Queen of the Nerds, Ghoul of your Dreams and Your Best Nightmare. These are just a few of the illustrious titles for one of the biggest personalities in the cosplay and convention world, LeeAnna Vamp. I was fortunate enough to get a few minutes of LeeAnna’s time at BCC 2017 to discuss how her passion for horror started, her unexpected foray into the world of bee keeping and the world of cosplay.
AiPT!: You’re the Queen of the Nerds, an internationally recognized cosplayer and someone who’s always creating new content. When you aren’t busy with your many projects, how do you like to spend your time?
LeeAnna Vamp: One of my passion projects is I have a kids TV show, it’s called Best Fiends Forever, it’s a puppet show. I’m a human in the show and it’s kind of like The Muppets meets The Munsters. I call it creepy cute; we have a zombie, a bat and a ghost. It’s my love for Halloween and my love for the old school things that we really don’t have anymore. I grew up with The Munsters and The Addams Family and I kind of wanted to bring something similar back so this is my homage to that.
I’m also a bee keeper. I keep bees!
AiPT!: I saw a video of the bees on your instagram. How did you get into that?
LV: Not really by choice. We have a birdhouse in our backyard and a hive took it over. We quickly realized that the hive grew really fast. It went from a small amount of bees to them taking over everything around the birdhouse. My husband and I decided that we should do something to give them an actual legit place to be bees. So we found this thing called Flowhive–they’re from Australia and they make these hives where essentially it doesn’t traumatize the bees when you take the honey. So we got one of those and then it hit me how fascinating bees are. I can sit there stare at them for half and hour and sure they don’t really do much–they’re bees–but they’re working hard [laughs]. Now we have I think five bee hives and it’s growing. I just posted a video where I built two bigger bee hives and we’re going to be moving some bees into those.
AiPT!: When you get to a con and a new city is there anything you like to do first thing or rituals you’ve created over the years?
LV: At the beginning traveling so much was just work. I’d show up, go from the airport, to the hotel, to the convention center and then back to the hotel, back to the airport and then home. I realized how mundane that becomes and how burnt out you get really quickly. So now I make it a point to do something, whether that be going out to a famous restaurant or a famous travel destination. I make a point to have a day where I see the city and interact with the culture in that area. Especially when we travel internationally. Otherwise it’s so unfortunate to say “I’ve been to all these amazing places and all I’ve seen is a hotel and a convention center!”. I’m fortunate enough to be able to travel with my husband and make our own memories in every place we go.
AiPT!: Do you have anything special planned for this weekend?
LV: We’re going to go to Salem! We’ve been here before and we love Salem. I just want to see spooky stuff.
AiPT!: You’ve been on a cosplay TV show, starred in horror movies, been on the cover of magazines, developed your own TV show, judged contests, been a guest on many of panel, held your own con scavenger hunt, you manage a Patreon and merchandise store, the list goes on and on. Do you feel like there’s any mountain left where through your cosplay, TV show and your other work, you can say “I still really want to achieve that”?
LV: Oh my god, every day. I’ve done a lot of crazy things and this whole crazy world, everything that I do, was kind of by accident. I started going to conventions just for fun and I was there when this whole cosplay boom kind of exploded. So for me, I was just lucky. I’m so grateful because now I have this platform and this fanbase which allows me to do so many things. I want to make my puppet show bigger, I want to share that with more people. I want to do more acting and more movies. I’ve done a little bit of everything, but I really want to delve more into acting. My husband and I have a ton of projects that we’d like to create on our own, our own films, our own shows.
AiPT!: I’m also a huge horror fan. I can think back to the first horror film that I saw that gave me the certainty to say “Okay, this is for me, I love this genre”. Is there a film that did that for you?
LV: I was probably ten. I had seen some horror movies before. I went over my friends house and she asked me if I had seen this movie called The Exorcist. I told her I had heard of it but my grandma said I wasn’t allowed to watch it–my grandma was very religious so that wasn’t allowed, “You can’t watch that!”. So my friend told me she had it and asked if I wanted to watch it, I said “Okay!” and then my friend immediately fell asleep. So it’s midnight, we’re up way too late, where my friend lived she didn’t have screens on the windows, the windows are open, they didn’t close the front door. So I’m sitting in this house, in this room watching this by myself and this girl is crawling backwards up the stairs. I don’t think I blinked the entire time because I was so terrified.
Then the next morning I woke up and I was terrified that I woke up loving it so much. I had a desire to watch something scary again and that’s when I knew horror was for me. I think when you’re younger things freak you out but you don’t have an appreciation for it until you have that moment where you can say to yourself “I want more”. So once I wanted more, I knew I was in for the long haul.
AiPT!: Cosplay Melee has featured some amazingly talented cosplayers. Out of all the different costumes that came out of the show, is there one that sticks out to you as truly above the rest due to the craftsmanship and character work?
LV: My friend Lisa was on an episode and I had to remove myself from the judging because we’re friends. So it’s important to know that these are all characters that the contestants made up, it’s not like you’re seeing someone play Sombra, a character that’s already developed. These people had to come up with everything on their own. Lisa had the same amount of time as everyone else, but the amount of work she did on her character made my jaw drop when she walked out on stage. I had no words. It was incredible.
The amount of talent on that show is amazing. These people have these crazy brains and they completely blew it out of the water. Say you’re going to make a Freddy Krueger costume, you have a blueprint and people know what to expect. But when you have to come up with an idea from inception–their character, their background and you have to give them all these traits and personalities, it’s so much harder. Yet everyone did it, which made it so hard to eliminate people since they were all so talented.
AiPT!: I know you’re a big Star Wars fan from seeing all of your Star Wars cosplay. There’s a little over four months until The Last Jedi is upon us. There are so many theories out there around Rey’s parents, why Luke left, Snoke’s true identity, the Knights of Ren, etc. Are you avoiding it as much as possible or do you have your own theories that you’re talking to your friends and husband about?
LV: We talk about it a little bit, but I want to go into it and be amazed. I want to experience it like I experienced it when I was a kid. I’m getting chills talking about it right now [laughs] (I saw her arm, there were goosebumps). I want to go into it with an open mind, no expectations and just enjoy it for what it is. I feel like when you start hypothesizing you can take away from the experience, so I just want to go in with my blinders on and enjoy it for the amazing experience that it is.
AiPT!: I’m sure you get questions for advice all the time. But is there anywhere on the internet, whether it be YouTube, a specific website or individual, where someone who’s getting started with cosplay should go?
LV: I wouldn’t say a specific person. I think your best tool is Google. YouTube is fantastic. The hardest thing about getting into costuming is that fear of not knowing how to do something. Maybe you’re not good at armor, maybe you’re not good at sewing, but the thing is everyone started somewhere and they probably weren’t very good at it. Thankfully YouTube has a video for literally everything. So I’d say the best tool is to watch someone else do it. Most of the things I’ve learned how to do, I probably messed up five or ten times before I got it right. It’s about pushing away your fear and just trying it. If you screw up, you’re in your own house and no one’s going to know [laughs]. You don’t have to publicize it.
AiPT!: What’re you most looking forward to in the rest of 2017?
LV: Star Wars of course. I’m kind of looking forward to the height of convention season dropping off so that I can catch up on stuff. Halloween is my main time and for my kids show–we love to pump everything up a level during Halloween. It’s our month. Having a little bit more time at home to focus on more projects would be great. When I travel a lot I kind of neglect my costumes.
I was home for a month and it was amazing. I was like “so this is what normal people do!”. People ask “where do you want to go on vacation” and I tell them “I want to go home! I want to sleep in my own bed for once!” I’m looking forward to things slowing down so I can spend time with my animals, work on more projects and get time at home.
Here’s where you can find LeeAnna Vamp online:
Website – http://www.leeannavamp.com/
Facebook – LeeAnnaVamp
Instagram – @VAMP
Twitter – @VAMP
Patreon – patreon.com/LeeAnnaVamp