Cosplay Decoded: Leo Camacho


Cosplay has become quite the spectacle at cons and with aid of the internet and TV shows such as Cosplay Melee, your every day person is learning about this world. I say world, because there is SO much involved with cosplay but it is still something accessible to all. In this series, I talk with cosplayers of all levels and ask them what got them started, what they have learned, and much more. Welcome to Cosplay Decoded. I hope this series inspires you to try cosplay if you haven’t yet, continue your cosplay journey if you are a regular cosplayer, and generally learn more about this awesome hobby/lifestyle.

Leo Camacho

What is your occupation?

That’s always a tough question, when you make your living on the internet. I guess my main occupation is host. I host a video game talk show as my main source of income, however, I’m also a freelance host (internet shows, live events, etc.) and I am also a digital marketing consultant. I also have my own fandom inspired pin business and I also do influencer work. It’s all very convoluted, heh.

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What got you started doing cosplay?

I don’t exactly know what it was exactly that got me into cosplaying. I’ve always been big on costuming. I would plan my halloween outfits year round and my mom and grandma would help me make costumes just to play in. One day, in the mid 2000’s, I was looking up Naruto costumes because I was SO into that show when it came out. As I slipped into the rabbit hole of the internet, I saw that people were wearing costumes to conventions, mainly in Japan, and I thought “I want to do that, but here!.” That might even be the reason I started going to conventions in the first place.

How long have you been cosplaying?

My first cosplay was SDCC 2008 and then I tried much harder for Anime Expo 2009. But I technically cosplayed as Link in the 4th grade and Sub Zero in the 6th. So it’s kinda part of who I am.

Have any of your hobbies/occupation added to your cosplay?

Oh definitely. I’m a graphic designer by trade. That eye for detail and creativity has lent itself very well to cosplaying. I would even say that cosplay has added to my skills and inspired me to pursue entertainment. One hobby builds up the next.

Do you make your outfits or do you have them commissioned?

It’s a little of both, but honestly, I’m terrible at sewing. Also, I work a lot so I’m short of time quite a bit.  In cases when I need things sewn, I will generally commission someone to help me out unless I think I can manually alter a piece of existing clothing myself. I’m what I like to call a utility cosplayer. I make what I can with what I’ve got. But I love supporting the huge community of talented people that make their living taking commissions and then showcasing them to the world.

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What has been one of your favorite cosplays?

This is such a tough question! I like different cosplays for different reasons. I like Hook because it’s fun to see people double take, since I look so much like the actor. I like Jack Sparrow because everyone loves to be playful with him. I love Poe Dameron because I can run up to people and talk to them about their jackets and droids roll up to me constantly. Each costume has its own special place in my heart.

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Do you ever cosplay with your friends/significant other?

I LOVE group cosplays. I cosplay with my friends as often as I can, usually as a themed group. I’ve probably done 3 or 4 group cosplays. Even without a theme I just love being all together. As far as my significant other goes, we don’t generally cosplay together very often, as we prefer to Disneybound together, but we have in the past and it was a lot of fun.

What has been one of the best benefits from doing cosplay?

The opportunities that have come with the exposure from it all. I never in a million years thought that it would be such a successful and viable avenue of life experiences. I have gotten to travel all over the world, meet amazing people, meet some of my heroes, and it’s even helped me get into entertainment which is insane.

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You have a pretty big following, what is that like?

It’s weird. I mean, it’s awesome and flattering and surreal, but it’s intense. You feel pressure from areas you never really considered before, like “how good do I look in this?” or “I need to watch what I say” but at the same time it’s amazing because I know I have a platform to encourage others, or help out in areas that perhaps I couldn’t have otherwise. Things like hosting live-streams for charity. The coolest thing, though, is when people stop me on the street and tell me they follow me, or that I inspired them to start cosplay, or that they love Disney so much more because of my work. It’s not just validating, it’s fulfilling and it’s an honor getting to meet the community that I love so much.

What would you say to someone who is never cosplayed but wants to?

RUN AWAY! No, I’m kidding. I’d say “Do it. Don’t worry about being better or worse than anyone else. Don’t worry about looking strange or being stared at. As a matter of fact, that’s the whole point! In the end, we are all dressing up and playing make believe based on imaginary cartoon characters. It’s pretty much impossible to be ‘weird’ when everyone around you is being ridiculous.”

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What are your top three suggestions in regards to cosplay?

Do it for you. Give yourself plenty of time to make it. Use Amazon.com.

Somewhat of a follow-up, what are some things people take for granted that they should remember?

Cosplay, and by proxy the geek/nerd community in general, was founded on those who are different or awkward or fringe. But, that’s not the case anymore. The internet and conventions have brought us all together and we see the impact it has. Now being yourself and having fun is encouraged more than ever. You are never the odd one out. You are never alone. Always be who you are and you will find that your life and the life of those around you will be all the happier because of it.

Have you personally ever experienced any negativity for doing a cosplay?

I feel pretty fortunate that I haven’t had too much hate fired my way, unlike many of the lady cosplays around me unfortunately. A little here and there but it doesn’t really affect me. At the end of the day, I’m just happy they find me engaging enough to take time out of their day to try and get me to notice their nonsense. It’s flattering. I don’t care why they watch me, as long as they watch me.

Generally, the cosplay community is very supportive but it can also be very judgemental about people not looking like a character. Have you ever experienced anything like that?

You know, it’s funny. I coined a term I call  “genetic cosplay” which means cosplaying characters you happen to look like. It’s not essential to cosplay at all, but it is certainly what I’m known for. Now people ONLY want me to look like characters and if I don’t, people LOVE letting me know. Screw them though. I’ll do what I want.

What would you say to someone who is nervous to cosplay a character they look nothing like?

Do it. Will it make you happy? Then do it. If you not looking EXACTLY like a character is ruining someone else’s day, then that person is the one who has some priorities to readjust, not you. It’s not your responsibility to make sure other people like your cosplay. It IS your responsibility to have fun and enjoy your own life, and I will always support you for it.

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What cosplays do you have planned for San Diego Comic-Con?

I’m actually working with Nintendo this SDCC! I’ll be cosplaying the Inkling Boy from their new game Splatoon 2! What a cool thing to say. I still can’t believe I’m working with freakin’ Nintendo. I will also be working with the BBC and doing an 11th Doctor Who cosplay for a fashion show. It’s gonna be a fun time.

Where can people find out more about you and your cosplays?

You can follow me on Instagram @mrleozombie. That’s where I showcase most of my work. You can allow follow me on twitter @leozombie and on facebook at facebook.com/leocamacho.

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