Step once again, with me, into the world of survival horror fandom! Welcome to ReHorror spotlight, a series where I interview Resident Evil content creators who have gone above and beyond and, in our opinion, become part of the face of the Resident Evil community. So far we’ve had the chance to talk to ShadowLeggy (an animator whose history with the series dates back nearly 20 years now) and next spoke with Sheena Cosplay (a professional Claire Redfield cosplayer and model). This time around, we’ll be looking at another professional Claire cosplayer who has become the flip-side to Sheena’s coin: JoshTheMedic!
Rely on Horror: Would you mind telling us a little about yourself?
JoshTheMedic: Of course! 🙂 Hey everyone, I’m Joshua. Most people know me through social media as JoshTheMedic or simply TheJosh. Haha. I’m a medical student, as well as an avid gamer, artist, singer, dancer, streamer and cosplayer. A New York City native – born & raised, And I’ve been gaming for as long as I can remember. I’m a hopeful optimist at heart and I always make an effort to engage with everyone and to spread humor & positivity on my social medias. I’m pretty deep into the Resident Evil fandom and I know people don’t see eye-to-eye on a lot of topics regarding the franchise, but one thing I pride myself in is creating an environment where everyone can share their thoughts without fear of backlash or bias. I want everyone to feel validated, like their voices are being heard, regardless of whether or not I agree, and I hope that comes across to my friends & followers.
Rely on Horror: How did you get into Resident Evil?
JoshTheMedic: I got into Resident Evil when I was about six years old. I was at my brother’s friend’s little sister’s (a lot, I know lol) birthday party and noticed all the kids huddled around the tv. When I got closer to see, it turned out my brother’s friend was playing Resident Evil 2. He handed me the controller, I reluctantly took it not knowing how to play and inevitably died. Instead of getting frustrated, I was fascinated! The graphics (at the time) were amazing and I metaphorically held my folks at gunpoint to buy it for me the next day! Haha The rest is history.
Rely on Horror: When did you start cosplaying?
JoshTheMedic: I started cosplaying in 2012 at NYCC. I initially wanted to represent my favorite video game character (Claire Redfield), but felt since Resident Evil 6 had just been released 2 weeks prior, the characters in that game would’ve been more fresh on people’s minds, so I actually cosplayed as Sherry from RE6 in her China outfit for my first time! haha
Rely on Horror: Claire seems to be your main cosplay character, are there others you’ve done, or would like to do?
JoshTheMedic: Yes, Claire is definitely my main cosplay character for sure, haha. As far as cosplaying other characters goes, there certainly are others I would like to take a shot at. Unfortunately, those Resident Evil cosplays I have planned are surprises so I can’t really spill the beans there, haha, but I am in the early stages of a Marvel cosplay so I’m pretty excited for that!
Rely on Horror: What has your experience been like as a male cosplayer, given that it is a predominantly female space at conventions?
JoshTheMedic: I wouldn’t go as far as to say it’s predominantly female at cons (at least the ones I’ve been to, haha) but as a male, my experience has always been pleasant! Every con I’ve been to has always had nothing but friendly people, positive energy and good vibes. That’s the way it should be. At the end of the day, we’re all nerds representing and showing love for a fandom.
Rely on Horror: What’s it like being a part of that cosplayer community? You and lots of others like Sheena and Morikyou seem to be pals.
JoshTheMedic: Oh it’s great! When I started this back in 2012, I never set out to be known or popular by any means for my cosplays. I genuinely just loved the character of Claire Redfield growing up, identified with her courageous spirit, loyalty, toughness yet nurturing and protective personality and wanted to represent her in a way that was more significant/meaningful to me than just putting on a t-shirt that says “Claire Redfield.” When I started to become known by people and made all of these awesome friends who actually admired my work, it was beyond anything I’d ever expected! Both Morikyou and Sheenah are phenomenal cosplayers. MadogHarry is also an exceptional cosplayer along with ChaoticClaire, Songbird Little, Razuun, Patty Kaztowski and many others who’ve been really supportive!
Rely on Horror: How has your experience been with cosplaying a female character? Is it something that ends up getting a lot of negative attention, or have people been chill?
JoshTheMedic: Oh dear, I figured this question would come up at some point, haha. I’m glad it has because it’s definitely something I’m happy to address. As far as cosplaying a female character goes, I went into this already knowing that my cosplays would not be everyone’s ‘cup of tea.’ I felt – with the anonymity that the internet provides in this day and age – that trolls would obviously have negative things to say. I just felt like that was the most realistic mindset to have if you’re going to put yourself out there, regardless of whether or not you’re genderbending or cosplaying someone of a different ethnicity, miserable people will always try to find a way to bring you down.
So yeah, although few and far in between, I actually have gotten hateful comments, homophobic remarks, racial epithets thrown at me, the whole nine yards, but I’ve never been one to succumb to cyber bullying, haha. At the end of the day, I paid for this costume and I’m gonna rock it. I do it for me. Whether or not people like it is a bonus to be honest. Thankfully the overall reception has always been overwhelmingly positive and completely trumps the hate. I’ve had Alyson Court (Claire’s voice actress) herself say — and I quote “You look fucking awesome!” So that made not only my day, but also my LIFE! Haha! I’ve also had Capcom members give me shoutouts for my cosplays since they’ve liked it so much. And just nothing but love from my followers on Twitter and Instagram who’ve been unwaveringly supportive. So yeah, haters’ll come and go every now and again, but I’m still gonna do my thing regardless and I don’t plan on stopping anytime soon. 😉
Rely on Horror: Where the hell did you get the jacket? Is it an official one, or custom? In photos, it looks tailor fitted.
JoshTheMedic: Haha! I’m so glad you like it! It’s a question I get asked very frequently! My mom, who’s always been supportive of my cosplays, has a friend who’s a seamstress. I spoke with her and showed her the images of Claire’s jacket. I then bought the fabric, the zippers and got my measurements done and she gave it back to me better than I hoped! Then came the daunting task of getting Claire’s new ‘Made In Heaven’ logo on the back of it. Freehand painting that logo on the back of the jacket with permanent leather paint was possibly one of the most nerve-wracking things I’ve ever done! But thankfully it turned out okay, I suppose. Haha
Rely on Horror: Who takes your photos? Are they professional, or a friend?
JoshTheMedic: I’ve had shots taken by many awesome professional photographers over the years! Some of the ones I can remember off the top of my head are Edgar Bonifacio, Mark Chadwick who is also a fantastic Wesker cosplayer. The most recent one I got to work with was Tony Lazzaro from the “Residence of Evil” who’s a really good friend of mine and an insanely talented photographer!
Rely on Horror: Do you feel that you’ll try to keep up with Claire, as they continue to re-invent her, or would you rather stick with how she’s been thus far?
JoshTheMedic: I think I’ll continue. The character has always been really important to me. It’s funny because the RE2 Remake cosplay that I did almost didn’t happen. When the first trailer for the RE2 Remake dropped at E3 2018, I was really put off by the outfit because it was drastically different from her original costume. Last year I met my good friend Sheenah in person for the first time after being online buds for years and we talked about potentially cosplaying Remake Claire over drinks. At first we were both reluctant about it, but then the outfit eventually grew on us and now here we are! Haha
Rely on Horror: Do you feel that there are any pressures or otherwise bullshit associated with being a gay, black cosplayer? You’ve tweeted about how people treat you in some instances, would there be anything you’d ad to that?
JoshTheMedic: As far as that goes, like I mentioned before, I’ve dealt with racism and homophobia on several occasions; not so much now as opposed to when I started. But yeah, there are pressures and bullshit that not only gay, black cosplayers, but black cosplayers in general have to face. It’s really unfortunate because not everyone can handle or persevere through that kind of public scrutiny for simply dressing up as a fictional character they love. I myself being a biracial (Belizean & Puerto Rican), gay male cosplayer cosplaying a caucasian female character I figured would certainly turn heads and not in a good way. But if I were to cosplay a character in Resident Evil that I “look like” who I can identify with, there’d be no character for me to cosplay! Haha hence why representation is important. These were all the things that went through my head when deciding whether or not to actually go through with my first cosplay, but then I decided to ignore the apprehensions and doubts and just went for it. And to this day — 7 years later— I still go for it, all the time. Haters and trolls have always been a cakewalk for me, personally.
What sucks though is that they will go the extra mile to target your insecurities and not everyone can brush that off as easily as others. I’ve seen firsthand how that can affect someone and it’s awful. I have friends who’ve literally taken hiatuses from cosplaying due to harsh comments. When I cosplayed the Resident Evil: Revelations 2 iteration of Claire Redfield, one of the most ridiculous comments I got on a photo was “That guy cosplaying Claire doesn’t look like a nice person.” It was simple. It wasn’t as hateful, homophobic or racist as some of the other comments I’ve gotten, but I was more baffled over the assumption that I “wasn’t a nice person” somehow, when in reality I’m insanely caring, friendly and outgoing, but they’d never know that because I’m being judged as a person for simply cosplaying a character that means everything to ms. And that’s what happens unfortunately when you put yourself out there, but it’s all part of it. In the end it’s all about having fun and not allowing people hiding behind their phones/computers to tear you down.
Rely on Horror: Do you have any advice for aspiring cosplayers, who have thought about cosplaying a ‘gender-bent’ or even just straight up the costume as is for a character of a gender other than what they present as, but are self-conscious about it or just unsure of how?
JoshTheMedic: It’s funny that you mention that considering I’m literally in the process of helping two of my friends who are both guys put together a genderbent Jill cosplay from the RE3 Remake iteration of her! Hahaha! After I did my 2013 male version of Claire’s Darkside Chronicles look, it spread around so much that I started getting messages from guys who wanted to genderbend other female characters from Resident Evil, Marvel, DC and other big franchises asking for advice on how to get started. I was so honored because I never set out to be some cosplay guru, but people liked it that much and it was a very grateful and humbling feeling. As far getting started goes, the advice that I’d give to people cosplaying in general is to do it for YOU. Do it for you so that when you’ve finally managed to get your costume assembled and you look in the mirror, you’re satisfied with it and think to yourself “Damn, I look badass!” haha! I’d also say that if it’s going to be your first time cosplaying, make sure it’s a character you love – your absolute FAVORITE character, that way you’ll get the full experience of literally stepping into their shoes for the day.
If you and your character don’t share physical characteristics like ethnicity, height, weight and gender, who cares?! You love that character and that’s all the matters. Some cosplays require customized pieces you can get done by commissioners and some are lucky enough to be assembled by gathering pieces from websites like eBay, Amazon, Etsy and more. You can start getting minor pieces of the costume like little accessories here and there to begin with and then over time start delving into the bigger and harder aspects of assembling the costume. Have a friend or family member take some photos of you in the costume so you can have as a physical visual reminders of how you look in the costume and if you’re feeling comfortable enough…take that cosplay to a convention and debut it! It’s all about having fun, honestly! At the end of the day, all that matters is that you have fun showing some love and representing a character from a fandom! 🙂
Rely on Horror: Is there anyone in the community or otherwise that you’d like to give a shout out to before we close out?
JoshTheMedic: Yeah, definitely! Well for starters I’d like to thank YOU for asking me to do this interview! I’m really honored that people enjoy my cosplays because a lot of love, passion and hard work goes into them. I’d like to give a shoutout to Rakim, Charlie, Ashley, Jimmy, Liam, Denim, Marie, Lena, Jade, Jody, Tony, Mono Memory, and so much more for their support and making my experience in this fandom nothing but positive and welcoming. And ultimately, I’d like to thank my mom for always wanting to be a part of developing my cosplays, because even though she knows little to nothing about the franchise, she’s always loving, enthusiastic and supportive of what I do because she’s just that kind of mom, haha. So big love to all of my friends, family and supporters, it truly means everything! 🙂
I’d like to thank Josh so much for talking with us. I’ve had the opportunity to chat, laugh, and bitch with Josh on many an occasion over Twitter and his Twitch channel, and they’re always a joy! Thank you very much for tuning in this time ’round, and we’ll see you next time for the next interview!
Header Photo Credit: Lazzaro Studios