Words: Jamie Tabberer; picture: Instagram/@itsravenhunty_/WoW
"I absolutely love Krystal Versace’s and Choriza May’s make-up," opines RuPaul's make-up artist, Raven.
We've just asked the Drag Race veteran - who appeared in season two of RuPaul's Drag Race and season one of All Stars - which class of 2021 queen she rates the highest for paint: Drag Race UK's Charity Kase gets the most detailed feedback.
"From beauty to crazy ghoul in one episode!" enthuses Raven, who met Charity on a walkthrough earlier this year. "I like the transformative aspect. Some of it is prosthetic, but a lot of it is painted on. In the US, Kandy Muse, Utica, Gottmik…"
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Suffice to say. she knows what she's talking about. As such, Raven's earned her own show Painted With Raven, premiering on WOW Presents Plus on 25 November.
The Painted With Raven elevator pitch? "Make-up artists come together from home and compete for $25,000. We don’t care what they’re doing outside of filming, whether they work somewhere else - if they’re Zoomed in for the time we need them, that’s all that matters."
Here, Raven - real name David Petruschin - reveals all about RuPaul's make-up routine, where she keeps her 2020 Primetime Emmy Award for Outstanding Contemporary Makeup, and why the Drag Race franchise is destined for "another planet..."
Tell us about Ru’s contribution to Painted With Raven as exec producer…
He’s always gunning for the success of his friends, the people he loves, and queens who have been on his show. For him to come to me and say ‘hey, do you want to do this?’ I knew he wasn’t saying, 'here, have a try'. He doesn’t want to do anything he thinks isn’t going to be successful.
Ru’s a genius when it comes to branding, putting things together, making things happen. It was wonderful to talk with him about that instead of ‘hey, what colour lipstick are we wearing today?’ It felt like family at work.
Was your job effectively remote?
I did it remotely as well, although I had a little more help: a small group of people in a tiny studio. Everyone was in their masks and shields. The contestants were at home, and whether they had someone running their lights and their cameras... I hope they did, I hope they had all the help they could. We never got to meet! It was me and a guest judge and the contestants, all virtual.
Were you in make-up for production meetings?
No. If I was asked to get on a Zoom call in a pinch, that’s not going to happen!
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Can you give insight into your routine when doing Ru’s make-up?
We get the costumes and unbox them - it’s like Christmas. I’ll get photos [beforehand] and start creating in my head, on my phone: ‘This dress with this make-up.’ 90% of the time Ru’s on board. There are times when she’s like ‘Uh… no.’ But she’s game for anything. Very rarely has she given me critique or feedback.
We start early in the morning and like to give ourselves a few hours, so we’re not rushed. We’ll have a few breaks. Who wants to sit in a chair for so many hours? But we have fun and go with it. There have been only two times where I’ve pained her and she’s gone: ‘I don’t want to wear that dress today,’ and I’ve said: ‘Oh my god…’ But whatever, we make it work!
You travel with Ru internationally...
I go anywhere Ru goes. If Ru’s in drag, I’m there getting her ready. I’d never let anyone step in and do my job. I make myself readily available, whatever part of the world. I still have my drag career, but that happens when and where I can. My priority has become Ru and that I’m there.
Has Ru ever done your make-up?
Never – he’s never had time! When we’re ‘off’ we don’t want to be in make-up. It would be funny to see. He has friends who come to set, and he’s put them in drag, and it looks wonderful. But he always says, when he paints himself, he tends to not go as big or bold.
You’re one of the few Drag Race family members who worked on and off-camera. What is that like?
I remember being on set for season two and anytime there was downtime, I was paying attention to people adjusting this, working on that, looking at the inner workings of the show. When I stepped behind the camera I was at ease - I already knew how it worked.
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Have you ever painted a celebrity’s face and it’s gone horribly wrong?
Only a few. I will say there was one time I did Ru’s make-up on season nine and thought I could get away with doing a show the night before and come in early the next morning… it was a mess. I said: ‘OK, no more of that.’ I go to bed at a decent hour, and I get up at a good time.
Which make-up ranges do you rate and why?
Anastasia Beverly Hills of course! They’re now international with anything and everything you can think of. In my make-up kit, and Ru’s, there’s a little bit of everything. In Ru’s, a little higher-end, because it’s Ru. I’m fine using cheaper stuff.
Do you get recognised out of make-up/drag?
I do. This nose, contoured or not, is very recognisable!
The mobile game RuPaul’s Drag Race Superstar – did you have any input?
When they presented it to me, I said ‘fabulous, this is the look I want’ – it was the all-beige look from Drag Race UK walk-through.
They sent back a rendering and I said: ‘Can you fix this, adjust that?’ It’s your likeness; you want to have your touch on it.
Have you played it yet?
I haven’t had time… I’ve been working on about 10 things! I played the original game that came out 10 years ago.
Where do you keep your Emmy?
It sits on my dresser next to the TV. It took three months to get here! For a while she was sitting in this beautiful box. My boyfriend said: ‘Why aren’t you putting that out?!’ He took it out, sat it on the dresser, and said, ‘right there.’
When people come over I of course have to let them pick her up to see how heavy she is. I still can’t believe I have one.
As a Drag Race creative producer, where do you see the franchise in five years?
I see more spin-offs in more countries. I don’t see this brand slowing down anytime soon. Drag has done something to the world. People are looking at its beauty - the glamour and fabulousness that is the transformation of make-up and the human body. The synching, the padding, the decorating. It’s a celebration of beauty in an extreme form.
I see Ru still hosting, still walking out there. I don’t see it going anywhere but up. And eventually, probably, on another planet.
Catch the premiere of Painted With Raven on Thursday 25 November exclusively on the streamer of all things drag, WOW Presents Plus. Subscribe via uk.wowpresentsplus.com.
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