Anatomy of a photo shoot
Anatomy of a photo shoot -- Behind the scenes of pop and video star RuPaul's editorial spread
You think Madonna simply wakes up and looks fabulous? Or that rock’s hottest house flowers — En Vogue — just thumb through their closet before slinking on stage? Think again. Celebrities are only as flawless as the people behind them. And in many cases (ex-makeup artist Debi Mazar being one example), those people are as worthy of fame as the ones smiling for the camera.
What better visual proof than your typical photo shoot (see the following pages)? It’s the first cog in the star-making machine and a dreadfully glamorous, thoroughly exhausting affair. Surrounding the celeb — in this case, drop-dead pop and video star RuPaul, posing for Entertainment Weekly — is a veritable army of extras: stylists, hair and makeup artists, magazine editors, assorted assistants, and various hangers-on. Each is critical to the process. Each painstaking hour of powdering, poofing, and prepping has to be endured. Every element of the environment — right down to the music blasting from the speakers — must be controlled to create the proper drama. Someone once said glamour ain’t easy. They were right.
THE PLACE: Industria Superstudio in lower Manhattan. An enormous series of white, empty spaces where Vogue layouts, album covers, and ad campaigns (including Gap’s) are created. Also the site of various superstar parties, including the kickoff for Madonna’s Sex. Industria’s so hip it even has its own line of clothing.
THE STAR: RuPaul Andre Charles, 27. Tommy Boy Music recording artist, drag queen, and budding superstar, thanks to his hit dance single and MTV video, ”Supermodel (You Better Work).” This ode to RuPaul’s sassy cover-girl persona — a patchwork creation inspired by Hollywood queens (think Joan Crawford), real-life supermodels (think Naomi Campbell), and pop divas (think Diana Ross) — is the first song off his Supermodel of the World album, set for release in May.
THE PHOTOGRAPHER: Mark Contratto, 31. One of New York’s edgiest fashion shooters, he appears as himself in the ”Supermodel” video. Contratto is to RuPaul what Herb Ritts is to Richard Gere.
THE HAIR AND MAKEUP: Mathu (say Matthew) Andersen, 26. Australian wunderkind of the downtown scene. Keeper of the many wigs that cover RuPaul’s clean-shaved scalp and the assorted fake eyelashes that fringe his eyes, Mathu (he’s also in the ”Supermodel” video) often coifs Ivana Trump, whom he describes as ”fierce.”
THE STYLIST/DESIGNER: Zaldy, 25. Mathu’s partner in glam. Together they’re celebs in their own right, recognized on the street in international fashion capitals like Paris and Milan. Zaldy, who also dresses club queen and megatrendsetter Susanne Bartsch, fashioned Ru’s robe from 50 yards of black tulle.
THE FOOD: Industria has a fully staffed gourmet kitchen. Exotic fruits and homemade buckwheat-and-oat granola for breakfast; salmon fillets dredged in coriander and fennel seed for lunch. Dial extension 205 for espresso, cappuccino, and frothy fresh-fruit drinks.