Greetings gay geeks and gaymers! Our cosplay crush this week is CJ from San Antonio, Texas! He has a bachelor’s degree in Zoology, plays the trombone and love to spend his time cycling and wearing lycra! He’s cosplayed as the Mighty Morphin’ Red Power Ranger and the Blue Power Ranger. You may have seen him at South Texas ComicCon, and Power Morphicon.
Which character have you always wanted to cosplay as but haven’t yet?
Captain America! Nathan Drake from Uncharted, Batman, the last one one is for my partner, and he has a thing for Batman, so you know, I have to oblige 😉
How old were you when you started doing cosplay?
I am new the Cosplay arena, so I just put my first cosplays together, and it’s awesome.
What got you into cosplay in the first place?
I moved to a new city, from Austin to San Antonio, and decided I wanted to try to meet new people in the city. I always had an appreciation for cosplayers but never thought I’d do a cosplay of my own. Anyway, saw some Power Ranger helmets online one day as I was browsing through Facebook and Instagram, and one thing lead to another, then found a Power Ranger group in my area, and BOOM! Became the Blue Power Ranger!
What is it about cosplay that you like the most?
I just enjoy wearing the suits. It makes me feel like a superhero just for a minute. Now I know I’m not gonna have these mad fighting skills, or a huge zord to jump on, but it just takes me out of the busy world of healthcare for a second and reminds me that I’m human.
In your own words, what does cosplay mean to you?
Cosplay is the art of imagination and collaboration with your peers, to build a persona that is more so the identity you hold within, a persona that the professional world would not care to understand whether because of the sheer creativity of the individual or incredible factor the person possesses.
Cosplay means a lot to me, I mean I’ve spent time and money on this endeavor, and to be honest, it makes me feel empowered to some degree. It makes me feel like no matter what is going on in the world, that for the moment you put on the suit, everything is suddenly better. Then it’s, even more, moving when a kid runs up to you in excitement to want to give you a high five and get a photo with you.
In my life, I’ve realized that when I put on the suit, it doesn’t just mean I get to walk around in shiny lycra, it actually means I have a responsibility (as cheesy as that sounds), because if someone walks up to want to take a photo with you or to shake your hand, especially kids, that means something to them. Maybe this is the moment that the kids, or the ‘kid inside the adult,’ is meeting their hero for the first time, and having a hero is like having hope. So it’s impacted my life a lot in a way that I wouldn’t have thought, I see smiles from passers by, and realize that I may have brought some joy to someone else, and to me, that’s the best gift of all.
There are a lot of opinions about body image when cosplaying, what are your views?
Well I know for a fact I’m in no way, shape, or form in any position to be shaming anyone, my body is a work in progress, and I hope to become #RangerFit soon enough, but I know it’s a journey. That being said, I think that people should not judge others just because they’re not tall enough, muscular enough, lean enough, etc. We are all different, that’s what makes us unique, I think people need to be there to support each other when it comes to cosplay because there are already enough people out there that don’t understand why people as adults would want to dress up and do the things cosplayers do.
What’s your most memorable experience while cosplaying?
I went to Power Morphicon this year, I went on my own, hoping to make some friends out in LA while I was attending the con. Prior to heading out to LA, I was messaged by a Cosplayer whom I was a fan of, Billy Celiz, and we got to talking about our cosplays, he particularly mentioned my MMPR Blue Ranger cosplay and I was in awe that someone who was, in my opinion, like a professional cosplayer had complimented me on my suit… We kept talking and long story short, he asked me if I wanted to go in on the cost of an AirBnB while out in LA at PMC with him and some other guys. Of course, I took the offer, and now I’m good friends with Billy and his partner Matt, and of course I wouldn’t have met someone I now call one of my best friends Ryno AKA Ryan Clavin. (Ryan has an awesome Podcast, you should look it up, if you like Disney, and other things).
What’s an interesting fact about yourself outside of cosplay?
I’m a Doctor of Physical Therapy AKA a PT, and I work with individuals who have neurological injuries such as Spinal Cord Injury, Multiple Sclerosis, Stroke, and Parkinson’s disease and then those who have had amputations and wounded warriors. I assist these individuals to return to their life in spite of the disease/injury.
Has to be a minority affected your perspective on cosplay?
Being a minority hasn’t changed my perspective on cosplay, I’ve met many Latino Cosplayers, and lots of the have a great fan base. I often think that there are more minorities who cosplay than any other demographic, it’s great to see it!
Do you have a cosplay “team?”
I do step in occasionally with the Texas Power Rangers, and those guys are so kind and so fun to be around. We have had several opportunities to be around in the community, which is great! The kids love us, and it’s so great to see the kids get excited and want to give us hugs and high fives!
What was your most expensive/hardest cosplay you did and why?
I just purchased a Rav Seams Blue MMPR Suit, and it’s the most pricey of my suits, but it’s so worth it. I put it on, and I feel like I truly am the Blue Power Ranger!
Do you have any cosplay pet peeves?
It bugs me how some cosplayers think they’re too good for everyone else, either because they have a “better” suit or because they’re in “better” shape. I remember overhearing someone at a cosplay yelling at someone because that someone had mistaken the cosplayer for someone else. In my head I thought, “dude, your just a guy in lycra like the rest of us, shut up and enjoy it, and who cares if they assumed you were someone else, they were still excited to see you.”
Do you feel like the cosplay world has changed over the last years? More free and accepting?
In the short time, I’ve been an active cosplayer, I feel like there is more opportunity to be yourself. It’s incredible to see how the dynamics of cosplay work when you’re at a con. I think there is an appreciation for the effort of the cosplay that people forget (or don’t care) about your race, ethnicity, religion, sexual orientation, etc. They just value an excellent cosplay for the suit, and props.
Has being LGBT affected how you cosplay?
No, not really. If anything it’s helped me make some pretty great friends. It’s actually helped me understand who I am, and made me realized there is nothing wrong with being gay. I love it!
I don’t notice much, and I’m guessing because the identity of the cosplayer doesn’t matter, only the actual cosplay does.
Who is your favorite cosplayer?
I’d have to say, my good friend, Billy Celiz. He’s helped me to understand the cosplay world and has introduced me to many new friends, and he’s an excellent cosplayer himself, I mean look at his cosplays. As well as my buddy Dougie, aka the @WeeGreenRanger, this guy is so welcoming, and, in my opinion, the definition of what it means to be a cosplayer.
What would you say to a first time cosplayer?
Don’t get discouraged. Just be you, and that’s it, enjoy being in your cosplay, after all, once suited up, you become the hero, or villain, or whoever/whatever it is you are cosplaying.
Don’t give up, and don’t feel that you have to spend tons of money to look good, buy a t-shirt, and put on a mask, and the rest is imagination. Ask questions to fellow cosplayers, and sometimes you can turn that mask and t-shirt into something phenomenal.
Where can fans get more of you (social media, websites, etc.)?
Instagram. That’s about it, I don’t have many social media sites, I’m hoping to make a Facebook Page for my Cosplay soon.