Lipstick, Powder and Paint #3

One of the greatest things to come out of my adventures with Miss Wong was meeting Andrew Pentecost. Andrew is an amazing makeup artist who was working for MAC at that time. He always did Suzy’s makeup in the early days, and he also started doing the makeup for all the women I shot portraits of. I, too, have learned much about the art of painting one’s face from him.

As time went on, we very quickly discovered a very deep connection and started to refer to ourselves as mother and son. I had played this little game before, but this time it felt (and still feels) real.

Andrew and Arnold would sometimes get in drag together, just to go out and have fun. Sort of like two girlfriends getting ready for a night on the town. The greatest fun I had was being invited to these “play dress up” sessions. To be allowed, and welcomed, to photograph. Since they usually weren’t ready to go out until very late, and I had spent a lot of energy on the photos, I rarely went out with them. I suspect the getting ready was more fun anyway. These two pictures are from one of those nights. Andrew was always so sure of his makeup. He only does drag for sport…occasionally performing on stage, but mostly just for the fun of it. His drag persona is Angel Electra. When he is Angel, his personality changes. He becomes this really fun girl, just a little bad around the edges. He does a lotĀ of punk personas for the stage. One night last summer Angel was performing at Play. Fred decided to go with me and he loved it. He tipped Andrew. The next day Andrew texted me and said, “It’s one thing when your Mom gets you. It’s even greater when your Dad does.” Fred and I were recent visitors via FaceTime at the wedding of Andrew and his partner Kyle, in San Francisco.

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Lipstick, Powder, and Paint #1

This project tells a very personal story about a wonderful time in my life. While I have had a history of loving drag, dating back to the 1970’s, I had grown somewhat out of touch with that world until my dear friend, Arnold Myint, decided to try his hand at creating Suzy Wong. Then it got real fun, real fast. Since Arnold never does anything half-way, Suzy went on the road a lot, competed in pageants, took to the stage. This was not some guy just thinking about a good look for Halloween. This was a jeans-wearing dude on one day and a glamorous diva the next. I was so lucky to be part of Arnold’s world, because he brought me totally in, and it was such fun to photograph. This is a well-documented chapter of my life. I used to think the photos were about the subjects, but I have come to realize that the photos are, in fact, about me.

This one was taken when Arnold was competing in a pageant. I had gone along as his photographer, gal-pal, the person who was willing to give advise and stay up all night, the person who was able to help document this time for him as well as for me. I love this photo. I love the part of female impersonating that involves the real theatre of it all. Arnold loves to make up and wear sparkly things.