A Star is Born


Every once in a blue moon, a model comes along who is more than beautiful; she is iconic, and everyone in our industry sees instantly sees it.

I’ll never forget the moment. My friend Dov and I were in the location van, chatting with the editor, waiting for the model.

…Braziliandidn’t speak much Englishamazing bodyjust arrived in New York… first shoot…

Finally, the van door opened, and a young model walked in. As she was introducing herself to the editor, Dov whispered in my ear.

“We won’t get a second chance with this one, Alison, so let’s give it all we’ve got.” 

Kate Sullivan had just given me a beautiful black-red lipstick and red shadow duo (aptly named “Rio”) from Francois Nars’ new cosmetics line a few days before. We were shooting on the streets of Atlantic City, which was still quite run down at the time, and the clothing was what I would call “Thift Store Chic”. When it came time for me to do the makeup, I closed my eyes for a second, channeled Edward Hopper, and went for  it. And got it.

The story was entitled “She’s Leaving Home” — and shortly thereafter the model now known around the globe as Gisele arrived.

#ithappenedtome #gisele #firstshoot #supermodel

14 Billion and Counting…

If there was ever a time that I missed an opportunity to hand someone my business card and ask for a job, this was it. 

I was working in the makeup room of one of the news channels and this businessman came in for makeup. There was nothing out of the ordinary about him — blue suit, very polite, needed a haircut — and we had a lovely conversation while I got him ready. His eyebrows we a bit unruly, so before I sent him off I got out my scissors and gave them a nice trim. “Oh, thank you!” he exclaimed. “My wife just hates when my eyebrows get too long, but its so hard for me to get to the barber some days. Wish I had someone like you around!” I said it was my pleasure to be of service to both his eyebrows and his marriage, and wished him a good show. 

Later, well after my guest was gone, I was called to set to touch up the host. As I was standing off stage waiting for my opportunity to go in, I spotted a magazine with my guest’s picture on the cover. The lighting was dim, so I picked it up to read the headline: “Meet So-and-So…He Made 14 Billion Last Year in Oil…and He’s Just Getting Started!”


#lifeofamakeupartist #ithappenedtome #billionares #humor #funny #inmychair #missedopportunities 

Westward, Ho! 

Many years ago, when I was assisting Bobbi Brown, we were going to a photoshoot at a photographer’s apartment. The address was on a street in the West Village in the 600’s, which if you know your way around Manhattan is REALLY far west. So we parked the car around 10th Avenue and started walking. And we kept walking…and walking…and walking. Finally, we found the building, which was literally the last building on the block, on the corner of the West Side Highway. 

Bobbi looked up at the building, then west across the Hudson River. “Funny,” she remarked dryly. “She [the photographer] always said that she wanted to move out to New Jersey…” 

#lifeofamakeupartist #nystories #humor #fashion #beauty #photographers #cityliving #newjersey 

Extreme Vanity

Even though I have been a professional makeup artist for 25+ years, I am bare-faced most days. My rational is a) I’m not the person being photographed/going on TV, and b) should the occasion arise that I need to get my glam on, I always have about 30lbs. of makeup within arm’s reach. 
Well, one afternoon while I was working I got an invite to a fabulous dinner party that evening. I had several models that day and was so busy that I had TOTALLY lost track time. It wasn’t until I was on the subway going home that I realized that I would only have enough time to drop my bags & change before I had to leave again. So, I opened my kit, pulled out a few things, and began to do my makeup. 
There was a young guy, about 18 or 19, sitting a few seats away, and his eyes nearly popped out of his head. “Girl!” he said in disbelief, “Is that ALL your makeup?!” Not wanting to miss this golden opportunity to have a little fun after a long day, I paused for a moment to gather my thoughts, then looked up and replied with a perfectly straight face, “Why yes! I’m very vain.” and then proceeded to continue getting ready…

#lifeofamakeupartist #truestory #humor #funny #nycsubway #vanity #makeup #sarcasm #fun 

The Rock Star

There was this time I was called to do a magazine shoot with a famous rock band. Obviously, who ever booked this shoot knew nothing about working with musicians and scheduled the call time for 9am. Much to my surprise, the band showed up pretty much on time. Not so surprising was that they were all slightly hungover and obviously hadn’t slept the night before. So once everyone had a cup of strong coffee in hand I busted out my industrial strength concealer, a matte bronzer and got to work. Last in my chair was the lead singer, who was in far better shape than his band mates. As he sat down he motioned for me to lean in, as if he wanted to tell me a secret. 

“Love,” he whispered to me in a sweet British accent, “can you do me a favor?“

“Sure,” I replied, returning the whisper. “What do you need?”

“Do you think you could make me look kind of pale & sickly? I think that look is REALLY cool.”

I smiled & quietly assured him that was no problem, and proceeded to make him look like a hard living, bad-ass Rock Star, as requested.

“Our secret, ok?” he said with a wink as he got up to head to set. “Of course,” I said with a smile. “That’s my job.”

#lifeofamakeupartist #truestory #humor #rockstar #bts #funnystory #nycmakeupartist #promakeupartist #promua #musicians #rock

The Insider Secret

Many moons ago, when I was the National Makeup Artist for Bobbi Brown Cosmetics, I did a Personal Appearance event at Neiman Marcus in Dallas. One of my customers was a real Southern Belle type, and I was explaining to her that she could apply her foundation with either her fingers, or a sponge, when she stopped me mid sentence.
“Now sugar,” she purred, “I know you are Bobbi’s right hand. Tell me – what’s the secret?”

“Um, what secret?” I replied, confused.

She lowered her chin & looked me dead-square in the eye. “Whether I’m supposed to use a sponge or my fingers!” she faux-whispered back.

“Oh! There’s no secret ma’am.” I assured her. “Either is fine!”

“Nooooooo!” she insisted. “What’s the secret! I know there is a secret! What does Bobbi use on the models?”

“Well, sometimes she uses her fingers and sometimes she uses a sponge. Whatever works best for you is fine,” I explained. 

Ms. Steel Magnolias was having absolutely none of this rational explanation nonsense, and after quite a bit of back-and-forth it eventually dawned on me that if I wanted to make my point I needed to seriously up the drama quotient on my delivery.

“Ma’am,” I said, being as serious as possible, “do you have a dog?”

“Well, yes! Yes I do!” she excitedly replied.

“Well look,” I told her (I was quite exasperated at this point), “I don’t care if you get your dog to lick your foundation and then lick your face. If that’s the application method that works best for you, then it’s ok in my book!”

That did the trick. 

#insidersecret #humor #promakeupartistsecrets #dallas 


Oh, the Places I Go! 

It’s overcast and drizzling and the address on the call sheet is in a nondescript Queens neighborhood. There are no signs anywhere, but then I notice orange cones & production trucks, so I know I am close. My instructions are to go to holding. I see a PA and ask him how to get there, praying the fact that I’m lugging a 20lb. makeup kit will be evidence enough to send me in the right direction. His instructions to me are as follows:
“See that large vacant building? Make a left there and walk all the way down the block. When you get to the end, you’ll see this alleyway on the right. Walk to the end of the alleyway and you’ll find yourself behind a bunch of industrial buildings. It’s somewhere back there.” 

So I set off, fairly certain that there was not a Mafia hit on me, but I was beginning to wonder. I went down the block, through the alleyway, and found the courtyard of a decrepit industrial complex. Not a soul in sight. Then I saw a food truck parked by the side of a building. Relieved, I walked through the nearest door, where I found several background actors sitting at folding tables having their eggs & coffee. Having landed, I set my kit down & got breakfast. 

The Not-So-Cosmopolitan Alison


The first time I ever had a Cosmopolitan I was the lead makeup artist at a fashion show.  Unfortunately, no one warned me that a Cosmopolitan is essentially a Martini in disguise, so six or seven of these delicious drinks later, I was proclaiming with great drunken enthusiasm that the show was an absolute “Tour de Force”  for the client.

Woke up the next day with a headache from Hell and this embarrassing, indelible memory.  Lesson learned – if I don’t know exactly what it is that I am drinking, I don’t drink it on the job.

Piggy Pink


Once when I was working on a series of TV commercials, the First AD came to me very concerned.

“We thought we had booked an all-pink pig for this shot, but when it arrived this morning it had brown spots. The Director also noticed that it has these dark lines under its eyes. Can you fix this?”

Attempting not to burst into laughter & pee in my pants, I replied as professionally as possible.

“Well, I don’t normally keep foundation for animals in my kit, but I’ll call Alcone Makeup Supply & have them send me something appropriate for a pig.  No problem, I’ll handle it.”

Somehow I made it through the phone call describing this ridiculous request to the guy at Alcone, who also handled the situation with tremendous professionalism.  He even gave me some suggestions as to how I might go about applying makeup to a 600 lb. pig.  I distinctly remember him asking if I thought the pig was friendly, “because a 600 lb pig might be dangerous…have you ever worked on a pig before?”

Much to my dismay, I never did get to work on the 600 lb. pig.  Turns out the brown spots were just mud (he subsequently got a bath), & the animal trainer had brought her own piggy pink makeup for the pig’s under eye circles, which were caused by its tears. But I have kept the 2 pots of pink RCMA foundation Alcone sent over that day, for the next time I am asked to make up a pig…because you can never be too prepared!