Back again with ruminations on life.
This is my status from last night which made me think it would be a good topic to talk about, but first here it is:
“When a performer leaves the stage after their show, for some they buzz elctrifyingly with energy for others a feeling of overwhelming sadness and emptiness settles on them. I am one of the latter.
When I apply make up to people I put an energy into it a little piece of me goes into the masterpiece I create.
It’s a come-down of a very addictive drug or so it seems.
I just enjoy the happiness I see on my clients face when I give them a vision of themselves they didn’t know existed, and if they did, they weren’t able to express it.”
I will tackle this in two sections.
In days gone by when one was performing on stage, whether it was stand-up comedy, spoken word, and/or Drag performance art, I noticed several things the preparation time was different for each personae.
For the stage as a perfomer straight -up nothing fancy singing and such, it would be vocal exercises (no not those weird sounds you hear emanating from actors and singers, but rather soft-modulated warming up exercise by talking to get my vocal chords limber), then there would be the me solo time for that extra “Zen” moment.
For performance and drag it would be the application of make-up and getting the costumes ready, sometimes this would be onsite if one wasn’t in ones home town, or getting ready at home and heading out to the venue, those moments of concentration were and are essential for most artists, I am lucky that I don’t mind tonnes of people around my as I get ready, that said when I ask for 5 minutes alone I expect that to happen pronto.
Being on stage is magical, I always tell people starting out that whether there is a multitude of people or a single person in the audience you treat them to your best. Some performers (and I am one of those) feed of the energy projected at us when we are on the stage and bombarded by the spotlights. The energy we get from our audience is what determines how good a show will be.
A lot of the times you just go onstage and there you are met with blank dead faces, and you think to yourself wet paint drying on the wall has more emotions than this bunch.
You sing,perform, dance, and you suffer , you are happy, you run the gamut of emotions from A-to-Z and then you are done, this is where it becomes an interesting study of human behaviour.
Whe I was finished with my shows, I would go out afterwards with friends, sometimes in costume most times not. And we would go to a bar/club and we would have a few drinks (No I am not a heavy drinker but a social one, and rarely to the point of inebriation), at times we would go to dinner depending on how wired you were, yes sometimes artificial stimulants played a part again most times not, you need all your senses around you, but sometimes a show was so hard and exhausting you knew you needed something a little bit stronger than an Espresso to keep you going. Substance Useage not Abusing, and yes I admit to it, it was the 80’s and 90’s after all and we werre the Club Kids and the Ravers, so pack up your little judgmental thoughts and move along there’s nothing to see here.
My parents knew what I did, I have always believed in a policy of truth and honesty, and no they were not worried, as my late mother pointed out, I never lied to them about what I did or who I was.
Some performers as I have mentioned earlier are so wired they need copious amounts of alcohol to relax after a show, and some need to smoke something a little bit stronger than a cigarette, I never smoked and I never needed anything to relax me, this was actually how I found out that I had a very strange form of ADD, because whenver I ingested something that is supposed to give you energy and lots of it, I actually became quite calm and focused, clear in the head and very “in-control” (quotations marks provided as it was an actual quote).
Anyway I strayed from the point. The feeling I usually get when I leave everyone after a performance whether it is a single night or a month long run, is usualyy the same. I feel empty, at loss and restless, a melancholic drained emotionless void hovers over me like a storm-cloud. I feel emotional yet distant, I need to be held yet I do not want to be touched, and the last thing on my mind would be a hook-up, it startled my friends who were also performers, to see that I was emotionally distant and unavailable and even more so after the shows. I was friednly and social, but oddly distant.
I think of things deep and analyse my performance of the night make notes, see could I have done this better, what was missing (and herein lies the curse of the perfectionist we always feel we could have done better), I was always a bit odd like that, not being one of those who basked in all the attention given to me, no matter how great the job was I usually was very down-to-earth.
I consider myself blessed and I was honoured to be able to bring my shows to distant lands and be a part of something huge, the energy artists pu into their work (depending upon the artists) is incredible, it wears and tears on you and sometimes you feel drained, worth miillion but left feeling worth nothing, and you wonder Why am I here? Am I good enough (most times the answer is a resounding hell yes you are!), but unless you have experienced it you cannot describe it in such a way that people who have not will be able to understand it.
All through my life I have been lucky to land shows that were odd, different, and extraordinary, from performing in front of an audience of 600 people in a cinema at a private screening of a film, to hosting avant-garde underground intellectually stimulating soirees in a club, hosting fetish parties of more than 1500 participants, in London, Berlin, and L.A. to having the honour of being asked to model as a female in Japan, Yes life has been good, and yet after every performance is done, I file it away and move on to something else, no relying on tha job just finished and using it but instead approaching the next task as something completely new and unique.
This was my experience of my stage work.
My experiences with make-up run along the same lines, with the difference being, in these scenarios, I am not the centre of attention but my clients are, the fact I take a blank canvas and strat to bring and coax out the inner beauty as I see it (this is why I do not work on anyone I cannot stand) but I rely on my team to do the people I detest, but when I ahve some one in my chair and I am working on them I create a masterpiece and that is a collaborative effort, sad thing though is after I do the make-up I am usually left feeling drained and sometimes get a migraine/partial headache.
I have been working as a professional since 1984/1985 (around the same time I started doing shows), I have also been lucky to have worked with some of the best photographers and models there were, worked on videos you have seen in the heyday of MTV when it was actually about the music.
Film-work, stage work, fashion shows, videos, print, and what have you always innovating, always exploring, and always renewing, I research new techniques and create something out of nothing.
Taking a young or old person, and showing them their inner strength and beauty by complimenting the exterior to the interior I see is what gives me satisfaction. I enjoy that look of surprise when the whole thing just gels and comes together and we all look in the mirror and we go “WOW” my reactions are exactly like theirs, not because I am insecure but because you never know where you will end up with a face. I do not have the hubris of thinking “O I know what is good for you and shut up!” (although one does feel like doing that once in a while but one doesn’t except on films and fashion shows because the art directors and I are in agreement and what the actor says is not what is supposed to happen, you have an agreed line to follow and by all that’s unholy you do it or else).
The faces are a canvas, and each face has to wind up being a uniques masterpiece, not some carbon-copy of a picture in a magazine. When I tell my clients show images you like it isn’t because I do no know what I want to do, but, because I want to know what they like, what their taste is like, and just clue me in to their personality, when all is said and done I tell them what suits them and what doesn’t, and they accept it, and if they do not it is my job to convince them of what is more flattering to them. When it comes to make-up the customer is not always right. THey can have input in to certain things, but I am the final say in the end, after all I am the one with the experience.
Funnily enough after spending a day doing make-up I am so drained and tired, and usually wind up with a migraine -like headache (which is a bummer because it means I cannot usually attend the wedding if I am unvited as a guest, so sometimes I have to expend my regrets).
I adore most of my clients, the repeat ones are the fun ones they are more like friends and family, and so doing their faces for an event is fun, we sit and chit-chat and sometimes we exchange mutually beneficial information, so I am exhausted too from that it is a good exhaustion, one feels quite chuffe and one is in a good place.
My clients range from schoolgirls to heads of state, here and abroad. I am asked to take pictures of my work but I do not do that, if it is a bride then it is up to her to give me picture, I believe it is their private moments and if they want to share them with me fine but if they do not I respect that too, no problems for me, the look on their face is enough for me.
It is all about the energies, it is all about the integrity and passion you put into your work, but if for a second you think it is easy, then let me burst that bubble it is not.
It is satisfying, it is frustrating (when dealing with a bunch of know-it-alls, who dare encroach on your work and tell you what you should be doing, when in reality they have no clue) it is up to one to set them straight and one does….
Well that was it for now…