Saturday, May 30, 2009

Men with Eyeliner

Rudy in 1921's The Sheik

"I feel pretty, oh so pretty."
-- Maria, West Side Story (words: Stephen Sondheim)

"What a drag it is getting old."
-- the Rolling Stones, "Mother's Little Helper" (lyrics: Jagger/Richards)

***** ***** ***** ***** ***** ***** ***** ***** ***** *****

Specifically: actors. I've been keeping track for awhile now. I'm not talking about
the days of old when everybody wore it—especially Rudolph Valentino and his si-
lent-film brethren—but now that it's become more of a specialty item. Also, per-
iod pieces, drag fantasias, and Johnny Depp's Keef impersonation don't count.

I'm thinking specifically of straight-acting movie or television actors in straight-act-
ing roles (even if the actors or their characters aren't actually straight). Consequent-
ly, theater performers, where visible makeup is a necessity, and so-called metro-
sexuals also get the (designer) boot. Here's the list I started compiling last year.

Another Italian stallion

In the order in which I watched the movie or TV show:
1. Billy Campbell (Once and Again, The 4400)
2. John Cusack (Grace Is Gone, War, Inc.)*
3. Robert Downey Jr. (yes, Iron Man wears make-up)
4. Ray Liotta (Battle in Seattle, Observe & Report)
5. Al Pacino (everything, all the time)*
6. Jason Statham (The Bank Job)**
7. Nestor Carbanell (The Dark Knight: Batman Returns)
8. Hart Bochner (The Starter Wife)
9. Ryan Reynolds (Adventureland)
10. Chris Pine (Star Trek XI)

Pine as James T. Kirk by way of Alex De Large

*Cusack and Pacino worked together in City Hall, but I'm
certain the former was sporting liner prior to that project.

** All the men in The Bank Job appear to be wearing eyeliner. Granted, Roger
Donaldson's film is a period piece, but Statham plays a Steve McQueen-style
bank robber who headbutts an opponent, so the liner was an unexpected touch.

***** ***** ***** ***** ***** ***** ***** ***** ***** ***** ***** *****

I realize this survey may seem superficial, but that's kind of the point. I'm not suggesting that these actors are vain—though that may be a factor—but that they, their makeup artist, or director view eyeliner as a way to enhance their on-screen image. It also adds an intriguing, possibly unintentional whiff of sexual ambiguity.

And since I was thinking specifically of men who aren't known for wearing cosme-
tics and extravagant outfits off the set, maybe Pacino shouldn't count. (Mickey Rourke with his godawful shiny suits most definitely does not.) Pacino's also been looking rather orange lately—especially in the unnecessary Ocean's 13—so he's eith-
er going crazy with the bronzer or he may want to cut back on the beta carotene.

The Orange Italian Stallion and the Chicago Kid

Sidenote: In Pop Star on Ice, Johnny Weir extols the virtues of Laura Mercier. His friend, Paris, adds that all male figure skaters wear makeup whether they care to admit it or not. Aside from the fact that he isn't an actor, I'm leaving Weir off this list since he has more of an off-the-ice penchant for lipstick and mascara than eyeliner (the next Pop Star screening takes place at the Kirkland Performance Center on 6/5).

Endnote: Images from This and That and More of the Same,
The Cinema Source,, and People.

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