Let’s be honest: I would love to see more zombies in neon eyeshadow. But while we can’t guarantee that level of fabulosity this time around, we can promise that the 80’s makeup for Closer to Heaven is going to be BIG and COLORFUL. The 80’s were a time when your contour could be a rainbow, your eyeshadow swanned out like angel wings on the side of your head, and your lips popped like a fresh bottle of Roidorade (Hallie told us to put that in). But designing makeup for theatre is more than just slathering on the powder and glitter, and our Magician of the Makeup Brush, Hall of Fame Artist, Skeleton Key Award Winner, and three-time Diamond Mask Award Winner Olivia Holm, will share her secrets on designing this totally madcap makeup scheme in our latest behind-the-velvet-rope post!
IF ZOMBIES WORE NEON EYESHADOW: The Making of Closer to Heaven (Part 4)
If there was ever a decade or a production that needed the sure hand of a Makeup Designer, the 80’s looks for Closer to Heaven would be at the top of our list. Theatrical makeup has a lot of work to do already. We always jest (and there is serious truth in this jest) that stage lights kill 50% of your face by blowing it out with light. Makeup is there to give an actor at bare minimum a face under stage lighting. So we can see their eyes and mouth again. Now take that assignment and double it by the crazy colors of the 1980’s. Not only that, but we tasked out amazing designer to return to her work in special effects makeup with a host of scars, wounds, zombie skin, and fake blood. 80’s glamour and gore never looked so good until Olivia Holm got her designer gaze on them. Below, Olivia will share her inspirations behind each of the makeup designs.
Dawn Schuyler owns the Closer to Heaven Nightclub…and everyone knows it. She is more than just a star; She is a vital, life-giving star at the center of a whole constellation of stars and satellites. With deep shades of purples, blues and pinks and dramatic angel wing liner for her eyes, Dawn lets everyone know she is the queen of her own territory. But most people might notice the half moon scar, a horrible souvenir left by the Half Moon Killer, that marks her as the One Who Got Away.
Olivia: “I wanted her to be, like, Queen Galaxy. Like, she is the ruler of the universe, and it is known. It is plainly shown in everything. I took inspiration from her jacket, that kind of purple-pinkish rocker vibe, added some more blue, and put the whole universe on her eyes. In my Google search history, there is the title ‘Purple Galaxy,” and I looked at all the shades and textures and how the purples reacted with black. Because she needed a dark moment. She’s been through a lot, so she needs that dark, fierce, beautiful black eyeliner. Leslie has very fierce eyes, and I needed to capitalize on that for one of her shows. And this is the perfect time to do it. That’s where Dawn came from. I looked into the stars and saw her. For Dawn’s scar, this is the second time I’m ‘scarring’ Leslie (after the burn scars for Kim Hyatt in What Happens at Sundown). First, I was a little too excited. I first made it too big. I hear cheek, and I’m going to do a whole cheek moment. But I got feedback and I scaled it back. It’s only a couple weeks old. It’s not fading into the skin yet; It still kinda hurts for Dawn. So I used this lovely color in my palette called Lividity and really sunk it into the scar. Dawn fought. Dawn fought back while the killer was going at her, and I really wanted to emphasize that with this scar by making it jagged and rough. The killer did NOT have complete control over this. With scars, I really like to do these washes where I paint this deep, usually purple, color in and then wash over the scar with a lighter skin tone color to make it look like it’s healing, but there’s been serious trauma.”
Erin Rochester seems to have a simple brief: Like a Virgin era Madonna. But although she’s paid to play a carbon copy of our Material Girl, Erin is still her own woman with her own dreams and life. So she needed to have moments to rebel in her costume and makeup, places where she fought to assume her own identity. Putting on lipstick could be radical in more ways than one.
Olivia: “Every single picture of Madonna you can think of, but also Erin is not Madonna. Erin needed a pop of color. One, her red lipstick is gorgeous. When we looked at her costume, we had those beautiful teal fingerless gloves. I really wanted to take that teal from her outfit and put it kinda noticeable in her makeup. Madonna needed some color. Just a mixture of what Madonna is and kinda what Erin is.”
Crystal Cunningham is, like, OBSESSED with slasher flicks and maintaining a perfect manicure. Blending a bubbly bounce with a bloody base isn’t as simple as slapping on a hockey mask and razor glove. Hot pink leads the charge with bold eyes, a bold lip, and a bold fashion sense that says “I like my men like I like my movies. Dangerous.”
Olivia: “Since she was wearing a Freddy Krueger-inspired dress, I wanted to lean into those reddish tones, but also she’s got that hot pink personality. She definitely reminds me of Kickin’ Kiwi Roidorade with that neon personality. I definitely took a lot of inspiration from people’s costumes before actually making their faces. The hot pink jellies she kept talking about was stuck in my head. I wanted it to be that big, bold 80’s blush-as-contour. It was about finding that perfect midground between Valley Girl and slasher fan. Finding that perfect hot pink with those red tones. She also has neon yellow stars painted on the apples of her cheeks. I wanted her to be a star in Dawn’s galaxy.”
Stella Spencer is pretty in pink and pastels when she enters the club scene, a fresh face from Montana looking to survive in L.A. A softer, preppy, Princess Diana start soon metamorphoses into a daring, club-going butterfly as Stella makes a transformation onstage and grows more comfortable in her new surroundings. Her makeup reflects that as she is the only character to make a makeup change during the show.
Olivia: “Stella’s a sweetheart. I really did look at, like, Hello Kitty. She’s got that adorable sense to her. But then she meets the rest of the girls, and they’re like, ‘You’re sweet and adorable and I love your cute little makeup…but it needs more.’ And it does. So that’s why we spiced her up with a little bit of purple in her makeup to get her to that club atmosphere rather than just ‘I just got off the bus in Montana and I have two minutes to put on some makeup and this is what I have in my bag.’ This is her metamorphosis. I wanted, when we re-emphasized her makeup for that club look, for it to look kind of like a butterfly where the contour has this wing pattern that frames her face, because Janis has got this beautiful bone structure. We wanted to frame her face where she was like opening up out of her shell. And I also wanted her makeup to mirror Dawn’s in some way. I think her story is most similar to Dawn’s, so having some relationship with their makeup works.”
Hallie Sheppard has an electric personality. She’s a little lightning bolt of a person with an androgynous rocker edge that keeps her from falling into the usual patterns of aerobics-guru-couture. Hallie’s electric blues, loud patterns, and lightning yellow looks are reflected in her cosmetic choices too.
Olivia: “Someone mentioned Van Gogh to me while I was designing the whole thing. Originally, I thought Hallie would be the red one. I thought she was the Jupiter of the whole thing, but the more I looked into Hallie, I was like ‘No, no…”. She’s got this cooler undertone, but also that bright pop of yellow. So I looked at Van Gogh’s Starry Night. She’s very dramatic, so I wanted to do a smoky eye effect but with a pop of color, hence the neon yellow lightning bolts, giving her a David Bowie moment since she does rock the androgynous look. This dark but loud makeup piece. I didn’t think I would like Hallie’s makeup to begin with, but then I put it on and put my lipstick on and looked at myself in the mirror and was like…’I’m sexy. I look great. I look fantastic.’ With the eyeliner, I’m a Scorpio, and the name of this style of eyeliner is called a scorpion liner, so I decided to do it to really emphasize the fierceness.”
Gabriel Baker is the definition of bringing your work everywhere with you. As a special effects makeup artist himself, Gabriel’s look HAD to be the biggest and most over-the-top…and we’re talking about the 80’s here. He wears his prosthetics like a suit of armor, a form of protection, defense, and intimidation from those who would try to hurt him or his chosen family at the club. It’s the most complex makeup in the whole show where Olivia Holm was assisted by her capable second-in-zombie-command Calvin Johnson.
Olivia: “Once I started doing makeup, I was a FAN of The Walking Dead. I watched every single behind-the-scenes video from the first few seasons, and Greg Nicotero–He’s the key special effects makeup artist and designed everything with the zombies–I wanted to have a moment. I wanted my Greg Nicotero moment, where I got to create my monster. I immediately pulled up Walking Dead inspiration photos. I mainly wanted to look at Season 3; They were that perfect stage between decayed and rotting and still somewhat human, because you’re an actor and you still need to move and speak and breathe. Gabriel is my special effects magnum opus. I started by making a whole bunch of drawings to figure out what to do. I wanted Gabriel to look nasty, like decaying but also actively bleeding, which greatly contrasts with his very sweet personality. Then I sat down and just started going on my face. I didn’t take as long to work on this one as I did with the others, because I wanted to let my instincts take over.”
Ariel’s life doesn’t take the turns and exits she expected it to. She’d much rather be in the driver seat at the club, but she’s stuck in the back office with the paperwork and payroll. But even though she’s Dawn’s assistant, she also gets to have her own splash of 80’s flair in an effort to shine on her own. Watermelon pink and green contrast with dark ink black to show that this girl’s pen is definitely as mighty as the Half-Moon Killer’s knife.
Olivia: “I love her costume. It’s one of my favorite costumes. She literally looks like the watermelon flavor of Roidorade. I wanted her to keep her youth, but give her that nighttime look. We wanted to keep the bright colors, so the best way to do it was to put it on her eyes. But she’s also got accents of black everywhere like black leggings and a black belt. I gave her this nice, bold black lip, because everyone else has these bold accents like Dawn and her scar, Stella and her beautiful contour, me with my lightning bolts and eyeliner. I feel like Ariel needed to have her bold moment.”
As Olivia told us, “This is my dream show. I damn near cried. I was so elated. It’s everything I ever dreamed of. This is the big, beautiful, sexy, and adventurous makeup I always wanted to do.” And her makeup designs showcase the wide breadth of her artistry, imagination, talent, and pure joy in the inspiration. Whether it’s a zombie, a hot neon eyeshadow, a half moon scar, or all of that blended together in one big soup du jour, Olivia Holm’s makeup work for Closer to Heaven will be legendary for years to come.
But were you even an 80’s baby if you didn’t go through four cans of Aqua Net a week? The bigger the hair, the better you looked in our homage to the Big Hair that dominated the era. But what were our goals in designing the biggest hair we’ve had since Eat Cake? Take a step into our salon in our next behind-the-velvet-rope post–Big Hair, Don’t Care: The Making of Closer to Heaven (Part 5).
And don’t forget your tickets! We can’t wait to unleash all this colorful moonlight madness in May.
–Master Mystery Productions