Thursday, May 31, 2012

My first paid Zombie gig

Voodoo Zombie
I'm very excited to report that I actually made money from my costumes!  For some time my friends have been pushing me to start making and selling costumes and accessories. Well I didn't do that, but I did get hired to dress as a zombie for a live promotion in New York City!
I received a call from a casting company looking for zombies who own their own costumes to promote a new zombie mobile game app. I am over qualified in that department. I responded with "Here are your choices: Street clothes, Beetlejuice style dress, Marie Antionette dress, Street Peasant dress." In fact I have a whole section of my closet dedicated to boxes and bags labeled "ZOMBIE". But I digress, the point of this post is I was hired to be a ambling zombie on the streets of New York City.
The day of the event, I got up nice and early for my 7:30am call time in Soho. As I walked in the door I was surprised to see my Kostume Kult friends Rocket, Tom and Mercury John were there as well. I guess I shouldn't have really been THAT surprised. If a call for costumes goes out, we are gonna hear about it. Anyway our staging location was set up in the offices of OMGPOP. They are the company behind a ton of mobile games including a personal favorite of mine, Draw Something. Needless to say being a fairly new technology company their office was super cool. It was clear that they let their employees express themselves at work to aid the creative process. Some of the earlier call time zombies were done with makeup and were practicing their zombie shuffle and groan around the office. After helping myself to some coffee and danish, it was my turn in the makeup chair. A lovely makeup artist who works at Abracadabra during the Halloween season did a fabulous job making me utterly undead. She did a great job with just a few simple sponges, making it look as if I had totally been feasting on brains. I watched her every move carefully so I could try some of her techniques at the next zombie event. TIP: Ripping a sponge makes a great tool for textures. That is how she did the blood around my mouth. After makeup it was time to zombie up my hair. Some costume hairspray in white and green with a generous amount of teasing had me looking like Rob Zombie's girlfriend in no time. I loved it. I pinned my top hat on and after some instructions from our director we were ready to go.
Before the rain flattened my hair.
Unfortunately something that no event planner can organize is the weather. Almost as soon as the zombies were ready to move, the skies didn't want to cooperate. We had just finished shooting some group shots and footage of us pouring out of the subways when the clouds rumbled and really let loose. Zombies are usually impervious to weather conditions but this was ridiculous. Buckets of rain came down and we were forced to seek shelter in the Astor Place subway stop. Undeterred we simply scared any people getting on or off the subway there. We groaned, shuffled and passed out stickers and free "blood" pops (actually a very delicious hibiscus and mint popsicle) to the best of our ability but New Yorkers are pretty impatient when its raining a most wanted very little to do with a horde of zombies slowing down their power rain walking. The zombies powered through and returned to our start location completely soaked with zombie makeup running painfully into our eyes. Then came the fun part of riding home on the 7 train by myself looking like an insane person. Not my first or last time in this particular situation.
Lastly little more about the zombie game. Its from Zynga (Words with Friends, Farmville) and its called Zombie Swipeout. As far as I can tell, it is similar to Fruit Ninja but with Zombies and weapons. Pretty cool. Check out the promo video below.

Tuesday, May 22, 2012

Hauntcon 2012 Recap

Kostume Girl's trip to HAuNTcon in Monroeville, PA in May was terrific. I returned to NYC triumphant with a suitcase STUFFED (I had to sit on it in order to zip it closed) full of new makeup, catalogs and oddities. The Halloween fans I met were enthusiastic, creative and just super nice.
Halloween Booty from the first day of Hauntcon
Meeting the people behind the haunts was great. For so many people out there running a haunt is a family business. They work incredibly hard during the Halloween season to scare as many people as they possibly can. I met nice guys from Austin, TX who run a non profit haunt to raise money for breast cancer research called Scare for a Cure. Their attraction is described as "Austin's only extreme, full contact, interactive haunted house adventure—guaranteed to chill you to the depths of your soul!".  You can volunteer your time and scaring skills for a great cause there.

The couple that collects roadkill together...
For something completely different, I met a couple who reside in the curiosity exhibit known as Trundle Manor. In the town of Swissvale, PA you will find a house filled to the brim with their collection of formaldehyde preserved critters in jars, antique weaponry and more taxidermy than is probably legal. So if you are a little bit steampunk and a little bit rock and roll, this place is right up your alley. Here's a fun fact: All of the animals featured at Trundle Manor died of natural causes, well as natural as roadkill can be.
I knew Halloween is a huge industry but I had no clue the vast arrays of technical equipment and scare products out there.  Take for instance companies like  Frightprops and Scare Products. They sell huge animated spiders, motion floors, air blasters and latex props that can be installed in your haunt to ramp up the screams. I'm a notorious wuss when it comes to haunted houses. Being in the dark with the very real possibility of something jumping out to scare me around every corner makes my heart rate increase to dangerous levels. When I tried explaining to the people I met that not only do I not run a haunted venue but in general I do not visit them, there was a lot of laughing at me, not with me. Its ok though I love Halloween for the spectacle and the costumes. I know scary business comes with it too so I'm working on embracing the holiday completely and facing my fears head on!

RJ Haddy turns good looking Martin into
Creepy Ghoul But Still Kind of Good Looking Martin.

One of my goals while at Hauntcon was to learn as much as I possibly could about airbrush body paint. As part of a plan to up my kostume game, I've been entertaining the idea of purchasing my own airbrush system. It turns out this was the perfect event to do just that.  I attended a hands on workshop taught by makeup artist RJ Haddy, best known from the reality TV show Face Off. With only an hour to do so, he showed us the basics on how to apply a foam latex appliance and blend it into the skin fairly seamlessly with airbrush techniques. For most haunts, speed is the main concern since you are trying to prepare a multitude of actors or volunteer haunters for your event. An airbrush can really help facilitate a speedy application of all sorts of scary OR SEXY looks. Personally I cannot wait to try out my new airbrush set for Mermaid Day parade. No more painting my entire body with a sponge for 2 hours. No wonder I'm always late to the parade! 

Sexy leopard spots sealed the deal
on my airbrush purchase!
I also attended a seminar on airbrush basics taught by Constance Hall. She and her father Cleve Hall are the stars of a new show on the SyFy channel called Monster Man. Constance showed us basic shading techniques including how to add fine line veins to the face and how to use lace to make interesting textures with your airbrush. She also went over what can go wrong when you are airbrushing and how to troubleshoot. It was very inspiring and I'm sure in no time I will be bribing my friends to let me practice on them!

The final straw that really made me believe I had to have an airbrush was when one of the guys from Evil Twin FX painted sexy leopard spots on me. I was in love. Imagine doing that to your whole body! Shortly after, I bought an airbrush from the knowledgable guy at the Paasche booth based on the fact that all the pros there seemed to be using his airbrushes for their demos. He patiently showed me how to put it together and what never to clean it with. Big thanks to Chuck! Hopefully you have started me off on a path to a new way for me to elevate the caliber of my costumes. 

Leaving the trade show on Saturday it was time to wash off my day makeup and get ready to put on my zombie makeup. The highlight of Hauntcon was that night, The Dawn of the Dead Costume Ball! Time for all the attendees to show off their costume and make up skills. They did not disappoint!

How to freak out your roommate.
For the event I made a special zombie dress from muslin. I wanted a fabric that would really soak up the blood and show it off. Also it was super cheap! I spent $12 for 4 yards of 65" muslin at 21st Century Fabrics (263 West 37th Street between 7th and 8th Aves). I used a pilgrim dress pattern from Simplicity 3723. Then I used Rid Crimson dye and black and red craft paint to bloody up the dress. Its weird sewing a complete dress just to tear it up again. I suggest doing the ripping of the dress with a serrated knife stabbing holes at random spots, especially along the hems. Be careful to do a little tear at a time, the dress still has to fit on your body.
After you are happy with your now damaged garment, hang it on a hanger with a garbage bag inside of it and hang it the bathtub or shower. The garbage bag prevents the paint and dye from bleeding through to the back of the garment. You want the majority of the "blood" on the front since you are a zombie gorging on brains all day. Start by dripping the paint from the top down. If you want, splash a small amount of water to help it drip down the dress. Use gravity to your advantage and don't forget to do this in the bathtub! Once you have added enough blood, let it dry and clean the bathtub right away. The dye does stain and you don't want to end up scrubbing grout for hours.  Once your garment has dried, try crunching it up in a ball and stepping on it a bit to add some wrinkles and to loosen up the painted part as it can get a little stiff once it has completely dried. 

Here is my finished zombie dress and make up. I did the make up using the same techniques as in my Zombie Make up tutorial but I really laid it on thick! I ended up bustling the dress a bit cause people were stepping on it at the dance. This is probably my new favorite wig. I bought it at a Halloween sample sale. It's similar to my real hair but thicker and with dramatic bangs.

Thank you for the sweet pic, Doreena!

Do NOT come and play with them!
Ok so back to the costume ball... There were LOT of really scary zombies there including some zombie construction workers, zombie rednecks, zombie lumberjacks, zombie doctors, and some zombie clowns that will forever haunt my nightmares. Food and free beer was sponsored by Froggy's fog company and then there was dancing into the night. Everyone knows zombies love to dance. Check out a more of my photos

As I said in the beginning of this post everyone at Hauntcon was so friendly. At the ball I got the chance to chat with two lovely girls from Las Vegas named Doreena and Tabitha. Their twin zombie girls costumes were great. Love the wigs and those matching baby dolls! These ladies have been working on a Halloween photo book for the past year documenting the many Vegas Halloween events and the people at them. They were obviously VERY busy girls for the month of October. Look for their book Halloween In Vegas Coming Soon!

I will be doing some more posts about the cool people and products I discovered at HauntCon, especially as Halloween draws closer and closer. We are past the half way point people!

Kostume Girl

PS. Follow me on Twitter @Kostumegirl