Hello, I’m Jesse Parrino and I’ve been going to cons and cosplaying since 2005. My experience with cosplay is very different from the normal cosplayer and convention attendee, I’ve noticed. When I first came into it at my first few cons I thought it looked like fun but I also came in because I was personal friends with some of the more well known cosplayers in the New York and New Jersey scene at that time. So I never had the illusion of that cosplay is for fun only. I always knew cosplay and cosplayers were after attention and popularity of some sort.
Now mind you there’s nothing wrong with cosplaying for attention or for “Facebook Likes” or “Twitter Followers” but this isn’t a new development. It’s always been a major aspect. Personally I had taken a different route. I, for the most part when I was just getting started, was cosplaying more as a goof. I always respected the craftsmanship and ability of cosplayers, but given the people I was running with at the time, I thought the hobby was taken a little too seriously, and to be frank, still do.
I mean, I did my fair share of serious cosplay along with whatever gag I was running at the time on a Saturday; but I never really pursued cosplay as anything more than a really rather light entertainment. That is, until around 2010 or so when I discovered that the 501st Legion did a lot more then run a booth at a con. I had looked into the charity work they do and discovered an outlet where I really wanted to take the hobby seriously. While drawing attention to myself I’d also draw attention to a cause.
As I continued cosplaying at cons and going to local comic shops, I found a few shops like Comic Fusion that actively make good on using cosplayers as a way to bring attention to their causes. Through those events I found myself taking the hobby a lot more seriously because it was no longer about getting attention for just myself. It gave me a new lease on the concept of cosplay and every cosplayer worth their salt should go out into their communities and find events. You’ll find it a lot more fun and a lot more fulfilling than just conventions. You’ll find a new reason to excel then just photo shoots and the pursuit of fleeting cosplay fame.
Jesse also helps moderate the Philly, PA, NJ, and NY Cosplay group on Facebook.