Strange Soil Brings Bright Blossoms

I wrote this a while back. I am no longer doing retail, at this job or any other, unless you count opening my studio up to sell my art. My career has since taken off, and I now do makeup full-time. However, it's good to remember the past. 

I also put this up as an example of how sometimes the way to a goal isn't quite as direct as one may think. I know many artists who refuse to take work that isn't directly in their specialized field. That is wonderful when one is established. However, oftentimes to get established, you have to look elsewhere for the tools to build your foundation. You have to think outside the box and find the things you actually require in order to meet your goal. In this case, I needed schedule flexibility and time to study between customers. This would not have been available to me as an esthetician, even if I hadn't gone and overqualified myself for work in even one of the major spas in town.

And without further preamble, here's a little blast from the past:

“Hey honey girl”. She has a whisky-and-cigarettes voice. She's impeccably dressed and manicured. She could be a Joan River's impersonator, and she's one of my favorite customers. She's in her seventies and she's here to rent porn.

I am a trained and licensed esthetician. I have a fine arts and theater background. I am educated and have a cutthroat business sense that rivals the shoulder-padded 80s power women. So why am I here, where I could be crushed by a giant silicone butt while dusting or where helping a hirsute cross-dresser find something frilly may leave him thinking we're soul-mates? It's not simply to critique the drag queens on their makeup while making sure they don't steal our size 11 shoes. I am here because I served my time in the high-end spas. When I discovered that my employer wanted me to cut corners in a manner that could leave clients facing blindness, burns, or infection, I left rather than endanger people who trusted me. I began working at a theater assisting disabled artists, and doing promotional work for a cosmetics company. Makeup opportunities started falling into my lap, and I loved it. Suddenly, my painting, sculpture, puppetry, costuming, makeup and skincare training fit together. It made perfect sense. My life became color, texture, and lighting...and I found home.

The spas called for interviews when they saw what I was doing with the makeup, promotions, and theater work. “Your resume is so amazing.” However, they wanted me to quit everything that made them dial my number. They loved what ambition had brought me, but only wanted it inside their doors. No freelancing and little creativity allowed. I decided against the dollars and found a job that would allow the flexibility needed for freelancing and family, pay rent on a very bohemian little studio, and let me constantly improve my makeup artistry,

I applied for a “retail sales” position, only to find at the interview that it was for a porn store (the company prefers the term “adult novelty boutique”). I accepted the position because they not only allow me to take time off to work on makeup opportunities, but celebrate it. Between customers, I am allowed to browse makeup forums, read makeup books, and draft face-charts. I get paid $7.75 an hour to multitask and learn. I cater to people's kinks in order to pursue my passion. I give sex education so I have the luxury of continuing my education. I stress safety with both jobs. My take no prisoners and brook no nonsense attitude has helped me fend off creepers here and keep my models safe and organized backstage.

“Honey girl,” her gravelly voice says while she points a midnight-edged purple nail at me, “don't rent this one. It stinks. Warn the other girls.”

This is not what I planned, but this is the strange soil my career is drawing sustenance from as it blossoms, reaching toward the photographers' lights.

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