Interview with Alfredo Garcia Jr. Cosplayer. Astronomer. Lieutenant Colonel. Dork.
Recently, I got a chance to interview a cosplay regular from the LA/OC area, who’s also a retired Air Force lieutenant colonel with 25 years under his belt, and still working in the space and aeronautics industry for Raytheon, Alfredo Garcia Jr.
1. So, you’re one of the most badass 63-year-olds around the LA/OC area, not just when it comes to cosplay and nerd culture. What do you do when you’re not geeking out?
Well, pretty much geeking out all the time! LOL But, I am an avid runner. Marathon runner to be exact. I have been running since 1988 and just completed my 121st marathon in Jun 2106 at age 63. This has been a lifetime thing for me to do. And I see myself running into my 80s maybe longer! LOL
Here is my running wall with all my finisher medals.
I am also an avid amateur astronomer. I have been watching the skies for over 54 years now. I started when I was 9 years old. Related to this, I am an award-winning astrophotographer. Here is a pic of me with my scopes.
I am also a musician of sorts. I play Native American Flute. Picked that up in the mid-80s. Love to play my flute when time permits… a form of meditation. I am also an avid photographer. Love to take conventional pics…no particular subject. Just whatever suits my fancy.
2. What was your first cosplay?
Well, that probably goes to my back to my childhood Halloween days. But my first non-Halloween cosplay was Star Trek. In particular, Star Trek The Next Generation. I picked up a Science Officer STTNG jumpsuit in the 1987 and used that cosplay for many years at Star Trek Cons. Really didn’t go to any other Cons but Star Trek up till about 2006 or so when I went to San Diego Comic-Con and decided I could do other cosplays besides STTNG. Here is a picture of me just this year at the 2016 Las Vegas Star Trek Convention wearing that very same first STTNG uniform. Still fits to a tee even after 29 years or so!!
3. What cosplays do you do at the moment? And during the year? Are there “seasonals?”
Well, I can say that my cosplay repertoire has definitely grown since my ST Days with not only more ST cosplays but other genre cosplays as well. I don’t limit myself to any one particular genre anymore like I had for ST only. At current, I have 21 cosplays with that number growing every year. These include Hawkeye (The Avenger’s Movie 2012 ), Arcoman (Superhero created by ARCO for me 2016),Golden Age Flash (Jay Garrick, 1940s version), Gomez Addams (60’s Addam,s Family TV Show), Prince Charming (Disney Classic), Sam Flynn (Tron Legacy Movie 2010), Poseidon (Immortals Movie 2011), Sunny (AMC’s Into The Badlands TV Series 2015); Mr Fantastic (Fantastic Four Movie 2005), James Bond (Spectre Movie 2015), Olaf (Frozen Movie 2013), Commander JJ Adams (Forbidden Planet Movie 1956), Steampunk Mickey and Minnie (Our own creations), Jedi Knight (Star Wars Movie 1977), Apollo (Star Trek Original Series Who Mourns For Adonais Episode 1967), Gangster Henchman (Star Trek Original Series A Piece of The Action Episode 1968), Science Officer (Patterned after Spock Star Trek Original Series 1966-1969), Science officer (Patterned after Star Trek The Next Generation 1987-94), Science Officer (Star Trek Movie 2009), Starfleet Cadet (Star Trek Movie 2009), and Star Trek Deep Space Nine Commander Formal Dress (Star Trek Deep Space Nine 1993-1999). Of these, my absolute favorites are Hawkeye and my Star Trek The Next Generation Science Officer cosplays. None of these are seasonal. So I use them anytime throughout a year. Though most of the Star Trek cosplays are done during the Annual Creation Entertainment Las Vegas Star Trek Convention at the Rio in Las Vegas (Aug time frame).
4. Tell me a little more about Arcoman and the Red Spark.
Ok, this is an interesting story!! I am a big Facebook user and was posting selfies of me getting gas at ARCO stations cause they usually have the lowest prices around. So in Sep of 2015, much to my surprise, I got an email from ARCO Corporate here in LA that they loved my postings and since I was a super fan of theirs, they were a super fan of me and wanted to honor me with my own superhero…ARCOMAN and RED SPARK for my Lady. So they came to our house with a film crew and filmed the presentation by an ARCO Corporate Executive of a poster size Comic Book Front Cover First Edition showing ARCOMAN and RED SPARK. Needless to say, we were so surprised at this presentation. You can the see the video they made on YouTube at http://m.youtube.com/watch?v=WATvTwE3Znl. We told them we would bring Arcoman and Red Spark to life and we commissioned the cosplay build and debuted them at San Diego Comic-Con in 2016! They loved the cosplay! So this is certainly a unique thing to have happened to a superhero fan…to have your very own superhero character!! Thanks, ARCO!!
5. You happen to have a significant other who also cosplays. Do you always try to do couples costumes, or mix it up? (I’ve had a date who wanted to go as Supergirl and Superman, I refused)
Yes, I do have a significant other who loves to cosplay. My Lady Idalia is the yin to my yang and vice versa. We always cosplay couples costumes. If one doesn’t exist like in the case of a Lady Golden Age Flash we create one. We cosplay together as a couple. We have become recognized as the couple to emulate by many of our fans and fellow cosplayers. One of our fellow cosplayers who is a very well-known cosplayer coined us as the First Couple of Cosplay … very flattering and humbling coming from him. We kind of met because of cosplay in a way. A couple of months before we met, I had just done my Hawkeye Avenger’s Movie cosplay. And also I was looking for significant other. So I went to a website and went through the process of online dating without much success. I was on my last day of my trial and decided just to take one more look through profiles. So I was scrolling along and all of a sudden this redhead goes by! First thought in my mind … my Black Widow to my Hawkeye. So I read her profile and she sounded like she was open to new adventures. So we started communicating. I told her I was into cosplay and had to explain that to her since she did not know what that was. She said it sounded cool and then I brought up the idea of her cosplaying as Black Widow. She was game so two weeks later I had her in a Black Widow costume and she loved it!! A new cosplayer was born!! So we did our first couples cosplay as Hawkeye and Black Widow at Long Beach Comic Con in Nov 2012. We both loved it and that has become our couples signature cosplay. Couples cosplaying is a blast!!
6. Let’s talk about running marathons in cosplay. How do you find a costume that you can wear during a run without sweating like crazy?
Well running a race in any costume equals sweat!! You have to be smart about it. You don’t run for example in a full armor cosplay … NO WAY!! But most of our costumes can be made “runnable” with mods to foot gear. And when I say run, it is a very easy slow jog more than a fast run. There are many superhero-type running outfits out there made specifically for running, but when you run in your cosplay costumes that’s another story. We have managed to run four half marathons (13.1 miles) in four separate cosplays in 3 hrs or less. Our first half marathon (Costume Party Half Marathon 2013, San Diego, CA) running cosplay was as Hawkeye and Black Widow from The Avenger’s Movie in our actual cosplay costumes with some slight mods to the footwear, especially for my Lady. Once we did this, we said we can do others, so we did. We have run the LA Rock & Roll Half Marathon 2014 as the Golden Age Flashes again with mods to the footgear but otherwise the same costumes that we cosplay in. We have run the LA New Years Half Marathon 2015 as Sam and Quorra from the Tron Legacy Movie again with mods to the footgear, but otherwise, the same sane costumes that we cosplay in. And finally as Jedi Knights from the 1977 Star Wars Movie for the 2016 Disneyland Star Wars Half Marathon. This one we ran in our actual costumes with no mods. We ran with as is with costumes and boots!!
7. Would you ever appear in a fan film in cosplay? I know you were in a commercial for the Walking Dead. Can you talk about that?
Given the opportunity of course!! That is really cosplaying in its truest sense…when you get to act as the character you are cosplaying. Actually, I have done this on two occasions. Once as the Golden Age Flash in a Nerdist Video back in 2014 on YouTube called Superhero Talent Agents (STA) where I played Jay Garrick who was being replaced by the new Flash. It was a blast!! The link to this: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=urn8PvlIdQ8. I was actually paid for this video.
The next one was done at the 2016 San Diego Comic Con by one of our cosplay photographers. Several of my friends cosplayed as Matrix characters from the The Matrix Movie 1999. I cosplayed as Neo and my lady Trinity and we had Morpheus, Switch, The Lady In Red, and an Agent. So he took several video clips and the end result is here at this link: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=3FNmlOTwkwo. This is cosplaying!!
8. “Nerd Culture” has really changed in the past 20 years, from when I was a kid being made fun of for liking Spider-Man, to now where you see guys bench pressing in Superman t-shirts. What changes, for better or for worse, have you seen?
Actually, I can relate to your experiences. I too was chastised by bullies for my geekiness in junior high and high school. But, I held my stance throughout the years and never succumbed to peer pressure. I think things have changed for the better because of all the movies that have come out and also all the comic cons that have emerged. It is now chic to be geek!! People are seeing that enjoying geeky stuff is fun and not limited to just anyone in particular. When people see a cosplayer myself included, they usually hear very positive words like “Wow! That’s cool!” or how do I get a costume like you are wearing. And a whole new generation of geeks is being created by all the kids that come to the Cons and Movies and see their heroes and then want to see them in “real life” at a Con or be one of them themselves. So most definitely going in the right direction for now and the foreseeable future. All you have to do is look around. It is in our daily culture and ways of lives. For example, you say a name like Iron Man … everyone knows who that is and think he is cool!! Captain America, Spiderman, Batman, Superman, and the list goes on and on!! Theme parks are having more and more geeky rides/attractions. We have food and drinks named after superheroes. And many more things like these that reflect our geeky culture. Like I said … It is chic to be Geek!!!