Mary Jo Chrabasz is a Chicagoland native who has been cosplaying since 2007. Her introduction to cosplay was at the book release for Harry Potter book 5 in Oak Park, IL. Seeing the fantastic costumes roaming Oak Park Avenue inspired her to put together a Hermione costume for the book 6 release. In 2007, she began attending Anime Central with her Hermione costume and a newly assembled Dani Phantom costume. In 2011 she joined Ghostbusters: Chicago Division and began to give back with her costuming, which led to joining Costumers With a Cause in 2014. When she’s not staffing conventions in Chicago & elsewhere, she is an avid crafter, voracious reader, and works part time in data entry. She’s engaged to a wonderful fellow costumer, who proposed while the two were dressed as the Fourth Doctor and Romanadvoratrelundar.
What was your favorite CwC event and what made it so special?
My first one was Relay For Life of Norridge/Harwood Heights last August. Relay is special to me, and has been my passion for a number of years now. But what made it extra special was the sight of the impromptu honor guard of superheroes on the Luminaria lap, the most somber point of the evening.
If you could create a super hero, what powers would you have and what would your name be?
I’m rubbish at names, but my powers would probably be a combination of Nightcrawler’s bamf-ing powers and Gambit’s supercharging powers, since they’re my two favorites.
What is the craziest or weirdest thing you have ever done?
Probably going on a Richard Petty Driving Experience ride-along ride. 165 miles per hour around Chicagoland Speedway in the passenger seat of a Winston Cup car.
What is your favorite thing to do in your “downtime”?
Knit! Knitting is definitely my zen, it’s super relaxing for me, especially if I’m working on an easy pattern. I’ve also started attempting to get better at crochet, currently pushing myself to make a plushie Fourth Doctor toy.
Who is someone you find “inspiring”? Why?
Many of our other costumers! Nearly every event I come home inspired to work on my costumes some more, inspired by my talented fellow costumers!
If you could go anywhere, and do anything you could imagine, where would you go and what would you do there?
I would love to spend time exploring Scotland, especially some of the battlefields of the Jacobite rebellions, my favorite period of Scottish history. My second choice would be a trip to Japan, visiting places mentioned in my favorite animes and tokusatsu shows, checking out Japanese yarn shops, and enjoying yummy Japanese cuisine! Watching the filming of a super sentai series would be awesome as well!
What advice would you give to a “newbie” who is interested in Cosplaying or Costuming?
Hook up with costuming groups, like Costumers With a Cause, and meet other costumers. Pick a character you like and identify with, regardless if you look like them. Cosplaying should be fun, and should not be restricted by race or body type! Google the character you’re doing with “cosplay” or “costume” – a lot of popular characters have great tutorials out there, making it much easier to get started. Why reinvent the wheel?
Lately we have seen a lot of negativity regarding body shaming and bullying which is creating many insecurities and self image issues among the youth and teens. What is your best advice you would give to someone who is having this insecurities or self image problems due to what others are doing or saying to them?
It’s hard, but ignore the naysayers. Most bullies say such negative things because they’re insecure about themselves, and are trying to cause a reaction. The best way to frustrate the bullies is to ignore them and follow your passions. I really hate seeing such bullying in what started out as such a positive welcoming community.
What is your favorite book, movie, play, or musical and what makes it your favorite?
Favorite book is A Wrinkle In Time by Madeline L’Engle. I read it back in junior high for the first time and just fell in love. I like the science fiction aspects, but also the characters really speak to me, especially Meg.
Favorite movie is Ghostbusters, I barely even remember what first pulled me in but I have yet to find a movie I love as much! It’s one of those rare movies that has the perfect balance of comedy, characterization, and plot.
Favorite play is Arcadia by Tom Stoppard. I first saw it when I was a senior in high school on a college visit and there’s just something about the time-traveling aspect that I really love.
Favorite musical is Hair. I love reading about the hippie movement of the 1960s, and Hair is a combination of that history I love and the wonderful music of the era.
Are there any charity or non profit groups that hold a special place in your heart or you are close to? If there is, what is it? If there isn’t, if there is one childhood illness in which YOU were to find the cure for, please tell (teach) us about it and why you would want to cure this particular disease.
Relay For Life (benefiting the American Cancer Society) is my number one charity. I’ve been involved since 2009, after many years of meaning to get involved. I’ve had a number of family members, friends, and even a high school teacher affected by cancer, and I like that Relay doesn’t focus on one cancer but rather covers them all. But I especially love the philosophy behind Relay – we celebrate our survivors who are beating cancer, we remember those who lost their battle, and we resolve to fight back and beat cancer one day!
Check out some photo’s of Mary jo in action!