It should be noted that I don't like
kids. I don't hate them, really, I'll spend an hour with a cool
little kid if I have to and we'll talk MLP or Autobots or what have
you. But I don't ever want to HAVE kids, or be in the custody of
kids for longer than half a day at the most. I think babies are
hideous, toddlers scream about nothing, pre-teens are insufferable,
teens are MORE insufferable and college kids like to think they're the
first people to ever have a philosophical break-through.
This is all very ironic because kids LOVE me. It's like an unfair
gypsy curse. I don't know what makes me a child magnet.
Every memory of every family reunion or BBQ I've ever attended from
childhood til now is the same: everyone else enjoys themselves
while I'm climbed all over by a horde of screaming younger cousins and
neighbor kids. Maybe it's because I don't use a fake
talking-to-kids voice and patronize them like most adults. I talk
to kids like I talk to adults, and maybe they appreciate that. Or
maybe they sense, with their little kid powers, that I secretly like
cartoons and marshmallow cereal as much as they do. Maybe they
know they're smarter than me. I don't know.
Regardless, even my reluctant kid-attracting powers are outclassed by
the Power of the Dress. When a little boy meets a party princess,
he talks to her like any other strange adult...sometimes shy, sometimes
outgoing, but like a regular little kid with little kid questions and
Little girls are AWED by a princess. A woman in a big, sparkly,
puffy dress is a thing of power and glory to them. They will
stand and stare, or scream themselves hoarse in excitement, or become
paralyzed in wonder by A Princess. Some little girls start
hyperventilating. Some just sit down on the floor, their knees
giving out from under them. They run up to touch your dress with
the same crazed look of a Twilight fan trying to touch that Edward
Cullen guy at a movie premiere. It's so different from seeing a
face character at Disney World because to them, Disney World is a
far-off fantasy place full of strangeness and unreal scenes. But
this is A Princess, in the real world, in their own home.
The Princess Cult
I think there's a disturbing culture of Princess worship in America's
little girls these days, and even in older girls who love Disney
princesses, because they're America's royalty. We have no
Princess Kates, no royal families and ancient lineages like other
countries. We have an invented and idealized royalty for little
girls to idolize. That sort of makes sense to me, when you think
about it. America has Hollywood, America has very little (white
person) history compared to other countries, America invents its own
royal family and castles.
And A Princess is a thing they all want to become some day. She's
a grown up, she's beautiful, she wears fabulous glittery gowns and no
doubt owns a pony. She lives in a big pretty castle, she never
has to clean her room and she gets to eat cookies for dinner if she
wants. It's something I wanted very much when I was a little
girl, really. A life of leisure and of guaranteed beauty and
charm and never feeling left out or unappreciated, because the Princess
is the focal point of every kingdom. I've been to the Cinderella
castle, the REAL one, Neuschwanstein in Europe, many many times,
because I grew up overseas and my parents loved castles. They
took us to every single castle within a three country radius over the
course of my childhood. I went to a royal ball at the president
of Hessen's castle, given in honor of the military stationed overseas
for Operation Desert Storm. There was a separate area for the
children, away from the boring grown-up ball. I saw things that
would make a child puke with envy. An entire palatial ballroom,
complete with grand staircase, filled with candy buffets, circus
performers, acrobats, contortionists, animals, lollipops the size of
your head, unicorn mylar balloons and enough sugar to kill a grown
man. Because of stuff like this, my perception of princesses and
castles is, I like to think, even more vivid and real than most
american children's. So I can feel where little girls are coming
from on this one. It's a dream that many girls have, and few ever
totally let go. They force it down into their subconscious as
they grow older, but it sometimes peeks out at prom, at their wedding,
at any chance to wear a gorgeous gown and have rhinestones in your hair
and be A Princess for a little while.
My very first professional party, I was Rapunzel. I got the
directions to the house, drove a little ways down the street and called
the mom to let her know I was about to come up and knock on the
door. The mom stood outside, video cam at the ready. I
knocked on the door and a girl so small she barely came up to my knees
opened it with the help of her dad. She was wearing a Rapunzel
dress, Rapunzel shoes, and though she had brown hair, she was wearing a
Rapunzel headband with a fake braid of blonde hair hanging down over
her shoulder. In short, she looked like a miniature me. She
had a Rapunzel doll in her arm, and the doll was almost as big as she
I said hello, greeted her by name and thanked her for inviting me to
her third birthday party. I thought it odd she wasn't saying
anything or even seemed stoked to see me. I bent down to hug her
and to let mom take a picture with us both. When I put my arm
around her tiny figure, I could feel her literally SHAKING in
excitement, too cowed by A Real Princess to even speak.
For the rest of the party, she was attached to my waist. She had
both arms around me and wouldn't let go...not through the dancing, not
through the story, and I had to pick her up and hold her over her cake
to let her blow out her candles. She just wanted to hug Rapunzel
and not say a word and never, ever let go. When it was time to
leave, she didn't say anything, but instead put her arms around my neck
and kissed me a million times on the face and tried to bury herself in
my dress. It was only the distraction of presents that saved me
from having to take this kid home and pry her off with a crowbar.
Stuff like that has really softened me up towards kids. Some
people think this job makes you bitter about being around kids, or that
it's encouraging a lousy female stereotype, but for me, it was the
opposite. I started OUT thinking kids are a pain, but now I
don't. It's just so startling to find out how much a child will
love you unconditionally, because you represent something wonderful and
magical to them. It shows how important fantasy is to children,
and how they need role models to wave their magic wands and teach
children to be kind and polite and eat their veggies or whatever it is
they shoe-horn into those Direct-to-DVD Disney movies.
With that said, let me tell you about the Scary Blood Store.
The Scary Blood Store
Sometimes I do non-princess activities at the parties. Since I'm
an artist, I can do caricatures and face painting, and one time my boss
paid me to do a puppet show. A lot of my goofy, childish talents
get used on this job, which is why I love it so much.
Face-painting is fun because I can dress comfortably and, while the
other girls do the princess thing, I can sit and chat with the kids as
I paint them up like butterflies and flowers and things.
There were a lot of kindergarten-aged kids at the first party I painted
faces for, both boys and girls, and while I painted a few little boys'
faces, we talked about skulls. They wanted to be painted like
skulls, and they had a lot to say about this topic.
It turns out that human skulls are very scary and they eat blood for
breakfast. They get the blood from their shelves, which in turn
are stocked with blood purchased at the Scary Blood Store.
Vampires also shop at this store, but they don’t shop at the same time
as the skulls because this would cause a conflict. Vampires also
bite skulls and suck their blood, but (and this is key) only after
the skulls have had breakfast
. Otherwise there would be no
blood in them. Once the vampires drink their blood, the skulls
are hungry again and must go to the store. Thus the great circle
of life continues as such:
The boys also told me that skulls and pirates are best friends, because
they like to do the same things. One little boy told me he knew
sixty pirates, but refused to name them.
(I know this is all true because it was confirmed by a friend of mine
who works as a Captain Sparrow for a different party company. He
says pirates and skulls share many similar interests. He also
claims to know 60 pirates, but not personally.)
Skulls also enjoy eating rotten eggs and dead bodies and cheese.
Smelly cheese is preferred, but american will do.
At this same party, we played a game making wishes for what we wanted
most. Approximately 30% of the children wished to be some sort of
underwater creature. Five children wished to be a balloon.
Lots of crazy kid-talk comes out of left field, but some of it us easy
to predict. In between the Greeting time and the Story time in
any house party is what I call the Catalogue. Little girls will
start to rattle off every item of princess merchandise they own in
great detail, then move on to general Disney toys and movies, then
recount every viewing of every princess movie. It never
fails. Little boys seek to baffle princesses with weird questions
or impress them with feats of parkour-esque agility. Little girls
try to appease them with faithful consumerism. If one girl starts
a Catalogue, the other girls will chime in with their own, talking
above and over each other. With ten little girls to the average
party, it soon becomes a deafening buzz of materialistic glee.
this is usually a good time to say, "WHO WANTS TO HEAR A STORY?!" in
the perkiest, loudest tones possible. Otherwise the Catalogue
will go on indefinitely.
One little girl recently stopped me dead with the question, "You wanna
see my underwear, Rapunzel?" It was said in the same tones as
someone offering you a nice refreshing iced tea. My instant reply
was, "Oh...maybe later! *sparklesparkle*" because as I said,
we're not allowed to say the word No to anything. It was promptly
forgotten. But kids do ask strange things, and the best way to
distract them is to ask a banal question in return, because the rate at
which they have to think up an answer means by the time they get to the
answer, they usually forgot what the question was or have lost interest.
"Cinderella, how come we didn't see your carriage arrive?"
"Well because my horses are VERY fast! I love horses! What's your
favorite kind of horse?"
"....ummmmm.....ummmm um um ummm, it's aaaa....a.....can we have some
At the same party as the underwear question, we did some dancing and I
taught the kids a kind of dumbed down, fake waltz, so they could learn
to dance like a princess. One little girl I noticed was in the
center of the dancing group, just holding her arms out to her side and
her face up to the heavens, eyes closed in what looked like some sort
of princess-overload/religious experience. Over and over, she
would lift her arms in a slow, graceful manner up to the air, as if she
fully expected to be raptured up to Princess Heaven at any moment,
ascending in a shower of glitter and fairies. It was the funniest
thing I'd ever seen and it took a lot not to bust out laughing at
her. I'm sure at some point as a small child I did the same kind
of crazy stuff. Hell, I used to own an imaginary horse.
Also a set of ten imaginary friends, each an inch tall and with bland,
office worker names like Bob and Eric and John and Carol. My
sister put Eric in the freezer just before we moved and I never forgave
her for it.
I think I mentioned before that some little boys who are invited get
little kid crushes on the princesses. Especially if they're
between 5 and 7 years old. They want to answer every question
first and win every game in your honor. They pull your seat out
for you to sit down and hand you your storybook. They want a
picture with the princess and get mercilessly teased for it by their
parents, who are apparently hateful bastards. You wouldn't tease
your daughter for it, so why your son?
Older siblings never want pictures and will only grudgingly play along
with the younger kids. When we did the wishing game, I asked one
of the 9 year old girls to make a wish, and she wished to be married to
Justin Beiber. I told her no promises, but I'd see what I could
Rich vs. Poor
One thing that strikes me is that the lower income the parents have,
the more well-behaved their children are. This isn't bias, it's
fact. The very wealthiest little kids, no matter how initially
enraptured, will lose interest after thirty minutes and actually go
play with their dollhouses or want to play on the swingset. They
don't have the attention span to commit to a princess because they're
constantly flooded with new toys and distractions by their parents and
they don't see a Rapunzel visit as anything other than a new kind of
toy, to be quickly tired of and left alone. They're not bad
children or brats...they're very nice kids. But they're so
over-saturated by their parents that nothing really has special meaning
to them anymore, at least not for long.
The very poorest children, the ones whose parents are renting a
princess because they could never afford to go to Disney World, those
children are wonderful. They will sit and listen to you politely
through the whole spiel. They know this is a special treat that
their parents worked for and they don't intend to take a minute of it
for granted. They're the kids I work extra hard for and
remember. The middle and upper class children always have a party
full of little girls in those 80 dollar Disney store dresses, with all
the accessories. The less well-to-do children's parties are
always in normal clothes, though a lot of the children wear their
church dresses for the occasion. It just breaks your heart to do
a party for them, which means so MUCH to them, then turn around and do
a party for little Sienna-Jayden-Madison, who is completely jaded by
the age of four and can't even focus on a five minute story before she
becomes bored and distracted. The parents of less well-off
children tell us that their little girl will spend months talking about
the time Cinderella came to her house. The very upper-class kids
forget about the princess while she's still IN their house.
I said before that some Disney face characters look down on party
princesses. It's true, we don't have the official name or the
sanctioned park privileges. We can't put the Disney Corp. on our
resumes, and we have to use non-copyright names for ourselves like
Sleeping Princess and Rose Beauty and Fairy Bell. We don't
perform in giant, scenic park castles and on stages, in front of
But what we give is so much more important. We give magic to the
little girls who will never see Disney World, because it's too far away
and too far out of the parents' budget. These little girls love
Jasmine and Ariel and Cinderella just as much as the others. They
dream of being well-off and royal, and it's even more poignant a dream
for them, because they have so much less than the others. Why
should they have to pay a fortune to fly to California or Florida just
to meet a princess? We do what the parks can't do...we bring the
magic to them
lower class kids, to kids in
hospitals, to kids with special needs who can't travel far. They
deserve magic too. And we bring it to them. We drive in
rush hour traffic in a hoopskirt, we pump our own gas with both hands
and a pair of opera gloves in our mouth to keep them clean, we haul
boomboxes and storybooks around, we dole out pizza and cupcakes and get
shedded on by dogs and change between gigs in rest stop bathrooms and
put our false eyelashes on, bleary-eyed, in the medicine cabinet mirror
in the morning.
And we get so much more in return.
QUESTIONS FROM FORUM MEMBERS:
Are the only princesses you play ones
that you look like? Since you mentioned wigs, if you're white, you can
probably do many of the princesses, but are there particular women that
do all the Pocahantas and Mulan gigs?
All the causasian girls play all the caucasian princesses and other
characters, as needed. We have some girls with very dark tans or
natural olive skin who do Jasmine and Mulan, relying on heavy eye
makeup and good wigs to sell it. I'd really like to play Jasmine
some time, but I'm FAR too irish for it. I'm a ghost.
Some girls have characters they look the most like, so if
there's a big all-princess gig, they usually get first dibs on that
character. Otherwise it's just fill in as requested.
We have a specific african-american girl to play our Frog Princess
I have to ask because you drew her up
there, but has there ever been a request for Charlotte La Bouff? Seems
like she'd be pretty popular among little girls, but then again she
isn't really part of the princess club.
I drew Charlotte because she's my favorite, and I cosplay her
sometimes. Everyone has that one princess that they're most like,
and all my friends say I'm a dead ringer for Charlotte. I'm
blond, talk a mile a minute, get way excited over stuff and have short,
curled hair in the same vintage style, EVERYTHING I own is pink, I own
tons of crowns and princess things and am a real princess wannabe, who
never quite makes the grade. :) I know, I'm a REAL winner.
But it's how I am!
I WISH we got requests for Lottie, but to date I don't think we've ever
been asked for it. I would do it in a minute.
I'm so LOTTAAAAAAAY!
Interesting thread, thanks for
How many days per week do you
normally have gigs?
Is the demand high enough that you
could do princess parties full time if you wanted? Could you bear
Has a kid ever thrown up on you or
Most parties take place on weekends, so the max days I'd work would be
maybe three (Friday, Saturday, Sunday). But it depends on who
needs what done, where it's at and if there's a closer girl. Like
I said, my busy time is in the fall and spring when the other girls are
in school and I'm more available than they are.
If I started my own company and just rented myself out, I think I could
do it full time. But my GOD would that be exhausting. I'm not one
for planning and stuff, I leave that to my boss and just do the
gig. plus she deals with lots of other things too, like arranging
and providing gift bags, party favors, etc.
No child has ever puked on me. Yet.
Do you have any stories about a
"Disney Nut"? I imagine your business has to have some kind of age
range they allow their workers to perform to because if this chick
could have hired her own Cinderella I guarantee you she would have
hugged her until princess gnawed her own head off of her torso to
I don't have any stories like that from my job, but I have encountered
people like that in the comic book/cosplay scene. I know some
people who are obsessed with the idea of becoming park face characters
for Disney, because it's sort of like being the next best thing to the
actual official honest-to-god character :)
A lot of cosplay girls show their love for Disney when they freak over
a princess dress, and they freak even more when I tell them my job,
because to them a party princess is just one step below Official Park
Princess. They want the same kind of job, but I can tell just by
talking to them that a lot of them just don't have the social skills or
patience or stamina to actually work with children. Nonetheless,
they idolize a job that's basically a party clown in a dress, it's
weird. I think they imagine it's just a lot of posing for
pictures with kids and smiling, not an actual demanding job.
As someone who worked for five years
doing children's birthday parties, I saw tons of Disney Princess's and
always sort of wondered what life was like for them. I was dealing with
animals at the time, so obviously a lot of your boss's more strict
rules (ALWAYS SMILE) never applied to me.
...how do you go about collecting
your payment? There's such a huge emphasis at your job regarding not to
break character, that it sounds a bit weird to have Rapunzel say "We
accept payment in cash or check".
Another question, you commented on
Skyler's, (in my neck of the woods, all little girls were named
Mckayla/Mckenzie/Madison) but what's the weirdest name you've heard at
Woah, animals, sounds cool! :D Like tigers and stuff?
Well they usually put down a deposit and then our boss instructs the
parents beforehand to mail their check in at the end of the parents, or
they give it to me along with my tip, and I give the check to my
boss. It's usually done very discreetly while the kids are
distracted with cake, or the parents walks outside with me after my
official departure and pays me then. But my boss makes sure to
set this stuff up beforehand, she coordinates everything with the
parents so as not to break the illusion.
The weirdest name...well there were two girls named Madison and
Addison. I kept wanting to ask if Radisson was coming too.
Oh, and because you asked, some princess pics.
Snow White, Cinderella, and Supergirl (told you we do non-princess
The first princess dress I made...I was doing a carnival thing at my
sister's museum (every year they hosted this kids' carnival and I would
drive up and volunteer with her, running the game). So I made
this costume for the event.
That's a drag queen wig, btw. Expensive but worth it. Drag
queens make the BEST styled wigs. They go full volume on
That Supergirl party was so much fun. :)
Almost forgot Beauty:
I have a better wig for this dress now, more accurate. I like
Belle's dress because you can customize it so much more than the
others, and really add your own style. As long as it's gold, it's