Robin Slonina was volunteering at an artist-created miniature golf course in the Arts District, when Maria the SnakeBabe and her magician husband, Steve August, walked in. The three struck up a conversation. Maria needed her body painted like a snake. Slonina was an artist. Would she paint Maria? Sure. She’d never really done it before, but why not?
Clearly, it went well. Slonina now owns and operates Skin City Body Painting. Her crew of artists and stylists work on models and performers for conventions, shows and parties. They’ve painted bodies for the A Midsummer Night’s Dream party at the Palms and contortionists (as shuffling cards) for an Alice in Wonderland-themed party.
“We have really found an exciting way to make a living making art,” says Slonina, an alum from the School of the Art Institute of Chicago who can paint an entire outfit on someone’s body. “Las Vegas is the place to be if you’re doing body painting. We do a lot of conventions. There’s nothing we can’t do. I can paint the ‘Mona Lisa’ on your stomach if you want.”
Indeed. Her crew has painted ravers heading to Electric Daisy Carnival, paw-printed models for rapper Bow Wow's 21st birthday party and a model sporting a a sexy painted-on Walmart outfit out for Penn and Teller: Bullshit! on Showtime.
So successful is her business that seven production companies, she says, have approached her about doing reality television. One company has already filmed two episodes here and a sizzle reel is being shopped around.
The crew has opened shop in the Arts District and on Aug. 5 Skin City celebrates the grand opening of Skin City Studio & Boutique at 1209 S. Main St. (formerly Epic Shoes) where it will conduct its studio work, sell jewelry, art and Skin City swag and on First Fridays present live body painting and showcase local art. It should fit right in. Slonina and her husband, Jim, a Cirque du Soleil performer, are among the creative network of circus performers, technicians and artists living in the city.
“I came Downtown to be a part of First Friday,” she says. “But also so I could be with my tribe, a community of like-minded people.”