They’re glamorous, they’re exhausted and they’re hoping to be invited to your kid’s next birthday party. They are the costumed princesses of Los Angeles and, according to Jennifer Michele of the Los Angeles Princess Company, their ranks are increasing.
“It has blown up so much in the last year or so,” Michele says from behind the wheel of her used Prius.
Michele got into the princess game five years ago. Not long after, she started her own company, which she runs out of her North Hollywood apartment. From costumes and wigs to booking gigs, Michele is her own boss – and her company’s only employee.
She says that about a year ago — also around the time a certain animated snow queen took the minds and hearts of children everywhere (cough "Frozen" cough) — the number of working princesses exploded.
“All the princesses know each other,” Michele says. “There are always others that, for whatever reason, want to be competitive or territorial over their area of Los Angeles.”
A search on Yelp for “party princesses” in the Los Angeles area returns 56 different princess party companies, some with over a dozen actors in their ranks. While Michele says that there’s enough room for all the dedicated snow queens and little mermaids, some have brought down the standard of quality.
As evidence, Michele points to the “Elsa Twerking" video on YouTube – a brief video of a party princess really letting it go.
“There are a lot of people out there making it hard for us legit princesses,” Michele says.
There's a lot to worry about in the big, bad world of a professional princess — such as traffic, competition... and copyright law.
“There are certain rules to play by, to make sure clients are aware you aren’t associated with [companies like Disney] or aren’t using copyrighted names, but you can’t really copyright a likeness,” Michele says — dressed as the Little Mermaid, whose name is in the public domain.
For Michele, being a princess isn’t a part-time gig. She pays her bills, and for all her costumes and wigs, from being a princess.
“I actually had plans of working in entertainment,” Michele says. “I quickly found that [princess acting] was the thing that people were willing to pay for. ... You can make your living doing this, but you really have to put in what you expect to get out of it.”
One thing working princesses can expect to get out of it is tough questions from young clients.
When she’s at a gig as the snow queen, Michele says kids have questioned how it can be so hot in L.A. if the famous "Frozen" royalty is here.
“My answer to that is: Here in California it doesn’t snow, so I’m not allowed to do my ice magic,” Michele says.