Thomas Westhouse

Samuto Mirror

Photography has always been a hobby of mine. Without a doubt, I always enjoyed being able to take any particular moment in time and capture it for everyone to enjoy. Memories and once-in-a-lifetime events and chance happenings could be recorded for all time, and later, I learned that such imagery could be used to capture more fantastic and interesting forms on camera. This all came to a head when I discovered what are known as ‘zentai’ suits, which are lycra bodysuits that cover the wearer entirely from head to toe, and I realized that in these suits, I could take on different personas and become completely unknown and different.
My initial experiments with the suits were very closely guarded. Only with my personal circle of friends did I dress up, and even within that circle, reactions were fairly negative. I kept with the concepts, though, and through some tweaking, as well as some accessories, I feel I’ve managed to develop several unique and memorable ‘characters’ from the costumes I’ve collected. Also, wearing it more often, as well as some physical exercise, caused me to get a little braver, and perform what are called ‘walkabouts’, where one simply walks around in costume. I always wear normal street clothing over mine, and the practice started as a convenience to onlookers, but later developed into further defining the characters.
My goal, when dressing up, is pretty simple. Enjoyment of the experience of being something I’m not, and also being something so exotic and unusual. It’s a great deal of fun to wander around, and observe the reactions of those who happen to notice the strange being before them. While the reactions are as varied as the people experiencing them, it’s not without dangers. The integrated hood with the costumes can make security a problem, and also presents problems with vision or eating with friends. It’s something I’ve made peace with, though, and through the walkabouts and accessories, I’ve made three characters in particular that have become quite memorable, though there are several others, as well as other characters just waiting for the right spark of imagination to be born.