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page.gif (79 bytes)Be a Star
Be a Star
Make yourself over into your favorite celebrity with Devon Cass's new book Double Take: the Art of the Celebrity Makeover

Have you ever dreamed of dressing in drag? Before RuPaul, Priscilla, Queen of the Desert and The Crying Game who would have guessed that everyone would be doing it? Drag queens, once on the very fringes of society (both gay and straight) have stood up and made us all take notice. Now, even the butchest of gay men find themselves thinking, "Hey, I could do that," when they see a 6' 3" Elizabeth Taylor strutting down the street in all her glory.

Well, if you have thought about it, Devon Cass, a self-described up-and-coming fashion artist and photographer, has come up with just the right book for you: Double Take: the Art of the Celebrity Makeover.
Devon Cass has been making the drag rounds for years as a Cher impersonator. He's dedicated himself to perfecting his makeup, his singing and lip-synching and his attitude. In the process he's seen the good, the bad and the ugly in the world of drag. "I was inspired to do this book," he writes in his introduction, "because I saw many celebrity impersonators who were overdone, even harsh, and I knew they could be better."

Cass has rounded up some of the more successful celebrity look-alikes and takes you, step-by-step through the process of creating an illusion. Some of the people he helps to create are old staples like Barbara Streisand and Judy Garland and others are newer, though no less challenging, divas like Mariah Carey and Gloria Estefan. For those of you who aren't comfortable with dressing up like a woman, he's even thrown in a couple of men like Rod Stewart and Eddie Murphy. Each makeover begins with an introduction to the person being made up and why Cass chose him or her (some of the celebrity look-alikes are women dressing up as women). He follows that up with a brief description of the personality's qualities as a performer ("Barbara's taste is simple yet refined, elegant but never gaudy") to give you a few reference points when you get started. Then Cass's work really begins. He takes you, step-by-step, from what wigs to buy, to the size of the person's lips, to which shade of eye shadow to wear, through the creation of each celebrity. The directions are detailed, easy to read and cover essential minutiae the layman might overlook. After all, who knew that "the best Joan Collins colors include red, royal blue, gray, kelly green, white and black"?

At the end of each makeover Cass's co-author, John Filimon interviews the participants about their relationship with the performer they impersonateand all of them have made unique, personal connections: "I think I would just listen," says Jo Anne Meeks, when asked what she'd like to say to Marilyn Monroe if the two could meet. "Because I've always gotten the feeling that maybe no one ever listened to her."
If you've seen drag performers who make fun of their subjects more than they inhabit them, you'll be surprised by some of the answers. These men and women love, respect and admire the performers they are trying to emulate, which may be the true secret to their success. "I've been told by two psychics," says Richard Nardini on his impersonation of choice, Barbara Streisand, "that if I hadn't been born me, I'd have been born her."

While the people showcased in the book run the gamut from secretaries who impersonate for kicks to professional drag performersone thing they all share is a physical resemblance to the person they want to look like. Many of them have actually been mistaken for the personality while out of costumeand it doesn't seem quite fair to the rest of us. What if you weren't graced with Roseanne's pudgy cheeks or Diana Ross's full eyes? Not to worry. While some of the makeovers would be a bit of a stretch for the average person to pull off, the book is filled with tips on how to achieve certain details, like a thin nose or full hips, that any aspiring drag queen will benefit from. The entire first chapter is devoted to general makeup, padding and equipment tips, like "Creating Almond-Shaped Eyes," "Full False Eyelashes" and "Tucking," that will help out if you want to transform into Oprah or create your own character.

Whether you want to make it an every day habit or a once-a-year Halloween event, if you've got a future in drag, let Devon Cass show you the steps. As Venus Mercedes says: "I want to be Cher," and with Double Take, her dreams, and yours too, could easily come true.

They said...
A golf ball always travels furthest when hit in the wrong direction. (Henry Beard)
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