We had the good fortune of connecting with Gage Gerardi and we’ve shared our conversation below.
Hi Gage, we’d love to hear more about how you thought about starting your own business?
If I’m being honest, I didn’t really considering a thought process because I never really thought of starting a business. If anything, cosplay really started off as a major hobby for me; something where I can just escape from the reality of the mundane adult life and enjoy myself. It wasn’t until a few years into this hobby that I recognized that people started to profit off it. Though it was never my full intention to profit off of it, I honestly found myself asking…why not? I put tons of hours (and dollars) into my work, it deserved to be recognized as much as any other form of art. I branded myself originally back in probably 2010, just starting with it being a format to share my content so that the “normal people” of the world wouldn’t get drowned in cosplay work. It wasn’t until probably around 2017 or so that I started making actual financial gain off it.
Alright, so let’s move onto what keeps you busy professionally?
So, my cosplay brand is Semetary Cosplay. Back in the day, I originally started off under the name of ‘Hideyo Mochimo.’ It was a fairly big trend where cosplayers would create cosplay personas so that our families, work friends, school colleagues, whatever else wouldn’t see our Facebook and Insta feeds flooded with pictures of us dressed like Naruto or something. I created my name because the character Hideyoshi from Baka and Test, who identifies as non-binary like myself. And then the Mochimo thing was because I liked the food mochi, which just shows how immature and ridiculous it was back then. I recognized that having an ‘Asian brand name’ when I am white was not fitting, so at the beginning of the pandemic I decided to switch it over. Semetary Cosplay was created because my name is Gage, and I was given this name after the little boy in Pet Semetary. Horror has always been a huge part of my life, and it fit so much better, and has since become my brand.
The biggest lesson I have learned through all of this is that everyone deserves a fighting chance. Everyone deserves to feel beautiful and have their talent appreciated. I have worked with plenty of photographers since I first started in 2006 as a “model”, and I have unfortunately noticed a lot of trends. Things like people only working with skinny people, or with people that have a certain look for their own follower counts. I hated that my friends who put in just as much work as anyone else were never asked for pictures because photographers often didn’t think they fit the ‘mold.’ A few years back, I started these big networking events where it was an absolute requirement that all models and all photographers work together, sort of like a round robin thing. No matter the experience level on either side of the lens. It’s been booming and getting a lot of people attending, because again, everyone deserves that chance to feel like a star. To feel like their talent and effort is just as important as anyone else.
Any places to eat or things to do that you can share with our readers? If they have a friend visiting town, what are some spots they could take them to?
Oh goodness! I drive all over the state for shoots, so it’s hard to pick my favorites. I’m a really big fan of heading out to any quiet little mountain town and renting an AirBnB for the weekend. Doing some hikes, maybe checking out the hot springs. I absolutely adore Cottonwood Canyon, because Buena Vista in general is gorgeous. I also recently went to Victor for some photoshoots at the Black Monarch Hotel, so things like that are right up my alley. And of course the Stanley Hotel in Estes! I’ve always joked that I want to do a two week photoshoot road trip around Colorado starting south in Colorado Springs and circling around through places like the Sand Dunes, Mesa Verde, Breckenridge, and up and ending more north like Estes Park. There’s so much beauty here it’s hard to just limit to one or two places.
The Shoutout series is all about recognizing that our success and where we are in life is at least somewhat thanks to the efforts, support, mentorship, love and encouragement of others. So is there someone that you want to dedicate your shoutout to?
How sappy is it to say my mom….? My mom has always inspired me to follow my dreams. Sometimes she might think my dreams are a bit quirky, and more often than not she’s shaking her head at me, especially when I’m walking out the door to a shoot – I swear our neighbors don’t even know who actually lives in my house at this point. My mom is an incredibly talented woman. We lost my dad recently, and she’s continued to fight and persevere, even on days she doesn’t want to. I see all the talent she has in just her pinky finger and try to hope that I can have that amount of talent in even a speckle of my DNA. Despite all her challenges she’s faced, especially lately, she’s always used her abilities to give back, and I guess I want to just give back to the world in my own little way, too.
Noelle Peterson Photography, Nastasia Zibrat Photography, Darling Jealousy Productions, Yuki Cat Captures