Tuesday, February 21, 2012

My Very Favorite Weekend of the Year

Wicked Faire!  This year's theme:  Halloween.  Dude.  Halloween.  My favorite holiday.  You know what that means, right?  Anything goes!

Yet again, it was held Friday - Sunday on the weekend after Valentine's Day at the Doubletree in Somerset, NJ.

And this time, I didn't have to be rushed or pissy and was able to make the whole thing.  In fact, I got there early.  Also, this was the first time I didn't get a model in trouble with the hotel for not being what they consider to be "beach legal."  No, wait. I didn't get in trouble in 2010 either.  Granted, the first year I body painted at Wicked, I was thinking like someone who'd body painted for a burlesque show in New Orleans, not someone painting at a 16+ event in a public hotel in central NJ.  Last year, though, I did try to do it right.  Toni had pasties, and Kiki had both pasties and feathers forming a bra!  The hotel said it wasn't enough.  Hmph.

Well, this year I had plans.

But let me start at the beginning.  First of all, I had time to do myself up, and decided to have a little fun.  I've always been infatuated with the vampire thing.  (My mom once sighed loudly and commented, "I hate that you're weird," as she purchased the Nosferatu wall sconce I wanted for my birthday.)  But I'd never done a '50s vampire.  So... here it is.

Not the best job I've ever done on my face, but it was fun and got comments.  Besides, I got to show off the poodle skirt I made many years ago, long before I had a sewing machine, by hand and with tiny little crazy stitches.  Go me.

Also, I had time before I went to use one of my awesome new Cthulhu glitter tattoo stencils.

Anyway, I got there about 4:20 on Friday, and set up my shared space with the phenomenal henna artist, Robin Jaeckel of Henna Rising.  By the way, for those looking for us, we hope and plan to be in the same space next year - at the top of the stairs to the right, on the balcony.

While watching one of the many bellydancing acts, I met this sweet girl, who then came to Robin for an amazing henna tat.

On Sunday, I did her face, but we'll get to that.  I'm still on Friday.  Friday's a slower day, when everyone's arriving and checking into their rooms, getting situated, and finding out where everything is.  There's so much going on at this faire that it's impossible to take it all in, so you need to schedule your choices.

I did have some welcome customers, though.

My very first was Patrick, who I've painted at several Wickeds past.  He's got a good face for it.

He wanted "loud eye makeup," and I came precariously close to turning him into the Starman from KISS, so I went the way of tribal.

One of the best things about Wicked is that I get a lot more free rein from my customers.  Unless they're matching their costumes, most will either just give some basic parameters or say, "do what you want," music to an artist's ears.

A good example of costume-matching, though, was this Nightwing.  He had apparently purchased a mask with his costume, but it was chafing his face terribly, so he came and got one painted on instead.  Score one for face painting over masks!

Speaking of which, this poor guy came gasping up to my space pulling off a full-head rubber skull mask that came all the way down his neck.  It was an awesome mask, to tell the truth, but it was hot and made it difficult for him to both see and breathe.  When he heard I could do a skull in just a few minutes, he plopped into my chair and let me have at it.

He was as pleased as I was, and the next day came back to tell me that he'd even gotten compliments about how well I'd worked with his facial hair.

Speaking of facial hair, I had two big body paintings planned for Saturday, one awesome chick, and one goatee-sporting man.  And by the way, I have the best body painting models ever.  No, really.  I hear all the time about models who don't show, show up late, wear exactly the opposite of the things they were ask to (the wrong undergarments will soak up paint like the dickens and make the artist's job a zillion times harder... and make everything take so much longer), and worse.  My models?  Freakin' awesome. 

I'll do this chronologically, which means the goatee comes later.  First, Kiki.  Last year, I painted Kiki as a peacock.  It was her idea, if I remember correctly.  We discussed it in advance, and she picked up bottoms and fishnets she thought would work (they did), as well as all different kinds of peacock feathers to bring with her for my use.  This chick comes prepared!

This year, she left it to me as far as design, so after thinking a bit, I suggested a head-to-toe tiger.  She loved the idea and proceeded to order a tiger print bandeau and bikini to be "beach legal," since the feathered full coverage last year wasn't enough.  It was a bit of a shortcut for me, too, since I wouldn't have to paint over fabric this way and could save some time.  She also found a pair of ears that were perfect to finish off the look.  We agreed to meet at 10 a.m. on Saturday so she could wear her "costume" all day.  The contrast to other models continued when she texted me at about quarter to 10 to let me know she was in her room and ready to go.  When I got there, she was ready not only with the bandeau & bikini, but also with her hair up in a hat to keep it off her face and out of the way.
Did I mention she rocks?

At any rate, I got started sponging the base as quickly as possible, sipping my coffee in between.

By the way, I'm glad I'm a color addict.  When Kiki and I saw the top & bikini online, they looked brighter and more orange, so I was planning an orange and yellow tiger - typical for the colors I use.  What she received was a lot more tan and ochre, so instead of yellow, I worked ochre into the design and it was perfect.

It's a physical job, body painting.

I'm glad it was a comfy dress I was wearing, but all that velvet & crinoline got pretty toasty.  The room was pretty warm for Kiki's sake.  Or maybe it was normal and all my movement made it seem warm.  One or the other.

Finally, I got to start on the details.  I started with her face.

Once that was set, I gave her her stripes.

It was a lot of stripes.

A lot.

All in all, it took me just over two hours.  But so worth it!

And later on, she brought some friends by my space to become her victims!

And later that day?  She won sexiest costume in a contest to raise money for Four Legs Good NY.

Meanwhile, I had to get to another appointment, to behead Anne Boelyn (and stitch her back together... mostly).

And then this guy needed me to copy a design he showed me from online.  Smartphones are wonderful... but I forgot to ask him who this character is!  So... if anyone knows, please tell me?

Edit:  A wonderful person has read my blog post and let me know that the below character (I knew it had to be a cartoon character!) is Dr. Facilier from The Princess and the Frog, which I have not yet seen.  Thank you!  And this us why face painters should never miss an animated film!

And then I ripped someone's face off... at his request.

I got a compliment later in the day from someone else who had seen him.  Although it looks too bright and fake in this photo, the guy thought it was actually a prosthetic, not just body paint!

I also had takers for a couple glitter tats.

And then... another big body painting.  This one I did by my booth space, out in public.  I made flyers and my model, Dave, posted on various forums for people to come watch.  He likes attention as much as I do.

Speaking of Dave, he was sent to me by Toni, who I've painted in previous years but who was going to be too occupied with volunteering for the faire this year.  He was another completely awesome model.  He gave me complete license to do what I wanted, and shaved his arms, legs, chest, and armpits for me.  He did not shave the goatee.

Once we determined that I'd be painting him, the ideas started running through my head until around 4 a.m. I finally got the idea for a half man/half reptile, stitched together.  That'd account for that goatee and I wouldn't have to fight to paint over it.  I'm brilliant.  We scheduled the appointment for 1 p.m. and he showed up at a quarter of.  I got started on a whole lot of green.

I'd bought this awesome lime green for highlights and scales.

Some blood around the edge where the two skins joined, and added some horns.

I actually took a break from base work to do some detail.  It was a lot of green.

I spent so much time bending and twisting that Dave took pity on me and started moving for me, even though it meant him hurting himself a little.

Also a totally worth it endeavor, finished in about 2 hours.

Sticking with the reptile theme, my friend Grazina, who always comes up with the niftiest ideas, suggested these snakes.

She's a character, which is part of why I love her so much.

And then... it wouldn't be Halloween without the undead (besides me).

Another awesome thing that happened at faire... I met Hanna!

I have good reason for being excited.  I've known Hanna for quite a while... over a year at least.  She's another face painter, you see, out in Pittsburgh, and we're both members of the same online body art forum.  But this weekend, we finally got to meet in person!  She's great, as is her husband Bill.  And those wings she's wearing?  She made them.  She'll be selling them soon, so I'll post when they're available.

That night, we went to some afterparties before driving home, so Sunday was a very tired day.  Still, I had a few requests.  In fact, although vending started at noon, I got there early.  I realized that my life is not typical when that morning I had to say to Eric, my husband who was exhausted and sporting a nasty headache, "Hon, c'mon, you need to get up.  I promised Papa Smurf I'd be there at 11 to turn him blue."

Yes, really.  Look.

And then there was that cool chick who got the back henna on Friday, who wanted something pretty and swirly that wouldn't interfere with her glasses.

My friend Joey needed a little help with his Adam Ant costume.

And even my one butterfly at this event was atypical.  A Steampunk butterfly!

Now I'm waiting with bated breath to find out next year's theme so I can start working out body painting designs.  Next year, I'm hoping for four!


  1. Some real good inspiration here, may have to pass your site on to my customers when they are considering what to buy for their upcoming Halloween parties!

  2. Your blog is fun! I really enjoyed your 50's vampire and the green guy reptile guy.