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Bloody Fabulous

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    Hollywood makeup artist Steve LaPorte shows off some of the handiwork that earned him a long-running stint with "Lost," as well as positions on films such as "Terminator 2," "Beetlejuice" and the recent "Pirates of the Caribbean: On Stranger Tides."
    Steve LaPorte also worked on Johnny Depp's pirate look on the set of "Pirates of the Caribbean: On Stranger Tides," which filmed in Hawaii.
    As head makeup artist for "Lost," Steve LaPorte worked on Daniel Dae Kim.
    As head makeup artist for "Lost," Steve LaPorte was responsible for the sometimes bloody look of Matthew Fox.

This time of year, Hollywood makeup artist Steve LaPorte might be trying to market his various ghoul kits — all-in-one makeup ensembles he designed to create perfect monster, undead, and bruise and trauma effects for film and television.

There’s "Here-After," a palette of dark and greenish hues for vampires, zombies and other undead, "Clown Alley" for circus oddballs, and "Frekyll-n-Hide" with 18 cream blues, purples, flesh tones, grays and maroons for making scars and bruises.

LaPorte also created a special "Lost Island" collection while working as the head makeup artist on ABC’s "Lost" to keep his crew members working in the same color range for the show’s multitude of characters.

But his kits, usually available at his website,, sold out before the Halloween season, and he just couldn’t find time in his hectic schedule to make up any more.

Even so, Halloween ghouls can be created with commercial cream-based cosmetics, and LaPorte shares some of his tips for creating Halloween-worthy looks on Page D8.

After his long-running stint with "Lost," LaPorte went straight to work on Disney’s fourth "Pirates of the Caribbean" movie, filmed on location here, then worked on the set of Universal’s "Battleship" before returning home to Los Angeles last weekend.

"I’m doing what’s called R&R," he said. "I’ve been on location six years and never had a chance to relax. It was a long time to be gone from home."

Beyond working on facial makeup, which is sometimes a simple matter of masking or correcting an actor’s age spots, rosacea or other skin conditions, LaPorte is a man of many skills. He calls on his knowledge of prop building and prosthetics to form unusual noses or create such details as bone ornaments through earlobes and noses, larger pieces of exposed bone that might result from a battle or accident, or an arrow through the neck.

He’s worked on projects as far-ranging as the television series "ER" to the movies "The Color Purple," "Thelma and Louise," "The Scorpion King," "Terminator 2" and "Beetlejuice."

LaPorte grew up in Oklahoma City with a love of building models and working with his hands, and in high school won a scholarship to become a commercial artist. But just before he was to enroll in college, he ran off to join the Ringling Bros. and Barnum & Bailey Circus.

"I saw an ad and was willing to act like a fool. I thought I was auditioning to be a clown, but ended up in clown college. I learned how to walk on stilts, how to make costumes, props, everything.

"It was all show biz, and that’s where I got my ethic of ‘the show must go on,’ no matter how hard it gets."

While mastering heavy-handed clown makeup, initially using his palms and fingers as tools, he learned a little more finesse by working on the circus showgirls’ makeup as well.

AFTER FOUR YEARS with Ringling Bros., he gravitated to show biz central, Los Angeles, where he took a job during the late 1970s as a tour guide at Universal Studios. One of the tour’s features was making up members of the audience to look like the Bride of Frankenstein or the Incredible Hulk at a time when the Hulk was the subject of a popular TV series.

Working with the prosthetic nose and forehead was "real natural for me to do," he said, and LaPorte quickly found work as a lab technician, creating fake arms for Robin Williams on the set of "Popeye," and at NBC, where he created the makeup for several game shows, including "Wheel of Fortune," and for Johnny Carson of "The Tonight Show."

Somewhere along the way, he met "Lost" producer Jean Higgins and worked with her on the TV series "Line of Fire." Although LaPorte did not work on the pilot of "Lost," the original makeup artist could not commit to being in Hawaii, and LaPorte was in.

He’d worked in Hawaii before, on the set of 2002’s "Windtalkers," with Nicolas Cage, and "The Rundown" (2003) with Dwayne "The Rock" Johnson. "It seemed I was coming back here every two years," he said.

Having so many productions in Hawaii "has given people who’ve worked on them a lot of experience. It makes it more valuable to the next person who wants to film here, knowing they can come down and reach out for help. There’s not one person who can do it all."

Ironically, LaPorte was to have worked on the first "Pirates of the Caribbean," which was released in 2003, but when its start was delayed, he took another job, and the timing of "Lost" left him unavailable to work on "Pirates" sequels.

On working on the "Pirates" set this year, he said, "It’s exciting to do a film like this because everyone loves this type of film. I remember going to see the first one and thinking, ‘I wish I was a part of this.’"


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