Spider-Man has been a legendary comic book superhero for decades and a direct reminder of the late Stan Lee. With over 100 different Spider-Men the cosplay culture has embraced the looks and different versions. I would like to introduce one of them to you today from Los Angeles, CA- meet Jay J The Webhead!
Please introduce yourself to the readers.
Hey guys! My name is Justin and I go by Jay J. People often leave out the second J, so I’ll take Jay as well. I started cosplaying as Ultimate Spider-Man in 2017 and have slowly been adding to my cosplay closet ever since. I think at this point I have about 7 cosplays based on characters from both the Marvel and DC universes.
How would you define cosplay? What is your favorite part of it? What are your principles of cosplay?
Cosplay, to me, is just what the name implies, costume role-play. It’s an opportunity to dress up as your favorite character and escape reality. I’m sure everyone has thought, “How great it would be to live in their favorite comic book or video game world?”. This is just a way to bring you a little closer to that fantasy. One great thing about it, is that there’s no doing cosplay wrong. It’s all about expressing yourself in a way that makes you feel comfortable.
One of my favorite things about cosplay is seeing cosplayers bring their favorite characters to life. You can tell when someone has a personal connection with the character they’re cosplaying and it’s so inspiring to see.
A principle that I go by, in or out of cosplay, is to be a decent human being. We have to remember that we are all a part of a bigger community of cosplayers. It’s important that we build each other up, encourage our differences, and remember that this is all in fun.
What is your favorite cosplay memory?
That would have to be Anime Expo 2019. That weekend, for the first time, I was able to perform with the Magic Titans. Coming from a musical theater background, this was easily the best time I had at a con. Doing a choreographed dance, in cosplay, with a cosplay group. All that was missing was the singing and I really would have been in heaven.
To give a little backstory, The Magic Titans is a “Magic Mike” inspired ‘Titans’ dance group. Our motto is, “when there’s trouble you know who to call… for a good time.” We also performed at WonderCon earlier in the year but due to some technical difficulties I missed the performance. I was so happy to get a second chance at AX.
Besides the performance aspect, what makes the Magic Titans special is that we’re more than just a group cosplay. We formed a great brotherhood and I think that’s really important in the cosplay community.
[You can watch a video of the performance here.]
Have you learned more about yourself since you started cosplaying?
Yes, since starting cosplay I learned that I can be pretty crafty. Not saying I’ll be taking prop commissions or anything but I have made a few accessories for my cosplays in the past. I made myself an Infinity Pokeball for my Spider-Man Homecoming Pokémon trainer, Goggles for my Miles Morales Spider-Boy, and put together the suit jacket and cane for my One Piece Brook cosplay.
What are the three most essential things to have with you when cosplaying at a convention?
As a Spider-Man cosplayer, my top 3 con essentials are:
1.) A friend to hang out with… but also Spidey suits do not have pockets so having a good friend to help you carry things is a must.
2.) A selfie stick so you don’t miss any photo opportunities. Trying to use touch screen anything in a Spidey suit is impossible.
3.) Water! It’s really easy to get dehydrated walking around in a Spidey suit all day.
How long does it take you to change into a Spider-Man suit?
Changing into my Ultimate Spider-Man suit will usually take me about 8 minutes. That’s assuming my zippers will cooperate with me that day otherwise it can turn into a very frustrating 15 minutes.
As a POC cosplayer have you experienced any challenges? How did you overcome these challenges?
I’m so grateful that I have not personally experienced any challenges in regards to being a cosplayer of color. I have seen what other POC cosplayers had to deal with though and I find it really upsetting. No one has the right to tell anyone else who they may or may not cosplay, especially in regards to race. But the best way to overcome things like that is to expose them. Let them know it’s not okay.
How would you encourage fellow POC to cosplay characters they love?
Just do it. That goes for POC and anyone else who is hesitant to start doing cosplay because they fear negative reactions. Just do it. You’d be surprised at who you might inspire by doing what you love.
What changes do you hope to see within the community in the future?
In the future I hope to see much more support and inclusiveness within the community. This isn’t to say it doesn’t exist already, I just want to see more of it. There’s too much criticism of how and what individuals cosplay and it needs to stop. Like I said earlier, it’s important that we build each other up, encourage our differences, and remember that this is all in fun.