Sunday, April 19, 2009

Trip to the Glamour Studio

Yesterday I had my four-hour vanity extravaganza. Four costumes, four shoots, hot lights, and a heap of fake hair.

First they gave me a book of examples so I could pick my styles. They asked if I had a preferred side (I don't), if I had prepared poses (I didn't), and how sexy I wanted to be ("yidiandian" - a little).
The didn't allow photos inside, but here's the outside of the studio.

Next we were escorted to the enormous costume closet. On the way, we passed a bunch of boyfriends, husbands and sons watching TV. They all had that tortured-bored look. Poor James was even less fortunate, he was stuck following me around translating. I was able to communicate some, but he was pretty crucial.

My first shoot was "Chinese style." I was too bootylicious for the first qipao I tried on, so the makeup girl hauled out another. Then she sat me down, clipped a mess of fake hair to my scalp, and told me - didn't ask me, told me - she was going to put cream on my face and it would cost an extra $500NT.

Maybe if we knew the same language, maybe if I wasn't wearing a qipao, and maybe if I hadn't been in a glamour studio in Taoyuan, Taiwan - I would've protested. Instead I shrugged and said okay. It's kind of like when $13 strawberry daiquiris in novelty beakers suddenly seem like a good idea at the Bellagio. Or $16 mouse ears in Disneyland. Or maybe I'm just a sucker.

One thing I didn't think about ahead of time was the awkward factor: Wearing cheesy costumes and being asked to attempt cheesy poses in a foreign language amounts to a mildly uncomfortable situation for all involved. I don't think they see many white girls. I asked the photographer's assistant. She said they only see foreigners who marry in Taiwan and get wedding photos. Plus, I was a good eight inches taller than my photographer. He seemed intimidated. He had to stand on a stool to take my picture.

For the first two shoots (the Chinese dress, then a giant red prom dress) my photographer didn't want me to have a big smile. But I don't have a small mysterious smile. I have a full-teeth, wide-eyed grin, and then I have a smirk, and that's it.

He kept telling me not to look nervous. I kept looking nervous.

My third change was a white tube dress with a tutu skirt. My makeup lady pinned a giant white faux fur hat to my head. This was exponentially more ridiculous than my first two outfits, but I was allowed to smile, so I felt a lot more comfortable.

For the final shoot I put on this lacy pink and black dress, plus gothic wristlets and a choker. The makeup artist teased my hair into a giant mane. My photographer mimed for me to pout. He told James to tell me this was my "sad doll" shoot. I thought it was sort of Madonna circa 1985. Of course, I could've picked more natural-looking photos, but dressing up is half the fun.

I'll go back next Sunday to look at the pictures and decide which they'll put in a book for me. They'll also give me a cd, so I'll post pictures here when I receive them.

No comments: