By Angie Sykeny
Gordon College News Service
October 10, 2013
(This assigned story appeared in a special print section Wednesday, Oct. 16, 2013, in The Salem News and its sister papers.)
SALEM—Boston’s Marvel comic book character Deadpool has traded in his red suit for a pink one in honor of Breast Cancer Awareness Month.
James Jwanowski, 26, of Peabody, is a local cosplayer, or a person who dresses up as a fictional character from a comic book, video game or film and attends conventions known as Comic Cons. Jwanowski has taken his passion beyond the Comic Con events to become what he calls a “cause-player” and has been dressing up in his original pink Deadpool suit at various breast cancer charity events since October of last year.
His next destination? The Gulu Gulu Café in Salem, Saturday, Oct. 19 at 8 p.m. alongside “Sylvana Joyce & The Moment,” a gypsy/blues rock band out of Astoria, NY.
The band’s drummer, Ross Liberti, 26, of Jersey City, NJ, grew up in Peabody and has known Jwanowski since preschool. Last summer, Liberti stumbled across a Facebook video of Jwanowski in the pink Deadpool outfit, speaking at a Comic Con event. Then, he had an idea.
“It seemed natural, given our ties to Salem, the spirit of Halloween,” said Liberti, “and the fact that Sylvana Joyce & The Moment makes it a point to get involved with charities and benefits, to merge our plans for a Salem Halloween show with James's cause (breast cancer awareness).”
Liberti said Jwanowski was “on board from the get-go.”
The show is free to attend, and donations will go to Susan G. Komen for a Cure, the largest breast cancer organization in the nation.
“Individually and as a band, we feel very strongly that we would like to see cancer become a preventable and curable condition in our lifetime,” said the band’s front woman Sylvana Joyce, 28, of Jersey City, NJ. “Anything we can do to help that become a reality would be a great honor for us.”
In the past, Sylvana Joyce & The Moment have played for Project Animal Worldwide, Sing for Hope, Women of Song and various fundraisers for cancer research. They also advocate for the awareness of Parkinson's disease and Crohn's disease. Liberti and Joyce said these causes are personal for them. Joyce’s mother was diagnosed with Parkinson's 18 years ago, and a good friend of Liberti’s has been battling Crohn's for most of his life. They and Jwanowski have also lost friends and family members to cancer.
According to Joyce, the band is entirely grassroots and self-managing. They handle their own publicity, book their own shows, design posters and flyers and call friends in the area to get the word out.
Because Jwanowski has been working towards cancer research funding for a year now, Joyce said his experience is invaluable for fundraising at the Gulu Gulu Café show. Jwanowski is also taking donations for Komen on his FirstGiving.com fundraiser page. He has already raised $390, with $1000 as his goal.
“To me, music is not just about expression,” said Joyce. “It’s about sharing a sense of unity and passion with each other, taking care of each other emotionally, connecting and using our music as a force for the greater good.”
And in this case, it’s also about working with a pink superhero to fight breast cancer.