Diary: Star Trek: Voyager, 1995.
akeup legend Dick Smith selflessly shared information and formulas with any monster maker or makeup artist who would ask him. Among his discoveries were tenacious makeup adhesives. In the 1980s, Dick came across Pros-Aide, which was originally designed to glue heart monitors to premature babies.
Dick’s apprentice, Kevin Haney (The Shawshank Redemption, Driving Miss Daisy, Altered States), further discovered that adding zinc oxide powder to Pros-Aide made it bond like nobody’s business; the zinc created some kind of molecular action that increased adhesion roughly 300 percent. After Kevin told me this, I always kept a small container of zinc oxide powder in my set kit. I used it occasionally on actors who sweated a lot and had a 16-hour filming day ahead. Kevin’s trick always worked — no appliance I ever glued on with it ever moved.
Once on a Star Trek show, we had a guest actor — I’ll call him John. Belinda Bryant did his makeup for his first day, which included a big scene scheduled for the end of the night. Belinda was extremely talented; she had begun her career studying under another legend, William Tuttle (The Wizard of Oz, The Time Machine, 7 Faces of Dr. Lao). Around 11 p.m., the first assistant director yelled out that John’s scene was next. She always yelled. It was always unpleasant and she was not well-liked by the crew. Belinda went to touch up John. A few minutes later she came to me with a panicked look.
“I can’t get his appliances to stay on,” she whispered. “They’re literally sliding off his face.”
She took me to a corner of the stage where John sat. He looked out of sorts and didn’t say a word as Belinda and I cleaned his skin with alcohol and tried re-gluing his appliances. We tried Kevin’s zinc oxide trick. Nothing worked. The rubber pieces floated on John’s face like a slab of butter on hot toast.
“Better tell [the first A.D.],” I said. The look on Belinda’s face sank as she went to find her. As I tried again to re-glue, I heard a scream from across the stage: “Well, you’d better find a way to fix it! I don’t care what the problem is!” Although it’s unusual for A.D.s to scream, she proved daily that there’s an exception to everything.
Belinda came back, shaken. It hurt to see her that way. Among the many day-player makeup artists at Trek, she was one person you could always count on: She was first to arrive, did great work, and always had a smile.
“He’s my responsibility,” she said glumly that night. “I’ll take whatever goes down.”
The first A.D. came over. “Well?” she glared. Belinda said, “It’s just not working. I can’t —”
“He’s up in five minutes. Fix it,” she spit out and stormed off.
John shifted in his chair. He had been silent this whole time. Belinda went after the first A.D., repeating what she had just said. The screams just became louder; it was ugly. Belinda came back, close to tears. She struggled again to try and repair the makeup, saying softly, “Mister Westmore’s never going to hire me again.”
Suddenly, John blurted out, “All right! It’s my fault! I’m sorry!” Belinda and I stood back. “I drank an entire bottle of wine last night.”
“What… why?” I asked.
“I was nervous about this role,” he confessed. “It’s tough being a struggling actor, trying to get work … I hadn’t had a shot like this in a long time … I had a bad night. I’m sorry.”
I went to find the first A.D. and pulled her aside. I said, “We’re going to have to shoot John’s scenes another day. No glue will — ”
She interrupted, “I already told you —.”
The more she yelled and interrupted, the quieter I spoke. It forced her to shut up and listen. “John drank an entire bottle of wine last night,” I explained. “That alcohol is now leaching through his skin, dissolving the glue. Any glue we put on dissolves immediately. There is no way to fix this tonight.”
“I don’t care how much he drank — ,” the first A.D. tried. I cut her off.
“No matter how much you yell, no matter how much you want this scene to happen tonight, there is nothing anyone can do to change the situation. It is physically impossible to stop it. So please cut your hysterics and let’s reschedule for Monday.”
The first A.D. opened her mouth but I stopped whatever venom was about to spew out with: “Or I can call [the producer] at home and explain the situation — including your screaming fits and why you aren’t working to help the situation.”
She stared hard at me. Finally, she turned on her heel and tramped off. I heard her across the stage, gaily shouting to the crew, “That’s a wrap! Tonight’s scene is now first up Monday. Everyone have a great weekend.”
Mark Shostrom began his 35-year career at the birth of the golden age of practical makeup effects in 1980. He designed the special makeup for cult classics Evil Dead II, A Nightmare on Elm Street 2 and 3, From Beyond and Phantasm 2 and 3. Moving into television, he won Emmys for The X-Files, Buffy the Vampire Slayer and Star Trek: Voyager. He can be found on Twitter and Instagram under his commonly used pseudonym @markshostrom. His blog is https://markshostrom.weebly.com.