A Long Long Post About Long Long Lashes

When I discuss costuming with my students, I often mention that it doesn't stop at the neck. Think like a ballerina or a drag queen: If your costume is fabulous and your face is drab, the fabulousness is sadly, utterly lost! False eyelashes do more than make you more photogenic--they help to give you the exaggeration of expression that an audience can see from the furthest row.

Mary Pickford. Image from infoplease.com.
"Beauty legend has it that American movie director D.W. Griffith designed the first set of false eyelashes. While creating a motion picture in 1916, he wanted his leading lady to have lashes so long they graced her cheeks when she blinked or looked down thoughtfully."

I would say that the movies popularized false eyelashes, but they are almost as historical as makeup itself!

Dr. Lukki Backstage at the 2007 New York Burlesque Festival. Photo by me.
When asked about false eyelashes, Dr. Lukki quotes Roland Barthes: "There is nothing 'false' about false eyelashes. In fact, they are necessary, concrete, REAL in a way that goes beyond the fabricated. Because without them we are completely naked, exposed; it is a component of what Roland Barthes identifies as part of the 'science' that 'clothes' striptease artists like a garment.' " (Footnote: Mythologies, 1972, p. 86)."

Angie Pontani by Don Spiro
Angie Pontani Photographed by Don Spiro.
Angie Pontani says, "I'd never go onstage without them."

World Famous *BOB* by Karl Giant
World Famous *BOB* on the Sex Workers' Art Show Tour Flyer. Makeup and Photography by Karl Giant.
According to World Famous *BOB*, "The difference between a boy cartoon and a girl cartoon is usually is a pair of huge lashes and a bow on the girls head. I like to look like a cartoon on stage so I LOVE to wear big lashes (&bows). "

Tigger backstage at the Slipper Room. Photo by me.
Tigger agrees: "What's not to love about false eyelashes? Go from barely there to a bold knockout with just a bit of glue and a steady hand. If only the rest of us was so easy to enhance."

Julie Atlas Muz by Karl Giant
Julie Atlas Muz. Makeup and Photography by Karl Giant.
Julie Atlas Muz believes in them: "False eyelashes are certainly a key to having big doey eyes onstage, but there are a few tricks that new eyelash wearers don’t do. One thing is to cut them to fit the shape and length of your eyelid. Of course I could go on and on about the horrors of wearing false eyelashes. The elastic goop that doesn’t resurface until the morning after...."

Dirty Martini by Karl Giant
Dirty Martini. Makeup and photography by Karl Giant.
Dirty Martini feels very strongly about false eyelashes for burlesque performers: "Do not go on the stage with out false eyelashes or at least a Tammy Fay Bakker type mascara application (which is much harder to achieve than fake lashes) or I will personally come to your apartment and slap you. I know they are difficult at first, but a seasoned pair of lashes ( at least three wearings) will conform to your eye and be easier to apply the more you wear them. You can trim your large lashes to fit your eye and then take that bit you trim off and glue it to the outer edge of a daytime lash for extra drama and fun."

If you're not yet convinced that false eyelashes are the cornerstone of every burlesque star's stage appearance, listen to the man all the seasoned performers look up to through their fluttering fringes: Photographer, Director, and Fantasy Makeup Master Karl Giant. Karl works for Debbie Harry, Marc Jacobs, Ami Goodheart, Jody Watley, and so many more. "However, no one personifies glitter or extravaganza more than Karl Giant, lead make-up artist for Smashbox Cosmetics," according to the insiders at L. A. Splash Magazine. And he was totally up for being interviewed about false eyelashes and burlesque--Karl is a man who knows the power of a glamorous eye enhancement.

Ultra Nate by Karl Giant
Singer Ultra Nate. Makeup and Photography by Karl Giant.
"Great makeup is less expensive than great costumes. You can be in great pasties, a great g-string, and great makeup and you’re done.
"With false eyelashes, you can wear less makeup and look fabulous. Everything should be custom--out-of-the-box just isn't enough. Trim and embellish! Sometimes it’s better to cut the length toward the end of the lashes. If they’re droop they give you stroke eye. You can get the length and the width. You need practice to glue them on right. And don't forget, use the black glue!
"I glue more than lashes to people's eyes: rhinestones, knick knacks, things from the kitchen. I love stickers around the eyes. They keep the right shape—you can cut them and people don’t know what it is. Sometimes they have teeny little circles or other shapes you can use.
Ami Goodheart by Karl Giant
Showgirl Ami Goodheart, founder of Dutch Weisman's Burlesque. Makeup and Photography by Karl Giant.
"My favorite thing about working with burlesque performers is that anything goes. Tthey’re so proud of who and what they are—they know how to live life, I tell you that. They’re better than other kinds of performers because they’re not worried about what people think—they can be outrageous and still be charming. Even when Julie is most vulgar she’s still charming and has a sense of humor.
"With burlesque performance can be more cerebral. It’s great to make it look easy and like it comes naturally and make it look effortles so that people don’t know to factor in the hours of pratice in front of the mirror. Burlesque performers work hard set the tone and knwo that makeup is a real part of setting the tone. You know Dirty does her research to create her characters.
Alan Cumming by Karl Giant
Actor Alan Cumming. Makeup and Photography by Karl Giant.
"I got well-known by creating these looks on burlesque girls and in the low light I had to attract every shard of light with glitter and effects. Now I’ve taken what I’ve done in burlesque and moved it into pop music working with singers. Look on Youtube for Karl Giant.
"Kevyn Aucoin’s books are great for stage makeup. You can create your own look. Find out what’s the best for your structure and work for that. You become a character and your face is your fortune, no matter what you look like. Be Ronald MacDonald in a pretty way! If you can work a blue lip, work a blue lip! Everybody’s afraid of looking like a drag queen.
"I love working with burlesque performers. I'll never stop. I like to make the burlesque girls into beautiful beings. *BOB* told me, 'After you do me all I have to do is walk onstage and I’m done.' "


On an aside, I have to admit that as much as I love false eyelashes, it still drives me nuts when they're used in mascara ads.


Anonymous said…
I am no longer debating false eye lashes. I'm getting them!!!

There's an eye lash contest at sephora.com if you scroll down to the bottom of their home page :)
themakeupfairy said…
I am 100% with you on the false lashes in mascara ads, drives me BONKERS!!!!!!!

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