The two standouts in the makeup and hair races for imagination and glam are definitely “American Horror Story: Hotel” (limited series) and “The Wiz Live!” (special).
“AHSH” was like Halloween every day with a gallery of ghouls ranging from Lady Gaga’s fashionista vampire, the Countess, to Alex Ward’s creepy Addiction Demon with his drill bit dildo, to Denis O’Hare’s scene-stealing transgender bartender, Liz Taylor.
Meanwhile, “The Wiz” upped the live musical for TV by blending the Broadway show and movie into a new urban experience.
Lady Gaga’s 111-year-old Countess was the centerpiece for both makeup designer Eryn Kruger Mekash and hairstylist Monte Haught. Gaga had the opportunity to show off 65 glam looks throughout the 20th century. The actress’ personal makeup artist, Sarah Tanno, collaborated with Mekash on the designs, and Mekash’s husband, Mike, did all of the blood-related prosthetics.
The late ’20s vampire look was patterned after Rudolph Valentino and his wife, Natacha Rambova, the famous costume and set designer. But the disco ’70s was the big heyday for the Countess. Angela Bassett’s character, Ramona Royale, went ’80s with even more modern-day glam.
The biggest challenge was creating the mysterious, eyeless The Addiction Demon. A team of three artists took four-and-a-half hours to apply makeup each day. Created by Dave Anderson of AFX, the Demon was wrapped in layers of sheets and covered in transparent jelly.
Initially, it was all foam with prosthetics underneath, with layers of silicone and silicone liquid that could be made into sheets. Plus there were chest and arm pieces and a facial mask that was glued down. Covered from tip to toe, it was almost total sensory deprivation.
For Liz Taylor (patterned after “Cleopatra”), O’Hare endured a total body shave and showed off gold, red, black and blue sets of nails throughout the season.
As far as hair, it was a first for high-fashion on “AHS.” Gaga’s Countess had platinum blond hair that she wears up in a wave; Sarah Paulson (Hypodermic Sally) had crimped hair with a sweaty, unwashed look; and Angela Bassett (Ramona Royale) was trimmed in Diana Ross–inspired wigs. There were finger waves and pin curls throughout the cast and a total of 45 wigs for everyone.
For the husband and wife makeup team of Dave and Lou Elsey, “The Wiz” was a new experience in live TV and they worked it out with the actors like a dance.
The makeup had to supply great visuals but also be applied quickly during the live performance. The Lion (David Alan Grier) took 45 minutes to apply, The Tin Man (NE-YO) 30 minutes and The Scarecrow (Elijah Kelley) 15 minutes.
They tried to make features out of what normally would be weak points. For instance, the patches on The Scarecrow could be an edge and you didn’t have to blend it. There was one large appliance for his head and a separate lip appliance because of the way he sings.
The Tin Man was efficiently designed with metallic paint and prosthetics, and The Lion required entire body work, including a fully-articulated muscle suit to look more animalistic.
Hairstylist Charles LaPointe gave Shanice Williams’ curls a trendy twist as Dorothy with a few streaks of bright blue, while Queen Latifah’s The Wiz required silver hair that was streaked with emerald green.
LaPointe also applied Amber Riley’s good witch, Addapearle, with dark blue hair for her bold blue look, and Mary J. Blige’s Evillene received a braided updo with an elaborate crown.