Sign up with your email address to be the first to know about new products, VIP offers, blog features & more.

Halloween makeup tips

By Posted on 16 11 m read 2.7K views

We interrupt this week’s programming to bring you some Halloween makeup tips!

If you want to look like the Henderson zombies, you’ll need these materials:

liquid latex
different color cream makeups
glicerine if you want them to look slimy and oozy (we didn’t use it)

And now, Mr. Henderson will show you how to create scars and rotting flesh:

Apply latex to skin in large areas. Let dry clear.

Create base of rotting color.

Pull latex off of skin to form boils and rotting flesh.


Halloween seems as good a day as ever to talk about death. Please check out what Neil Gaiman has to say regarding writers’ wills and then download the pdf for what to do with your literary estate. Thanks! Okay, back to costumes …


The costume party that led to my terrible hangover:

Kathy, Kenny, me, Mr. H; Ritchie (aka, the hangover-maker)

me and Mr H; Candy, Kathy, me, Rich

And a few choice costumes, as modeled by LitPark regular, Aurelio:


And last but not least… make-up tips from your favorite drag queen and mine!


Hello little fishes,

Halloween is just days away, and while the Fundamentalists are busy hiding their children from us pagans, I thought it was time to bring to light one of the truly dangerous practices of the season.

Halloween marks the one time of year when men of all colors, creeds, and sexual deviances (including heterosexuality) feel secure enough to present themselves to the world at large in the garments and accoutrements of the fairer gender.

Sure. It all seems like good fun. A cheap wig. Some dimestore makeup. Ha, ha ha, right?

But bad drag is quickly becoming a menace to our way of life. It’s a sign of our society’s diminishing industriousness and leads to all sorts of laziness and sloth. Like poor table manners. Or bad penmanship. Or starting wars in the Middle East with no concrete escape plan.

So this Halloween, I want all stout pink-blooded American men to take heed. To put a little effort into their drag. And to that end, I’m divulging the secrets of effective cross-dressing.

Publicly sharing drag techniques is a little like a magician sharing the tricks behind the illusions. I fully expect to be shunned by my fellow queens. But I cannot bear another seasonal sighting of a hirsute, six-foot, pot-bellied man wearing summer season Payless heels and a Jaclyn Smith Casual Elegance blouson:

So. Here is a complete and technical guide to effective drag. I urge you to spread this missive far and wide. Forward to your friends. Leave no e-mail address unturned. No blog unblogged. It’s time to end the scourge of bad drag once and for all.

Please. Think of the children.


[For those of you who’ve read my book, “I Am Not Myself These Days: A Memoir” (Harper Perennial 2006) some of this information is included in Chapter 11. For those of you who haven’t read my book, well, there’s a reason you feel uncool in social gatherings. Read the damn book already.]

LESSON 1: Good drag happens in this order:

Go out
Bring home random stranger, expose genitals, and try to forget everything the following morning.

I assume you have the drinking part down already, so I’ll skip those lessons.

LESSON 2: Shower/Shave

Prepare a hot hot hot shower or bath. Shave everything on your body TWICE in opposing directions. Even if you think it’s not going to show – shave it. It might later.
Areas to include: legs, ass, genitals, chest, neck, forearms, face, 1/2 inch around hairline, fingers, toes.

And yes. Arch pluck your brows. Will they grow back? Who knows. That’s to worry about tomorrow. (Mine did.)

LESSON 3: Tucking/Hose/Undergarments

There are several methods of tucking. Some more complicated and potentially fertility-threatening than others. I recommend the following middle of the road one… (Btw, if you don’t tuck, you’re not in drag. You’re in clown costume. And you should always wear something that will reveal that you’re tucked. Contorting your genitalia is the most sincere way to show that you care about your audience):

Must have: one pair of two-sizes-too-small nude colored spandex control panties. They must be thick and tough. Not dainty. You won’t see them when you’re through, so don’t worry about sexiness.

Start with the panties around your ankles. While your package is loose and steamy from the shower, bend forward. Reach around behind yourself and sneak up on your twig and berries. Grab it all while it’s least suspecting and pull backwards firmly. Show it who’s boss. Then quickly pull the tight panties up to trap it all in place. Breathe. Move around a little till it settles into its new home for the evening.

Quickly afterwards, pull on two pairs of panty hose. (We’re not talking L’eggs here. You need to buy Danskins type sheer tights. Mass-market pantyhose all have control top seams that start around mid-thigh. You need yours sheer and seamless all the way to the waistband.

If you want to start feeling sexy, now is the time to put on your decorative “outer underwear” and prance around a bit while pouring another drink. Your bottom half should now look like a naked Barbie Doll. And that should feel inspiring to you. And a little bit dirty.

LESSON 4: Makeup

No drugstore make-up. Tyra doesn’t wear it, and neither should you. Go to your local MAC counter. If you’re self-conscious about it, just tell the queen behind the counter that you’re doing a drag part in a play. But trust me, they don’t care. They’ll be excited to get the chance to advise someone other than a menopausal divorcee looking to “jumpstart her look.” (Apologies to my menopausal divorcee friends. But really. You know what I’m talking about.)

First up, if it’s going to be hot where you’re partying, I recommend spraying a little aerosol antiperspirant on your visage. Not a lot. Like perfume – just spray a cloud in the air in front of you, and step into it. This will help keep your make-up on when sweating like Rush Limbaugh coming off of Oxycontin.

Foundation goes on first. You will need three shades. One a little darker than your skin, one lighter, and one that matches perfectly. Buy the cake kind. Work a little moisturizer into your make-up sponge. It will help the foundation sink into your skin. Apply the darker shade of foundation first, on either side of the nose, to slim it. And underneath your cheekbones. (Not on top them. It’s not blush.) Perhaps dab some at your temples. And a little on your chin if it’s prominent.

Then apply the lighter shade of foundation on the bridge of your nose. At your cheekbones. On your eyelids.

Next, apply your natural shade of foundation. All over. Even lightly on top of the lighter and darker portions you just applied. Then blend blend blend.

(P.S. Don’t forget your neck and decolletage in all this.)

Finally, press on powder that matches your main foundation color. Not too much, or it’ll cake and crease. Just enough to take off the sheen and “set” everything up.

Your face should look like a mannequin’s. Only God can help if it looks like a mannequin from Barneys or one from Daffy’s.


Now for the fun bits of the make-up.

The eyes are the most important feature. First – eye shadow. (Please God, not blue. If the last time you noticed a woman’s eyeshadow was a hooker on Barney Miller, pick up an Elle magazine.) Use a couple of different shades. Think of your lid in three vertical zones. Nearest the nose, use a lighter shade. Even put a soft dot of almost pure white at the inside corner. Use your brightest hue (again, not blue) in the center. Use a darker verson of that same hue on the outside near the temple. Draw the shadow gently up into a point as it reaches your temples. And blend blend blend.

Remember. It’s not about color. It’s about dramatic shading. Think of yourself as a silent screen star. Especially if you get overly gabby when you’re drunk.

Now eyeliner: use pencil eyeliner that you can wet a bit. IMPORTANT: EYELINER DOES NOT SURROUND THE EYE. It should line about 3/4 of the outside upper lid, getting thicker as it reaches th
e temple. Same for the bottom, but not as thick.

And finally lashes. You need three pairs of uppers, and one pair of lowers. Press the three upper sets together before gluing them on. And set them towards the outside of your lid, extending just past where your normal lashline ends. Same on the bottom. Keep them far away from your inner eye corner or you will look inbred. (Apologies to my inbred friends, who probably are having a difficult time comprehending all this. Sound it out. Use your phonics.)

Now you may want to touch up your liner to cover any dried glue.


Moving on to the lips.

I can’t stress this enough: NO RED LIPS. Only about 3 women in the world look good with red lips. And one of them won’t be you. Bright red (and all dark colors) will recede the lips, highlighting your prominent lantern jawline. Just don’t do it. I admit, it’s tempting. Instead pick a neutral, slightly colored lip color. It should match one of the shades of your eye shadow.

I outline first, and touch up later. Tho some disagree. Line your mouth with a shade of pencil liner SLIGHTLY darker than your chosen color. This isn’t Spanish Harlem. (Mucho disculpas to my Spanish Harlem friends.) The liner should line up directly at the corner of your mouth, but then as it reaches center top and bottom, you can exaggerate slightly beyond your natural lip line. Shape it how you’ve always dreamed. Within reason. I’m not privy to your dreams, tho I’m sure many of them include moi.

For lipstick, I always mixed my own. Again, MAC. Mix up a batch of liquid lip gloss, bronze and gold metallic powders, and a neutral colored powder. Then brush the glop on, blending into the lip liner. As a stunning finishing touch, put a soft finger dot of your white eye shadow powder in the center of your lower lip as a highlight. Be sure to bring an extra brush and small vial of premixed lip glop with you when you go out. You will need to reapply.

Drink. (With a straw from now on).

Your face is done. That’s right. No blush. Your foundation sculpting should have already given you plenty of shading. Any more and you’ll look like the whore you’re trying desperately not to be. Whores should be felt, but not seen. That’s what my mother always used to say.

LESSON 5: Costume

This one’s up to you. A few tips tho. Think mini-mini’s to show off your tuck. Or very high slits.

And I will let no one walk out the door without an old fashioned lace-up corset. Buy a decorative one to wear on the outside and build the rest of the costume around it.

A corset is the ONLY way you will gain a waist and hips, which is the most prominent visual cue of the female species. I saw this on NOVA once. I don’t care if you’re already a thin-as-a-rail twink. Without the corset to reposition another couple of inches off of your waist and onto your hips, you’ll merely look like a twink in a dress.

But, since I’ve now convinced you to wear a corset, I must warn you – don’t eat anything after a light lunch on the day of your debut. You’ll be far too technically complicated – with the corset and the tucking and the costume layers – to, umm, as my grandmother would say: “make a BM.”

If your biceps and forearms are particularly muscular, here’s a little trick. Buy a pair of CHEAP pantyhose that match the color of your outfit. Cut out the crotch and toes and pull it over your head like a shirt. Pull the legs down off your shoulders. Wear this under your outfit, trimming away the neckline or whatever else you don’t want to see. It’s a very effective way to cover and draw attention away from your arms.

Shoes: if you can’t walk in 7-inch heels, you don’t deserve to wear them. Practice.

And please, wear something revealing. Tho many enlightened woman may disagree, the biggest part of being a woman is being sexy. Unless you’re Barbara Bush. Commendably, and blessedly, she doesn’t even try. (Apologies to my Republican frien….ah, fuck it.)

Two things I can’t help you with. Tits and nails. I always worked opera length gloves into my costumes, because I hated fake nails, and my hands are just too big. And my aquarium tits were my signature, worn in every outfit, so I never had to do the prosthetic route. Sorry. I hear oatmeal or birdseed in pantyhose balloons works. And will help you survive should you find yourself in a car wreck that isn’t discovered for weeks.

Drink more. It’ll dull the pain from the corset.

LESSON 6: Wigs

That’s right. “Wigs” – plural. One wig ain’t gonna do it. You’re not a chemo patient. (Apologies and best wishes to all my cancerous friends.)

Buy three wigs of the same color. If you can’t pin them together and style them yourself, take them to a friendly hairdresser. Tell them to “take it to the top.”

You won’t look sexy in a thin little bob. You just won’t.

Wigs go on last, of course, so you don’t mess up your make-up.

Use a wig cap to keep your real hair back.

Earlier, you shaved 1/2 inch around your hairline. You will want the wig-line to rest where your hairline normally does. If you leave your real hair unshaved, you’ll have to pull the wig forward to cover it, and it will look like, well…like you’re trying to cover your real hair. For those of you with receding hairlines, this may be your one silver lining. Sad, isn’t it?

Poke some bobbypins through your wigs until they dig into your real hair at the scalp. Losing your wig during the evening is a terrible tragedy. I’ve seen it happen once. And I’ve seen a disemboweled human once. Only the fallen wig still haunts my dreams.

If you’re very worried about g-force twirling, brush a line of spirit gum along your (shaved) hairline and press the wig into that.


Now take a deep breath (or as deep as one can in a liver-crushing corset) and head out into the world. You’ve done your part to rid the world of bad drag, and for that you can be proud.

What you do once you’re out at your parties in drag is your own responsibility. I would suggest you try something you won’t be proud of.

Looking as good as you do, it should come easy.

Happy Halloween, and thank you for making this world a prettier place. Please spread the word. Your ugly friends will thank you.

Hugs and Fishes,

P.S. My first atttempt at drag in my mother’s wig. As you can see, I was a natural:


Happy Halloween!

Share this article

What do you think?

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

  • Lance Reynald
    October 31, 2006

    Happy Halloween!!

    (enjoyed it all, but that last photo was so oddly beautiful in the most depressing way.)

  • Aurelio
    October 31, 2006

    Wow, from rotting flesh to glamour drag – you’ve covered it all!

    I have a free Halloween short story download (pdf) on my website to put you in the holiday mood – today’s the last day it’ll be available, so hurry on by! Enjoy!

    Happy Halloween, LitPark!

  • Carolyn Burns Bass
    October 31, 2006

    I picked up some new make-up tricks from Aqua. Can’t wait to try the soft dot of white in the inside corner of my eyes.

  • MOM
    October 31, 2006

    Why didn’t someone teach me all of these stupendous make-up tips years ago! On the other hand, it might have been dangerous because I probably would have actually tried them. There just seems to be no end to the miraculous possibilities of pantyhose. Happy Costuming. MOM

  • Robin
    October 31, 2006

    Is it wrong that I wish I were a guy right now so that I could dress up in drag for Halloween?

    What a hoot!

    Love all the pics, too.

  • Aurelio
    October 31, 2006

    You could do “guy” drag, Robin. Didn’t Lily Tomlin do that, as a character called Rick?

  • Sarah Roundell
    October 31, 2006

    Happy Halloween, everyone! Awesome makeup on the boys, the costume party looks like it was fun enough to be worth the hangover, and I too took some fabulous tips away from Aqua’s blog. Hope you all have a sweet night filled with tricks and treats and I’ll be seeing you here tomorrow for Marcy’s interview.

  • Robin
    October 31, 2006

    Well, I do love Lily Tomlin…

    Girl to guy just doesn’t have the same finesse, though, does it? 🙂

  • Robin Slick
    October 31, 2006

    Okay, who is the new “Robin” impersonating me? Oh god, so now we have to use last names, too? How about if I just call myself “Slick”.

    Well. All I can say besides the above is — Sue, this has to be the very best Halloween post ever. I’m not even going to try and top it on my blog…in fact, I’m not even going to discuss Halloween at all anywhere but here, where you will be the first to see my official costume for the evening:

    Okay, I hoped that worked. In case it didn’t, I’m going to rely on Sue to fix it, but for those of you who still can’t figure it out, I’m dressed as Breasts by Gaiman.


  • Susan Henderson
    October 31, 2006

    Robin’s Halloween costume:

  • Robin Grantham
    October 31, 2006

    Ha. Sorry.

    I’m the Robin with the woman-to-man-to-drag queen fantasies. I can’t imagine why anyone would want to be saddled with that erroneously.

    Hmm…cat, mouse, Neil — I have definitely missed something important.


    (the unknown) Robin

  • Susan Henderson
    November 1, 2006

    Robin and Robin – There can never be enough Robins here, and I always know who is who, so you can use last names or not.

    Robin G – The cat, mouse photo refers to a recent Neil Gaiman signing. But it’s all better explained here:

    Sarah – Happy Halloween. I nearly took some Aqua tips. Josh and I met in the city on Sunday (me still hungover) and I was afraid to wear reddish brown lipstick, and then I thought, when do I ever do as I’m told, and I wore it anyway.

    Mom – I tried that too-small pantyhose trick before and the problem is it has to move everything SOMEwhere, and that would be the waist. (Thanks for the call today.)

    Carolyn – Who knew make-up tips would be such a hit?

    Aurelio – Don’t take that story down yet because I plan to read it this weekend. I haven’t had a spare minute anywhere.

    Lance – Isn’t that a great photo? All the pumpkins are from Aurelio.

  • Megan
    November 1, 2006

    That was so incredibly well rounded. What great zombies, I wish I had Halloween costumes like that when I was a kid.

    Then I would make Aqua be my friend and go trick or treating.

  • Pia
    November 1, 2006

    There’s a lot to say grace over here. Wow. The drag advice is heaven. The boils are yuck-o. The costume photos make me wish I’d had a reason to dress last night. Still, it was nice to answer the door and give cutie kids candy. Last October, our street had no power, no people, no plan. How much do I love those Snicker bites that’re still left in the mixing bowl? Much.

  • n.l. belardes
    November 2, 2006

    This is some funny shit.

  • Katrina Denza
    November 2, 2006

    This may well be favorite post of all. What a hoot! And I loved all the pics.

Susan Henderson