Tuesday 28 September 2021

Lena Mae’s Crap Cosplays

So many people took up weird and wonderful creative things to pass the time over lockdown. Many people tried their hardest to make the best cosplays they could...however Lena Mae decided to make the worst!

Lena Mae is a burlesque superstar sensation. She has appeared on this site many moons ago when I interviewed her. Lena is a top burlesque and cabaret performer, singer, model, photographer and show producer of the incredible Hundred Watt Club.  I’ve personally been attending her shows for many years and Lena has performed at my burlesque shows I’ve run back in the day. She really is incredible at what she does.

Lena really is the nicest Geordie you’ll ever meet, such a sweetheart with an infectious smile. Find out here why this uber talent used her costuming skills to go against everything were programmed to do and create a very different form of art!

Thanks to Covid and lockdown Lena’s crap cosplays were born! Something good to come out of covid! So, get yourself a cuppa, take a read and look at the work for yourselves and be prepared to giggle a lot!

All pictures are taken by Lena unless otherwise stated. All pictures are provided by Lena Mae.

Photo Credit: Scott Chalmers 
Photo Credit: Scott Chalmers 

What made you start your crap cosplays? 

It was lockdown, I was out of work because the theatres were all closed, and we must
have watched Fifth Element a few days before I found a pile of bandages in one of my costume boxes. I didn't really have a plan, I just like dressing up, so I wrapped them around myself mimicking Leeloo's iconic outfit. I mean, once you've started you have to go the whole hog, right? So, I draped a bit of orange fabric over my head, grabbed a B&Q multipass card and took a picture. It was the first one, and you can see in it I was actually laughing at how crap it looked! But I put it in my Instagram story and my DMs blew up with people LOLing with me...so that's when I started getting carried away!

How many cosplays did you do? 
Oh gosh I'm not sure, I probably did around 20 'celebrities' and then maybe 12 of my friends.

Even though the cosplays are ‘crap’, it still takes creativity and resourcefulness to create something from nothing. Did it start off with one thing and spiral or did you have lots of ideas at once? 

Yeah it just spiralled as you say, after Leeloo I'd just get an idea every few days. My husband Jamie and I are really big on movies, visuals and pop culture, particularly from the 80s so we're already surrounded by a tonne of inspiration just in the house! 

How did you decide which character to do? 
I didn't really put much thought into it, I think that's why it was so fun and so crap, because it was all really sporadic! I didn't buy anything especially; they were all just made from things I found lying around the house. So, for example one day I noticed a PPE mask in the cupboard under the stairs and figured it looked like an excellent codpiece, so Henry VIII was born (again)! Or there was the blue bathrobe tie that reminded me of Heman's chest piece...you get 

the idea. I have a very enquiring mind which can get a bit fanciful so things like that don't take too much cogitation! 

Was there any that you made that didn’t make the cut to Instagram or the Calendar? 

Yes! There were a couple who didn't make it out alive. Celery and bedsheet statue of Liberty and loo roll tube Elizabeth 1st were casualties of being too crap! 

Did you think of any characters you still haven’t done yet that you would like to? 
It all reached a really natural end; I don't have any urge to make any more presently. Now I'm back performing in shows, modelling jobs have started up again and I'm teaching with Solid Gold Fitness my 80s aerobics too, all of which are major outlets for my creativity. That's not to say I don't play dress up for fun anymore! 

What kind of materials did you use? 
Anything found around the house really! The list included jam, party hats, caulking gun, 
takeaway sauces, plastic carrier bags, slices of bread, pliers, Qtips, pillowcases, ping pong balls and a bottle of yellow paint.

Did you purchase any materials for it or was it all from things you already had? 
Nope, it was all organic!

What was your favourite crap cosplay? 
I really enjoyed being Bob Ross. I mean who wouldn't?! But it really tickled me. I video called my best friend while I was in costume, and we just cry laughed for about five minutes! Also, all five of the Spice Girls were fun.

What was the easiest crap cosplay? 
I'd say Leeloo, the first ever. She was the easiest. A few bandages, a scrap of fabric, done. I think I started to up my game after that!

What was the most challenging crap cosplay? 

Marge Simpson, because that yellow paint was deadly! It really smelled badly and took about half an hour to scrub off in the shower...Plus I couldn't see a thing through those ping pong ball & raisin eyes!

How long did the cosplays take you to do? 
I tried to keep it quick so there wasn't time to put too much thought into it. Twenty minutes tops each.

What was the response to your crap cosplay posts? 
It started with little DMs, you know people laughing about a costume or commenting on something I'd used which was lovely because it meant that it wasn't just me who found it entertaining! But as it went on over the Summer, I started receiving really quite emotional, heartfelt messages from people who told me that it was really helping them through lockdown, like actually making a difference to their lives. As a performer part of getting on stage is through a need to do it, a sort of necessity to express yourself and another part of it is knowing that you are touching someone's life in some way. Maybe you're making them happy or excited or you make them laugh or even better you're inspiring them to do something. Maybe they really don't like what you do but at least they're FEELING something. That's really important to me, and over lockdown that element was missing so to know that I was affecting people in a positive way from being creative in my bedroom...well it was absolutely wonderful.

Tell us about the calendar… 
I can't take credit for that; it wasn't my idea! I would get messages from my Insta followers and Facebook friends suggesting I make a calendar with the cosplays, but in classic self-doubting artist fashion I thought 'who would even buy one?!' After a few more prods and suggestions I figured fuck it, I'll do a small run of them. I think I ended up making five runs of 30 calendars! They just kept selling! What's extra nice is that I still get messages now every time we enter a new month from people having a laugh at whichever character they've turned the page to!

I loved it. It was a great channel for underused creativity.

Did it inspire you to do any true cosplays at all? 
Not really, I don't really have time! Though I have been making a Mandalorian themed burlesque act which I guess could be construed as a kind of cosplay...of course I'm taking liberties with fabrics and construction! So far, I've not seen Pedro Pascal adorned in any sequins...

Do you have a favourite cosplayer at all? 
Not being part of the scene, I have to say I don't think I know the names of any of cosplayers, but I did bump into a cosplay meet-up in Huddersfield recently though, and it was SO fun to see on the street. Really brightened up my day! 

Do you think there’s any similarities between burlesque and cosplay at all? 

For sure! Both employ huge amounts of imagination to create costuming. Both spend copious amounts of time in thick make up and wigs! I also think there's a lot of cross over between the burlesque and the nerd world, so with the same influences it's inevitable that the two should have similarities! 

Can we expect to see more crap cosplays from you in the future? 
Haha! Never say never!!

Photo Credit: Andy Clift
Photo Credit: Robbie Jerrom

Well, there you have it! Crap cosplay at its finest! I would like to thank Lena Mae for her time with this interview. Stay tuned for more cosplay interviews. 

Skye Fawkes
Editor In Chief and Head Writer

No comments:

Post a Comment