Tuesday, July 18, 2017


 Tons and tons of stage makeup...and it's gotta come off somehow! photo: Maharet Hughes

Ah, stage makeup: where would we dancers be without it?

 By using careful camouflage and strategically placed contouring, we can make our features look larger, smaller or way more dramatic. We become wide-eyed, pillow-lipped seductresses with chiseled cheekbones and jaw-lines. We morph into Pirate Wenches, Dying Swans, Roaring Twenties Flappers and mid-century Pin Up Girls.  With the addition of metallic powders, glitter and crystals, we turn into Fairy Queens and Every Goddess From Every Pantheon Ever.

Stage makeup looks gorgeous when you’re under the lights… and totally damn scary when you’re on your way to or from a gig, making a pit stop at a convenience store or fast food joint!  And once you’re home, taking it off seems like such an incredible chore.

Seriously, there’s almost nothing worse than waking up with some of last night’s Stage Face still on, is there? The pearly, highly pigmented turquoise eye shadow has turned into bright blue eye-boogers and you’ve got adhesive marks on your cheeks where brilliant rhinestones once twinkled. The fire engine red glitter you applied so carefully to your crimson lips migrated while you were in The Land Of Nod… and now the lower half of your face looks like it’s broken out in a case of sparkly smallpox.

Applying stage makeup is fun and gratifying, but sadly, most of us don’t know the best ways to get it off. Learning to take it off properly isn’t nearly as much fun…but your skin (and sometimes, your costumes and/or street clothes) will thank you for it!

Here’s a quick ‘n’dirty guide to cleaning up and taking off anything related to stage makeup:

Adhesives:  Almost any type of adhesive can usually be removed from the skin without scrubbing if you use oil.  Most oils will dissolve the adhesives (or tape marks from fashion or toupee tape) very gently from the face or body, including coconut, olive, jojoba, or almond oil.  Saturate a cotton ball or pad with the oil, apply to your skin and let it sit for 30-45 seconds, and the adhesive usually comes off with one sweep.   Use a second saturated pad if you don’t get all of it removed with the first swipe.
 For larger area of skin-on the body, not the face- baby oil works super well, too.  It’s best to avoid using on the face, because it can make the delicate skin there prone to break outs…and that, nobody needs!

 If the adhesive you were using were Spirit Gum (Mineral Spirits) regular oil might not cut it, so it’d be a prudent idea to invest in some adhesive remover from a beauty supply or theatrical store.

Fake Blood: Though it looks gory on stage, fake blood is usually easy to get off skin.  Just give it a few swipes with a make up wipe or even a baby wipe. If this doesn’t work, a few squirts of shaving cream usually lift the discoloration immediately.  Just be careful if you’re using menthol shaving cream around your eyes!

False Eyelash Glue Buildup: All the gunk from the lash glue builds up on your faux lashes, and it not only makes them difficult to apply, it’s a germ magnet, too! Cleaning off your falsies is pretty easy, though. Hold the last in one hand, from the edge, and pick the excess, dried up gunk off the band of the lash with a tweezers. It often comes off in a strip! If it only lifts off part way, just repeat the process til the lash band is clean and visible. Dip a Q-tip into alcohol, and swipe it across the band a couple of times to sterilize it…but make sure you let the lash dry for a minute or so before applying it to your eye!

Glitter: The best way to remove glitter that has migrated is to use tape. This is especially great if you’re doing a couple of numbers in a show, and need to do a quick clean up, cause using lotion or a makeup wipe usually just spreads the glitter around- I always keep a roll of tape in my gig bag!

Any kind of tape works, from plain old Scotch tape to packing tape…. I’ve even used duck tape, though it gives new meaning to the term exfoliation! All you do is roll a piece of tape into a loop, and press it gently against the area you want to clean. The glitter comes right up off your skin.  This trick even works for areas where the sparkles are concentrated, like glitter lips, though you’ll have to go over the area a few times.

Hair Dye Stains On The Skin: This is gonna sound gross, but it works like a charm! Mix up a paste of cigarette ashes and water, the thicker the better. Apply to the hairline, (wherever the dye dripped) with a Q-tip, rub it in and leave it on a minute or two. Rinse it off by wiping with a warm, soapy paper towel or washcloth, finish by splashing water on the area. Remember, in the olden days, they made soap with tallow and ashes- they’re a potent stain remover. If you don’t smoke or the ashes are yucky to you, do the shaving cream trick mentioned above. You can also try using rubbing alcohol, but it’s very drying to the skin, and there’ll be scrubbing involved, so be sure to moisturize right after.

 Makeup Stains On Fabric:  Try as we might, even if we’re very careful, our stage make up sometimes transfers to our costumes or accessories. If you get foundation or lipstick on a “fancy” fabric, like brocade, raw silk, velvet or satin, you’re best bet is to take it to a dry cleaner- believe me, they deal with these types of stains all the time! However, if your make up rubs off on anything washable- such as a lycra blend, a cotton or cotton poly blend, or synthetic chiffon ( hellooo? Skirts, veils and scarves) you can get it out yourself. I’ve even lifted foundation and lipstick stains from 100% silk veils and skirts- but you must be sure to do a spot-test first, to make sure the fabric dye itself is stable.
 All you need to remove make up is any or all of the following:  Dawn Dishwashing Liquid, or baby shampoo, rubbing alcohol, and a commercial stain remover. My favorite is Shout Advanced Action Gel, but seriously, almost all of them work. 

After you’ve done your test on an inside seam or the tiniest corner of a hem and discerned that the material you’re cleaning won’t lose it’s color, get started.

 Treat the stain by spraying the   Shout or whatever product you’re using directly onto it. Apply a generous amount, and let it sit anywhere from the recommended five minutes to fifteen or twenty.  Usually, even with the product still wet on the fabric, if the stain looks like it isn’t there, then the stain remover has done its job. If you can still see a bit of the stain, apply a little more of the stain remover.  Or, you can pour a few capfuls of the rubbing alcohol directly on to the area. Either way works.  Next, fill up the sink or your tub with lukewarm water- and err on the cooler side, because hot water actually sets stains!  Add a few squirts of Dawn or the baby shampoo while the water is running. Place the garment in the water and swish it around gently for a couple of minutes. Drain the water, lightly squeeze the excess soapy water of the garment you’re washing, and refill the basin or tub again. Repeat this step a couple of more times til all the soap and cleaning products are gone, and gently squeeze the clean water from your costume. Hang to dry or lay it flat- your choice, but do not let it dry in direct sunlight- it’s the heat thing again. If any of the stain is still visible after your costume dries, repeat the process again, and the second time should eradicate all of the stain.

Liquid Latex: Sounds crazy, but most liquid latex comes off the skin easily and with hardly any scrubbing by using plain old soap and water. If you get a few patches where the latex went on heavily, dab with a bit of oil, then wash with soap and water once more.

 One last word to the wise: I always have a small Backstage Emergency Kit in my gig bag that has a needle and thread, safety pins, bobby pins and much of the afore -mentioned materials: a roll of scotch tape (or even a lint roller) a travel sized pack of make up wipes and/or baby wipes, a box of Q-tips, a stain stick and a tiny spray bottle/mister with rubbing alcohol.


 If ya want to learn how to get stage makeup ON before you take it off, purchase my “Bombshell: Dramatic MakeUp For The Stage, Photos & Glamorous Occasions” here:

Bombshell: Dramatic Makeup DVD with Princess Farhana and DeVilla  photo: Dusti Cunningham

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Sunday, May 7, 2017


 Photo: Maharet Hughes

Golden milk,  sometimes called called turmeric tea, is hugely popular these days. There’s  definitely a reason- actually, there are several-  that it’s all the rage among Paleo Diet devotees and really, anyone whose into self care and  looking after their wellbeing.

 The health benefits of turmeric,which, along with coconut milk, is the main ingredient in golden milk are numerous. Among other things, it’s active  compound curcumin is a powerful inflammation fighter, and that’s what makes this four  thousand year old concoction  relevant to…well, everyone… but especially to dancers!

 We live our lives constantly inflamed from traumatic or overuse injuries- hell, even the zits we get from our  stage make up are  caused by inflammation!

 Additionally, golden milk-and it’s chief ingredient, turmeric- boosts the immune system, improves memory  and brain function
(hello-that new choreography you’re learning?) promotes digestive health, and  have several cancer-busting properties.  Not only that, it’s supposed to lower your blood pressure, it’s a liver detoxifier and an antioxidant…and makes your skin look amazing.

  It's also relaxing and quite filling, the perfect post-gig drink.

 There are several recipes for this divine warm drink floating around the internet, but here’s my take on it.

This recipe is easy doubled and will last quite a few days in the fridge- just heat it up well  before drinking.

 1 cup unsweetened coconut milk, almond milk or a mix of both

 1 large cinnamon stick, or powdered cinnamon to taste

1 tablespoon coconut oil

1 tablespoon honey (less or more to taste)

 ½ tea spoon dried turmeric (or if you’re me, a heaping table spoon full)

  6 or 7 paper-thin slices of fresh ginger

4-6  whole peppercorns  ( hey boost the potency and efficiency  of the turmeric)

1 cup water

 Toss all the ingredients into a saucepan, and bring the mixture to a low, slow boil before turning down the heat and simmering for 10 minutes. Stir well, don’t let it burn.

 Strain the liquid  through a sieve  to  exclude the peppercorns and ginger- or not! I  don’t mind the pepper  ( and have even been known to add in red pepper, too)  and love the ginger  slices floating around.



  I’m teaching and performing at June 2-4, 2017
 Cairo Shimmy Quake Belly Dance Festival
June 2-4, 2017 Glendale, CA
Glendale Civic Auditorium
1401 N. Verdugo, Glendale, CA 91208

 Come say hi to me on the inter-webs!

Sunday, April 30, 2017


 On-duty  at my regular restaurant gig

 Restaurant gigs  are one of the primary jobs for many belly dancers. They can be very  lucrative, and they’re usually  lots of fun because the dancer gets to interact with the customers  up close and personal.

However, while we sometimes are completely in the moment and being transported by the music, there’s also a litany of “dancer problems” that go hand-in-hand with these  intimate shows, which are often done in very small spaces, with no stage, dancing among the tables.

I’ve been dancing at restaurants for  twenty-seven years…and that pretty much  qualifies me as having seen (and heard) it all… or at least  pretty close to it!

 While the general public is getting a beautiful floor show, the scenario in the performer’s mind- masked by a dazzling stage smile- is often quite different  than what the audience is experiencing.

 Here are some of the thoughts running through my head  at various times during restaurant sets.

 Can you relate?

1. Please don’t even entertain the notion of tipping me with your greasy hummus fingers!

2. Humiliating the birthday boy or girl is not in my job description.

3. Holy crap, this song’s almost over- how the hell did that happen?

4.Yeah, uptight-lady-hanging-on-tightly- to-your man, it’s sad but true:  the only  real reason I’m dancing here is because I want to seduce your  fat, balding husband… who by the way, has zero table manners.

 5.Please God, don’t let me get my period.

6.Why does  this veil feel so heavy tonight? It’s just a piece of silk!

 7. If that waiter crosses in front of me one more time to refill water glasses, I’m gonna  cut a bitch!

8. Sorry dude,  but your business card doesn’t count as a tip. 

 9. Surprise! I speak English- and even though you seem to be  an authority on this  insane theory you’re espousing  so loudly, I didn’t get any ribs removed to be able to  dance this way.

10. Not taking my top off. It just ain’t gonna happen.

11. I saw a zero on that bill- please let it be a fifty-oh please, oh please, oh please.

 12. I hope the audience can’t tell that my foot is bleeding like a stuck pig from that glass I just stepped on.

 13. While I appreciate your concern, would you please quit yelling about-and pointing to-the dollar that fell on the floor?
This isn’t an isolated incident… it’s happened….oh, a couple of times before.

14. Can you keep your  toddlers under control?

 15. Can you keep your pubescent son and his testosterone-infused teenage pals under control?

16. Can you keep your absolutely  shit-faced  party guests under control?

I7. I you try to offer me a tip that’s held in your teeth, I will pat you on the head like a dog. I might even go “woof woof” to see if you respond in kind.

 18. I got you up to dance cause it seemed like it would be fun…for a minute or so! Do you think you could possibly manage to sit down before my shift is over?
No? Well then how about before I retire from my dance career?

19. Please God, don’t let me sneeze into these nice people’s dinner.

 20. You aren’t “offending" me by offering a tip. If you knew how much this costume cost you’d probably puke up your baba ganoush  right on the table!

21. Contrary to popular belief, a one dollar bill from a party of fifteen-plus diners is not a  great tip. Save it for the valet- he’ll be only slightly less horrified than I am.

 22. Oh no… I think my right eyelash is about to fall off!

 23. Where in the actual fuck did you get the idea that “most belly dancers are fat and have mustaches”?

 24. Do. Not. Try. To. Poke. My. Belly. Button. 

25. I hope  still  I  have some Chardonnay left  at home…


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