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Real Beauty: Why did you go for such a bold lip color for this tour?
Gina Brooke: In the last few tours we focused on eyes and skin, but this show really called for a red lip. We had to have one that was reliable [it's not easy applying a red lip when people are changing their clothes and shoes] and long-lasting [the show has 21 acts!].
RB: So you created Aqua Rouge lip color, tell us about the process?
GB: Make Up Forever has been working on this formula for three-and-a-half years, and the shade for about six months. We went through six to eight different submissions until we got it right.
RB: Madonna has fair skin, but all the women in the show wear the color. Is it best for people with a certain skin tone?
GB: You know, I used to always say, 'Oh for blue skin you want an undertone like this color' But the Aqua Rouge pigment is so strong that it's really universal. That is what we were going for. If anyone goes to the show, you'll see that every one of the dancers is wearing it, and they are Caucasian, Asian, Latin, Black, you name it. Everyone has the red on and it looks amazing!
RB: So how often do you change her makeup in the show?
GB: In 21 acts there are six costume changes and I change her makeup three times. Each change is generally under two minutes, so there is no time for mistakes. She's dancing for an hour and a half nonstopit's just crazy she's going and going and going. She has the stamina and the drive unlike anyone I've ever seen before. It's quite amazing.
RB: You also do her personal makeup, are there certain looks she loves?
GB: We [makeup artists] like to switch things up, but Madonna is a creature of habitshe likes the same things all the time. She's always about creamy, beautiful skin, and strong cat eyes. We've had moments where I'm just like, 'Let's not do eyeliner!' Nope. She wants what she wants and at the end of the day she's her own boss.
RB: Has there ever been an instance where you were like 'try this' and she was not having it?
GB: All the time.
RB: What was the biggest thing you wish Madonna let you do?
GB: I made these lashes which I really loved, and I tried to put them on herthe top and bottom [very Twiggy 1960s]and while she was on stage, she was saying 'these lashes are in my eyes! It's bothering me.' It looked so amazing, but she has to be comfortable.
RB: You've been with her for 10 years and four tours. Does she ever make you nervous?
GB: Not at all. But if I'm not available for a show or if I have to train someone, it breaks my heart when I see people shaking. She's a normal person, don't worry! But people are so freaked out, not only because of the whole persona of Madonnashe's had a very long career and quite a reputationbut she's so precise and detailed.
RB: Have you ever messed up?
GB: I made the biggest mistake one year for her birthday: I bought her these really big makeup lights. The lights are so bright you can see everything, I thought since she's so detailed and so much about lighting, it would be perfect. But I really screwed myself: When she looked in the mirror, she was like 'Hmmm.'
RB: What was it like the first time you worked with her?
GB: It was really crazy, she totally threw me for a loop. I had never worked with anyone like her. I had all my stuff set out, and she was questioning everything. What is this? Why did you spray my face before the moisturizer? What's in it?...' She grilled me on every single product. If I didn't know my productthe ingredients, where it was made, why it was made, a story for everythingI don't think she would have felt comfortable with me. I thought 'Oh My God, this woman has worked with every great makeup artist. What am I going to do that's different? I will just do whatever she wants me to do and hope for the best.
RB: It definitely worked. Is she still the same way?
GB: Working with her, no matter how many years it's been, she'll always critique me. I like it because she makes me better at what I do. After working with her, I feel theres no other person that I could work with where I would feel inferior.