Conversations in Cosplay: Tanya Tate on ‘Out R-Rating’ Deadpool, Her Line of Vinyl Toys, and Meeting Catwoman
There are very few cosplayers who get to cosplay professionally from the moment they find it. Usually, you have to have a pretty big following in some other career – and that career can’t be just anything. It needs to have some kind of relationship to nerd culture so that your fan base will be encouraging and supportive of your cosplay work, rather than just seeing it as a passingly interesting hobby. Tanya Tate not only got a huge chunk of her fan base to celebrate her love of cosplay with her, but was also lucky enough to be able to incorporate it into her day job as an adult film star.
We caught up with Tanya to find out about her extraordinary career – her movies, her reviews, her vinyl toys, her superheroes, and more.
Oh, and her cosplay.
What made you want to move into the adult film industry?
Back in 2008, I’d been in a relationship with a guy and we’d split up and I was just looking for something more interesting to do with my life. I was spending time with a friend and he was watching an adult movie. We were just sitting there in his living room. He was really into the movie and I was sitting on the other sofa thinking Oh, okay, with my arms folded.
I looked at the movie and I thought, you know what, I could do that. I thought about it, I had some pictures taken, I did some online research and I sent the pictures off with some nice emails to some of the production companies. They liked me, invited me to London, shot me and then I made my first movie in 2008. Then I moved across to LA and I’ve been living here since 2010.
What was the most challenging thing about breaking into the industry?
I think when you first get into something like this, you have to go in with your eyes open. It was trying to decide is that’s what I wanted to do because once you make your first movie, you can’t change your mind. You’ve done it and you’ve signed a legal form. I knew at some point people would see me online – family and friends, you know – so I think that was the hardest decision, knowing that I was going to be seen and getting to be comfortable with it. Once I’d got my head around that, it got a bit easier then.
What kind of thought process did you go through to get to that comfortable place?
You just kind of have to put yourself in every scenario, all the what ifs, then you need to decide how you’re going to combat that. I thought, okay my family is going to find out, so I thought well I’ll tell my family.
So I told my mum and I told my dad and I thought if they know, then it doesn’t really matter what other people think. You have to realise that if people don’t like you now, but they used to like you before, well what’s changed? My job. And if they don’t like me because my job’s changed, well, they’re not a true friend. They’re not a person that I want to be dealing with.
Actually, I had some cousins, there was a guy who must’ve been passing around a DVD the workplace with me in the movie. It must’ve been a bit of a shock to them. I started getting some text messages that weren’t very nice. But I said to them, “I’m still the same person that you knew, I’m still the same cousin from when we were kids. If you don’t like it, you’re the one with the problem.” And eventually we met up at a family event and we just didn’t know what to say or what to do. I was just like “it’s still me, I haven’t changed”. I think for them it was a process of getting around it as what their cousin does for a living.
So what did your parents say?
My mum just said, okay, as long as you’re safe and happy. My dad just kind of went “oh”. He’s not very much of a talker.
What made you want to move into the director’s chair?
I was given the opportunity by a company called Filly Films. The owner asked me if I wanted to produce a movie for them so I said okay, I’ll give it a go. Now I’ve been producing movies – and scenes – on my own for my website, so it seemed like the next step to move forward with it. I was already doing the Tanya Tate Casting Couch and solo scenes for my own website so it seemed like a progression in that this was going to be more story driven.
The first movie was Tanya Tate the Milf Masseuse. Each little scene had me the masseuse and I’d have a girlfriend in to help me for a three way or it’d just be me and a client. It was a lot of fun. There was a little story behind each one, there was always a story why each client was getting massaged. And then of course it obviously always leads to sex. So that was the first movie that I did. It turned out quite well, it was well received.
From there I continued to make movies for Filly Films. I do a series films called Lesbian Family Affair. I don’t know if you’re allowed to put this bit in… okay, I’ll go ahead. It’s taboo. It’s about taboo relationships. We’re not really related, we’re not blood related in any way, shape or form before we go into the movie. Everyone is over the age of consent, everybody provides legal ID to prove it. The movie is what the fans were asking for. I was doing a lot of stepmum and stepdaughter stuff, but the fans wanted the step removed. Filly Films wanted me to move forward with that series so we did. We’re just about to release number five. The fans love it, the critics love it, it gets nominated for awards. It’s a dominating series.
Would you say that it’s the plot element, the storyline, that makes your films stand out?
Yeah. Well with that particular one it’s the taboo theme, that’s what they love. The fans that are into it are really hardcore into it, they search online to find it. I did also do a movie which was more cosplay. It was called Cosplay Queens and Tied Up Teens. It was a lot of fun, I liked doing this one. I made it with girls that I knew were legitimately into cosplay. We’d get a young girl in and tie them up and do naughty things with them. The premise of the whole movie was what happens before and after a comic convention. Nicki Hunter, Ella Darling, Annie Cruz, obviously myself. It’s a really hot movie. I loved making that movie.
That one clearly has a lot of personality in it and you can tell that everyone is really enjoying it. Do you find that that is something your fans respond to?
Yeah. Fans loved that movie. It was very well received. Even now people say to me that’s the one they’ve seen. I think that when the actresses and actors are really enjoying the movie, enjoying being there, it’s a lot of fun to stick on a little cosplay outfit and get to have sex. It was a lot of fun. One of the scenes in it, I’m playing Catwoman and I’ve got Super Girl tied down to a little table and I have to find out where her powers are. And I’ve got a speculum and it’s clear and – you know, we are making an adult movie, so where’s the one place you’re gonna look for these hidden powers? So the speculum goes inside and I was my tool – a.k.a., the Hitachi – and this girl I didn’t know she was a squirter, but she ended up squirting the speculum out. I ended up making her squirt again with my fingers and I was very impressed with myself that day. I made a girl squirt. It was extremely hot.
Do you have any more cosplay films planned?
I would like to do some more. I have a pitch that I would like to give to some of the other production companies, so let’s see where that might take us.
Are there any stories or characters you particularly want to bring to the adult screen?
Well, a lot of the movies I’ve made are all parodies. The difficulty you’ve got when you’re making a parody is that the people who watch it like it to be very similar. I think that’s not always so easy to do when you’re on a porn set. Sometimes things change. We don’t have a million dollar budget like these big movies have. You have to make do on the day. If something goes wrong – if a piece of equipment isn’t working or an area isn’t available or a girl decides she’s not going to turn up – it can get rather difficult to do anything by the book.
With Cosplay Queens and Tied Up Teens, I was girls dressed in sexy superhero costumes with the cosplay theme running through it, but I wasn’t Catwoman, the girl wasn’t Super Girl. There was a sense of role play going into it, but we weren’t sticking to the specific story. I like it to be more authentic, more of a real story. But I don’t know, we’ll see.
Is that something that you’d like to see happen if you had the people and resources?
The people and resources, you’ll never get it like that in porn. Yeah, I would like to do a mainstream movie, that would be a lot of fun.
What would be your dream movie to star in?
It would have to be… I love Wonder Woman. I actually met Linda Carter a couple of times. She has her own little jazz band and she’s a very good singer and she looks still incredibly beautiful. It’s been quite a few years since the seventies and she still looks really good. I think that would be a character I’d like to explore more. And you’d put some strong guys in there, some Hulk and some Thor. I think that would be a lot of fun.
But I also have my own superhero as well, Lady Titan. That one is something I’ve been working on. Lady Titan came from one of the conventions. The fans liked to see me in the cosplay, they’d take pictures and buy autographs from my store. They were asking me for my own superhero, so I said, alright, I’m gonna do it. Lady Titan is a throwback to the ‘70s. All the good superhero stuff happened in the ‘70s. The story goes that I’m a failed actress in Hollywood and I find this suit. I put it on and it gives me strength. It’s about how I find out about the strength, the story that surrounds it, with a bit of comedy and sexiness and fighting the villains. So that was something that I would really like to see made into a movie.
Tell us about the comics you have planned for the character.
I would like to bring out a comic that would run alongside. That’s still being worked on right now. We’ve got the character, Lady Titan. You can actually get a five inch stylised vinyl figure, it’s really cute and you can get posters, which are like a movie themed poster.
You openly say that you chose your film name Tanya Tate based on Stan Lee’s habit of giving his characters alliterative names. What’s your favourite Stan Lee character?
I’ve played one of my favourite ones – Susan Storm. I just really like that character. You can make her super sexy. She’s one of my favourites that I bring out when I got to the conventions. I was actually at a convention a few weeks ago and I got to be Invisible Woman, Susan Storm. She’s one of my favourite ones I like to cosplay as.
What got you into cosplaying?
I didn’t plan to get into it, but in 2009 I was in San Diego at the time that the convention was on. The person I was with told me about it and I was like, oh my God I love it. The streets were filled with superheroes! And actually the next year I happened to be in LA at the same time and I decided to go. So I got myself a costume. I chose Emma Frost – I like the costume, I like the character – and I started walking around. And it was really surreal, there were people stopping me and asking to take my picture while I had my clothes on.
Was that a new experience?
Yeah it was. It was very different from what I’m used to. From there, when I went back home, I had a lot of pictures, so I put them up online. People liked them so much that I thought I’d put them altogether in a blog. And that’s how JustALottaTanya.com was formed. I put the pictures up first and then added to it, information about different conventions I was at, upcoming events, reviews of movies.
I started collecting things, so I’d put some things I collect on there. I like to collect Funko Pops. They come in all different styles of superheroes and geekdom. I collected a lot of Disney ones. I actually did an unboxing video where I unboxed, I think, eighty Disney Funko Pops. The thing about Funko Pops is that a lot of collectors like to keep them in the box. I like them on display – I have several glass cabinets so I keep them out. I unboxed them and literally threw the box and people were losing their minds! I did that and I did another sixty or eighty.
I recently did one with my WWE, because I do like to go to a lot of live wrestling events. I collected every single WWE Funko Pop that you can have up to about March 2017 – let’s be clear, they always bring more and more out. Somebody posted on one of my social media posts, actually, there’s some more. So I asked what else there was and they said, “customs and prototypes”. Well, customs don’t count. And prototypes, well, I do have a few, but who’s going to have the prototype to every WWE? You can’t physically have them all. It’s a one off of the original plan. So yeah I do have them all. I make these into videos, they’re on my YouTube.
What’s your favourite Funko Pop that you have?
Well I do have two prototypes. When you have a prototype, you feel quite lucky because they’re very hard to get hold of. I have a She-Ra prototype and I have a Catwoman prototype, which is the Julie Newmar version. I’ve actually cosplayed as Catwoman quite a few times. I went to San Diego Comic Con and the Funko company do an event called Funko Fun Days. Tickets are quite limited, they can be difficult to get. I’d been to a couple of those, that’s where I ended up getting hold of the prototypes. I think because they’re prototypes they are my favourites.
Oh. Oh, god, no. I like the flocked ones as well. I love the flocked ones because they’re all fuzzy. I’ve got a Winnie the Pooh and a Gizmo from the Gremlins. They’re very cute.
Is your passion for Funko Pops what made you want to launch your own line of figures?
The reason I initially wanted my own line of figures is because I wanted to try to design a female character, so I looked for a blank. But all of the blanks are these blobby things and they had no female shape to it. So that was one of my initial reasons, I wanted a blank platform that other designers and artists and cosplayers could get the blank version to design and reproduce their own superhero. So I did come up with them in different colours, so you can get the blank vinyls in pink, brown, white and green. So we did a limited run of the Lady Titan figure using that platform, that feminine figure.
What makes a character jump out at you as something you have to cosplay?
Sometimes I try and do some of the unusual ones that people haven’t done. When you go to comic conventions, it’s cool to see a lot of Batman but it’s nice to see something a little bit more unusual as well. I did an original Wonder Woman cosplay, the Cathy Lee Crosby version, and only some people got it but it was nice. I did Electra Woman, which is very American, from the ‘70s, the same people who did the Banana Splits. Sometimes I look at the outfit of the character and think about how it would look good on me.
Because of the other job I do, making adult movies, I try to make sure that when I’m at a comic convention, I’m more covered up. You won’t see me in a string bikini, though. Maybe the neck line will be plunging, but I’m still covered. I try to make the costume sexy, but not showing too much. I’m a target to get removed at a comic conventions. It’s happened on different social media platforms. A comic convention is a family environment, after all, so you have to dress appropriately, there are going to be children walking around. I don’t want to be wearing a thong with my backside jiggling around with some little five-year-old walking behind me. I don’t think that’s right. Just stick some tights on, if you’re going to do it. It’s respectful to be aware that there are families there.
Do you have any other advice for cosplayers?
There’s a few different things I could say… The people have want to have their picture taken with a cosplayer, there is some etiquette that you should follow. Have some manners about it, think about it. I go to the comic conventions, often I’ll be signing in a booth. If you want to meet me, come find me there. But you’ve got to ask the person. If you see a cosplayer in a really cool outfit and you want a picture, you’ve got to ask them politely. If they say no, you’ve got to respect that.
I’ve been poked in the back, prodded hard, and turned round to be asked for a picture. It’s really rude. No one wants to be prodded, it’s not nice. There have been times when I’ve been sitting having a sandwich at a table in the food court area and someone comes up and tries to make a picture with you. And I’m like, I’m eating my lunch. I’m got sandwich in my mouth and on my hands, I’m having some time out. You’ve got to be respectful and remember we’re all humans inside the costume.
There was another time, I was waiting for an Uber and the guy clicked the button to say I was in the Uber when I was blatantly still standing outside the hotel. I’d been there for fifteen minutes and now I’m getting charged, and then someone comes up and asks for a picture. The Uber cancelled and I’m stressed out, I’m obviously not in a good place and they wanted their picture. You can’t be like that, when someone’s having a bad time for whatever reason. Be respectful, read the situation. I do find, though, that people are very respectful, aside from those couple of instances.
Sometimes they do know my other work and sometimes they don’t. You have the ones that are all excited about the other work and some who just like the cosplay. Sometimes they’ll go away and you’ll just a random Tweet like “wow I didn’t know you who were!” Haha!
Or you have the others who know you and will run a mile! Sometimes I do interviews for my YouTube channel and I saw a lady who was dressed quite nice. I asked if she’d like to do an interview. The microphone has the TanyaTate.com logo on it, so people know what the interview’s for. And she ran away from me! I asked what’s wrong and she said “I’m a teacher! I can’t!” Haha. I guess she thought if she goes on a YouTube channel run by someone who makes adult movies, maybe the teachers or the school or the parents might not be too happy.
Do you find that there’s much of a crossover between your cosplay fan base and your film fan base?
There is actually. I didn’t realise that there was such a big fan base until I started going there. A lot of guys like superheroes and superheroines and villains and cosplay, so I’ll see them at the conventions. So yeah there is a big crossover. It’s kind of a cool that the fans like both.
What kind of things fall into that crossover section?
Well there was my Game of Thrones movie. There was company that was casting for Game of Bones, haha, which is a parody. As soon as I saw it, I was like, okay, there is only one person I want to play. It has to be Cersei Lannister. Because I’m the milf. I’m the powerful woman in all my scenes. Most of my scenes, I like to be in the control, I like to be more dominant. There are occasions when I’m not the dominant party, which is fine, but my preferred way is to be the dominant one. They were making this movie in America. Who else was going to play Queen Regent Cersei Lannister? So I submitted myself and I got the role.
I got to have sex with my future daughter-in-law Margaery Tyrell played by Leah Luv on the Iron Throne, which was a dildo throne, haha! I remember being on the Throne and holding onto the edges – and it’s rocking a lot because of everything going on – and one of the dildos came off in my hand! That was a lot of fun.
I’ve also played, a couple of years before when Spartacus was really big on American television, I played the role of Ilythia, that a lot of fun as well. That movie was made on a ranch in California. There was a lot of green screen stuff. It was very nice to get dressed up in all the different costumes. I got to have sex with Spartacus, so that was a lot of fun as well. I liked making both of those movies.
So is that something you’d like to do more of?
Yeah, I like the nerdy themed films. It’s a lot of fun to watch the movie or the TV series and to put yourself into that place and that position. You have a lot of fun making it happen.
What are you planning to do next?
Hopefully I can do something with another superhero movie, I’d like to do that. There’s some conventions coming up this year I’m hoping to go to. I haven’t decided on my costumes yet, so choosing those will be fun. Sometimes I get my fans to help me, I’ll go on social media and I’ll ask people what outfit they think I should wear for the convention. It’s nice to have some feedback.
There’s a Masters of the Universe Convention, which Skeletor and He-Man and She-Ra. I like that, it’s a bit smaller, so you actually get to go round all the booths and get to meet the people who have been in the action. I’ve been before, I’ve been as She-Ra and I’ve been as Princess Adora, which is She-Ra without her superhero costume. I got asked to be on the cover of AVN magazine, which is an adult industry trade magazine. That was quite an honour to be on that magazine, not only that they chose me, but that I was She-Ra. Not every girl gets to be on the cover, there are only twelve issues a year, so they’re very decisive about who they have.
Actually I was trying to get tickets as well for the Doctor Who convention, but they’re really difficult to get hold of. And they don’t allow any press badges, so you’ve gotta be there. I was lucky, I got tickets for this year and I got to meet Paul McGann, who was one of the Doctors and was also from Liverpool! I didn’t manage to get tickets for the next one. But maybe the year after.
What is your favourite experience at a convention?
Meeting Catwoman. Julie Newmar. She had a massive queue of people waiting to meet her and I was with a guy who was walking me around, Wally. She saw Wally and said hello and then she saw me and she said “Oh! Bring those beautiful bosoms here!” And she had this big long queue of people that was longer than my house – and my house is all one level, I don’t know how long, it was very long. That was one of those moments that was just never to be repeated. When are you ever going to meet Julie Newmar again when you’re dressed as her character?
Many, many thanks to Tanya for taking the time to speak with us! If you’d like to keep up with Tanya’s work – film or cosplay – you can follow her on her website, her blog, Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and YouTube.