Cosplayer Interview

Cosplayer Of The Week: Jusnel Gonzalez

Leo Nocedo : How did you discover cosplaying?
Jusnel Gonzalez:   I really did not know it was a thing until I went to MegaCon way back in 2005… the same year I discovered Steampunk. I still wrestle mentally with the whole notion of dressing up and costuming. Part of me feels childish, like I should not do this… another part enjoys the creativity behind making things that can be worn. I always dreamed of making things with my hands, and I draw plans for a living, so making things with leather, foam, fabric, and other materials, just seems natural.
Leo Nocedo :What was your first cosplay?
Jusnel Gonzalez: I would have to say that is Cosplay is making your own costumes, then my first was about at age 10, when I used boxes to make a robot. It was horrible. I fell down getting candy that Halloween, but it was my own creation. My Mom helped make all my costumes back then. I did a great Vampire, and a Star Wars, Jawa.
Leo Nocedo : What are your next 3 cosplay plans?
Jusnel Gonzalez: A version 2 of a character I created with a lot more bells and whistles, Heavy Artillery Mandalorian, and a Plague Doctor (seems fitting after 2020).
Leo Nocedo : Have you ever been in a cosplay contest?
Jusnel Gonzalez: I participated in one last year at a free comic book day. I came in second to a body painter girl. I was wearing my Boiler Breaker Armor.
Leo Nocedo : Do you prefer sewing, armor making, or wig working?
Jusnel Gonzalez:Armor making is what I enjoy of those three. I am not that good with the sewing machine, but I do hand sew leather.
Leo Nocedo :Do you prefer to do photoshoots at cons or at specific locations?
Jusnel Gonzalez: I believe that a photo shoot away from a convention allows for more natural use of the costumes and settings can be more emotive. A convention setting is great for showing off, or testing, but too many people, feeling rushed and also tired for the most part does not help the images come out as good as they could.
Leo Nocedo : Is there a type of character you cosplay frequently?
Jusnel Gonzalez: I wear a Steampunk inspired characters. I like to use an original character called “The Boiler Breaker”. The armor is made of leather, with other accessories.
Leo Nocedo : Do you have any favorite cosplayers?
Jusnel Gonzalez: I try to not create favorites, because I would then be biased about certain things, and many people have way more time than I do to make things. I would say I have a few beloved cosplayers (in no particular order): Thomas Blasco (for his amazing creations which I have seen personally), Michael Carter (hard and determined builder), Teresa Carter (for her determination and drive to learn how to build better), Thomas Willeford, Nathan Carter and his wife Jennifer, Jessie Melero (who I hope to one day meet personally), Adam Savage, and Diana Ugarte (@bietka_von_der_hellst)
Leo Nocedo : What are your top 3 craftsmanship tips?
Jusnel Gonzalez: Start simple, or you will be frustrated from day one. Mistakes are normal, learn from them and keep making, you WILL get better. Do not look down on anyone, or too far up to others… everyone starts somewhere, help those that ask, and do not be afraid to ask others as they may just surprise you with the help.
Leo Nocedo :What is your favorite cosplay you’ve done?
Jusnel Gonzalez: A Steampunk Capt. America.
Leo Nocedo : What is your worst cosplay “horror” story?
Jusnel Gonzalez: Steampunk Gambit… not everyone got it and there was a mess when I tried to do a full leather mask. I ended up taking it off about an hour into wearing it and felt like crap afterwards.
Leo Nocedo :What’s your funniest cosplay story?
Jusnel Gonzalez: Kid did not want to say hi because I was a “fat” Capt. America. I laughed it off, but their parents were just in shock that he would say that.
Leo Nocedo :What’s the best in-character interaction you’ve ever had?
Jusnel Gonzalez: I would have to say the Boiler Breaker has the best interactions as he is not a good guy. Another Cosplayer has a fight with this character and ends up killing him.
Leo Nocedo : Have you ever cosplayed with a family member?
Jusnel Gonzalez: Yes. Usually my wife dresses up with me in some type of attire. Still need to try to develop a couple’s cosplay. I have also done a Pokemon Professor Oak one Halloween to accompany my boys on their night out as one was Pikachu, and the other Dash.
Leo Nocedo : What is your favorite cosplay photo of yourself?
Jusnel Gonzalez: A photo taken at the Bay Area Renfair, in Tampa. It was taken by Sean Neumayer while I was taking pictures of other people. Its one of the few images that shows off an early costume with all its details.
Leo Nocedo :What are your go-to stores for cosplay materials/full cosplays?
Jusnel Gonzalez: Depending on materials needed… usually get leather from Tandy Leather, and then Michaels, Walmart, or Amazon for art materials.
Leo Nocedo : Have you ever had someone mistake you for a different character?
Jusnel Gonzalez: Yes, the Boiler Breaker looks a little like an Iron man, for which most think I get the inspiration from, but it was a dwarf art piece I found online.
Leo Nocedo : List all the cosplays you’ve done.
Jusnel Gonzalez:  Dracula, Jawa, Cardboard Robot, Eric Draven, Old Lady Fortuneteller, Cheerleader, Original Steampunk Juan De La Vega, Steampunk Capt. America, Steampunk “Boiler Breaker”, 1920’s brawler, Jason from Friday the 13th, Steampunk Gambit (worst cosplay), Professor Oak from Pokemon.
Leo Nocedo : What’s the biggest con you’ve cosplayed at?
Jusnel Gonzalez: MegaCon in Orlando, FL.
Leo Nocedo : Do you prefer cosplaying characters with props, or characters that you don’t need to carry a prop around all day?
Jusnel Gonzalez: I would prefer to not have props in my hands all day as that takes away from being able to carry the things you want to buy…. But many props are part of and just as important to the overall costume. Care has to be taken when having them of course, people around you, safety and of course space in the convention halls can become an issue.
Leo Nocedo :Have you ever lost a cosplay piece at a con?
Jusnel Gonzalez: I think I lost something once… but it was not major and I was able to replace it. Don’t remember what it was…
Leo Nocedo : Have you ever bought a cosplay piece at a con?
Jusnel Gonzalez:YES! I have bought some steampunk accessories, hats, goggles, and other items.
Leo Nocedo : Do you prefer to cosplay solo or in a group?
Jusnel Gonzalez: Up until now, I have not done a group cosplay as no one has formally asked. I know a few friends mentioned something Alice in Wonderland once, but nothing came of it. There is an idea for a Team… but that never got off the ground due to budget and time.
Leo Nocedo : If you had a chance to meet your all-time favorite cosplayer, what would you say to them?
Jusnel Gonzalez: Whenever I get a chance to meet Cosplayers I follow, I try to not have a favorite, I usually tell them the same thing. Love your work! (Find a detail I like of what they have made and comment/praise them for their creation. If conversation does not stop, I may ask what materials were used to make it. I like to know if I am capable of the same, or if I want to try at all, as some are just expensive and I do not have time for everything.)
Leo Nocedo : Have you ever done a cosplay panel?
Jusnel Gonzalez: I have been part of MegaCon Orlando panels for a few years now. One of the panels is a leather crafting panel geared towards Cosplay. I teach materials, tools, and basics that are needed to create things. I also make something in front of the audience so that they can see that it is NOT hard, it is rather a matter of time and patience with yourself. The item(s) made are usually given away at the ends of the panel.
Leo Nocedo :Do you prefer to buy or make cosplays?
Jusnel Gonzalez: I prefer to make Cosplays, but I understand people not wanting/unable to make, and would rather pay to have something made for them.
Leo Nocedo :If you could tell your past self anything about cosplay, what would you say?
Jusnel Gonzalez: If you like to do this, know that you need to find someone who likes to make to be in a relationship with… if not… you will never be understood.
Leo Nocedo : What is your ultimate dream cosplay?
Jusnel Gonzalez: An original character with lights, sound effects, big mechanical, and lots of steam! I have a project that involves that… but it’s a long way away from being created.
Leo Nocedo : What’s the most difficult cosplay you’ve ever done? (Craftsmanship, wearing of, ect)
Jusnel Gonzalez: At present, working on a large build in lots of parts. Something big, with aforementioned mechanical parts, sounds, lights, effects, and more. Will I ever get it done? I have no idea.
Leo Nocedo :What’s the most difficult character makeup you’ve done?
Jusnel Gonzalez: A little old lady.
Leo Nocedo :What, in your opinion, makes a cosplayer a “pro” cosplayer?
Jusnel Gonzalez: Experience, knowledge in creating things from any/many/all materials, and doing it for more than 5 years.
Leo Nocedo : What is your favorite part of cosplaying?
Jusnel Gonzalez: Showing it off. Having people ask about it. Teaching others what I have done and that they too can make it.
Leo Nocedo : Do you do anything besides Cosplay?
Jusnel Gonzalez:Happen to have studied Architecture, Interior Design, and Drafting… I make plans for a living. This education helps use Cad programs to create patterns, and because of things I learned as a kid, I was able to create a hobby business, “Brassroots Leather”, which I run from home making leather items for others in their Cosplay. I recently got into 3D printing which has opened new doors also. I hope to learn about lasering and CNC also.
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Leo Nocedo is a cosplay photographer who has been using a camera for the last forty years in many forms , in the military and professional studios in Miami and New York city . He got his start in cosplay photography attending conventions with his brother Juan Nocedo . He keeps on doing what he does to honor his late brother .

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