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Halloween Tale–Makeup In The Lemp Mansion

I thought it would be fun for October (and Friday the 13th) to tell a story about a makeup job I did in a famously haunted building, The Lemp Mansion.

When I had come home from work that day, I wrote it all out so I would not forget it.  I never thought I’d have a Lemp Mansion story of my own, but here we are.

This is not a work of fiction. 

On Monday, October 17, 2016, I was doing makeup for a photo shoot at the Lemp Mansion. The photographers, the keyholder, and I arrived before dawn. There was no one in the mansion itself except for a guest in the bed and breakfast. The person with the key was one of the models, a friend of the owner who was getting an excellent favor granted. Though it was dark and empty, nothing spooky was going on whatsoever. We went up to the second floor and the two photographers left me to begin the model while they went to the studio to get more gear.

I quickly forgot about my location and set to my task. The room gradually filled with sunlight to help along the ring light and the overhead pendant lights. There were two of these pendant lights, dangling from chains under gorgeous ceiling medallions about 8 feet apart. With the march of time/progress over the decades, Lemp is now overlooking Highway 55, so while we heard a lot of morning white noise, like traffic and big trucks barrelling down the highway, it was nothing unusual.

An assistant and another model showed up, then the photographers, another model, and the office folk. Soon after the office folk, the downstairs dining room opened for lunch. It was broad, sunny daylight and the building was bustling with life. I was barreling to the conclusion of the models, at which time I was free to go home.

The middle model asked me what I knew of the history of the place. I’m a bit of a paranormal fangirl, though I told her I didn’t KNOW much for sure, other than the publicized suicides. I mentioned there was allegedly an illegitimate son who was born with some sort of impairment. Due to the practices of the day, unfortunately, he didn’t get proper care and instead was allegedly stowed away in the attic. I told her I had heard the story on the radio a few times before, but wasn’t sure what details were true and what were fanciful. I said he had a rather rude nickname that it was rumored he hated but I told her if he had hated it in life, I didn’t want to perpetuate it by saying it out loud. We sort of went about our business after that.

The photographer thoughtfully bought the group lunch between 12:30 and 1. I was almost done with my last model, too warm to eat, and pretty ready to go after being on my feet that long, so I declined. I figured if I worked through lunch, I could leave sooner. The photographers, assistant, and two models were eating at the table under the far pendant lamp, which was 8 feet from where I was standing under the other lamp, doing the face of the last model.

The model I spoke to about the son in the attic asked the model who let us in about him. She said the owners had told her it wasn’t real, it was just a story made up to titillate, and that he wasn’t one of the official spirits that were in the place. She also used the name he hated, “Monkey Boy,” as she dismissed his existence.

After a few minutes, I heard a continuous noise–really only noticed it in the background because I was focused on my job. It sounded like a large piece of machinery with a busted motor mount—a loud, metal rattling. I ignored it, figuring it to be a truck outside at a loading dock or something. It went on, though, and right about the time I was thinking, “Damn, that truck is friggin’ CLOSE!” one of the models exclaimed. I looked up and the pendant over my head was shaking hard, like someone above it was aggressively yanking on the cord/chain above it. It didn’t stop when we noticed it, either.

My model, the photographers, and another model whipped out the cell phones to record it. We were trying to figure out a practical reason for what made it shake (Actual conversation: “Can they land helicopters on the roof of the Lemp?” “No, they can’t land helicopters on the roof here.”) and chatting rather loudly over the noise. One of the models pointed out that nothing else in the room was shaking—no photos, furniture, nor even the other lamp. The one over my head finally stopped moving.

That was all rather interesting enough, but out of the four videos recorded, one showed no movement at all and one showed only the tiniest bit of sway (though you hear us talking super loud about how the lamp was moving, including the helicopter conversation). One disappeared off the person’s phone entirely. I never did get a chance to check in with the fourth model to know what her video looked like.

7 witnesses, broad daylight.

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Trendy Trending Trends

People frequently ask me what I think about various Insta/YouTube trends. This week’s request for the Hot Take™ is the squiggle brows, but there have been many in the past and will be many more to come. Basically, here is how I see such things–

1) If it is merely for clickbait, borne of the desperation of influencers to fill space/attempt to engineer the Next Big Thing (because there is nothing new under the sun), or dangerous in either ingredient or technique, I‘m probably rolling my eyes and giving a hard pass. Putting beauty blenders in condoms, using (insert object here) for random makeup application, giving a new name to an existing technique (ahem, strobing), using flour for powder, using random objects to try and create an eye wing, crushing oreos into mascara–all these things fall under that umbrella of “Baby, NO.”

2) If it is a look that is artistic, expressive, fun, creepy, etc. (squiggle brows, blue lips, glitter blush, metallic highlighter, unicorn looks, fx makeup, faded/feathered goth lips, etc), I’m pretty much in the camp of, “do your thing.” I’m all in for makeup as art and self-expression. Do it up, buttercup. If they are staring, you probably did it right.

3) If it is something you can’t do yourself but you’re going to side-eye and harangue your poor makeup artist if they don’t do it “JUST LIKE (insert name here) DOES ON THEIR CHANNEL!” then, again, baby no. Beauty makeup artists know their craft and know what beauty belongs in front of a backdrop/ring light in controlled positions vs. what is going to make you look beautiful when it moves. Furthermore, if you’re doing this nonsense in a store, double shame on you. Retail artists are there to sell makeup and bringing in your squiggle brows to waste 30 minutes of their Saturday when they have sales goals is just rude. If you want to squiggle, sugar, squiggle all day long…but leave the professionals and the sales people alone.

That’s pretty much that.

You Heard It Here First: Highlight Stacking

Okay, friends. I’ve just coined the term “highlight stacking” and yes, the technique (which is not as new as this afternoon’s term coinage) is just as extra as it sounds. Also, according to Instagram, I’m the first one that has hashtagged it, so if you hear/read it, you’ll know it came from me!

What You Water Will Grow

I’ll never get over how beauty brands treat “influencers” so much better than their own employees.

Non-Touring? Give Me A Non-Break.

Don’t buy into the nonsense of new buzzwords to describe things that have been around forever. You know what “non-touring” is? Basic natural coverage foundation with a touch of highlighter, i.e. the stuff about 60% of my clients have been doing for years…and also what the good MUAs have been trying to tell people was best for their daily routine for the past year when they’ve been insisting, “but they used three contour products on Instagram!”

Next Level That Eye Game

Anyone who has been in my orbit while I have talked about makeup has surely heard me passionately extol the virtues of shadow primer. Though there are a whole range of high end primers that work quite well (Too Faced Shadow Insurance, Urban Decay Primer Potion, etc.), this is one of those cases where a drugstore/bargain buy can actually keep up with the big girls. Nyx’s Proof It eye shadow primer holds its own with all my former department store favorites for boosting the pigment and wear of your powder eye shadows. It is tough to beat that level of performance for $6.99 a tube at Ulta…and it is often buy one get one 50% off there, too (plus Ulta always has a $3.50 off $10 or $15 coupon to stack).
If you do not regularly use–or have never used–a shadow primer with your eye shadows, you are depriving yourself and your shadows peak performance and wear. Believe me now and thank me later.

Here’s The Thing

In that couple hours leading up to a show, in the venue, I’m the nervous band manager.  I wonder, “Is anyone going to be here tonight?  Will our people show up?  Will the bar’s regulars show up?  Does this bar even have any regulars? Is the bar going to make any money?  Will we have enough bodies in the room to be asked back?”  I fret, posting my last bits of promotion (really, barely veiled pleas) on my social media.

In that couple hours leading up to a show, in the venue, my social anxiety is ramped up to a million.  I don’t have a role during this time, not really, not after we confirm whether or not the band gets a comp tab and the bar manager for the night lets me know whatever it is I need to know.  I often sit there by myself, painfully aware there is not much for me to do but watch the sound person and the band get set.  Slouching into myself, I feel particularly self-conscious sitting there because…

In that couple hours leading up to a show, in the venue, I’m 41, fat, overdressed at least from the waist down, and I always have on a ton of makeup and glitter.  It doesn’t seem to matter which room we are playing; I look out of place.  When I have to go to the bathroom or when I walk through the venue, I imagine I can feel the eyes of the patrons and staff alike on me, though it might just be my social anxiety kicking up again.

In the last 30 minutes leading up to a show, in the venue, I’ve changed into the rest of my outfit, always topped by giant feather pigtails and a bright lip color.  This time I know there are eyes on me Sometimes they are curious, other times they are rolling.  “Who the hell is that and who does she think she is?”

Up to the very last minute leading up to a show, in the venue, I feel it all–I feel anxious, I feel fat, I feel old, and I feel conspicuous.

HOWEVER

After soundcheck, when it is time to do this for real, I look out into the venue and I think, “Just you wait, motherfuckers.”  I’m energized, I’m gorgeous, and I AM conspicuous because damn right I am.

Because when that show starts, that stage is mine.  This band?  It is mine.  This microphone?  Sure as fuck is mine…and you’re about to find out why.