Beauty & the Geek: Frankie Charles – Fashion Icon of Burnside

Hey everyone! This month’s Beauty and the Geek is a special one, the first ever joint character stealth cosplay tutorial! Insha and I recently began speaking about our shared love for Batgirl of Burnside and Babs Tarr’s amazing artwork on the title, especially since the series is so fashion forward and stylistically heavy. With Burnside ending soon (moment of silence please), we decided we wanted to highlight our favorite character from the series: Frankie Charles!

Frankie Charlies is one of the main supporting characters in Batgirl of Burnside. She’s one of Barbara’s best friends and roommates while attending college in Burnside. They originally met while Barbara was in physical therapy. Frankie suffers from muscular dystrophy and has to walk with crutches until the disease eventually prevents her from using her legs at all. Frankie is also a openly bisexual black woman with some of the best style this side of the DCU.

Pictured: Dinah Lance, Barbara Gordon, Alysia Yeoh, & Frankie Charles drawn by Babs Tarr, property of DC Comics.

One of Tarr’s greatest strengths on Batgirl of Burnside is her ability to provide each character with their own distinct style that matches their personalities and provides a sense of reality to the otherwise lighthearted and fantastical world of street crime fighting. We wanted to showcase our love for Frankie Charles in our own way.

Insha: Insha here, for Beauty and the Geek! I’ve joined Desiree in creating some of Frankie’s looks and the wonderful thing about this is that … I got to create her dreads!

Before I get started, I wanted to let you guys know, there was something really special about channeling Frankie for this piece. Desiree and I have talked countless hours about our love for Frankie. It was just the inspiration I needed to join in this adventure with her. Not only did I get a chance to be super crafty, but I channeled one of my favorite characters of Batgirl. Frankie Charles means a lot to me for several different reasons, but the main reason is because I identify with her. Frankie being a open-minded, confident, mega-babe African-American woman is not something I see everyday. With Babs’ rich and wonderful vision and Brenden and Cameron’s writing, I gravitated towards her faster than I have with any character. Not only is she wicked smart with a fantastic personality, but she has great fashion sense and even greater hair; Frankie is every single bit of representation I needed and more.

So, let’s get to this! Let me tell you right away, creating these dreads were very time consuming. You’ll need to have some form of entertainment with you, some water, and some food and take breaks as much as you can. Please, I can not stress this enough. Take as many breaks as you want and can.

These dreads took me approximately two days. This included me taking multiple breaks, because I am a busy lady, and again, it’s super time consuming. These dreads will come in two processes. The first day, I dedicated to the braiding process, and the second day, I dedicated to the dreading process.

The tools you’ll need for Frankie’s dreads are:

  • Yarn (You can buy this at any craft store. Get the color Coffee or dark brown. You’ll need a Super Saver, depending on how much hair you have. If you have longer hair, you might want to go with two. For short hair to pixie cuts, one is completely fine.)
  • Hair ties
  • A lighter
  • Scissors
  • Small rubber bands
  • A comb

My final Frankie look came from Batgirl #50. To finish off her look, I choose to visit Michaels for the final pieces of this Frankie puzzle. After wandering around the store for a bit, I found some adorable silver wire (because I can’t pull off gold; I know my flaws) and some of a rose quartz pendent with a silver necklace. After cutting some wire and shaping some of the necklace, here is my final Frankie look!

Desiree: She looks amazing! Doesn’t she? What a fantastic job!

For me, I’m not crafty inclined, so I went the straight makeup and outfit look. My full face steps are always as follows:

That sounds like a lot, and it is. Full face makeup is something I hardly ever do unless I’m doing a Beauty and the Geek column, going out for a special occasion, or doing a costume of some sort. For stealth cosplay purposes, I honestly feel you don’t need to do a full face. This one took a bit more, because the look I chose for Frankie was heavier on the eye makeup. My typical day requires a smattering of primer, brow powder, a bit of eyeshadow, eyeliner and lipstick. Some people wear more, others less, but the point I think of makeup is to have fun with it.

And boy was it fun to channel Frankie Charles. She’s such a bold, rich character that carries herself with a lot of open awareness and self-acceptance considering all her struggles. Stealth cosplay should, in part, be about slipping into that characters skin for a bit and taking on the traits you admire and love about them.

I took two of Frankie’s looks and mashed them into one. I was inspired by her makeup from the picture on the left, and her outfit in the picture on the right.

Once I go through the steps of doing full foundation, I go to my eye makeup. First thing I do is use my NYX Jumbo Eye Pencil in Milk to cover my eyelid. White eyeshadow helps make your eyeshadow pop in color and can be used to help lock it in for longer periods of time. You can use an actual eye primer or just concealer. It’s really up to you.

After that, I use a flat rounded brush from ECO Tools to pack on dark purple shadow onto my lid from NYX’s Smokey Eye Palette. Then I use ELF’s Contour Eye Brush to sweep on Geek Chic’s Both Eyes Open (yes, a Nick Fury shadow). I’m always very careful with black eyeshadow, since it can get messy quick. So fair warning! I typically tap on black shadow very gently and add more later if needed. Finally, I take the fluffy end of my ECO Tools Duo Brush to blend together Geek Chic’s Professional Curiosity (which is a shimmery purple/silver color) across my crease and upper eye. I blend the two colors together so there’s no harsh lines.

Since I couldn’t really see the black, I went back and added some matte black shadow from NYX’s Smokey palette over my crease. I still feel like you can’t fully see the black enough, but I didn’t want to push it. The final aspect I added was the eyeliner. Frankie often wears cat eyes for her shadow style, so that’s what I went with.

I add my lipstick, and then I start building my Frankie Charles inspired outfit. She’s wearing a stripped red shirt and a bodycon black skirt. Frankie often wears lots of high-waisted clothes, which are right up my alley. I don’t have a black high waisted skirt (unfortunately), but I do have a pair of high-waisted shorts and a pair of strappy wedges, which I noticed the women in Batgirl of Burnside tend to wear a lot.

Insha: Look at this beauty! And she says she’s not crafty inclined. Desiree continues to look like a mega-babe in every sense of the word. She completely nailed it!

Desiree: I hope Insha enjoyed participating in this joint tutorial that highlights one of, what I believe, the best new characters in the DCU. I love Frankie Charles. She’s an inspiration, and she provides much needed diversity to the DCU. I hope we see her in Rebirth, either in Birds of Prey or in other Batman oriented books. I feel she’s too important to simply fall wayside.

So here’s what my final look came out to be. I hope I did Frankie Charles justice!

Desiree Rodriguez

Desiree Rodriguez

Desiree Rodriguez is currently majoring in Converged Communications. She's a writer, geek girl, and proud queer mestiza woman. Desiree is an entertainment writer for The Tempest, and contributor for Nerds of Color. Desiree has written for The Young Folks, The Feminist Wire, and Geeked Out Nation.