I’m beginning to realize the constant struggle with self-doubt that goes hand-in-hand with becoming a beauty writer. I want to have convictions! And to stand up for what I believe in! But once my words are entered into that imaginary, iridescent green, 0100010111 wizard code that is the basis for the Internet and all technology in general, they’re there for good. I understand that I need to take care in making some of my bolder statements.
For instance, a younger, softer-skulled me once said, “I don’t fuck around with anything other than highly pigmented neutrals,” on eye makeup. I became pigeonholed in a word of Bobbi Brown classic shades that, while nice to look at, are nothing like the glittery disco fuckery going on at the Nars counter.
I was selling myself short. I’m capable of teal! AND PURPLE, GODDAMMIT!
Problem is, Technicolor makeup’s some tricky shit. I needed a role model. But the only Crayola-faced women that I truly look up to are essentially slutty cartoon characters drawn by my friend, Jonny Negron.
Why shouldn’t I reference contemporary art as beauty inspiration? Remember that awkward moment between the invention of the Guttenberg press and digital cameras when Americans revered Gibson girls and Gil Elvgren pin-ups as beauty ideals? Shit, these illustrations are way more relatable than the confused-looking teenagers wearing $20k worth of rich old lady clothing in photo spreads today.
So when Jonny needed a place to crash while in Austin for his first book tour, I offered up. We could talk makeup. And color theory! With my first real interview under my belt, Jonny would be a total blast. No clinical juice bars this time -- I would have my subject on my turf, at my disposal.
I’d start with a few hours of pleasant rapport, then begin to chip away at the emotional walls that brooding young geniuses tend to hide behind. After offering tomatoes on toast to gain his reliance, I’d ask him about his family, ex girlfriends, and any secrets or unsettling thoughts he’s never told anybody before.
Did you get a chance to look through his Tumblr? He’s clearly a sex-crazed lunatic with an affinity for bestiality. A total blast.
So we’re sitting in my kitchen talking shop. He tells me that many of the figures in his drawings are just people he’s seen while living in Brooklyn.
“Interesting,” I think, “So he obsessively lusts after young women in his neighborhood, imagining their nude figures through his illustrations, painting them up like Easter basket whores. All while glancing down through the window to see if they’d come back to the corner bodega. They never come back.” Tell me more.
“I dunno, I just say, ‘I wanna use that color now,’” he says, gesturing toward an imaginary Prismacolor on the counter. “Then I use it.”
So apparently Jonny’s actually just an emotionally and mentally stable dude who enjoys drawing sexy, naked-ish ladies. Color choice is pretty much arbitrary, with no innuendos in his use of orange lipstick or repressed memories surfacing in the jade eye shadow. Rats.
Jonny’s obviously aesthetically gifted to begin with, but references fancy fashion mags like The Gentlewoman and Lula for outfit ideas. If there’s anything I learned about Jonny during those seven days he stayed on my couch, it’s that he appreciates bold makeup, fashion, and Ru Paul’s Drag Race -- which is really just a combination of the first two. (HUGE Raja fans during season three, but I didn’t share his affection toward Latrice in season four. She was SO bad at blending! We thought that Phi Phi was kind of cheap-y and that Sharon deserved the title.)
Some people, like I think definitely my dad, might find the pornographic nature of his illustrations irreverent (narwhal porn!), but his fans appreciate the atypical depictions of sex, especially for the fact that he favors drawing a curvier woman. I bet there were lots of basic bitches who thought that Elvgren chick falling out of her top while playing shuffleboard was pretty fucking outrageous at the time.
Jonny even has comic groupies! He won’t let me tell the whole story but there was a blonde and a Shar pei puppy involved. Woof.
Anyway, I tried out some my favorite beauty elements from his work in real life. Bought some bright blue Revlon for my nails, royal purple Maybelline and Sephora eye shadow, and mixed some OCC Lip Tar in Beta and some Revlon stick for my orange lips. Jonny uses lots of pinky-orange tones to shade the face; his ladies look very flushed from all the sex or whatever. I layered Nars Cactus Flower and Covergirl Divine lipstick with a wet sponge high on my cheeks, at the inner corners of my eye sockets, on my temples, and below my bottom lip. I blew out my hair to minimize fuzz and relax the volume, and attempted some perfectly spaced identical waves with a curling iron. It totally didn’t work because I’m a pussy about putting too much heat on my hair. Whatever. Sideboob: