Hey, gay geeks and gaymers! Our cosplay crush this week is Jarrod Whitmore aka Stray Cat Cosplay from Plainfield, Connecticut. He’s a semi-professional cheerleader and a pro-wrestler in training. During his spare time he’s playing fighter or RPG video games. Jarrod Whitmore is 27-years-old and has been cosplaying ever since he was 17-years-old. He’s been to Anime Boston, Connecticon, Another Anime Convention, Katsucon, Otakon, and ColossalCon.
You might have seen him cosplay as Gnar from League of Legends, Raichu from Pokemon, Guilty Gear, Blazblue, Shadow Hearts, Gravitation, and a few characters from Fire Emblem and RWBY.
What got you into cosplay in the first place?
Being a huge geek, I was naturally a member of the anime club in high school. They organized a trip to a convention, and my friends suggested I go in cosplay with them.
What was your first cosplay? And do you feel like you have improved?
My very first cosplay was Haku from Naruto. It meant a lot to me because my boyfriend at the time cosplayed Zabuza with me. Unfortunately, I haven’t had the chance to do a couple’s cosplay or photoshoot with another guy since, but I hope to make up for that one day! I know I have improved. Thanks to the photos I’ve had taken, I can see the quality of my work improving with each passing con.
What is it about cosplay that you like the most?
I think it’s the process of creating something. As cosplayers, we have a drawing or 3D model of a fictional character and then take on the challenge of bringing them into the real world. Many times, these characters’ outfits or weapons don’t quite make sense (or follow the laws of physics) so we often have to take creative measures to pull it off. It’s seeing the end result of this process that I find the most satisfying. The attention you get doesn’t hurt either.
Cosplay is the art of transforming yourself into a character. It’s a way to showcase your creative talent as well as open yourself up and tell the world what your favorite characters/series/movies, etc. are. To me, cosplay is an outlet to freedom. It opens up a new way for me to love and accept myself. The confidence boost I feel from being in full cosplay is like an adrenaline rush I’ve become addicted to.
I have met so many wonderful people from being actively involved in the cosplay community. Friendships that continue long after the convention or photoshoot is over. It also keeps me motivated to stay in good shape and take care of my body.
What are your views of being body positive when doing cosplay?
Confidence is such an important quality to possess both in and out of cosplay. Regardless of your body type, it takes some serious courage to be able to walk down the street in a bodysuit and oversized weapon. The characters we cosplay were not created for any one type of person to enjoy. The same can be said for cosplaying. If you love something, express it to the world and surround yourself with like-minded people.
What was your most expensive/hardest cosplay you did and why?
My earlier cosplays were quite expensive because I didn’t know what I was doing. Getting 3 yards of leather to make belt…yeah, glad those days are behind me. I’ve since become a little more money savvy. Still, the costs tend to sneak up on you as you’re working on a lot of small details in an outfit.
Do you feel like the cosplay world has changed over the last years? More free and accepting?
Convention-goers are some of the most accepting and open minded people I’ve met. That has, thankfully, never changed. But I see trends come and go all the time. Standing out is not always easy to do.
Has being LGBT affected how you cosplay?
Somewhat. I’ve put my own spin on sexualized characters who are typically only cosplayed by females. Genderbending a cosplay (switching the gender/outfit of a character) is perhaps more accepted and well-received by the LGBT community. I have never felt like I couldn’t represent myself and who I want to be. The cosplay community has always been more than accepting.
Who is your favorite cosplayer?
Trickssi is a good friend of mine and we’ve recently started working together for cosplay photoshoots. I also greatly admire the work of Shinrajunkie and, of course Yaya Han.
Worst experience at a con?
I was cosplaying Gnar from League of Legends at Katsucon when the fire alarms went off. I had to be evacuated in freezing cold weather wearing only a loincloth.
What’s a tip you give to others who want to get into cosplay?
Absolutely go for it! Whether you want to be the most obscure or the most popular character out there, you will have fun and meet some of the nicest people who share the same interests as you.
Cosplay is an adventure. Learn to love every moment of it, from the tedious work of getting a small detail right, to the amazing memories you’ll make with the people you meet. And be prepared to get addicted.
You’ve been to a few cons, which one did you like the most and where will we see you cosplay at next?
After my first trip to ColossalCon this past summer, it has definitely become my new favorite. It’s such a beautiful venue and everyone there is so relaxed and friendly. It may as well be called VacationCon. I am currently packing for Another Anime Convention in New Hampshire. I also have plans to attend MAGFest for the first time next year.
Anything you would like to say to your fans?
I am intensely grateful for all of the positivity. It is because of that attention that I continue to do what I love with confidence. So don’t be shy. If you like someone’s cosplay – tell them!! Your words have a greater effect than you may realize.
Where can fans get more of you (social media, websites, etc.)?