What’s blue and purple, nearly naked and doesn’t move for five hours? Me!
In search of Halloween costume ideas that don’t come from a bag, I sought the advice of Geneviève Cleary, the artistic director for Perfecto at Rain. Cleary’s also designed events such as A Midsummer Night’s Dream at the Palms and Sharam’s Get Wild tour and has her own entertainment company, Belluscious. Her panache for combining everyday items from Home Depot into repurposed garments and accessories is perfect inspiration for a Halloween transformation. My ultimate goal was to create the look of an otherworldly being that would be right at home on Planet Perfecto.
When Cleary initially agreed to assist me, I suspected we’d put a dryer hose here, some shiny fabric there, a bit of duct tape and volia! Instant original costume. What I neglected to keep in mind is when Cleary and the rest of N9NE Group set out to do something, they take it to the next level. Wait—a level even higher than the next.
And that’s how I ended up covered head to toe in layers of body paint.
I was a willing guinea pig for Cleary, who is currently working with Paul Oakenfold and N9NE Group on the second incarnation of Perfecto to take over Rain. As Oakenfold said last month of the show’s design, “We’re having a whole re-org and completely break it all down and start again.” May as well test run some ideas on a Weekly writer who has no idea what’s she’s gotten herself into, right?
I began to get an inkling when an e-mail arrived from Cleary. I don’t know which made me more nervous, the pictures she sent of sexy ladies in alien-inspired body paint or that she asked me to bring booty shorts, a strapless bra and not much else.
Arriving at Rain on Tuesday at 5 p.m., I followed Cleary up to the Perfecto casts’ dressing room in a converted VIP sky box. Soon, three makeup artists arrived toting two airbrush machines and suitcases full of equipment. Key makeup artist and body painter Krystle Randall had brought reinforcements in the form of fine artist and body painter Ragen Mendenhall and makeup artist/body painter Natasha Chamberlin (who also just won the Battle of the Brushes).
Layers of brushed on makeup topped with airbrushing laid only the base coat for the design and took an hour and a half alone. Cleary squealed with delight after rummaging through a box of random items and finding a child’s hover disk toy that could be transformed into the perfect hat (she admits she once spent the better part of a day putting lampshades on her head at a store searching for inspiration, much to the confusion of the retail staff).
Also with a knack for transforming everyday objects into useful tools, Randall, Mendenhall and Chamberlin constructed stencils for the detailing work out of a poster board, some plastic chicken-wire looking implement and a painstakingly hole-punched row of polka dots.
As the hours went on and the paint got thicker I had to agree with the talented body painting trio: I didn’t feel nearly nude anymore. At some point I zoned out and had to keep reminding myself not to lock my knees for fear of passing out. Five hours of standing eventually gave way to the astounding final effect, what the crew told me was probably the most detailed and intense project they had worked on to date.
Sure enough, I looked like an alien that could be dangling from the ceiling of Rain on any Saturday night. I had perfectly shadowed shields encircling my calves with special attention given to directional lighting for added depth. Oakenfold’s record label logo on my stomach made it look like I had just walked off the mothership from Planet Perfecto. A shaded thoracic pattern gave an insect feel to the creation, while bold white circles added punches of intensity. My neck appeared elongated up to the shock of wild blue tinged hair that made me even taller than my 5' 10". These girls knew what they were doing; I’d never seen anything like this in my 17 years in Vegas.
After all that effort, what would be the point in washing it off right away? J-Roc-o-ween was in full swing at Moon when Cleary, the Perfecto cast (sans their crazy costumes) and I arrived. At first glance, club goers thought my look was a body suit of some sort, but upon closer inspection, they realized my flesh was the canvas. With some encouragement from Cleary – and a bit of liquid courage – I was soon shaking my alien moneymaker atop the catwalk.
I didn’t win the costume contest. The guy who creates a full on Transformer get up every year took home the prize, but I had made it made it through an entire evening as an otherworldly being.
Oh well. Time to figure out how to use the restroom.
Potty breaks weren’t as difficult as I had imagined, but two hours after arriving home a complicated process of baby oil, baby wipes and rubbing alcohol had only partially removed the paint. (Water would only seal the whole shebang and I’d be an alien till who knows when).
Hypothetically, you could recreate the look if you were a visionary who sees something unusual in the mundane everyday, or had the phone number of one. Then, you’d need intense patience and a whole crew of skilled artists and body painters to bring the look to fruition. You’d be better off buddying up to Cleary for inspiration and then hiring Randall, Mendenhall and Chamberlin to body paint you for your next fête. I’m off to scrub off some more blue paint. But it was worth it.