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Huntington cos-play artist likes to play dress up

February 27, 2014
By Tony Rutherford (letters@graffitiwv.com) , Graffiti

You don't have to "look up in the air" to see a blend of fantasy and reality in the guise of superheroes and superheroines. Often reserved for Halloween, these ardent "nerds" proudly don capes, tights, boots and other accessories for attendance at comic and fantasy conventions. They often find any excuse to dress up at times other than convention activities.

Termed cos-play, Huntington has its own masquerading woman who has a lengthy career modeling and promoting artistic projects, such as the downtown Huntington Art Walk, which she co-founded with photographer Chris Hayes. Elsa (a.k.a. Lauren) Littlepage has a photo published in the book, "Digital Photography Exposure" (Jim Doty, 2010), Hayes and Littlepage have won honors in 2013 with two photographs which competed at the Highlands Museum in Ashland, and in 2013 she was Master of Ceremonies for the Appalachian Film Festival at the Keith Albee Performing Arts Center.

Huntington Mayor Steve Williams will issue a proclamation honoring the devotion of Littlepage and Hayes to the arts community at 7 p.m. March 10 in the Mayor's Conference Room at Huntington City Hall, preceding the night's meeting of Huntington City Council.

A PERFECT DISNEY 'ELSA'

Elsa's aunt Kemp is an artist while her dad is CEO of the Robert and Louise Claflin Foundation, which annually awards grants to community-minded agencies, including those furthering the arts.

Although Littlepage exhibits some traits of the famed paralegal and advocate Erin Brockovich, she disavows any resemblance except for blonde hair and the legal profession. She prefers comparison to the personas of a cool mysterious feline femme fatale and the talented yet socially self-isolated Snow Queen, whose uncontrolled sensitive emotions first bring unintentional hurt to a family member and lead to blizzard after blizzard for her kingdom.

The real Elsa does enjoy winter weather, too. Photographer Hayes called her snow excitement like that of an "eternal six-year-old." Elsa likes dressing professionally, especially in high heels ("I have high arches," she announced in a previous interview) as well as teal and pink accents particularly in vintage dresses and hats. It's her slightly unconventional "girly-feminist" philosophy that champions gender equality, historic preservation, animal rights and a warm heart for helping people, while stressing most sports are for dudes and modeling and pageants for gals.

On one occasion, she expressed exasperation after a trip to the courthouse, noting, "People were wearing flip flops. They have no respect," a statement that mirrors thoughts of her father and sister, both attorneys.

Point Pleasant attorney Stephen C. Littlepage said that "Lauren has always had a passion for art, which has included her being the artist or posing for photographic artistry. It is very fitting that Lauren is helping to promote other art mediums and the artists with the Huntington Art Walk."

Lawyering runs in the family. Her late grandfather, Sam, rose to judge in Mason County. Prominent retired Huntington attorney and preservationist, James St. Clair described him as a "character." A member of the WVU Sports Hall of Fame, Judge Littlepage earned several medals for bravery in the military.

Cons & Catwoman

Little wonder that her creative talents come in the form of strong, empowered heroines and comic art villains. Many of her pinup photos (many in black and white) depict the 20s, 30s and 40s, during times when elegant dress, manners and elegant gothic art deco architecture dominated.

As one of her alter-egos, the self-described "downtown" girl may be observed prowling Fourth Avenue in full "Catwoman" attire (mask and tail, of course) on the way to, for instance, a Tri-Con or Tsubusacon gathering at the Big Sandy Superstore Arena.

Spirited, tenacious, intellectually skilled and rule challenging, Littlepage also charmed Batman artist Steve Scott at Tri-Con. He asked to draw a print of her as Catwoman and hired her to sign autographs at the Michigan Metro Con near Detroit, where Stan Lee was the guest of honor.

During high school at Fairland, she dabbled in assembling costumes while participating in cheerleading, flag twirling, playing bass in a band, and taking ice skating lessons. Earlier, she had a taste of modeling by filming a TV commercial for her dad's law firm as a twelve year old.

Ironically, Lauren/Elsa does not identify with the traditional runway models or cover girls wearing the latest fashions.

ART EMOTES AND TELLS STORY

"Fashion is about clothes. The modeling I do is about the model," she explained. "I add more than just standing in a shot I emote and tell a story. "

As a child, when dreaming of a modeling career, the fair-skinned now twentysomething woman recalled, "I would see cartoon characters or pinups from the 40s" and wanted to do this "unique, eccentric artsy" modeling style - "not something from a mainstream Sears catalogue."

Having worked with about 100 different photographers from New York to Chicago, Elsa has previously concentrated on "pin up" styles where stories are told through a retro-glamour appearance. "I'm more than a statue or bowl of fruit to be arranged. I'm not there to stand around and do what the photographer says," she says firmly.

Contributing to art and concept ensures an image that's more "than a bland girl in front of a camera," she explained. Often, Elsa does her own styling, makeup and sews her wardrobe.

Now, she's focused on fantasy. "Cos-play deals with specific costumes and characters. There's already a story."

After a lengthy winter in which she took on the persona of "Elsa" from the Disney megahit "Frozen," she might allow the ice, cold and snow to leave if her favorite movie wins an Oscar March 2 for Best Animated Film.

SUPERHEROINES

She's appeared as Avacyn: Archangel of Innistrad, Emma Frost, Battlestar's Six, and Neo Queen Serenity. During 2014, Littlepage anticipates appearing at the Lexington Comic Con in March, Gem City Comic Con in Dayton, Ohio, and the Richmond Comic Con in Virginia.

Favoring the arts runs in the family, too. Her brother, Clark, has musical ambitions. After touring the country as a member of the World Class Cascades Drum and Bugle Corps, he's currently a drummer for Bronze Medallion, which has performed at the V Club. Their next concert will be March 7 at the Ale House in Huntington.

 
 

 

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