like I have seen any issues, thus far. Other than the normal banter of those that are not LGBT, straight and gay alike are walking around in tight suits, arms out, being free with who they are and how they are dressed. You typically can’t tell the difference between one or the other, we are all wearing a dancers belt and some form of compression suit to pull it all in!
Do you make your costumes or have them made?
I do a mix of both. My suits are custom made to fit. Helmets and props have been crafted to desired specifications. Personal adjustments and customization are done by hand at home.
Who is your favorite cosplayer?
Call it cliche, but I don’t have one specific favorite cosplayer. My vote goes out to all the cosplayers who support each other and guide one another through the process. My partner and CosBrother wear their suit with pride and dedication. Every photo they take is done with thought and the knowledge that they are being captured and immortalized as that character forever! It inspires me daily to improve what I do with my suits and to enhance the experience however I can. Once your in, you’re hooked!
Favorite memory from a con?
PowerMorphicon 2016 – As ShiShiRanger I had the chance to meet the original stunt double, who positioned me exactly the way he posed for the show! To have someone guide me and help me to enhance my cosplay, especially an original cast member, is more rewarding than ever!
Worst experience at a con?
Getting stuck in a corner! Once the helmet goes on, everyone wants a photo! I love anyone who supports the fandom and wants to capture a moment in time with a ranger or any other cosplay. But, as soon as the cameras start taking photos, you can’t move! Your helmet starts to fog up, and you can’t talk or move much because your peripheral vision is blocked.’ so you just stand and wait until the photo ops finish. Word of advice, get into a pose that is comfortable and easy to hold!
What was your first cosplay? And do you feel like you have improved?
My first cosplay was ShiShiRanger. I think I set the bar so high for my first, that I am finding it hard to make sure I match the detail and finesse that went into it. From the crafting of the weapons to making sure every piece of material matched, i have now set a personal standard to perfect each cosplay for myself. I strive for perfection, no matter what.
Where can fans get more of you (social media, websites, etc.)?