Key lime hair with a side of porno: the Brande Baugh story

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Brande Baugh (left) mugs with Princess Donna, one of her porno makeup muses.

“My job is really weird. I think about that all the time.”

The Mission is a neighborhood accustomed to eccentric individuals. One would think Brande Baugh’s key lime hair and vintage Misfits t-shirt would make her fit right in. Yet her presence in a neighborhood cafe still elicited several stares when she walked in -- with her perfectly-curated face, pastel pink lipstick, and evenly-powdered face, Baugh looked like one of Warhol’s Marlyn Monroe silkscreens. Though Baugh stays pretty busy living and working in Los Angeles, she also has regular gigs at Kink, a San Francisco-based pornography website that specializes in bondage and BDSM

I’ve often imagined what it would be like to be a fly on the wall at Kink, so my talk with Baugh was particularly illuminating. Sample quote: “I’m about five inches away from a person’s face. People start to break down their barriers and tell me things. And when you work with people in the sex industry all bets are off. People just say anything.”   

San Francisco Bay Guardian: How did you start doing makeup at Kink?

Brande Baugh: It started off as a fluke. I did makeup for Pink and White’s first episode of the Crash Pad Series. A talent on that production was starting to work at Kink. The talent identified more with a butch aesthetic and needed to do a femme look for her shoot. So she asked me to do her makeup. After the shoot, Princess Donna, a director at Kink, asked who did the talent’s makeup. The next thing you know, they were calling me in for an interview.

For my interview I did Princess Donna’s makeup. She told me to go all out, so I made her look like a drag queen. Donna said she loved it. It’s really funny in retrospect because I would never do someone in porn’s face like that now. I’m sure Donna in part really liked me. In her mind I was hired, and I could have probably done anything.  

SFBG: What is it like doing makeup for porn stars?

Brandy's girls: Kink.com looks by Baugh

BB: There are simple differences in doing makeup for a porn production as opposed to a mainstream movie. A lot of the porn shoots I do are gonzo. I don’t have to stay on set all day, and it’s ok for people to see the makeup degrade over time. It seems like people feel like that’s more real. Also, I have to be really conscious about the makeup products I use. I have to use gloss lipstick and things that wear for a long time. I couldn’t use red lipstick. You have to keep in mind where this person’s lips are going to go. My job is really weird. I think about that all the time. 

I have found people in the sex industry to be very open and non-judgemental. I can say whatever I want while I’m at work. We can talk about the type of sex we like, our sexuality, and our gender freely. There is so much less ego in porn. That’s not to say there aren’t some divas. There are a wide range of people who work in porn. Some of the people go to school, some are moms, some are teachers. I’m doing makeup to make them look like they are all the same type of person, but they are all very different. Porn stars are producing something that there is an audience and a large market for, and it’s crazy how much shit they take for doing that.

SFBG: Where does sexuality and makeup intersect?

BB: As a makeup artist I’m creating characters who play out fantasies. Several of the people who work in porn are not the characters they portray. So I have to help transform themdon’t think most people would recognize porn stars if they saw them in the grocery store. There is a certain safety and anonymity behind having people wear this mask of makeup, and there are some porn stars who actually do look like porn stars. There are a lot of ways everyday people use makeup to express their sexuality as well. Sometimes you have to throw on a little red lipstick because it makes you feel sexy.

SFBG: Are you currently working on any other projects?

BB: Yeah, I’m working on a television show called Hollywood Nailz. It’s a show about my friend, a hair stylist, and I, and our interactions with all the people we meet in the beauty industry. We will finish filming at the end of June. I’m really excited.

 

Hollywood Nails: A different shade of Brandy.

 

SFBG: How do you identify with your gender?

BB: Well I’m a girl. I’m a lady. I’m a real butchy femme. I feel like I can be anything -- I mean I’m a makeup artist, and I also went to school to be a mechanic. I like that dynamic quality. 

SFBG: What does creating a sex-positive space mean for you?

BB: For me, it’s a place where you can be whomever and not feel judged. People in a sex-positive space are interested in being progressively more open and aware. It’s about educating one another, but never in a negative way.