“I call myself Lady Santa now. Kids look at me as a mediator between Santa Claus and them,” says Crystal Caisa (44), who works as a children’s entertainer through the year but slips into a royal red and white fur gown every Christmas.
Originally from London, Caisa grew up in Mumbai and has been playing ‘Lady Santa’ for the past four years. Describing her company, Party Pixie, she says: “Whenever I dress up as a character or provide one, I aim to create an atmosphere where children feel like there is another world — besides the world that they live in, where everything is so mundane and routine as compared to something that is unexpected, colourful and different.”
Explaining the origin of Lady Santa, she recalls her visit to London five years ago, where she saw an extravagant female Santa costume and envisioned bringing it back home. “When I returned, there was a time when a Santa wasn’t available and so I decided to dress up as ‘Mrs Santa’ for the event. People loved it so much. They said I should do it more often because of how unique the concept is,” says Caisa.
Illustrating her self-designed costumes, she says: “Each year, my Santa costume changes. I have a tailor who helps me create a basic outline. It started off with a short dress and a jacket and now it has evolved into a grandiose ball gown and a cape.”
She describes Lady Santa as “maternal and encouraging”. Describing the process of character building, Caisa adds: “As a person I am not as bold as Lady Santa. When I go out there, I feel like a different person after getting into her character.” With her curly platinum wig, she attempts to turn Lady Santa into a separate entity and not just an extension of Santa Claus. “Initially, I would say that Santa was on his rounds and couldn’t make it and that Mrs Santa has come in his place. But as the character grew, I felt that she should have her own place. I hope I can convince children that it’s not just Santa who makes Christmas special, it can also be Lady Santa,” says Caisa.
Playing Lady Santa at a leading toy store for three hours at a stretch, Caisa adds: “It is an extremely heavy costume and it is hard to walk around in, especially if the venue isn’t air-conditioned. It takes me at least an hour to get my costume and makeup in place. But the wonderment with which the children look at me makes it so special.”
Determined to bring in the ‘spirit of giving’ on Christmas each year, Caisa also surprises 500 children at an orphanage in Pune with gifts. A mother of eight children herself, she is often told to look for a more lucrative job. However, Caisa finds her role as Lady Santa to be far more rewarding. She says, “I wish to play the character of Lady Santa for as long as I can. It helps me impact the lives of people in several ways — to me, that’s what Christmas is about.”