A New Yorker is a superfan.
"Game of Thrones" fandom has reached new heights in New York City ahead of the series’ eighth season premiere, with thousands rushing to claim their spots on Iron Throne replicas, to try Westeros-themed menus and prove their loyalty at trivia nights and viewing parties.
"There are so many layers to how art can bring people together," said Steven Godoyn, 27, a Jon Snow cosplayer. "Either as a fan, or a creative, as a community. In this monotonous age of information, it’s nice that this stuff can still exist."
To these five fans of the Seven Kingdoms, the eight-season series that made its debut in 2011 has proved to be life altering: It’s been a part of their careers, marked major life moments and more.
A Wedding Fit for a Khaleesi
East Village resident Jen Balisi, 29, is committed to the throne. She showed her dedication with an over-the-top wedding shower, held at the Kolo Klub in Hoboken, New Jersey in October.
"My sister, my maid of honor, mainly took the lead on the details. I helped with some items, but she came up with so many fun ties to the game," Balisi, who runs the local food blog Indulgent Eats, said. "Instead of doing ‘who knows the bride best,’ we played ‘you know nothing.’ Little things like that made it special." The main attraction was the dessert table, with dragon egg cookies baked by Made by Wendy and other sweets designed by Jamm Event. And her guests, who all came in themed attire, served as loving and loyal followers of Khaleesi Balisi and her soon-to-be-husband Mike Profeta (Jon Snow).
For their wedding, set for Saturday in Hawaii, the couple plan to exchange the show’s classic wedding vow: "I am yours and you are mine, from this day, ’till the end of my days."
Making the Iron Throne
While fans from the tristate area and beyond flocked to Fort Totten Park in Queens last month for the chance to sit on the network’s Iron Throne replica, Staten Islander Anthony Corvyx was relaxing in his own. The 28-year-old spent three weeks in March building a 7-foot Iron Throne in his father Dominic Colasuonno’s Staten Island yard.
Corvyx, a recording artist, constructed the throne out of an Adirondack lawn chair, lumber and plastic swords for his recently released "Game of Thrones"-themed music video, "Seven Devils," a Florence and the Machine cover.
"There are few things that really like come to fruition the way you think it will and I remember being on set and having to take a step back because after weeks of work, this was everything I envisioned it would be and better," he said. For his video, Corvyx dressed as the Three-Eyed Raven (Bran Stark), the character he most identifies with.
"I have insight with the books and I’ve re-watched ‘Game of Thrones’ about four times," he said. "I know it’s weird, he doesn’t have a big role in the books, but I love Bran Stark."
Lord Commander of the Viewing Party
Steven Godoyn didn’t choose the Night’s Watch. The Night’s Watch chose him. The Caroll Gardens resident, born and raised on Staten Island, has taken up a side passion of dressing up as Jon Snow (Kit Harington) at bars and private parties around the city. But, he won’t call himself a professional impersonator.
"I’d call myself just a fan, I’ve never received money for a show when I dress like Jon Snow, but it all started out with one Halloween costume," Godoyn, 27, said.
He found his calling in October 2016, the first time he slipped into his Jon Snow persona for Halloween. He realized his uncanny resemblance to the character after growing his hair out for an acting gig in "A Midsummer Night’s Dream" in New Haven. He’s kept his hair Jon Snow-style ever since, although, "I think I might cut my hair in the summer after the show is over."
"When the ‘Game of Thrones’ symphony tour came to Madison Square Garden, I thought it’d be fun to put the costume on and show up at The Garden with a ‘Winter is Coming’ sign," he recalled. "People would catch smiles, give looks and ask for pictures."
He quickly became resident "GoT" impersonator for his friends and family, being asked to drop by in costume for parties, and even made a few appearances at the shuttered Durden Bar in the East Village during weekly season 7 episode viewings. Most recently, he appeared in character in his college pal Anthony Corvyx’s music video.
Thirty is Coming
When Jenn Evgenis first started watching "Game of Thrones," she wasn’t a fan. But a few episodes in — like many fans — she was hooked. So when it came time to plan her husband’s 30th birthday, Evgenis could think of no better way than to celebrate with their shared love of George R.R. Martin’s fantastical world.
"Originally, he loved ‘Game of Thrones,’ but then I turned into this super fan," said Evgenis, 30, who lives in Marine Park. "We had a whole ‘Game of Thrones’ day."
The birthday party, in August 2017, happened to fall on the night before the finale of season 6, and they celebrated in style. Evgenis, who designs sweets as part of Cake Pops By Jenn, crafted an Iron Throne cake that looked uncannily like the real thing, decorated the table with a replica of the weirwood tree in Winterfell, and had small vials of "milk of the poppy" on the table.
The day was topped off with a "Game of Thrones"-themed photo shoot at a castle in New Jersey, where Evgenis was dressed as Daenerys Targaryen, her husband as Jon Snow, their daughter as Arya, and their husky as a direwolf.
"It took me about a month to plan," she said. "There were so many details and I wanted to capture the whole vibe … I don’t like doing the typical parties, I need to always be next level extra."
A Gift From the Old Gods and the New
A new lord (or lady) of Staten Island is coming. Melissa Balsamello, a teacher at Hudson High School of Learning Technologies, and her husband, Robert, dedicated the announcement of their first baby to the throne. In October, they shared with their friends and family that a "baby (dragon?!) is hatching" May 10.
"We did a ‘Game of Thrones’ reveal because our friends and family all know how much I love it, and Dany being pregnant is a popular theory [this season], so I thought using that would be funny for our announcement," Balsamello, 33, said. She added she "proudly tells everyone" about her fandom — which began with the books and carried over into the series.
When House Balsamello welcomes its first child next month, the couple plans to hold a "Thrones"-themed newborn shoot. "I have a trunk and dragon eggs," she said.
With Alison Fox