Though they often stick close during performances and presentations, the characters Solas Teev and Nara Pel may not have ever known each other in the Star Wars universe were it not for Jedi holocron technology or a few creative liberties. Teev, a gray-bearded Jedi consular hailing from the Core World of Corellia, lived during the heyday of the Old Republic—thousands of years before Pel was even born.
In their real lives, however, Patrick Dorsey and Cherissa Crossland (Solas Teev and Nara Pel, respectively) of Brentwood, N.Y., have been married for two and a half years, and have been costuming together since they attended the New Jersey gaming convention DEXCON in July 2010. Both of them have a love for Star Wars that has burned strongly since they first saw the previews and marketing campaigns for “A New Hope” as youths in the 1970s.
With no children—or interest in having any themselves—and cats who, in Dorsey’s words, would “flense us if we dared try costuming them,” Crossland and Dorsey often spend their free time gaming and performing stunt choreography together, or costuming for charity.
Crossland, who formerly did make-up and effects “in a Hollywood far, far away” but is currently unemployed while she recovers from extensive injuries, does the majority of the costuming work, dedicating a few hours a week—and even more than that, if an event or convention is approaching—to the creation, refinement, and repair of both her and her husband’s costumes.
“Using the skills I built decades ago to benefit my community now is very natural,” she said.
The costume and appearance of her character Nara Pel, who is a Twi’lek—a humanoid being sporting two long tentacle-like cranial appendages called lekku—was the product of thrift store shopping, tons of body paint and materials like Plasti-Dip.
“I wasn’t allowed to play with dolls as a child,” Crossland said. “Making costumes, especially for other people, satisfies that old urge to dress up Barbie and Ken or play with paper dolls.”
Meanwhile, Dorsey, a health insurance worker who often works overtime and has “no time to learn right now,” contributes financially and by seeking out online deals that will help expand both their costuming options. A lifelong, self-described “sci-fi and fantasy geek,” Trekkie, and fan of the writings of Tolkien, Dorsey had neither involved himself or considered involving himself with costuming until his wife, an avid costumer, drew him into the hobby via Long Island Jedi, a costuming, performance and charity group she had met at last year’s I-CON. Together with the Jedis, they would go to DEXCON—an experience that would help seal the deal for Dorsey.
“As we entered the hall with robes billowing and sabers aglow, heads turned admiringly and throughout the weekend, we were often the center of attention,” Dorsey said. “I will confess it was a thrill to receive such attention, but it is also nice to be able to say we do this for charity. If it wasn’t for LI Jedi or other charitable organizations such as the 501st/Rebel Legion, I would probably not have gotten into costuming at all, and with the effort and expense involved, the charitable aspect is the only real reason I do it.”
As the oldest member of LI Jedi (he is in his mid-40s), Dorsey took it upon himself to fill the void caused by the lack of a paternal character within the group; a niche he was perfectly suited to because of both his ability to “grow a decent greyshot beard” and his age. However, he says that he is willing to fill whatever role the Jedis need to provide a good show for their audience.
“We do this for charity,” Dorsey said. “And as one of our Council members has said, we have to earn the right to ask the audience for money.”