The Gender-Bender, the Soup, and the Blur of a Weekend

As if my life weren’t crazy enough, this story has been unfolding since Wednesday.

I was at work when my phone rang. Since the area code was local, I answered. (when you have a business that’s listed on the internet, telemarketers have a tendency to swarm like vultures, so I just let most calls from out-of-state area codes go to voice mail.) I’m currently running a prom special, so I answered. It was a guy.

The conversation started out a little slow. He asked if I did makeup in a salon. I told him I was a freelancer and did mostly television makeup. He asked if I did anything more glamorous. I told him about the prom special and asked if it was for his wife or daughter. He told me he would be the client. *awkward pause* “Is it Pride already?” *nervous laughter* I haven’t done drag makeup in a long time.

“I’m not gay. It’s for a party,” he said. We talked a little while longer, agreed on a time and he texted me his address. I still had no idea what this was for. I just hoped this wasn’t his brand of kink that he was looking to indulge. (The job was on a Friday. I’m usually exhausted by the end of the week and have little patience for weirdness, perverts, or anything more than the job I’m hired to do.)

Because I’m female and always take the requisite safety precautions, I looked up the address, found his last name and within seconds had gone through his Facebook profile. He was attractive, a programmer AND a musician… SERIOUSLY? Regardless, I texted the address to 2 of my close girlfriends and the guy I would be working with on a shot for MSNBC first thing in the morning. People knew exactly where I was and what I’d be doing. I felt safe.

When I arrived, I was greeted by 2 of the tiniest chihuahuas I’ve ever seen. He was running around nervously, brushing his teeth, going from room to room. I think he’d started rethinking the whole gender transformation thing, but it was too late. I was there unpacking my large, unwieldy girl makeup kit. He was committed.

I got to work at his kitchen table in the worst light imaginable. I knew he was straight because he still had Christmas cocktail napkins out. A gay man would have tossed those in January. And there was also no better lighting in his house. The lighting in the guest bathroom was even worse. But still, we persisted. I made him into his twin sister Julie. His friends got a kick out of that. He said they called him Julie all night. (I’m not sure if I’m charmed or freaked out a little by this, but I’ll continue my story.)

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His outfit was all the sequins, leopard print and gold lamé I could handle… and in heels he looked 7 feet tall. I really should have gotten a full-length photo, but hindsight is 20/20. He was the straightest, manliest drag queen I’d ever seen. I was thinking at this point that he’d lost a bet.

As it turned out, he had 2 close girlfriends who watched RuPaul’s drag race and they’d dared him to do it. Being someone who doesn’t back down from a challenge, he embraced it head on… and hired me. Strange how these things work out.

We had a drink together, talked a while, then he asked what I was doing the next night. I paused for a second, thought about how much fun I was having talking to him and how effortless the conversation was… then accepted.

So basically, this was my weekend.
(He knows more about writing code and music theory than I do which makes me want to both punch him in the face and hang on to him at the same time. I think I’ll live.)

this weekend

And Sunday I went with my friend Erin to see Bowling for Soup. I’ve always loved them because as you know… I’m a sucker for a clever lyric and a band who has a sense of humor about themselves.

The opening bands were like sandpaper on my eardrums, but BFS made my evening. Erin and I were (of course) right up front and I took a ridiculous amount of Facebook live footage. (to that point, I realized hardly anyone is up that late on a Sunday and I probably shouldn’t be either.)

There was a child on his Dad’s shoulders the entire concert 3rd row center. They endured both opening bands to hold that spot and had earphones to protect his ears. It was DARLING! And Jaret took notice. Here are a few photos of the child and Jaret giving him picks from all guitarists, a drum stick and a set list autographed by all members.

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Another Epic weekend…. Check!

The makeup artist who makes politicians camera-ready

Just in case you were wondering what I do for a living, here’s a look behind the curtain. I’ve written an article for Bottle Magazine and I couldn’t be happier about the way it turned out. 🙂

bottle magazine

I’ve led a double life for as long as I can remember: one foot planted firmly in what my parents like to call “the real world” and one foot out the door toward more creative pursuits. Today, I write code for the North Carolina Department of Transportation while holding down a successful side- hustle as a TV makeup artist. When you love something enough, you learn how to make it work for you. I’m proof of that.

I started my business in 1999 when I worked part-time for a small talent agency. Eventually, I took a position as an adjunct professor, teaching special effects makeup for a film & television production program. The work was sporadic as I built my portfolio. And then one day, the call came.

Elizabeth and John Edwards

CNBC asked me to do makeup for a show called “Pros & Cons.” The call came on a…

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Tiny Little Feminist

I think before I could walk, my parents set me in front of the TV, where I grew up watching a steady diet of the “Dick Van Dyke Show”, “Sonny & Cher”, “The Mary Tyler Moore Show”, “That Girl” and “The Carol Burnett Show”. My childhood was spent thinking that I would grow up to be a conglomeration of Mary Tyler Moore, Marlo Thomas, Dinah Shore and Doris Day. These women were entertainment pioneers of that time, but I had no idea. I just knew that was what I was going to be someday.

My Mom is just about as far from a feminist as you can get. She had no idea what a glass ceiling was. She just wanted to be happy. She married the handsome fireman who all her girlfriends talked about, and to this day has no idea how beautiful she is or how attractive she looked in a bathing suit. She went to ECU and worked for the Department of Agriculture and US Geological Survey because she liked the work and her co-workers. She still tells stories about them… And she still holds a grudge because at lunch one day that damned pigeon pooped on the shoulder of her favorite yellow suit, making it unwearable ever again.

Sidebar: In Downtown Raleigh, it was customary for people who worked in the area to walk around Fayetteville Street and the Capital building during their lunch breaks. There was a man who sold peanuts on the Capital grounds. You could eat them yourself, but it was more common to feed the pigeons with them. With the elevated pigeon population, there was a greater chance of encountering pigeon poop at one time or another while strolling through, although it hardly ever happened.

Yesterday Mary Tyler Moore passed away. I didn’t know how much this would affect me until they played the theme to “The Mary Tyler Moore Show” on the morning show I listen to out of Atlanta. I couldn’t stop crying. She was such an iconic piece of my history. I can probably credit her with my split-second decision to change my major from Business Admin to Journalism, although I had no idea at the time. The ideas you’re spoon fed at childhood are some pretty strong medicine. You really never know when they’ll pop back up to say hello.

I’ve never really considered myself a Feminist by definition either. However, I DO consider myself a strong woman who doesn’t take any crap. I’ve come a long way. In my youth I knew I had a lot to learn so I spent much of it as a wallflower, observing and gathering enough information to form opinions. The downside of all of this was that I also got walked on… A LOT. It also taught me that there’s only so much I can take before I will absolutely take action… thus… my coping strategy has become my low tolerance for bullshit. If that makes me a feminist, I’m okay with that.

The negative connotations of feminism as depicted by today’s media really aren’t okay. It’s great for women to be paid the same as their male counterparts. Why should we be stuck in the kitchen, barefoot and pregnant? Honestly, most of the women I know are so much smarter than any of the animals unleashed on the dating websites. I weep for all my single, smart, empowered sisters.

I’m proud to have been raised by the likes of Mary Tyler Moore and her bevy of strong sitcom sisters. To this day it might be why I prefer thought-provoking conversation to animal lust. There’s so little of it out there.

And sure, there’s plenty of good entertainment still being made, but I think someone needs to go bubble-wrap Doris Day and Carol Burnett.