Cosplay for Charity

As a child, Angela (Fae) Mullens enjoyed playing dress up. By junior high, she was altering thrift store clothing and sewing costumes. Fae was a married adult before she learned about the cosplay (costumed play) community, but now, she’s turned her hobby into a community service, recreating beloved characters to entertain at charity events or provide atmosphere at parties.

“It’s so rewarding, because I love being able to see magic come to life when you walk into a room as the character someone loves,” Fae said.

Life is a Costume Party!

Fae’s early charity experiences included attending movie premieres with the local JediOKC group, and she’s been a mermaid at the Medieval Fair in Norman, OK since 2001. “The mermaids are purely magical creatures. We give out gems from the sunken ship playground. Our tails are fully functional in water, though, so I’ve been to a number of swimming pool parties, too.”

For Fae, attending parties is rewarding. “It’s always worthwhile. I never regret it. Last week, I visited a two-year-old going through chemotherapy. Then, I went with my superhero friends to a Sweet 16 Party for a girl with special needs,” Fae said. “This beautiful girl decided to donate all her gifts to the Real Okie Superheroes charity group.”

Fae is involved in many cosplay charity groups. In addition to JediOKC and Real Okie Superheroes, she’s active with Oklahoma Charity Cosplay, Heroic Inner Kids, and the recently disbanded League OKC. On weekends, Fae is often at New World Comics “Superhero School,” where kids meet a superhero through a story, skit, and costumed characters.

She describes the cosplay community as a tight-knit group. “We enjoy visiting conventions together, but if the message goes out that somebody needs Spiderman or Princess Moana for a party, we jump into action to see who’s available. If I have a costume available, I try to help,” Fae said.

Clothes, Makeup and Wigs

After years of character creation, Fae feels she is not “type-cast,” because she’s open to being any character. She was once the creepy Weeping Angel from Dr. Who, she’s been a Valkyrie, various anime characters, Harry Potter characters, and many superheroes. Fae is currently developing Nightwing from DC Comics, and she’s working on an elaborate photo-shoot that brings a forest to life.

Sewing costumes by hand, for which she’s won many awards, is Fae’s hobby, but she’s a hairdresser and cosmetologist by trade, working as the owner of Pin Me Up Salon. She also enjoys the creativity of finding thrift store wigs and giving them a “style and dye,” so that they have new life for costumes. Recently, she did a commissioned wig for SoonerCon, in which she dyed a beehive wig “swamp green.”

“You don’t have to sew your own costumes. They can be purchased. It’s all about using imagination and recreating a character that resonates with them,” Fae said. “It works well with kids, but also adults, especially if you are the book or movie character they love.”

Too Old to Cosplay?

Now that Fae is part of the over-40 cosplay set, she gets questions like, “When are you going to grow up?” or “Aren’t you a little old for this kind of thing?” Fae answers by saying, “No. If you feel too old to dress up or enjoy a character, then you’ve lost your magic. Look inside, find your inner child again, and suspend reality for a few minutes.”

Occasionally, Fae sees grown adults become like kids again when they see their favorite character. Children, on the other hand, can be a skeptical audience. “I just don’t break character. But overall, there are so many moments when children think you really are that princess or superhero–and that’s magical.”

“I once dressed as Frozen’s Elsa for a Christmas party attended by kids who had witnessed or been victims of terrible crimes,” Fae said. “In the eyes of one little girl, I was Elsa. She held my hand, we danced, we read books together—I was her best friend. It broke my heart when she said, ‘I know you miss your mommy and daddy. I miss mine, too.’ It was a moment where I knew I’d made a complete difference in her life. She believed in that character, and it provided her the comfort she needed.”

In addition to satisfied audiences, Fae admits that cosplay appearances also benefit the performer, because, “It’s amazing for your mental health to step away from reality and do something that brings joy to other people.”

For more information, visit the individual charity organizations, @PinMeUpSalon or @MrsFaeMullens on Facebook and Instagram.

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