Jake_cosplays - Ultra Instinct Cosplayer!!!
In the land of cosplay, people from all walks of life put in the time and effort to resemble their most favorite characters. From anime to comics to television to ‘cosplay customs’, every individual puts in the time, effort and dedicates their soul into creating their most awesome and fantastic pieces and outfits.
As I was at Essex Junction in Bloomfield, NJ; USA, scrolling through the ‘gram, observing the wonderful cosplay digitally, there was this cosplayer, whose rendition of Sasuke was spot on. He was able to cover the famed anime’ protagonist/antagonist with such flare that I started following him. As I continued to admire his cosplay, he started venturing into other cosplay characters; from Itachi from the famed series, Naruto, to Negan from AMC’s Walking Dead, to resembling a Mob Boss in the famed Power series (assuming here); his incorporation of the right photographers, lighting and attention to detail in their environment was more than enough for Region 99 to contact him and investigate the reason why he’s so dedicated to his craft.
A few DMs and a few back-and-forth phone calls was all it took to contact this West Indian-Irish born NYC native and ask him…. How does he do it?!
Region 99 proudly introduces, @Jake_cosplays (IG). This is his story…
@Jake_cosplays, born Jake Dawson (age 28) was an avid fan of Halloween; “I was always a fan of Halloween; it was like my favorite holiday. Nobody, not any of my friends, ever went as hard as me on Halloween”, Jake says, “… growing up, no one really had the same love and care of shows like ‘Dragonball’ and even though I was big in sports and had friends in that area, I was like, ‘I wish I had some friends who liked some of the other things I liked’. I can agree with him on this. Around the 90’s, anime existed, but it didn’t get the mainstream buzz that it’s getting now. I mean Dragonball Z, around this time was still in its infancy stage in the US, really non-existent except for a couple of local channels in the early mornings. Over time, however, when the famed anime started to take hold in the US television markets, Jake too was about to venture into a whole new arena: NYC Comic Con.
New York City Comic Con - New York’s heaven on earth for all things comic books, cosplay, video games, and entertainment in regards to pop culture is the premier place for people of all ages to express their childhood in physical form and relish in pop culture over a span of four days. Always in October, this con is hard to get tickets for and it has been said that people would give their soul to get tickets (maybe kidding about that last part…maybe). For Jake, it took a couple of years for him to attend; “Something would come up, again and again and again and then something happened that would finally make me go. It’s a funny story really, I just broke up with an ex-girlfriend. We were together for three years and I was like ‘I want to do something different, like a shock to the system’, so I bought a Playstation 4 and tickets to NYC Comic Con”, Jake says.
A New Chapter Begins: New York City Comic Con
Leaving that relationship behind and with a renewed heartiness, Jake attended his 1st New York City Comic Con in 2015; “For Halloween, I was going to be Vegeta, so I was like, ‘If I’ma do this, I’m a go hard’, so I bought a wig and I already had tickets for NYC Comic-Con, so I went for 2 years by myself and I didn’t know anyone!” NYC Comic Con can be a pretty intimidating place, especially if you’re a first-timer. Completely flooded with attendees, maximum attendance has reached 250K+ members and is still growing for 2019. Jake, after 2 years, realized that this was the place to be in October, so much so, that he even invited friends and family. He was hooked. As those two years passed, he started noticing some familiar hard-core members of the con and it was around 2017 that Jake_cosplays’ popularity as a cosplayer started to form on one of the most popular mediums in social media…Instagram.
Lets face it, Instagram is the ‘shiznit’!!! Its very popular and is declared the go to medium for over 500 million+ users and counting. For Jake_cosplays, this was his defining moment; “when I went to NYC Comic Con for the ‘Dragonball meetup’ , I was asked ‘do you have an Instagram?’ and I was like, ‘looks like I gotta get an instagram!’ This was his moment and on October 6th, 2017, Jake_cosplays posted his first picture and Jake Dawson became @Jake_cosplays officially, but it didn’t stop there; “you know, if I’m going to other conventions, I don’t want to wear the same thing”, Jake says. The cosplay game is really fun, but it can get real intense. The beginners of the ‘cosplay game’ will usually wear the same thing at multiple cons to test the response rate, however, the intermediates and hard core cosplayers will plan years in advance to ensure that every outfit they wear will draw the crowds and turn heads on each day. For, Jake, his love of Halloween was his drive to continue cosplaying. Jake’s response “…I can do this more than once a year…and have fun”!?
What makes cosplay epic is that anyone can do it. Corporate America, seniors, children of all ages. Cosplay is open to all and what makes it so impressive is that its available to different people to all ethnicities and diversities as they live and become one with their favorite character. “For some people…”, Jake says, “…they make the assumption that those who do cosplay are of the “nerdy crowd”, what you see in the movies and its not like that at all. People from all walks of life do cosplay. Doctors, even people who work at McDonalds do cosplay. Its cool man…its cool.” Jake is right in his declaration. Cosplay is a way for some members of America to let their imagination soar as they don their capes, masks and outfits and live and re-live their favorite childhood characters without any discrimination. What makes cosplay even more amazing is that their limit is their imagination. As Jake rejoiced in his new environment, he decided to take it a step further based on his experiences at Katsucon.
Katsucon – The Mt. Olympus of Cosplay!!!
The definition and origin of cosplay began in Japan in 1984 and as such, cosplay’s massive incorporation has included a wide variety of themes from gender swapping to sci-fi costume initiatives to custom costuming. No matter the definition, in the US, there is a con in which ‘cosplay’ takes on a whole new meaning. It’s a place in which the ‘GODs of Cosplay’ descend from their ‘grams, tumblrs, blogs, facebooks, and patreons and showcase their glorious works of art in fashion form. This event, which takes place in February is called Katsucon,
Katsucon is a 3-day event that takes place in Washington, DC. and is orchestrated by Katsucon Entertainment, INC. (KEI) whose goal is to provide attendees information about Japanese animation, society, and traditional and popular culture. Jake has been there and he loved it, “The venue is incredible; oh my god its beautiful. I’m not going to say its an elitist con, but you don’t bring a ‘party city’ cosplay outfit here, you bring your best here. I went and I was like ‘oh wow’ I’ma go hard with this”, Jake expressed. This turning point transcended Jake from an intermediate cosplayer to a hard core one!
Jake_cosplays – Ultra Instinct Cosplayer
Realizing his new found abilities as a cosplayer, Jake traveled to multiple cons as he enjoyed ‘cosplaying’ and taking professional group photos with his squad. One especially awesome picture that was featured on the ‘gram was the ‘Silent Hill’ shoot. “The Silent Hill shoot, that had the nurses behind me was actually an old asylum in Long Island”, Jake states, “It was an open area, creepy as hell and we had the privacy to shoot. We definitely find some crazy locations when we go to cons”. Jake’s ‘gram, if you haven’t looked, shows the proof. It shows someone who is having a great time as he provides viewers live action, in panoramic frames, lost scenes of cult classics and pop culture. When asked for advice in regards to people trying cosplay for the first time, he response was very significant; “don’t pick somebody you look like, pick somebody you feel”. Those words are in the truest sense a reflection of the old adage from William Shakespeare, ‘to thy ownself, be true’.
Social Justice Fighter in Cosplay
Cosplay isn’t about a look, it’s about a feel; a total oneness with your favorite character. Cosplay has the ability to bring that out which in this case is ‘your spirit-cosplay animal’. Now, I mentioned earlier that cosplay is welcoming to all, but sometimes there are those ‘trollers and creatins’ that are not open to the new expansions that cosplay allows and they bully newcomers into leaving characters the same as in the movies, comics and manga. We’ve seen some of their posts on social media sites as to how “Spider-Man’ should only be white and how some women and men of various diversities and ethnicities shouldn’t be certain characters. Well, there are groups of people who are fighting these injustices in cosplay and Jake_cosplays is a member of such groups. He has spoken against this injustice via a couple of panels expressing stressing Cosplay body positivity with his colleagues; “We did Hudson Valley Comic Con, Liberty City Anime Con and New York City Comic Con”. Overall, Jake_cosplay and his colleagues are fighters for the inexperienced and experienced cosplayer who is trying something new regardless of their race, color and measurements. For those first timers in trying cosplay, his other motto is, “never be afraid”.
Jake_cosplays – I’m not a businessman, I’m a business man!!!
Pardon the Jay-Z proverb, but after speaking with Jake, his vision as to where the cosplay game is set to go is remarkable, “the competition is ridiculous, especially amongst the females, as for the males, there’s not a lot of them, but those that are really famous, are shirtless”, Jake says. He’s right in regards to sex selling in cosplay. For those who have glimpsed Patreon and Instagram, a lot of cosplayers, who are of the fit and thick variety, are thriving in this industry in their scantly clad clothes and its big business. Cosplayers are getting paid a lot of money for guest appearances, covers and photoshoots. Jake, who is also a Business Administration major, sees the future of cosplay and its ever growing industry; “It’s a lot of business here, why not make it a bigger experience, this could be like Woodstock”, Jake says. He’s also teamed up with Universal Aftercon, which is a “a con after a con” as Jake puts it; “with vendors and a virtual reality system”. Now known as Beyond The Cons, they are considered one of the up and coming go to entertainment companies for cosplay parties and events. Even as I write this, he, followed by some additional cosplayers, will be providing the Saturday night entertainment at Katsucon 2019.
Jake_cosplays took a risk and in 4 years has become one of the most popular cosplayers in the industry. His love of Halloween, his business acumen, and his ability to take risks, has created a lane for himself in this business and he has no plans of stopping his creative enterprises. Although his ex-girlfriend was responsible for him taking this risk, his current significant other, @S_steph212, has also supported his efforts and has also participated in cosplaying, “She played Bulma a couple of times”, Jake says. He has literally taken the cosplay industry by storm and created a brand for himself as he fights for the little guy in cosplay. As he “fights against bullying and racial ‘BS’ in cosplay”, Jake’s plan for revolutionizing the cosplay industry will be a monumental one.
Region 99 wishes him the best in his endeavors and look forward to his as he is changing the ‘cosplay game’. As this interview wraps up, he humbly says his last statement that makes him a humble spirit
“You’re nothing without your team, would you rather eat by yourself or eat with your fellow cosplayers and photographers?!”
Reflecting on his final words, I would always choose the latter.