The Case in Washington That Has Impacted Almost Every Powerful Figure



By Rose Procopio Barondess


My job is to make politicians and celebrities look their best. I'm not a publicist, press secretary or a lobbyist. I never even have to speak a word, although I do listen an awful lot. Incredible words are frequently spoken behind closed doors but are never repeated. Raw emotions are displayed. Imperfections hidden. By very powerful people. Stars. Pundits. Congressman. Senators. Cabinet Members. Kings. Queens. Prime Ministers. Vice-Presidents. Presidents. I am a television make-up artist and with this opening paragraph, I lose my virtual virginity by writing my very first blog. I could not think of a better place to do so than on The Huffington Post, created by my friend and client for over twenty years, Arianna Huffington.

So why "blog" now? Since I have served as the make-up artist for so many people that have been previously (or for that matter are currently) embroiled in controversy, the opportunity to sell a story or write a book has always been there. But unless carefully done that would mean breaking confidences, telling secrets and appearing no different than so many others that want to seek out their fifteen minutes (or seconds) of fame. With all of the things that I have seen, with all of the faces that I have touched, I never quite put my entire professional life experience in perspective. It took the late Tim Russert to do that.

So much has been said about Tim, and he is deserving of every tribute. He too was a client of mine for over twenty years. I will always treasure him and the moments that I was fortunate enough to share with him in the studio, or at The White House, or wherever we were. How many people can say that they got to share a few minutes alone with John F. Kennedy, Jr. and Tim Russert in a 6'x 8' room? How many people are then asked by his family to provide make-up for his widow and son of one of our most respected colleagues at his nationally televised memorial service? Even when people are at their very worst, they want to look their best or have friends that know that they should. We are comforted in this digital age by people that look their best. We want to grieve with their pain, not at how they look.

Tim told me before he passed that my make-up capes were of great historical significance. I casually dismissed his repeated suggestions that they should be donated to a museum. Tim always tried to make his friends and colleagues feel good (as opposed to those sitting across the table from him during Meet the Press.) Tim told me he was going to give me the name and number of a museum curator the week he died. We were taping The McLaughlin Group when Tim died. I never got the number from him. 

Now, with some invaluable encouragement from friends, including Arianna, Tim's advice will be followed. As usual, his instincts were razor sharp. The Museum of American History at the Smithsonian Institution will soon become the new home of my make-up case and one of my very special capes (you'll have to wait and see the extra special reason why). People will soon see exactly what Tim thought was so important. I have been busily replacing all of my make-up before the donation is completed. It had even given me the impetus to take meetings with manufacturers in Italy to create a new line of cosmetics. I can't believe I am about to be a part of history. 

Why do my friends keep telling me to tell just one more story? Maybe I will start a weekly blog and reveal some declassified state secrets or better yet, some classified beauty and style tips. The reaction to this post will let me know if I should. Where do I start -- with President Mubarak or the secrets behind the successful application of mascara on another world leader that will also work fabulously on you or your favorite gal pal? The reality is that politics, style and make-up have all merged together in our Hi-Def entertainment world. I think I am finally ready to chat about it. Are you?





Raising Brows in Washington




By Rose Procopio Barondess



Having lived in Washington, DC my entire life and being a make up artist to some of our country's most famous (and at times infamous) personalities, I have certainly witnessed some truly memorable events. In our capital, scandal runs rampant. Of course, scandal also occurs outside the District. Some of what happens is never reported, but is nonetheless known in certain circles. Other events evolve in to what becomes our customary political scandal. Other disgrace takes place, right out in the open: Our most recent version: Washington's very own present day "Crashers." This past week, we were introduced to Washington's newest fifteen minute of fame couple: Tareq and Michaele Salahi. Next year, you will not remember their names, only what they tried to do.

So why in the world would a little make-up artist like me want to blog about this? I am not a judgmental person, but to me this is this is the biggest "brow raising" event that I have seen recently seen. It is just so wrong, or "it's craziness" as my daughter would say. Owen Wilson and Vince Vaughn were hilarious when they crashed parties. This couple was not. Career Secret Service Agents will probably be fired. Taxpayers will incur untold costs. Why? So that these fame seekers could have a feeling of self-importance and become reality stars on Bravo? OMG.

I actually met Michaele many years ago when she was a salesgirl at the Prescriptives Make-up Counter at Nordstrom in Tysons Corner Mall in McLean, VA. She was dating another guy back then, and I remember when she met her present husband, Tareq. She invited me on a few occasions to a vineyard with her, but I had no desire to go. She also offered to donate wines and help out with various fundraising events that I was affiliated with. Guess what? She never did.

I must admit, I have never been to a White House State Dinner. I have made up Presidents and First Ladies and guests for many of them, though. And if I really wanted to attend a dinner, I would attempt to legitimately procure an actual invitation through formal channels. I would never show up at the east gate of the White House with a camera crew and a makeup artist and act as if I was invited. And as for the recent State Dinner in question, that night I made up my client, Katie Couric. How ironic that Michaele actually posted on her Facebook page photos of her with Katie at the dinner she crashed - nice promo - for me!

I saw on one of the tabloid news shows that Michaele spent seven hours being styled for the dinner. That's right, seven hours. I made up Katie in 60 minutes, and she looked fabulous. The only reason it took me that long to make up Katie was because we were having our usual girl talk. In seven hours I think even an amateur makeup artist could have made up the entire cast of a Cirque d' Soleil show. Next time, Mr. and Mrs. Tareq should stay home and spare us all.

A few days after this whole circus began, I had to make up another client in the early morning hours at the Four Seasons Hotel in Georgetown. Outside the hotel, camera crews and paparazzi were out in full force. Why? Not for my client (a very famous person), but for Mr. and Mrs. Salahi. They were guests at the hotel awaiting their appearance on the Today Show that morning. This couple has now refused to answer questions from Congress as to whether they were actually invited to go a White House State Dinner.

You just can't make this stuff up! Truth is stranger than fiction. I don't know how Mr. and Mrs. Salahi can even look at themselves in the mirror. All I know is that I am not a talented enough make-up artist to fix the reflection they must see.

P.S. I would hate for anyone to read this blog and not receive at least one constructive eyebrow tip from me, so here it is:

Eyebrows frame your face and can make a dramatic change in the way you look. But, unlike uninvited dinner guests, eyebrows can be trained. A great tool to use to help control unruly brows is the same mustache wax that men use (I use Pinauds Mustache Wax). I think that you will find the results amazing after even one night. Before you go to bed, apply a thin layer of the mustache wax to your eyebrows and comb them up towards your hairline (warn your husband or significant other). In the morning, use a facial sponge and warm water to remove the wax. Repeat this process as often as you like. The more you do so, the better behaved and lifted your brows will look




The Makeup of Reality TV



By Rose Procopio Barondess


Somewhere along the line, the distinction between reality shows, reality television and news has become incredibly blurred. I work with news figures each and every day, and in the makeup room I frequently have on a television that scans across the various networks. Honestly, I'm in the business and sometimes can't make sense of it all. Today there are over 40 reality television shows, and that does not even include one single cable news show.

I think reality television probably started with shows like Cops, where we got a behind the scenes look at the life of law enforcement officers and the craziness they contend with everyday-and from there, it went down hill. We went to The Peoples Court and then Judge Judy and all of the "Judge" shows that still haunt our airwaves, although with considerable success.

Today we have shows about who loses the most weight, whose house needs to be redecorated, who gets lost, who survives, who should be the next model, who should be the next makeup artist, who should no longer be a bachelor, and the list is never ending. I don't want to come across as a reality show snob because I'm not. Some of it is pretty entertaining. I like The Undercover Boss. And there is nothing like watching Gordon Ramsay go psychotic in the kitchen. Donald Trump basically calling Rod Blagojevich a liar on The Celebrity Apprentice is classic Donald and was absolutely priceless. Besides, at least Trump's show benefits numerous charities from the spectacle of other reality stars and or judges participating in another reality show. (I do have do disclose some personal bias here: my friend Kelly Perdew was the winner of The Apprentice in Season Two. For you Apprentice fans who may not know, Kelly and his wife Dawn just had beautiful twins in December!). But then again, a former disgraced Governor on a reality television show? How bizarre is that? (Yes, I have seen former Governor Jesse Ventura's show which takes reality television to an almost extraterrestrial dimension.)

Then came the entertainment reality shows like Star Search and everything that they spawned including today's blockbusters American Idol and Dancing with the Stars. These shows in particular show the power, both pro and con of HDTV when it comes to contestants. It is amazing to watch how the contestants transform or almost morph during the course of these shows. With Dancing with the Stars, the metamorphous is the result of the extensive physical workouts of the contestants. But the hairstylists and makeup artists have a huge impact on both the men and the women, not only on their faces, but on their, arms, hands, legs and abdomens. Yes, all of those parts get make up too. Especially with HDTV. In American Idol, the makeup artists are trying to define different looks and moods for each performer based upon their wardrobe and the songs that they will be performing.

Of course, the real reality television has been the emergence of cable news. This year, CNN will be celebrating thirty years on air (I was there from the beginning), and it cannot be disputed that Ted Turner changed the way we live. This week we have seen intense coverage regarding the vote on the health care bill. All of the cable news outlets have been reporting, some performing, their own version of today's real reality tv: Cable News.

And believe it or not makeup artists actually impact the cable news you hear. Crazy? Well, no. Guests appearing on cable news shows can either be made to feel comfortable or uncomfortable immediately before they go on air, and there is no one who gets closer to the newsmakers and pundits then the makeup artists. Politicians, pundits, world leaders and entertainers whom you would think would be fully secure before airtime sometimes display a tremendous amount of anxiety before their segment begins. Without intending to toot my own horn, many have told me what a difference it makes to them to have a good makeup artist in helping get across their message by making them feel more relaxed. Adding to the pressure is the fact that that live television makeup artists only have a few minutes to prepare individuals for air, as opposed to the endless hours available for the participants in other reality tv programming-and sometimes, the canvas you are given to work with can be somewhat challenging.

P.S. Variety is now reporting that one of the Tiger Woods mistresses will be doing a reality show. Are there no really no limits to reality tv? I also just saw reported that Sarah Palin is negotiating for a deal of $1 million per week for a reality show on A & E. Did I mention earlier in this blog how bizarre it is that a former Governor is on a reality show?? Déjà vu.



No Sweat...On the Beach or in the Studio


By Rose Procopio Barondess



Sometimes I feel lucky and today, I am having a great day. We are on vacation in the Turks & Caicos at an unbelievable place called Amanyara. We are fortunate enough to be the guests of two of my favorite people, Nile Rodgers and Nancy Hunt. Nile was Billboard Magazine's record producer of the year and the co-founder of the group Chic. His better half Nancy, heads up the We Are Family Foundation, a non-profit organization founded by Nile to improve communication around the world. You should check them The foundation is named after a famous song that Nile wrote and I imagine that if you are reading this blog you have heard, sung or danced (like me) to it on more than one occasion. You may even have it on your iPod (I do!).

To me, Amanyara is perfection. It is naturally beautiful and so relaxing. You can see it for yourself at their website as the pictures there are much better than any description I could attempt to give. But, at this time of year despite the warm and consistent tropical breezes, it is HOT.

I love the beach, and at Amanyara, you always meet interesting people there. On an earlier trip, I met two High School Musical stars playing like little children on the beach, away from the harassment that probably surrounds their lives. After speaking with them throughout our trip, I found they were really down to earth, and well, just "kids." This week Victoria's Secret finished a photo shoot here, and some of the models decided to stay longer. If you want to be humbled quickly, hang out at the beach with super models.

You may be wondering, what does all of this have to do with anything? When we are hot, most of us sweat. And while this is not a problem when lying on the beach, it is a genuine problem for my clients in a television studio. Some people really sweat -- bad! I think former DC Mayor Marion Barry gets my all time award for outstanding achievement in perspiration. Every time he came into the studio, even in the dead of winter, he would be perspiring profusely. But then again, the questions that he was being hit with at the time would probably have made anyone sweat (not to mention other potential causes).

Today, HDTV is not a friend of sweat -- every little bead of perspiration is magnified a million times and can make a television guest look like an exhausted runner at the finish line of the 26-mile Marine Corps Marathon. Anyone that has visited a television studio knows how the directors try to combat the problem of perspiration -- they keep the room freezing cold! Studio A at NBC in Washington, DC (home of Meet the Press) is like a large walk-in refrigerator. Some people are even rumored to have encountered hypothermia at David Letterman's show.

OK, so you are probably asking yourself, what is the point of this blog? Well, I promised to share some my most secret tips with you, so you can look your best - anywhere and in any situation. Here's the first one:

TIP No. 1: I frequently work with clients that perspire and can't let it show. Perspiration doesn't look good on-air and instills in the viewer a lack of confidence. Instead of thinking about what someone is saying, the audience is wondering why he or she is sweating. Are they nervous? Hot? Lying?

Here's how I help my clients avoid this sweaty situation:

If you get warm under the lights, or any outdoor event or potentially "sticky" situation (outdoor weddings), don't let anyone try to apply antiperspirant or a simple cold compress to your face. The secret is Sea Breeze on ice. You can buy it right from your local drug store but if you don't have time to stop there, here's a link to stock up in advance at
1. Pour a cup of Sea Breeze in to a large glass and add ice cubes - it chills quickly.

2. When you are ready to put on your make-up, take a cloth, dip it in the cold Sea Breeze and press the cloth on your skin. A well-prepared canvas is always a necessity!

3. Now you are ready to apply your make-up.

4. This trick seals up the pores for about 30 minutes, but after the makeup has been applied you can put the solution in a fine mist spray bottle and give yourself a spritz to continue the effect. (Make sure you close your mouth and eyes!)

I have even used this handy little trick on the sweaty palms of a few clients (nothing is worse than a clammy handshake!) Obviously, each one of us is different. As is always the case in TV, timing is critical.

I hope this helps. Life is stressful enough...but with this tip, there really is no need to sweat it. Enjoy!

*On a "footnote" you might ask how did I thank Nile for taking us on a great vacation? No make-up, but a much-needed pedicure! Nancy did not need one, but she filmed it. Watch this:



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