By the time I was 12 years old, the important women in my life had died, disappeared or run away. I was raised by my Dad, and during my teenage years I learned how to fist fight, shoot tequila, and memorize the odds on roulette -- but I had no idea how to apply makeup.
I was surrounded by so many men in my life that I was taking on their mannerisms. If there weren't a mirror in our house, I would have thought I was one of them. When I hit 14, my body started changing and I became aware of being a woman. I wanted to embrace my femininity, but I had no one to turn to and no one to ask.
But there was a television in my home.
I tried to walk like Pamela Anderson did on old episodes of "Baywatch." I got a cheap mail-order corset in an attempt to look like Snow White. Reruns of "The Golden Girls" taught me that a lady sticks her pinky out when she drinks tea. And when I was around the boys, it kind of worked -- but when I was around girls, I felt like a fraud.
Back then, my makeup collection consisted of a single Wet 'N Wild black eyeliner pencil that I would heat up with a lighter and swipe underneath my eyes. I rocked the raccoon look. It was my daytime AND my nighttime look. A burned black stub of eyeliner pencil was my sole entry point to beauty and womanhood, until a minimum wage job at a historic movie theater opened my eyes to something different.
I was lured in by the long-dead actresses projected on the silver screen. Marlene Dietrich and Lauren Bacall flicked a badass attitude while winking with smoky false lashes. These ghosts became my surrogate mothers. I wanted to emulate them more than anything but I didn't have enough skill or bravery to attempt their looks on my own, I wouldn't have even known where to begin.
When I was 18, my mom and I reconnected, but the time for makeup lessons had already passed, and six months later a U-Haul with all my belongings was pointed north to New York City.
I stumbled around awkwardly for years, my charred eyeliner in my pocket, until one day I gave myself the ultimate dare and found myself surrounded by women. Literally, I was jammed into a 6' x 6' room lined with mirrors and half naked women, backstage at the burlesque house known as The Slipper Room.
A redheaded bombshell was standing beside me on that first night, and I pretended to do my makeup slowly, as I side-eyed her in the mirror to copy what she was doing. I was mesmerized by the quickness in which she flicked brushes, shadows, lipliner and glitter in a way that could only be described as magic.
Her name was Jo "Boobs" Weldon and she took me under her feather fan burlesque wing. The two of us became fast friends. It was Jo who taught me this trick that first night, and it's my favorite burlesque makeup technique.
It's also the number one question that women ask me in the audience after the shows are over.
How To Do Glitter Red Lipstick:
(Photos taken in a truck stop bathroom in Nevada as we're going cross-country trying to fund our dream on Kickstarter. That's right. I'm serving up glamour while living in a van for a month, people!)
1. Start with a nude moisturized lip. (Disregard stares in bathroom as you try to take selfie.)
2. Start by doing a full outline of your lips. I tend to cheat a little bit and go slightly outside my lip line. I love Urban Decay's 24/7 Glide-On Lip Pencil in no. 69. It doesn't bleed on me or flake, and it stays put.
The red is the perfect pin-up color.
3. After I've outlined my lips, I then fill in my entire lip with the pencil. This will help in the long-wear of the lipstick and keep the color on your lips.
4. Now I apply a layer of red gloss. I like Hourglass Extreme Sheen Lip Gloss in Siren. They are cruelty-free and their lip gloss gives a nice sheen. With any lip gloss you use, you want it to be slightly sticky so that you can rock the next step.
5. Now, here comes the secret: you need loose craft glitter to make your glitter lipstick really work. You can just go to your local craft store and pick it up. Just make sure the glitter isn't too fine or it won't show up on the lip. Go for the more chunky, light-catching options. Dab your finger into the glitter and then pat onto your lip right after you've applied the gloss. The glitter will stick and set while the gloss dries.
6. Go out and rock that burlesque lip. I know I'll be turning heads in this truck stop -- awww, yeah. Have fun with it. And if you have any questions let me know!