Several days later, I was still alive and my hand hadn’t turned black, rotted and fallen off – so I felt a bit better. In betwixt all of my shenanigans, mostly just being a pissy stripper, I was still dancing with a small local company. It just always made me feel good to come full circle back to my roots as a “real” dancer: I refocused. Sometimes, the thought of my future scared the hell out of me. Truth be told, it still does. But I have a much more thorough understanding of my purpose in this life. I was born to write: this I know. All of these things that have happen to me (I’ve only scratched the surface thus far – don’t stress, you’ll see soon enough) were put into my path for a reason and the only way I’ve found to get through the tough times is to focus on my craft. At the time, my craft involved two things: dancing (ballet, jazz, etc.) and make-up. I. Love. Make-up. I don’t wear it as much now, but I still love it. When I’m in the mood, I can make some face – it’s what originally brought me to Atlanta.
But in Tampa, I was doing both. While I was preparing to restart my dance group that I had going in Gainesville, I started doing makeup on the side for a very talented photographer. At that point, I had been doing makeup professionally for several years. Like many things in my life, I was self-taught out of necessity. Throughout college, I directed fashion shows for a lingerie boutique and our shows were becoming the talk of the town and eventually neighboring towns. Classy, sophisticated and naughty all at the same time. People loved it. Because I was such a perfectionist, if someone worked for me and wasn’t performing up to par, I’d rather fail at doing it myself over watching someone fuck up an event that I slaved for months over trying to make perfect. I was a dj for a hot minute because I was tired of my specially selected music getting screwed up, which ultimately screwed up choreography, timings and pretty much just pissed me off. Do it the way I asked you to do it. Period.
And that’s exactly how I got into makeup. Thank goodness I had such a supportive fiancée at the time. She stood by me 200% when it came to my flights of fancy: dj, makeup, dance, marketing…whatever, just go for it. Not only was she emotionally supportive, but she financially backed me – buying dj equipment, makeup essentials, lesson books, etc. If I needed it, she got it for me.
The salon we hired to do hair and makeup for all of our models had turned into real pains in my ass. That I could deal with. What I wouldn’t tolerate is them disrespecting my models. I fired the salon. Mind you, they were also the preferred salon of my boss, so when she questioned the logic behind my decision, I explained what they said and did to two of our models during their consultations. I really had no filter when it came to business matters at the time, so I was always boldly honest, no matter who was listening. And that included my boss. Her response? Okay, I trust you. So now what are you going to do? The show is in three days.
I took a crash course in hair styling and makeup applications. If you can’t find someone to do it the way you want them to do it, do it yourself.
Needless to say, there were more compliments from the crowd after that show than ever before. I discovered a hidden talent and I grew quite fond of it. It was quite an endeavor, not only to finish hair and makeup for ten or more models by myself, but also to make sure the location was prepped, all clothing, shoes, accessories, music — everything — was ready to go.
My name was on everyone’s lips as the final say in what happen in each and every show, each and every second. It was exhilarating. The stuff you see in Victoria’s Secret shows now, I was doing them 15 years ago. Not on such a grand scale, of course, but still fabulous. Models, choreographed dancers, even fire shows…amazing for a little boutique out of Gainesville. And word was quickly spreading. People wanted our shows and, most importantly, they wanted our products.
So it was only natural that a friend would recommend me to a photographer in need of a makeup artist in Tampa. I was beyond excited. The two photos are from my portfolio via D. Rowley Photography. He’s amazing. Through him, I was able to have my work published in two magazines, a print marketing campaign for an international beer distributor (think ‘Blue Circle’) and on the ‘almost eve’ of my departure to Atlanta, a gig as the in-house makeup artist for a local talent agency. They really liked my work. But I’m getting ahead of myself —
Before all that, I was focusing on establishing my dance group once again. You’d think it’d be a little easier in Tampa, with it being bigger and crawling with eager wannabe performance artists. Um, not so much.
I was able to get on the ticket for a charity event at a local lesbian bar – go figure, I know right? Anyway, I got my group in the lineup even before the group existed. But I was asked if I wanted the spot and, of course, I jumped on it. The next step was to actually get dancers who were worth their salt into a studio and get to work. Oh yeah, and not pay them. Yet. It was going to take some convincing: several rehearsals, costume expenses and no pay. I knew right away that I was not going to get any strippers to do it. It was time to make some friends elsewhere.