Ever worn a hoopskirt? For those who haven't, picture wearing an
upside-down ice cream cone around your waist, made of fabric and rings
of stiff plastic to hold its shape. It collapses like a kiddie
play tent if you put pressure on it, but pops right back into shape if
you let go.
It makes your princess dress skirt poof out all big and puffy and keeps
the hem of the dress out from under your feet, so you don't trip.
If you sit down in it without lifting it up to around your waist to
keep it horizontal, you end up sitting on the bottom of the hoops, so
the top of them go up over your face. Like sitting in a tunnel
made of hula-hoops.
But if you're VERY careful, you can wedge the hoops under your steering
wheel and drive, uncomfortable and elbow-deep in ruffles, to your
intended destination. This is important, because you can't show
up in plain clothes to a kids' party with a costume over your shoulder
and ask to change in their bathroom. But why not just wear the
dress itself in the car, then put the hoopskirt on when you get
out? I'm glad you hypothetically asked, imaginary reader.
You must arrive in FULL costume, because no matter how many times you
tell the parents to keep the kid indoors until you come up and knock on
the door (so that they don't accidentally see you in your car,
adjusting your dress as you walk down the street or, heaven forbid,
before you have time to get your princess smile and voice on), the
minute the kid runs up to the inside of the door, the parents let her
out. It's like they develop amnesia to what you just told them
three seconds ago on the phone. The kid's excited, they're
excited, the second they see Cinderella's dress coming around the edge
of the hedgebush on the lawn, they throw open the door and let the kid
look out. Or better yet, they tell the kid not to go outside
because there's something out there SO AMAZINGLY AMAZING IT WILL BLOW
THEIR TINY MINDS AND THEY MUST NOT LOOK. Then they park the kid
by the enormous bay window next to the front door.
So now the game is up, the princess has been spotted while she's still
a couple dozen yards from the house and must smile the entire time
she's being watched up the driveway, not looking like a crazy smiling
robot. This is awkward for princesses, who can't run in their
decorative high heels, and must instead smile and struggle up the
driveway or lawn in silence to the front door very slowly, as the child
watches from the front steps. I broke a heel off my treasured
glass slippers in this manner, trying to climb a hilly front lawn as
fast as possible to minimize the lengthy pause for a child whose
parents had JUST told me they would keep her indoors til I
knocked. I was able to repair the shoe (it was just the screws in
the clear heel that got dislodged and needed to be replaced anyway),
but I spent the rest of the party walking with the back of one foot
awkwardly in the air, to give the impression I wasn't missing a heel.
A cold entrance when the princess is AT the door is so much more
dramatic and we prefer it. But sometimes it can't be
helped. You just have to make sure you park down the street and
out of sight and are picture-perfect, ready to go, the minute you come
into eyesight of the client's house. And if that means you had to
drive half an hour with a crick in your neck from bending down to make
sure your Cinderella wig curls didn't get squashed against the roof of
your car, so be it.
Most of the other princesses travel quite a bit with my boss, who has a
minivan. They live near her, she hostesses at their parties, so
it makes sense to carpool. I've driven with them sometimes in the
van, but I prefer my car, because I get carsick unless I'm the one
driving. Also she has to go in first to set up the party stuff
for about 15 minutes, so the princesses sit (no lie) with a big shade
or piece of fabric over their heads, so late-arriving children won't
see them sitting in the car. I don't like doing that, it's hot
and boring. I prefer to arrive right at my entrance time.
But the van is useful, because on a busy day it's typical to throw
three princesses in the back and let them fix their wigs and makeup on
the way to the party. It's also a great place to change between
parties, provided there's no more than two girls in there.
It's a fact that we have to pull double-shifts as different princesses
on a regular basis. So you get dressed as the first one, grab
everything for the second one and chuck it in the van and change inside
while on the way to the next party.
But what if you're in a single car by yourself? Ever tried to
change from a ballgown INTO a ballgown in a sedan or a VW bug?
Turns out it's nearly impossible, even in the backseat. You have
to be able to stand to get the dress over your hoopy undergarments or
get it zipped up. So you pull over somewhere to change and try to
avoid the stares and catcalls from people as you invade the bathrooms
of gas stations and grocery stores, and ESPECIALLY try not to get held
up by parents who want a picture with the princess on the street and
their little kid, even though you're clearly in a hurry. You
can't tell these people no, as they may someday be customers.
Sometimes just finding a secluded enough part of a woodsy suburb and
changing with the relatively useless cover of an open car door has to
do. I once drove around until all I could find was a dumpster at
the end on an abandoned store lot, with some trees over it. I
parked behind there and managed to get changed without have to leave my
car for more than a few seconds. Of course when I went to put on
my wig, I saw a man emptying a box into the dumpster and staring at me
from ten feet away. I gave him a crazy look, adjusted my wig,
threw my aviator shades on and peeled out of the parking lot.
Anyone who feels awkward being stared at in public should NOT have this
job. Because there will be many times when you will not be able
to avoid it, no matter how you plan. Some people give me
disapproving glances when I just have part of my costume on like the
sparkly shoes or the earrings and choker, or have totally changed out
but I'm still wearing the heavily-applied makeup, because they
think...well, I don't know what they think. Maybe they think I
have a weird alternative lifestyle or I'm just a tacky broad. I
And you can't expect parents to shield a child from a half-dressed
princess. They will tell little kids to look away if a person
with too many tattoos and piercings walks by. But they will
actively point and encourage their child to check out the half-naked
princess changing her dress by the side of her car in a distant backlot
somewhere. Look Tammy, a
they say, not at all
realizing they just messed up the kid's fantasy illusions for
life. Because hey, Princess! Something special!! Parents
are so excited to show their kids something they think the kids will
like, that they don't register the fact that only half the costume is
there and maybe I don't feel like being ogled by your two year-old,
One old lady came up to me when I had just got home from a party,
changed and realized I needed stuff from the grocery
store...specifically, makeup remover to get my makeup off. I
threw my aviators on to hide the false lashes and the heavy eye liner,
but I guess she could see the heavy rouge and lipstick. I was in
the pet food aisle, debating whether my cats had earned a new package
of colorful mousey toys or whether they'd been too bratty lately to
deserve them, when she came up and stared me down at a distance of
about two inches too close.
"You may think all that makeup makes you look pretty, honey, but you
just look like trash," she told me matter-of-factly. I wish I
could say I had the dignity to just raise an eyebrow while she
sauntered away, but I don't. I stared that grandma down, telling
her I just entertained at a children's party dressed as Cinderella and
I didn't have time to take my makeup off. She instantly looked
all happy and said, "Ohhh, how cute! Do you do entertain for a
"No, I look like trash for a living, remember?" I spat back and marched
off. I was in NO mood for it. People will insult you to
your face and then get all happy and delighted when you explain your
job, with nary an apology. It doesn't matter that they insulted
you THEN, because now they APPROVE, and that's what you wanted,
right? Their approval? Right?
I don't care if you stare. Just don't come up and say something
The Party Routine
So what do you DO at a party, really? What does hiring a princess
buy your client?
It depends on the company. Most companies will do a routine of
games, singing, dancing and crafting activities that are unique to that
We will do wishing games, singing and general sit-down activities like
stories first, and then engage the children in physical activities like
dancing, balloon tosses, magic carpets, freeze dance, simon says,
follow the leader and other simple games that let the kids stretch
their legs and not get fidgety. if it's a long party, this is
also the time we introduce a craft to do, like decorating foam crowns
or a foam picture frame, into which we will then insert a picture of
each child with the princess (taken beforehand and printed out on-site
on a portable printer by the hostess). This is the majority of
the reason we have hostesses along, to set up crafts and stickers and
glitter on a table while the princess entertains, to coordinate the
kids to get individual pictures and then spend about 15 minutes
printing them out, etc. The hostess will also paint faces while
the princess does her routine, doing one kid at a time inconspicuously
so they don't line up to get painted and ignore the party.
This usually takes a good while, and by then it's time to either eat
the cake, or eat a small meal like pizza and juice and then eat
cake. During this time, we talk to the all the children at the
table, tell them stories and practice our "princess manners", learning
to say please and thank you and pass things to others. We will
always exit after the cake has been served and BEFORE presents are
opened, giving a special goodbye to each child in turn and the last one
to the birthday child.
We are never there when presents are given, and this is made clear to
the parents that they should keep this part to the end. Presents
are a huge distraction and it's tough for a princess to say a solid
goodbye to every child, if they're knee-deep in wrapping paper and
totally absorbed with toys. Also, it's a great way to get kids
distracted from following you out the front door and to your car, or
watching you go from the window.
If they say, "Can we see your carriage when it comes to pick you up,
Cinderella?" (I get that question a LOT), I say, "Well of course you
can, but in the meantime OH MY GOODNESS PRESENTSSSSS!!!" and they all
run screaming back inside for that part, allowing me to quickly get
paid, make a hasty getaway and for the parent to tell them that they
"just missed" Cinderella's beautiful pumpkin carriage.
Illusion is key and staying in character is paramount. If I walk
up to the door with a bag of storybooks and props, it has to be a FANCY
bag with embroidery and trim, like a princess would have (or, as I said
in another post, a fancy old-fashioned basket, like the one I use for
Snow White). If I have a boombox, it's in one hand hidden behind
my giant skirt, to be surreptitiously placed somewhere inside the door
as soon as I enter. Kids don't notice when I go to get it
later...most of the time they assume it belongs in the house or is
their parents'. It's just important to keep it on the DL and look
unencumbered when I arrive at the front door.
It's tough to answer little kid questions, even if you're not a
princess and don't have a character facade to keep up. Most of
the time, we have to dodge anything that would be copyright, like
saying, "And then FLYNN RIDER and I rode on our horse MAXIMUS to the
VERY COPYRIGHTED KINGDOM I LIVE IN, DISNEY WORLD TINKERBELL DUMBO SPACE
MOUNTAIN MICHAEL EISNER." (Never had a chance to say this line at a
party. Still waiting for it to come up.)
If a child says, "Hey R'punzel, 'member when you 'n Mother Gothel
was...an' then you was afraid, 'an there was F'inn Rider 'n he saved
you an' then there was a horse, annnnn', an' an' an' you were a
princess?" My answer to that is, "Why of course, (adorable
laughter)! Have YOU ever seen a horse before?" *sparklesparkle*
The key is to answer in the affirmative to whatever the hell they just
said, without using copyrighted names, then immediately deflect with a
related-but-unrelated question, that puts them on a different, and
possibly very long, train of thought.
These are very small kids. Most questions aren't even questions.
"Hey Cinderella, is there a....aaaaa...and ummmm, there was a tree and
I saw in your movie, thaaaaat....andandandand then the prince was
ummmmmm, andandand you coulda been in there?"
That's not a question. But it does have an answer, and the answer
is always, "Uh-HUH! How wonderful!" They don't really want
to ask you a question, they just want your attention and approval, so
they try to think up a question on the spot. As long as you smile
very wide and agree with them, they're happy as clams.
Most questions start out as questions, and end in statements.
"Hey Belle, did the Beast ever, ummm and he was ummmm, he was in the
castle and he was ummmm, he did that yelling and he was REALLY
MAD." The Uh-huh-how-wonderful response works here too.
They don't care. They just want you to look at them and talk.
Some questions I've had to wrangle with (and their responses) are:
"Why is your hair long again, Rapunzel?"
(Answer: "It's always growing, you know! Even after I cut it!")
"Where's your crown, Princess _______?"
("I leave it at home and only wear it on special occasions!")
"Where's Flynn/Prince Eric/Pascal/other copyrighted friend?"
("All my friends and loved ones are busy at home in my kingdom!
We have a lot to do to run a castle!")
and the all-important
"Are you the REAL (copyrighted
character name?)" *suspicious look from
The answer of course is, "Lots of fairy tales are real, didn't you know
that?" *EXTRA SPARKLE SPARKLE ANNOUNCE THE NEXT ACTIVITY QUICKLY*
Invariably, there is an older child who will just declare you a fake on
the spot. Usually a boy or older sibling, or both. They're
almost always drowned out by other children who are already talking
over them. When a child says, "I don't think you're the REAL
so-and-so," I ask them their name and tell them I don't think THEY'RE
the real Melissa/Robert/etc in a joking manner. Ha ha kid, burden
of proof's on you now. Usually stops them talking.
I've only had one truly difficult child that stands out in my
mind. She wasn't much older that the birthday girl and was
friends with her, but she was clearly mature beyond her years.
Princesses bored her. "Is that your real hair?" she asked
me. "Of course, don't you think so?" I asked. She shook her
head no with a sarcastic look on her face. (To be fair, my Rapunzel wig
is VERY expensive and long, but because of the way the bangs are
styled, it's not quite as convincing to an older kid).
Halfway through the story, as I stopped for a breath and turned the
page, she sighed, "Are you gonna read the WHOLE thing?" I kept
having to stop because the little girls kept interrupting so it WAS
taking a long time, but damn kid, get off my case.
(That was my worst party, even though it went really well and the
parents tipped me a lot. They wanted me to sing a duet with their
child of a song I only knew the first verse of, so when we got to the
second verse I kept stopping and had to pretend I was trying to let the
little girl finish the song. AND they videotaped it.
GOD. This is why I don't do requests! I really should have
said, "OK, but let's just do the first verse and then we'll have time
for cake!" Should've said that.)
Anyhow, the unbelieving kid eventually came around to me, in a weird
way. She didn't say much to me after that, but she wanted to
stand next to me when we cut the cake and when we sat down for
snacks. When I went to hug everyone goodbye, she didn't run up
for a hug, but as I was saying, "No one else? OK, I'm off!" she
declared she wanted a hug too. I think she wanted to believe, but
just couldn't reconcile the very real and naturally flawed human with
the flawless cartoon girl. I've been there, kid. I've been
QUESTIONS FROM FORUM MEMBERS:
I imagine that little kids ask you to
do absurd/impractical things
sometimes (e.g. the Rapunzel hair thing described above). What's the
weirdest thing you've ever done for a kid? The weirdest thing you've
ever had to turn down?
I got asked a lot to fly when I was Supergirl...I told them that due to
new TSA regulations, I could only fly at the airport and I had to take
off my shoes to do it. That got a big laugh from the
grown-ups. But I gave them all airplane rides...this was right
before my car accident, and it was STILL tough on my back the next day.
Now I don't do anything that strenuous for work anymore.
I was also pleasantly surprised by
this thread, and I've got a newfound
respect for entertainers like yourself. I couldn't do half the
things that go into this for ten times the money you get, and I
wouldn't enjoy it the way you do.
Could you talk a bit more about the
"princes," even if they're mostly
superheroes or other things? You mentioned that the princesses
have to meet certain physical requirements, in addition to being able
to carry a tune a certain way. Are there different standards that
the men in this are held to? I can't imagine pirates needing to
sing, and if you're a masked superhero, your face is covered which
changes things. What kind of entertainment do the "princes" deal
Also, out of morbid curiosity, what
would it take to get one of you to
break character, and if it hypothetically happened, how does one
We're PROFESSIONAL princesses, please. I've never seen any of us
break character. Just KEEP SMILING.
The princes must be young as well, 17-25, and moderately
handsome. Since they rarely wear wigs, we usually just have one
or two princes who do specific characters and have the right hair color
for them (they pull double time for superheroes, where they wear wigs
or you don't see their hair). The princes must be able to speak with
resonance and character, and can also sing fairly well/are in choir or
singing clubs at school. The pirates or superheroes don't sing,
they just talk normal for their character. They tell adventure
stories and do the same games and things that the princesses do, minus
the "learn to dance like a princess" stuff.
I am absolutely dying of the
diabeetus caused by this thread :3:
I know you said you have a "cutoff"
age, but have you done any parties
We do, but very few, mostly a welcome home for service men and
women. I've never done those.
Is there a training process when
you're just starting out? Like do you
go along to a couple of events as a hostess or with another princess to
learn the ropes? Or do you just get thrown straight in at the deep end?
We do ride-alongs for our first party and our boss sizes us up for
acting and speaking ability before hiring us. She also instructs
us on each game and sends new girls out to parties that require 2
princesses for awhile, so that if we mess up, the other girl is there
to cover for us.