LEVA BATES [Special Interview]: Fantasy Super Cosplay Wrestling!
Yours truly was able to catch up with Wrestling’s Queen of Cosplay, Leva “Blue Pants” Bates while she was in town for Raleigh Supercon recently. Between a busy weekend schedule of panels, autograph signings and wrestling for Fantasy Super Cosplay Wrestling—yes, you read that right—she sat down with me to talk about everything from her humble beginnings to her favorite ice cream.
How did you get into wrestling?
I’ve always been a fan; I watched it growing up. There was like a small period in my life where you hit puberty and you’re like “I can’t watch wrestling; that’s stupid.” I got over that really quickly ‘cause you know what? I like wrestling and if no one else gets it, then, well, screw them! So I ended up embracing the fact that I love wrestling.
I’m a performer; I have a degree in theater and radio and TV production. I do stunts, dance and I was working at Universal Studios where TNA was filming. And I would go and watch TNA and became friends with a lot of people there and they’re like “Well, if you dance, you do stunts and you love wrestling, why don’t you get into wrestling?” I don’t know how to do it; it’s not like that’s a major or something you can study at the university. They’re like “No no no no no; you go to a special school.” So I ended up following them to a school [Team 3D Academy]. Next thing you know, I literally signed up that day.
Why aren’t you in the Mae Young Classic?
The thing is, if they try to bring me in as Leva Bates, I’m still gonna get called “Blue Pants.” And it’s a very serious tournament and they want everyone to be taken seriously and I can see them thinking that Blue Pants wouldn’t be serious. And I get that. But there’s always more opportunities; I have a feeling this is gonna be something they do every year and there’s only so many people you can use at a time.
There’re so many great talents that are not being utilized that I know will in the future at one point be like Delilah Doom and Madison Eagles and Su Yung and Aerial Monroe…There’s so much good talent out there that you can’t fit everyone in at one time. We’ll all have our moment at one point or another.
I’m very happy for everyone that was in the tournment. My best friend in the world, Mia Yim, is in it, so I’ve been kinda following her. I’ve been trying not to get too spoilered, but it’s hard. Being actually in the business, you get spoilered ‘cause your friends text you and stuff and I’ve been following her pretty closely, so I’m super proud. I’m super proud of everyone. One of my fellow nerd friends, Shayna [Baszler], she’s in it. She’s my Twitch buddy. It’s funny when you first meet each other—it was just last year for the first time—and it was like, “Hey, wait a minute! Are we best friends?! I think we’re best friends!” We just have so much in common and it’s just so exciting to see a lot of my friends doing so well.
When did you discover that you were really into cosplay?
I’ve always been kind of a geek, I guess; even when it was not cool to be a geek. I remember being one of the only kids in my class who watched Star Trek: The Next Generation. They’d go, “Ooh, that’s like nerd stuff.” I’d go, “I don’t care! I love it!” You know? I’ve always been like, “Screw you guys! I like what I like” type thing. I’ve always embraced geek culture, so I don’t know when I really started cosplaying. I would go to parties and dress up for no reason at all. Like I’d dress up as Buffy. Or we would be in a weird bowling league and I’d make everyone do Catholic Schoolgirl Night. Pajama Night. Dress Up as a Man Night. And I’d force everyone to do it. And from there, it just kept kinda building on itself. When I was a kid, I always played make-believe and maybe that was kind of part of it. I just did it and didn’t realize it was a thing.
What’s your favorite costume that you’ve done?
That’s like asking me who my favorite child is. Captain Jack Sparrow was one of my favorites because I thought it was gonna be terrible, just like looking at it on the bed. I put it on and it’s all in several pieces, which when you think about it, a pirate costume is just them piecing together stuff from their travels. So I’m like looking at it going, “Man, this is garbage!” and then when I put it on and trimmed the facial hair to look like Johnny Depp and I took a step back—I was wearing the costume with all the pieces—HOLY CRAP! I look awesome! So that was a nice surprise.
I put a lot of love and a lot of hard time into my Pyramidhead, ‘cause that’s not an easy thing to make. It’s hard ‘cause a lot of the stuff I’m doing at Wrestle Circus now I’m loving—the cosplays of other wrestlers, like Joey Ryan, I adore. The Steve Austin, four hours in the makeup chair…I mean, you gotta love what you do to do that.
What cosplays have you not done yet that you really want to do?
There’s so many! Everyone’s like “What are you gonna do when you run out of stuff?” I don’t think I can ever run out of things. One I would love to do would be Scott Steiner; I’d think it’d be so much fun to do. There’s a lot of anime and video game characters that I just haven’t even touched yet. The thing is I gotta find the right audience for it ‘cause not a lot of wrestling audiences will get it as well as the con audience will. So there’s a lot of costumes I would like to do that I’m just waiting for the right opportunity, honestly. I would love do Data at some point in my life. I like to do things that are crazy makeup things; I don’t know why.
How long does it take you to put your costumes together?
Sometimes it takes a couple of weeks; sometimes it literally takes a day. It just depends what I’m doing, whether I’m making it from scratch, getting something and altering it, do I already have the pieces of the costume…A lot of my stuff, since it’s wrestling cosplay, is not full-blown exact cosplays because there’s some things you can’t wrestle in. A lot of times I’ll use a lot of the same pieces. If you look closely, Where’s Waldo shorts are also the shorts I wore for my Captain America. So that’s already made, so BOOM–half the costume’s done right there. It depends if I have things made or if I’ve lost weight, gained weight, got gains, got jacked.
Speaking of getting jacked, what’s your diet and exercise regimen like?
I don’t work out every day because you have to give yourself rest, but it’s almost every day. I try to do two leg days a week, at least. One’s more focused on butt. I mean, it’s a lot of squats and a lot of exercises to target the glutes. I alternate top to bottom; like one day I’ll do shoulders and back and the next day I’ll do legs. I’ll do arms the day after that.
My diet is pretty much 2,000 calories or under. High protein. I do at least my body weight in protein, if not more. Trying to kinda maintain muscle mass, if not gain a little more, so you eat a little bit more to gain muscle. I do a lot of Nutrition Solutions [a meal prep company popular with wrestlers] meals; Mia Yim got me into those. That’s really good ‘cause they’re high-protein, low-carb-type meals and super clean. They also have some great Clean Cheatz, which are protein doughnuts that are amazing. They’re low-carb, but super-high in protein, but they taste just like normal desserts, so I really like those. And I feel like it helps me get and achieve my level of protein that I need to intake because it’s hard. Sometimes you just don’t want to eat chicken.
Do you ever do any supplements?
I do amino acids, a lot of vitamins—vitamins are big for me because my diet and I probably don’t get as much vitamins in my diet as I should. I do a lot of protein shakes. I do a lot of calcium, D3, omegas, all of those vitamins just to make sure I’m getting at least the right amount every day.
What’s your favorite ice cream?
I’m gonna say Ben & Jerry’s Phish Food, although I don’t get to eat it much. I’m big on Halo Top because it doesn’t have many calories or carbs or sugar. The oatmeal cookie Halo Top is amazing. I haven’t tried the lemon cookie yet, but apparently that’s amazing, as well.
What’s next for you?
Taking over the world, honestly. I’m a jack of all trades, so I do hosting, I have my own shows, I’m acting. I’m filming a couple of shows in the very, very near future for a couple different companies—one of them is a streaming site that’s kinda like a Netflix-y type thing. Hopefully, that will take off. And my acting career. And always keep wrestling. I’m working on workshops; I’m doing all sorts of crazy stuff that I’ve never done before like voice acting. So who knows what’s gonna happen?
-As told to Destiny Edwards