A week ago when I attended New York Comic Con with my girlfriend and some of our friends, we passed a cosplayer that caught all of our attention. When leaving the convention for lunch we saw who, at first glance, we all thought was the legendary Star Lord himself: Chris Pratt. As it turns out, it wasn't Pratt, but a carpet cleaner from Staten Island that is taking the internet by storm. John Koch, 23, is a dead ringer for the legendary outlaw and everyone at the convention seemed to take notice. So much so, that his life seems to be changing. Articles are being written about him all over the web, his Instagram page is blowing up, and he couldn't be happier. I included John in a countdown I wrote about cosplayers last weekend and, after seeing all of the attention he has been getting, contacted him asking if he would be interested in answering a few questions I had from him. John was gracious enough to take the time, and this is what transpired.
Hey, John! Thanks for doing this. Let's start by letting people know a little bit about yourself.
Well, my name is John Koch and I'm 23 years old. I've lived in Staten Island, NY with my mom and sister, who have been there for me my entire life. My parents split up when I was four, so as long as I can remember it has been us. My dad is a member of the military and, of course, I see him when I can but it is tough because of our schedules. It hasn't been so easy for us, my mom is my rock, she never let life get to her no matter how bad things got for us money wise. I work for a carpet cleaning company called Delmont. It's not a bad job, but I don't want to be carpet cleaning my entire life. What I would really love to do is work for Marvel, they've always been a huge influence on me since I was younger. I was the fat, nerdy kid reading comics alone at lunch, but I would love to be a part of their team, whether that means acting or writing or even just doing events. I owe them so much, their comics got me through a lot of hard times when I was younger. They helped me escape reality when things got rough.
It sounds like you've got a strong connection with the company. Did you ever cosplay before this years Comic Con, or was this the first time?
Yes, I've cosplayed four times. Twice at Comic Con and twice at PAX East in Boston. I was Captain America two years ago at NYCC, and I did get a lot of people stopping me asking for pictures, but nothing like this. At PAX East I was Booker DeWitt from BioShock Infinite last year and Nathan Drake from Uncharted this year. Again, a lot of people stopped me but its been nothing compared to Star Lord.
I can only imagine how many times you got stopped to take photos, I even stopped you once! Do you consider that the downside to cosplaying? You're such a nice dude, I can't imagine you saying no to people.
Yeah, I was stopped for a lot of photos, but for me personally it's not a downside at all. It makes me feel like I'm more involved in the convention, and I love seeing how excited people get to take a picture with me. It makes you feel kind of special, however it's not for everyone. I met a person dressed like Groot there who was awesome looking, worked real hard on his cosplay, and he couldn't see anything all four days of the convention because he was always taking pictures with people, so I stepped in and relieved him so he could go look around and get his money's worth while I took some pictures with people. I can't say no to anyone, I couldn't even imagine doing it. If it wasn't for all those people who wanted to take pictures of me or with me, we wouldn't even be doing this interview right now. They think I'm doing them a favor by taking a picture with them but really, it's them that are helping me out.
That's really awesome of you. Let's talk about this costume that's got everybody so intrigued. What inspired you to choose Star Lord for this years Con? Was it the movie, the comic, or just something about that character that spoke to you?
Well, I'm a huge Parks and Recreation fan, so when I found out that Chris Pratt was cast as Star Lord, I knew he would kill it. As he got more fit to play the role, people started saying to me you know, you look a lot like him! and I was like Holy Shit, we do! so when I saw the film and how he acted in it, I realized this was the perfect cosplay for me. I just had to do it.
How long did it take you to get everything together and ready? Can you walk me through how you made the costume and got all the parts?
Well, it took over 23 years to make this wonderful cosplay. It all started when my mom and dad met and, well, you know when a man loves a woman they do things and thats how babies are made, that's how the face for my cosplay was constructed. After that it took about three months for me to get the outfit and accessories together. The headphones and the walkman I bought off eBay for about ten dollars. The guns I took apart and spray painted, then put them back together afterwards. The helmet I bought off of cosplayhouse.com and the jacket off of etsy.com. The pants and shirt I got off of Amazon, and the boots on eBay. To make the jets, I bought binoculars, spray painted them chrome, and super glued them to the boots.
It sounds like a lot of thought went into this.
Oh yeah! I even made the Awesome Mix, Vol. 1 by buying an old cassette tape and recording the songs from the movie into it. That was a must considering I was blasting "Come and Get Your Love" as I was dancing around.
That's so awesome! Is that what you think set you apart from all the other Star Lords there? I know I saw more than a few, but yours seemed to stick out. Not to take anything away from the other cosplayers (everyone did an awesome job), but how do you think you pulled off being the most talked about cosplayer of NYCC?
Why, thank you! and a big thing would have to be that fact that Chris Pratt and I look so much alike, plus I did manage to dance my way around Comic Con showing off my pelvic sorcery. I think just doing something as outrageous and memorable like the movie is going to turn heads. Thankfully, I was right.
You're dance moves were a huge hit! I heard you danced your way through a photo op of a bunch of cosplayers dressed as DC comics characters. Can you run me through that?
Okay, well that was actually a lot of fun! See, what happened was, I had just finished eating and saw that more and more DC characters were gathering. A bunch of photographers were there, so I thought to myself, they're just asking for it. See, I'm a prankster. I like to pull pranks and do things like that. I just can't help myself! So I popped on my headphones and began to wiggle and dance my way through the crowd until I found myself right in the middle. Let's just say, I got as many laughs as I did death threats. You could see the sadness and anger in there eyes and I could hear them scream C'mon! This is all we have, you can't just give this to us! It was at that moment I realized that this prank was classic Star Lord, especially when I was pushed out of the shot, I'm so glad I did that. You're welcome, Marvel.
That's absolutely hilarious. Did you practice those dance moves or did you just kind of wing it?
Well, I had seen the movie twice, and they were not practiced, but when I saw him dancing like that in the opening of the film, I was like those moves look familiar, and thats because, well, I just kind of dance like that normally! So, all I had to do was see it one more time and I had it down. I was a little nervous because I never tried them out, but once I put those headphones on and had "Come and Get Your Love" blasting, it all just sort of flowed naturally.
Did you get into character often?
Yes, most of the time I was no longer John Koch: Carpet Cleaner, I was Peter Quill: Star Lord, the legendary outlaw. I did a couple of interviews and they even wanted me to stay in character. Honestly, it's not that hard because I tend to carry myself like Pratt's character anyways, but most of the time I was dancing and having a good time with the awesome people at NYCC.
That's very cool, I'm sure people love that about you. Now, did you go to NYCC alone or were you with a group? I could imagine you were probably very busy all day.
Yeah, I went with a group of my friends but none of them cosplayed, so it was kind of hard for them to stay by me as I was dancing or being asked to take pictures. They wanted to see things and I didn't want to hold them back, so most of the time I was by myself but they were really supportive of me. They were super happy with all the attention I was getting.
So happy that they've got a really awesome idea for you. Do you want to tell people a little about that?
Yes! My friends have this awesome idea. They want to email Ellen DeGeneres and see if they can get me on her show with Chris Pratt so that we can have a dance off. It would be really awesome if anybody reading this could make a request on her site and help us get this going. It would be a dream come true.
Well, I am definitely going to do that! It would be awesome for you and for people to see. Chris seems like a great person too, I'm sure he'd be up for it. Speaking of Chris, you mentioned to me before the interview that you idolize him. He's great! Definitely one of my favorite actors and he killed it in Guardians. Do you have any aspirations to maybe follow in his footsteps and give acting a try?
Yes, I absolutely idolize him! Besides my grandfather, he has been my role model. The things he does on and off the screen, especially going to children's hospitals dressed as Star Lord, its just so amazing. He's an all around good guy. And, to answer your question, yes, it has always been a dream of mine and before all this I never even had the confidence to try. Everyone used to tell me how funny I am and how I have that acting gene. I actually took a film class in high school, did a lot of acting and writing for the class and aced it the whole way through. My teacher really wanted me to pursue it, but my family needed money and I couldn't afford to really pick up and try to become an actor. My biggest supporter, and role model, was my grandfather. He always told me I was meant to do something great. That he could always see me being on the stage or in the movies making people laugh. As he got older, he developed dementia, and he started to forget things.. but he never forgot me. Honestly, without him, I wouldn't be the person I am today. He shaped me into the man I am today, and when he passed in February, it really hit me hard. So, I would love nothing more than to honor his memory and really follow my dream and do what I was meant to do. I want to make him proud. I want to make people laugh like he did to me for all those years.
I'm very sorry to hear that, but you definitely made a lot of people laugh at Comic Con. You should definitely try and pursue that. Do what makes you happy! It seems like you have a lot in common with Chris, if he were reading this right now, what would you want to say to him?
If he's reading this right now, I would tell Chris that he's an inspiration to me. You provided me with tons of laughs as Andy in Parks and Recreation and to thank your parents because without them getting their freak on and you being the end result, I wouldn't be getting all of this attention. Also, I respect everything that you do for those kids at the children's hospital. It's truly amazing how happy you make those kids just by being there, and it would be an absolute honor to meet you. You're my role model and I could only hope I did your character justice in your eyes. You're my hero! I love you, man.
What do you think he would say if he saw your cosplay? He may have already with the amount of people that are tagging him on your Instagram.
If, by some miracle, he did in fact see my cosplay, I think he'd say wow, what a good looking guy. I love this guy! I want to be best friends with him. He should come on the set of Parks and Rec. WE SHOULD DO A MOVIE TOGETHER! But, in all seriousness, I could just hope that he'd see it and is amazed at how similar we look and act. Hopefully, at that point, he'd have the urge to reach out to me. Even if he just said good job and that's it; it would be enough. All I need to know is that I got his approval.
You did look A LOT like him. I thought it was him when I first saw you. Speaking of your Instagram, it seems to be blowing up right now. What does that feel like? It's gotta be good having so many people tell you what a great job you did.
It's insane! It's unreal and I'm still in awe about all of this! It's crazy! Never in a million years did I expect to get all of this attention. I mean, I really need to thank @meliarobin from Business Insider for writing an amazing article about me that really is what blew me up and, of course, everyone who took a picture with me! Everyone is so supportive and nice! So I try my best to make sure I answer everyone who comments on my photos or messages me. Funny thing is, before all of this, my friends and I would have these competitions on who could get the most likes on a photo. I'd have like 22 likes on a photo of something I had eaten and I was winning. 22 likes was, like, a huge deal. Now my pictures have over 200 likes on them and MTV News even posted a picture of me on their page that has over 1500 likes, and I'm just standing here like damn, what is going on! I still can't believe it. Also, my friends don't want to play anymore.
They've, understandably, admitted defeat. Do you have any plans for the Star Lord costume to make a reappearance, maybe at other cons or on Halloween?
Yes, of course! That costume has become a part of me now. If I could, I would wear it everyday but then I would just be known as the Star Lord that looks like Chris Pratt and smells. I'll definitely be wearing it for Halloween and at some Halloween parties I'm attending. I wanted to go to as many cons as I can, I keep getting asked if I am going because people want to see me. I don't like letting people down, so I want to try to get to as many as possible! Plus, they're a lot fun.
They are a lot of fun. I would definitely recommend going to anybody that hasn't. Okay, last question. You get asked a lot about how you made your costume and I was just wondering, have you ever considered starting a cosplay blog or website? A place where people can go for help and ideas, not just for cons but Halloween as well?
You know, as embarrassing as this is, I suck with computers haha. I'm like an old man. I wouldn't even know how to blog, it's terrible, I know, but I would love to help anyone out who needs it! Anyone is more than welcome to Instagram me and ask, which some have, or email me at JohnKoch317@yahoo.com and I'll do my best to help out!
Awesome! Thanks so much for doing this, John, and best of luck!