The theme of this year's event was all things STAR WARS. The obvious bodypainting idea that came to mind was the Princess Leia slave costume from Return of the Jedi. I toyed with that idea for awhile, but then started to dig deeper on the internet for an idea. I found a character named Mara Jade that was part of the Star Wars "expanded universe". It is my understanding that Mara Jade was first introduced in a novel by Timothy Zahn called Heir to the Empire. Her character starts out as "the Emperor's hand", in other words his personal assassin, and then goes on to become a Jedi Knight and even the fiancÚ of Luke Skywalker.
As I scourer the net for pictures of Mara Jade, I find a link to a comic book series about her and realize that I actually bought one issue for my son about a year ago. Along with that reference, I was also able to get a copy of the six-issue compilation from my friend Mike Banks at Samurai Comics. I told Mike what my plan was and he helped sponsor the event by donating Star Wars comic books to everyone who attended my bodypainting demonstration.
The next step of the process was to confirm a model for the event. Several weeks earlier I had met a knock-out gorgeous model named Lynette Brooks at a photographer/model get-together. She had super muscular tone and I was thinking that she would have been perfect if only she had the trademark red hair and green eyes that Mara Jades character boasted. I called her anyway and as it turns out (my memory had failed me) she did have green eyes and her hair was actually tinted red. She was perfect! I owe her a great deal of gratitude for saying yes despite the fact that CopperCon was not paying us for this project.
For my next trick, I somehow convinced my good friend and photographer Don Crossland to join in on the fun by being the principle photographer. Once again I am grateful to him for donating his time and expenses to this project that really didn't even start for him until close to 1:00 in the morning.
At the LepreCon convention six months earlier, Don introduced me to the Dune Sea Garrison, a group of Star Wars costumers who happened to be at the convention also. At that time we photographed two of the storm troopers with my bodypainted model, Tawnya Gentleman.
Don contacted one of the storm troopers, Lance Dworshak, to verify that they were going to be attending this year's CopperCon. Not only did they attend it, they were the main attraction and feature act! They had set up a very impressive Star Wars museum that showcased everything from authentically tooled light sabers to a life sized R2-D2 unit. Their backdrop was a hand-crafted lighted wall that simulated the halls of the Death Star (by now I'm sure that only Star Wars fans have any idea of what I am even talking about). This wall ended up being the quintessential background for the photoshoot.
One member of the AZ 501st Star Wars group actually provided the magic that made the Mara Jade costume complete. Her name was Gabrielle Suglia and she is the resident Mara Jade expert and that is the costume that she generally dons for AZ 501st outings. This day she chose to not be in costume partly because she was pregnant and starting to show. To this day I thank her for teaching us about Mara Jade's idiosyncrasies and for allowing us to borrow her personal costume accessories to complete the image. She provided us with the glasses, the cape, the boot armor, and most importantly an awesome light saber that replicated the one used in Mara Jade's books. By the way, the light saber was also signed by Alice Cooper!
O.K. now the stage was set. The bodypainting demonstration was to take place in a fairly small hotel room around 11:00 on a Saturday night. I started working with Lynette about an hour before showtime to cover the sensitive parts before the crowd was allowed in the room. The paint that I was using was Deviant liquid latex. Here is a shot of Lynette at the beginning of the session wearing "nothing but paint".
At this point, the CopperCon appointed doormen allowed the waiting art lovers and/or voyeurs to enter the room. The room quickly heated up as the 20-or-so onlookers gathered round my canvas. The liquid latex is alcohol based and with the heat and very little ventilation in the room, the fumes were enough to make Lynette nauseous and nearly pass out. She was a trooper (pun intended) though and was able to tough it out. The painted-on costume was completed using only black liquid latex, but the green shimmer that you'll see on it is a special dusting that Deviant makes called Stardust. It is very similar to a powdery eye shadow that is dusted on the dry latex while it is still a little tacky. The finishing touch was a hand painted belt and shoulder holsters.
Then we were off to the photoshoot where Don Crossland took over and produced some of the coolest images in my bodypainting portfolio with the help of the cast of the AZ 501st. A special shout out goes to Lance and Mike Kiselnik who were the storm troopers playing dead (and came close to passing out due to pinched circulation from the costumes). Another storm trooper that was very much a key to making this all happen was Kevin O'Connor. The photoshoot went on until about 3 o'clock in the morning, but a good time was had by all.
If you are interested in ordering a print from this photoshoot or would like additional information on bodypainting, please feel free to contact [email protected] and visit my website at www.futureclassx.com . Please browse through the additional links below for more info. Thanks for visiting!
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Unless noted otherwise, Photography and Artwork by Mark Greenawalt c2002
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