the ability to stand mystifyingly still is, obviously, important. but overall image is very important when you’re a living statue. your costuming and makeup can determine the number/kinds of people drawn to you, and subsequently determine your success as a busker.
first, you need to decide what you want to be. a realistic statue? a mannequin? a doll? a non-human creature? whatever kind of character you choose, really take the time to think about how you’d like the finished product to look. be mindful of how appealing your character will be to the general public. will small children be more likely to see you as a fairytale, or a nightmare? will you only appeal to people of a specific subculture? are you trying to make some kind of political or social statement that will offend more than half of the people who see you? you should be excited about your performance, but if you’re trying to actually make money, you should also try to create a performance that people of any age and lifestyle can be excited about, too.
now you need a costume. i’m a busker with a very limited budget for costuming, and i have no real sewing skills to speak of, so i have learned to be resourceful. thrift stores, department stores, ebay, etsy, amazon… it’s possible to find the perfect garment at an affordable price if you’re not in a rush. always be on the lookout. i’ve stumbled upon awesome costume pieces while shopping for other things, or just killing time browsing through stores i wouldn’t normally walk into. i have also spraypainted clothing to achieve the right color. this can be tricky or downright frustrating, depending on the fabric type and how well it holds the paint. also keep in mind that spraypainted clothing is stiff and easily creased, and it may not fit the same way or be as comfortable as when you first tried it on, pre-painting.
what about your hair? depending on your chosen character and costume, you may need to cover or temporarily change the color of your hair. hats, head wraps, and wigs are the easiest solutions. you can also use spray-in temporary color, or liquid makeup that’s designed to be used on hair. spray colors require a lot of shampoo to remove. liquid makeup works best on hair that is styled tight against the head, and any styling products you use should be completely dry before you start painting.
important costuming tip: try to cover as much skin as you possibly can! the less skin you have to cover with makeup, the less prep work you’ll have to do, and the less stressful your busking experience will be. but be conscious of the weather. too many substantial layers on a hot summer day will lead to overheating, sweating, makeup melting, and general unpleasantness.
and on the subject of makeup… unless you have experience doing theatrical makeup, this may require some practice. there will be some trial and error. some products may work better with your skin type than others. if you’re going for a realistic statue that is not a straightforward white or metallic, you may need to do multiple experiment sessions mixing and layering various products to get the look you want. note: any makeup can be rubbed off easily by clothing/accessories. try to keep the line where your clothing ends and your makeup begins away from body parts with lots of motion [wrists, elbows, shoulder area, neck, etc].
i have always bought my makeup from mehron [ http://www.mehron.com ]. most costume/party/halloween shops carry some mehron products. i’ll go through the list of products i’ve used over the years.
products that have not worked out for me:
– greasepaint / clown white : this provides okay coverage on my face, with a powder dusted on post-application to set it, but i always had trouble getting decent coverage on my neck and chest. it’s also a royal pain in the ass to clean off, and my troubled skin didn’t appreciate any of it.
– fantasy f-x : my experiences with the white/grey shades have been terrible. this stuff tends to flake off as soon as it dries. i do not recommend using the light colors for any significant coverage. i have never noticed the flaking issue with the dark colors, though, and have no complaints about the black/browns.
– hyper-formance creamblend : no. just, no. you’ll go through this fast trying to cover large areas of skin. it doesn’t really ever dry, so even if you set it with a powder, it’ll rub off pretty easily.
– starblend : this is wonderful as a setting powder, but i didn’t have the best of luck using it solo. it’s a dry powder that has to be applied with a damp brush or sponge. darker colors are easier to work with than lighter colors if you’re aiming for a solid finish. works fine for certain skin types, and a certain level of patience. but i decided it just wasn’t the best makeup for me after trying to work with it for a couple of years. getting consistent and opaque coverage with the white was too much of a chore for me.
products that i absolutely swear by:
+ metallic powder : amazing. it’s a loose powder that you can apply effortlessly with a brush, sponge, or your bare hands. a little goes a very long way. a word of warning, though: the gold, copper, and bronze will oxidize on your skin. these colors are not recommended for use in hot sweaty weather. you’ll end up looking like some sort of swamp creature.
+ paradise : this moist cake is a little tricky, but when you get it right, it’s fabulous. apply a thick coat with a lightly dampened soft foundation brush or sea sponge. allow to dry about 75%, then gently press some loose starblend on top of the paradise. the result should be consistent, opaque coverage. if you get this makeup wet after it’s dry and set, it will be a pain in the ass to fix. approach with caution.
no matter what kind of statuesque entity you’re going to be, put in the effort to be awesome! make sure your look is cohesive and as polished as you can possibly manage. this is not the time to do anything half-assed. remember, you’re creating an illusion. you’re creating magic.