A note from Karen: Hi all, as you know I’ve joined with Lee at CelebExposed to bring you some amazing photos for the events that I review, this is an insight in to the world “face painters” and Celeb Exposed with some amazing photos to go with it, so please sit back, read and enjoy this little insight in to the man behind the photos.
The Face Painters
We all recall the wonderful Jack Nicolson as The Joker in the Batman movie or Jim Carey in the Mask. Men in makeup has been a tradition on the stage for centuries, but when Amelia Butler became the first female clown in the U.S in 1858 I feel everything changed. It’s as much about gender and fantasy as it is about social identity. We go to the movies or theatre and we want an escape from our lives, we crave the bizarre, Pantomime is as popular now as it ever was, and if we were to take our seat at the annual gathering to discover that the Ugly Sisters were indeed to be played by Female actors, we would be dumbfounded by the directors decision and possibly somewhat disappointed too. If however the same actor was to walk down the street in the same makeup there would be questions.
These thoughts bring me to consider two of the entertainers I have had the privilege to photograph over the years, the first being movie, stage and TV star David Bedella. David himself appeared in a Batman movie as well as playing the devil in Jerry Springer the musical (TV Movie). However I caught up with him whilst he was preparing for his starring role of Dr. Frank ‘n’ Furter in Richard O Briens The Rocky Horror Show at Venue Cymru Llandudno.
The shoot was pre arranged with David’s PR company in London, and I was met by his producer at the stage door. I was then Introduced to Mr Bedella in his dressing room, he was a lovely man and had no concerns to my request. The request was something that had never been suggested to the Rocky Horror star before, I wanted to photograph the whole process of David’s transformation from the polite chap I had just met into the world-famous cult character created by O’Brien nearly 40 years earlier. He Agreed.
I must say I found the process fascinating, His preparation, the attention to detail and the private moments I was allowed to witness. Of course he does this night after night, it still had a rather spiritual feel to it. I could see that this man was doing what he was meant to be doing.
There was the odd moment like when Gethin Jones popped in to say Hi!! He was guest starring as the Narrator that evening, and when David asked my female assistant the question are you shy?” before pulling his pants down, she just blushed.
Layers of creams and foundation, nails, makeup and some of the most iconic clothing seen in modern musical theatre, and all the time David was doing is voice warm ups. then some two hours after arriving David Bedella, Frank n Furter was ready to take to the stage with just seconds to go.
He said his goodbyes, walked through a door and we heard the screams of his adoring fans. Then reality kicked back in. We left the theatre and went home.
Another day at the office for the star of the show, which got me thinking about another face painted star, some months before this wonderful evening I arranged a photo shoot for a local children’s entertainer. Carrots the Clown is a female children’s entertainer, well to be more specific a Clown.
I arranged the shoot in my parents upstairs loft, Carrots arrived and began to put on her makeup, just like David Bedella did, but thinking back there was a very big difference. It did seem somewhat strange to have a lady dressing up as a clown, I’m not sure why, maybe I haven’t been conditioned this way over my 40 years or so. being brought up with the likes of Danny LaRue and Foo Foo Lammar at the end of Blackpool pier and the many Python sketches where Terry Jones would be dressed as a screeching old crone.
I found myself feeling sympathy for the lady clown, there was a true sadness to her transformation. Were as my time with David left a positive impression on me, This was much different. I ask her how long she had been a children’s entertainer, since I left school she answered, this lady was older than me. I asked Why? Originally I did it to make myself popular, it was easy to hide behind the makeup. She was bullied at school, and had low self-esteem. I’m sure she is a wonderful entertainer, and in my opinion does a worthwhile job. But it did leave the impression on me that she stuck with something that worked for her at the time, and was too scared to move on.
Thinking back on both the photo shoots it seems to me that there is a real twist in the way society expects our entertainers to fill the many roles out there. as I said before the Pantomime dame really should be a man underneath, Not very politically correct in modern Britain, But then maybe there are some things that should never change.
Words by Lee Garside-Howard
Photographs by CelebExposed.co.uk
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