How we turned a band into Blue Man Group for Halloween
This page shows how one of my bands went dressed as Blue Man Group for Halloween. It starts with the background, tells some of the issues we ran into, tells how we did the makeup, and more! This is a reprint off my website www.susanszoocrew.com
We were scheduled to play at a big Halloween party and were told we *had* to play in costume. Only makes sense to play in costume at a Halloween party, right? We wanted to do something where all three of us were the same theme but couldn’t decide. It had to be something we could relatively comfortably play/sing in, that wouldn’t get all over our instruments, and that didn’t require a huge outlay of time since we had to set up equipment and all. This is a little harder than it may seem to come up with! At our last practice before the gig I was showing a video of Blue Man Group doing part of one of the songs we were covering. My guitar player looked at it and say, Hey, that’s it! Let’s go as the Blue Man Group! Considering that two of us are women, and all three of us play guitar, it was a bit of a stretch! Blue Men with figures and no PVC tubes? Well, we all have a good sense of humor so that sounded like fun! In the days before the gig it rained…and rained..all around town outdoor gigs were being cancelled or shortened. So I didn’t have high hopes for staying dry at the party even though we were on a covered porch. As it turns out, the porch faced west and the rain would come from the east so even in the rain we would be dry. Wet costumes and equipment would not have been fun! To our collective delight, the rain held off for the rest of the night and we stayed nice and dry.
We had decided that setting up equipment is hard enough working without trying to keep makeup on, so we headed out and set up the equipment first. This ended up being a really good idea, allowing us to just come in and start playing. We did discover one bad feature about a house that was between the river and the ocean: bugs. Not just bugs, but biting bugs. I’ve lived in Florida almost my whole life and have never been eaten alive by no-see-ums so fast! They were even eating through bug spray! After being nibbled on for a while, we were finally all set up.
For the rest of this story, Keith = guitar player and Evelien= the singer. 🙂
Then it was back to the house to put on the makeup. Keith had ordered liquid latex from an online supplier, with the idea that it would be flexible and we could paint our faces and the bald caps with it at all once. We all changed into our outfits (black long sleeved turtlenecks and black pants) and got ready to put on the makeup. When Evelien and I opened the jar, we were wondering what the layer was on top%u2026 then we realized that it was dried latex. Hoping that what was underneath was useable, we pushed aside the top layer. What was underneath was chunky and definetly not liquid, more of a cream-not good. We tried using it anyway, even tried diluting some of it with water-no go. The brand new, freshly ordered paint was no good! Here it is, almost time to leave, and no latex and no blue men/women.
Luckily, since none of us knew how the liquid latex would stay on while singing, we had a backup plan. I had bought two cakes of blue greasepaint and brought with me a can of blue spray paint that matched the greasepaint. Keith and Evelien picked up some hair dye spray in case that worked better. I had some experience with grease paint from watching clowns do their makeup and participating in talent contests, so I knew a few methods of working with it and knew we’d be able to play and sing in it.
We decided to put on the baldcaps first, which took a bit of doing. Cutting out the ear holes was a bit of an adventure in trying not to give unexpected haircuts to each other! We decided to do Evelien’s costume first, so with a few dabs of spirit gum and judicious tucking in of hair, Evelien had her bald cap on. Keith went off to figure out which paint would work best, figuring we’d spray the other two caps before putting them on. Meanwhile, I painted Evelien a nice shade of blue%u2026 ears and all! The hardest part is getting the paintee to relax while fingers are smearing makeup around near their eyes.
Working with greasepaint isn’t bad, you just have to watch how much you put on. The fun part was setting the makeup..you use baby powder and pat it all over the greasepaint. Evelien wasn’t quite sure how baby powder was supposed to work and seemed a bit reluctant at having it put on. As we were running out of time, there wasn’t much room for discussion. So, I got to poof Evelien’s face with baby powder%u2026%u2026.judiciously! It was a bit tricky keeping it off the black turtlenecks, even with a towel, but it brushes off pretty well. Just make sure that the person brushing off the baby powder isn’t the same person applying the blue greasepaint or you’ll have black and blue clothing (oops). Also make sure the powderee doesn’t breathe in while being powdered, powder between breaths.
Keith came back with the paint results during the powdering process-we’d have to paint the caps after they were on or the paint would flake off. Keith asked why Evelien was blue and white- I explained that the powder sets the top layer of makeup but not the bottom so it stays flexible and doesn’t crack; although we might have to repowder as we sweat because it will get shiny. I showed Evelien how to flick off the extra powder and pretty soon she was all blue with no white. Powder discussion over, it was time for painting Evelien’s baldcap… soon to be another lesson in trusting the people doing your makeup.
We quickly found out four hands are better than two, one person holds a sheet over the parts you don’t want to paint while the other carefully but quickly sprays the baldcap%u2026 and the paintee holds their breath so they don’t breathe fumes. We ended up using hands to covers ears but a bit of blue spray paint on our fingers just added to the costumes. We managed to keep most of the spray paint off Evelien’s skin. Once Evelien was done, we surveyed the results%u2026%u2026.not bad! Then it was mine and Keith’s turn. We had a bit trickier of a time with putting on the bald caps due to having long hair. We ended up not gluing the backs down and just ran our ponytail/braid down the backs of the turtlenecks. Long hair makes the spraypainting harder too, the flap of cap down the back has to be sprayed away from the hair. Somehow my cap was a different construction than theirs and had a lot less side flap-this worked out fine because I needed to wear my glasses and the extra material would’ve made this tricky. We quickly got our makeup on and powdered each other up. I did learn it’s easier to powder someone who is sitting down than someone who is standing up when they are taller than you!
By now it was time to go, so we grabbed the spirit gum in case anyone came loose and everyone piled into the truck.
We quickly got to the party, and since it was time to play walked straight on stage and grabbed our instruments. Our percussionist was a friend named Andy who had come in a giant bunny costume. So we had three blue men/women and a bunny! Bunny didn’t last too long because Andy couldn’t see to play, so we used the dolly and set it up next to the bass amp. We did find one awesome side effect of our costumes-since there wasn’t much skin exposed the bugs pretty much left us alone, attacking only bare parts of the feet.
The show itself went off well and everyone had a great time. It was funny to see how many people mixed up Evelien and I in the blue faces when talking on breaks%u2026..considering that I wear glasses and she doesn’t you wouldn’t think it was possible! The makeup ended up working out well, the caps stayed on and only needed minor touchups at the end of the night behind the ears mostly. By the end of the night some of the blue makeup had worked its way onto the turtle necks, but not as much as I had thought we would have had. It was rather amusing watching grownups dancing around in costumes%u2026..watching men dressed as fairies sing along %u2026.. people trying to drink / eat through masks%u2026
After the show we packed up the equipment and headed out to a local place (Jetty Lounge) to join the rest of the crowd. Once we were through there (the full moon brings out some interesting people%u2026) we headed back to the house to remove the makeup. It had been a while since I had to take the makeup off, but I knew I’d always used baby wipes, baby oil, and baby shampoo-I just couldn’t remember which order. Evelien was first, and the baby shampoo didn’t do much. Then I remembered the right way, and we finished getting the makeup off. You take a baby wipe, dump a little oil on it, and smear it on the makeup. Pass number two wipes off the makeup and you repeat until wipe is full of color. Grab another one and keep going! The hardest part is getting it out of your ears%u2026..I think we all had some left over the next day.
All in all we had a great time, learned a few lessons along the way (always have a backup plan!) and got to play some awesome music for appreciative people and friends. What more could a band ask for? Except fewer bugs that is ….. 🙂