Next to Naked

Anne Winter
Her thick lashes curl to the sky. Her lips glisten as if they had just been sucking on a cherry Popsicle. Her sparkly skin catches the light with each toss of her hair. Maybe she's born with it.

Or maybe she's got a great makeup artist.

Any dancer or porn star will admit that her on-set necessities wouldn't be complete without her own cosmetics arsenal or a makeup artist hired to supply one. For the regular porn fan, mascara and foundation might be two of the last things that come to mind when a favorite girl takes the stage, but what they may not realize is the prominent role that makeup takes in the life of a porn star.

"Makeup's like shoes," said adult star Mia Rose, who's made her mark in the "Whorecraft" series. "I'd rather be naked than have no shoes. Every girl's like that."

Rose insists on doing her own makeup before every film shoot or dancing gig. Like many stars, she knows exactly what's right for her face and has a particular routine she won't let any artist break. Rose treats her makeup as if it's her underwear — she (usually) can't leave the house without it.

'I'm never without false eyelashes," Rose said. "And black eyeliner."

Yet there's more to it than slathering concealer on a pimple or smudging charcoal eyeliner for a smoky eye; these women are standing, sprawling — even bending over — under hot lights with cameras snaking around their bodies, regularly pausing at their faces for the "money shot." Unlike many mainstream video shoots, adult shoots require makeup to be as practical as it is functional.

Many specialty series, like "Whorecraft," Joanna Angel's alt-porn line and photographer Winkytiki's retro pinup line, require a special look that only trained professionals can truly master.

Enter the adult-industry makeup artist.

Directors have the initial vision of what their stars should look like on film but often leave it up to the imagination and talent of their makeup artists to transpose their ideas onto the models' faces.

Angel said she looks at her models and can almost instantly know what look they should have for her shoots. For "Porny Monster," the characters were meant to look like early-'90s club kids; in "Joanna's Angels," each girl needed to look exactly like the classic character she was based on; in "Cum on My Tattoo," Angel said the girls needed to look "badass and rugged."

"I print pictures and tell [the artist] what I want," Angel said. And it's as simple as that.

Angel said that, because the porn world is like a small family, there are a limited number of trustworthy makeup artists that the studios share.

"I use ones that I liked when I was talent," Angel said. "There are, like, five or 10 artists who do all of porn — it's easy to get to know everyone."

Octavio Arizala, the mastermind behind Winkytiki, said that depending on the style, time period and look he is aiming for, he has three artists that he works with exclusively, women who he says are the best in the industry.

One of his artists is Jules, who began her makeup career in mainstream, having worked with several major celebrities and traveling with some on tour as their personal makeup artist. Six years into her career, Jules was introduced to the adult industry, and she said she's found that oftentimes adult is more fun.

"Ninety-nine percent of the girls are really cool, and I like the family aspect," Jules said. "It's laid back; there's less competition between the departments."

And, as many in the adult biz will admit, the money is great and there's less threat of being replaced for the "next big thing." "[Adult] is what really pays the bills," Jules said, "and it's the only thing that won't bite you in the ass. You don't get ditched [for someone new]. It's a family thing; I know I won't lose my job or be replaced because I've built strong relationships."

And Jules isn't the only makeup artist who says relationships like these are what set adult apart from the mainstream.

Stephany Drotman has been a freelance makeup artist in the adult industry for eight years, having branched from the mainstream world because of its taxing 20-hour days. She scored her first contracted job, with Platinum X and Red Light District, a few years after breaking into adult, having met and formed relationships with directors who loved her work enough to repeatedly hire her for their shoots.

Drotman said she often prefers working in adult, especially because of the potential for lasting work relationships like those she has maintained for years.

"You get into a vibe," Drotman said. "Everyone has fun. It's like working in a family; I love to see [the same people] over and over. I'd rather not work than work for crappy companies."

Like many makeup artists, both in mainstream and adult, Drotman was loyal to a particular brand of makeup that features bright colors with an edgy image until she discovered that, once the company had been bought by conglomerate, the makeup's quality faltered. Drotman said the colors turned gray after a few hours, and she began having to touch up girls on set almost twice as often as before.

Drotman decided to research the makeup brand's formula and found that its ingredients had changed. The amount of pigment — the expensive ingredient in makeup — had been decreased, while the amount of talc increased, making it less expensive to produce larger batches of product. The talc was responsible for dulling the colors and causing the product to be easily rubbed away.

Needing a line of cosmetics consisting of vivid colors with serious stay power, Drotman decided to find a way to start her own line of makeup that would be ideal for use on the adult set, and in 2004 she founded Hot Wax Cosmetics.

After she found a lab that carried all of the machines, ingredients and pigments she needed, Drotman began to build her line from scratch. Now Drotman's line has grown so much that she's begun to run out of storage space in her small studio, but that hasn't stopped her from constantly visiting the lab with new color and product ideas.

"They're color match experts," Drotman said. "I can bring in a T-shirt that I like, and get that color for my makeup.

Drotman first introduced her Hot Wax line to the adult scene, using it for shoots at Digital Playground and Red Light District, where adult star Teagan Presley discovered the line.

"Teagan was instrumental in spreading the word," Drotman said. "She practically shoved it down people's throats, and she spread the word on [online] threads. [When people complimented her], she told everyone 'It's all thanks to my makeup artist.'"

Word of Hot Wax's stay-put properties and vibrant, fun colors spread like wildfire not long after, with a shared booth at the 2004 Erotica L.A. trade show — "I had a teeny tiny tester line to see people's reaction," — and the launch of her MySpace page.

Sales truly started to boom following the launch of Hot Wax's MySpace profile, which links to the company's website. That made the adult line available all over the world, and orders picked up about a month after it went online.

"I get emails from people I've never heard of," Drotman said. "It's cool to get emails from Sweden; I love that stuff."

The reaction was more than enthusiastic, and she soon found cosmetic-company conglomerate Sephora knocking on her door.

"It's still a baby company, and I want to stay in control of it," Drotman said. "I don't want it to get too huge; I want people to use [the products] right and love it."

Now Drotman is working to build her line to include every product her clients, both adult and mainstream, have mentioned they'd like to see. A new line of alcohol-free skin and body care is on its way, and her most recent formula of foundations are currently being packaged at the lab and will be ready for sale in June.

Drotman plans to open her first store in the future, looking at such locations as the Westfield Fashion Square in Sherman Oaks, Calif., and the Grove in L.A. The feel of the boutique will be much like her current studio, which is located in her Valencia, Calif., apartment.

"It'll be family style," Drotman said. "People can come chitchat when they shop and feel comfortable and chill on couches and play with makeup."