Sunday, June 19, 2011

Thanks A Lot Mr. Ben-Stinkin'-Nye

One of the first makeup kits that I ever bought was from Ben Nye. He’s the guy who did the makeup for the folks in Gone With the Wind, among other Silver Screen masterpieces.

He died in 1986, but his company lives on. The pots of color, brushes, and sponges were required purchase for a show that I was cast in – and it was expensive stuff, for a kid who had to use her allowance to buy it. How I loved that kit! I would sit in my bedroom and turn my face into anything you can imagine: inanimate objects, mysterious strangers, famous people – I can’t tell you how many times I applied a mole to my cheek and used a breathy voice to sing “Happy. Birth. Day. Mr. Presi. Dent” into the full-length mirror attached to my bedroom door. Once I made my face into a human doily, with the middle of it at the tip of my nose. Wait! Forget I told you that part, because it’s sort of embarrassing… TMI, and all that…

By the time I started taking Theater Arts classes at the University, I had amassed quite a collection. However, I still possessed that original kit - until someone stole it out of the locker room while I was taking a shower after a college step aerobics class. Who would want another person's used theater makeup??? Maybe she was after the plastic pink Caboodle container – you know all us girls rocked those in the ‘90’s.

What a nasty surprise for Ms. Stickyfingers, when she found pots of cake makeup and greasy clown white, instead of Clinique or Estée Lauder! Hopefully she at least knew how to put it to good use – and I don’t mean tossing my extensive palette in the dumpster next to her sorority house…

Wow do I feel better after reliving that heartbreaking memory of loss.

Okay, on with the story.

For years I was the Go-To Girl for wrinkles. Yes, wrinkles. Let me tell you: I was awesome at turning young faces into old faces. Even as a teenager, I knew how to transform a third grader into a fifty-three year old, a teenager into a grandparent. If you were hoofing it up as Aunt Polly, or taking a spin as Arvide Abernathy in Guys and Dolls - playing anyone older than yourself, really - you probably would’ve wanted to give me a ringy-ding-ding so that I could sit you down and line you up.

Anyway, I was inclined to use my mad age progression skills to transform my own mug when I was around sixteen. I was playing the role of a middle-aged woman in a community theater production. Scrunching my face into fine, shrarpei-like condition, I found all my future creases – applying dark pencil, then highlights – first on a smooth forehead, then under eyes where crows had yet to tread. Perfect. I looked perfect.

Uh, yeeeaaaaaahhh. So, I found a photo of myself in that makeup recently and you know what? It looks just like me! Not me then, but:


And I was good back then, dammit! Too good. I wish that all those hours of instruction could have taught me how to conceal the lines that I had so gleefully attached to my own face, before nature had attached them for me!

Sometimes being good at something isn’t, well, all that great.

I do make a delectable meatloaf, though, and I don’t know how that can possibly come back to bite me…

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