LeeAnna Vamp: Globe trottin’ in costumes & high heels
by rick olivares
LeeAnna Vamp stands up from her table to oblige a bunch of fans for a selfie.
“Gosh, you’re so tall,” gushes one female fan.
“Oh, no,” protests the self-proclaimed nerd who must be the prettiest and sexiest super-model nerd of them all. “I’m just wearing boots with high heels.”
LeeAnna Vamp, in Manila for the AsiaPop Comicon, high heels or not, cuts an imposing figure in the guests area where there are comic book stars like David Mack and David Yardin to local heroes like Mico Suayan and Stephen Segovia to Cosplay goddesses like Vampy Bit Me, Alodia Gosiengfiao, and Monika Lee.
For one, she’s still tall at 5’9”.
And second, this California native is like an Adam Hughes and Frank Cho pin-up come to life.
LeeAnna’s got long brown hair, olive skin, and a whistle bait figure. She’d oust Penny from the Big Bang Theory cast in a heartbeat if she chose to do so. She’s got the looks and the nerd and geek cred.
"I grew up on all the classics,” she says with a lot of zest. “Sci-fi, fantasy, horror. I grew up watching Star Wars with my brothers so I have been a fan of this stuff ever since I was a little kid.”
Okay, geek me out with Star Wars.
“I know how many parsecs Han Solo claims it took the Millennium Falcon to make the Kessel run,” she drops.
“But I don’t know everything,” she admits with a smile that disarms you so that you are willing to forgive her for anything.
"People ask me a lot what I love about Cosplay,” she ventures. “For some people it is making costumes, dressing up, or traveling. For me it is the fact that I can inspire someone else. One of my favorite things is when people come up to me and say, “You know, what you have done is inspire me to put myself out there.”
Fourteen years ago, LeeAnna attended her first San Diego Comicon. “I was looking at all the comics, art, toys, and whatnot. Just being a total nerd. I saw people in costumes and it looked like fun. It was like Halloween all year round. So I decided to make a couple of costumes and I had such a great time that it stuck with me. I have been doing it ever since. It wasn’t a conscious decision of like 'this is the path I want to take.'"
Cosplay has been around for the longest time although the term is fairly recent. There were the old Star Wars and Star Trek conventions where fans dressed up as Stormtroopers, Wookies, crew members of the Starship Enterprise or Vulcans among many others. “People would say, ‘Oh, those people who dress up during comics conventions.’ It was like saying they were weird or a freak. Like you had to conform to their notion that pop culture was shallow or kids’ stuff."
Adds LeeAnna passionately, “If you look at how far comics and pop culture has come, they are box office draws, are top-rating television shows. It is now cool for what was seen as “kids’ stuff” or for the weird. It is now better for us nerds that we get more conventions, we get more comics, we get more movies. There is something positive and negative about everything but I see Cosplay as something positive. I personally think it is great. It has also opened up doors for a lot of other people."
“Cosplay inspires people in different ways. They make a costume or play a character. In doing so it teaches them to become more outgoing. As for me, when I first started out doing Cosplay, it was just for fun and I loved it as a hobby. If my wearing costumes can inspire people then it’s incredible. I never thought that I would make an impact on others."
LeeAnna has over half a million followers on Facebook and over 47,300 followers on Twitter. Not much compared to super-models or celebrities. But her popularity has allowed her to make a career of modelling and earn an honest living.
On being in Manila for the first ever AsiaPop Comicon, LeeAnna switches to her fangirl mode, "I think this is something that is going to be a phenomenon for Filipino pop culture fans. As for me, this is incredible. The fact that I can put a costume on and travel the world and meet amazing people like you (the author of this article) and have amazing conversations with you, the media, fans this is unbelievable. I am so grateful for all these opportunities.
And travel the world in a costume and high heels?
“Oh, yeah,” laughs this Adam Hughes pin-up that has come to life as she tosses her brown hair back while flashing those pearly whites. “Most definitely."
LeeAnna Vamp’s Five Favorite costumes:
Stormtrooper (Star Wars)
Freddie Kruger (Nightmare of Elm Street)
Lara Croft (Tomb Raider)
Ash Williams (Evil Dead)