bearded ladies: Carnivàle


In 1934 in the The Dustbowl Ben, a young fugitive, finds refuge within a weird travelling carnival – a tarot card reader and her catatonic/telekinetic mother, a blind mentalist, a bearded lady (Debra Christofferson), and conjoined twins, amongst others – owned by the mysterious and unseen Management.

Ben is concealing an untapped gift: he can heal the lame and raise the dead – at a price. He is also disturbed by cryptic and prophetic dreams which he shares with a Methodist preacher in California.

In the ‘last great age of magic’ a great conflict between Good and Evi is coming.

It was a wonderful show: the look, the characters, the story-arc, the whole thing – oh yeah, and I loved that curler even if it was anachronistic.

The makeup

Steve Artmont was the makeup department head; Simone Almekias-Siegl was the key makeup artist; Todd Masters (MastersFX) was responsible for the special effects makeup; Simone Almekias-Siegl and later Heather Plott were Debra’s makeup artists.

Debra Christofferson has been kind enough give me some images and to tell me about the makeup:

An amazing artist named Erwin Kupitz made the beard (three of them, actually). If I’m not mistaken, he and Steve Artmont, head of Carnivale’s makeup department, designed it together. (Erwin also made my wig in the feature MouseHunt.) Initially there were little side pieces that were to be wisps of a moustache at the edges of my mouth. Steve nixed them at the makeup screen test as being too much.

The first beard was one piece that fit across my whole chin. Unfortunately, every time I spoke or moved my mouth even a little, the beard lifted. We ended up cutting it into three pieces (one on the mound of my chin and the other two blending on either side of the first piece) so that it could ‘move’ when I spoke and not lift. However, I must attribute Lila’s voice and way of speaking to those first few weeks of barely being able to move my mouth without lifting the beard. It gave her a great voice!

Anita Brabec did my makeup at the beginning of our first season, however she left the show early on. Simone Amekias-Siegl became my makeup artist, and she and I created Lila’s look for season one, inspired by a photo of Theda Bara that I brought in. When Simone left mid-second season to do a film, Heather Plott took over and finished out the show. I was very blessed to have terrific makeup artists take great care of me.

Department head Kerry Mendenhall, Louisa Anthony and Nanci Cascio all did my hair first season (and won an Emmy for it!). Nanci did my hair most of the second season, although she too left the show, shortly before we finished. The thirties is my favourite fashion time period, and I was delighted with the wonderful styles I got to wear on the show. All the ladies who did my hair excelled at their work.