Miss Ella (the daughter of some very close friends) got painted green yesterday and was in absolute ecstasy. Her birthday was earlier this month, and I gave her my last Fiona dress, altered to fit her, and a child-sized Fiona wig, complete with ears and the promise of last night’s makeover. She was a stunner.
I have to say it. I loved being Princess Fiona. Long, long before Hollywood, I saw Shrek and thought it was brilliant. I loved that there was a sassy, chubby princess. With red hair! Hello? All over that! Didn’t think more of it at the time, beyond thinking that they really, really needed more merchandise with the ogre version. Mostly so I could have let another doll in my action figure collection.
Anyway. We were hanging out in Hollywood one day after everything went to hell in Los Angeles. I can’t remember why we were there, but I do remember that we struck up a conversation with someone dressed as Cat Woman. She suggested that we get costumes and go out there to make money. The first several days it was just Jordan out there, in a Frodo costume, creeping the fuck out of everyone and only making a few dollars. I had an improvised can-can dancer costume, sort of vaguely Moulin Rouge, and I made even less.
It was right around then that Shrek 2 was coming out. One of the Marilyn Monroe characters suggested that I try dressing as Fiona. I’d already had a disastrous attempt at body makeup that I’d learned a lot from; I’d tried for one day to be a monochromatic Cleopatra since I look a bit like Theda Bara.
The makeup was a total boondoggle. It cracked and peeled and by the end of the day I looked upsetting. But I had learned a lot, and I was willing to give Fiona a try. Especially since she had a more conservative costume! We had to be creative; we took my senior prom dress and turned it into a bodice and paired it with a long green skirt that I already had, and the sleeves off of a third dress. We styled my hair the best we could, and Jordan made me a pair of “ears” that inexplicably were on top of my head like antennae. It was far from a good quality costume, and yet I made more money than we’d seen in a long time.
I used that costume for a few months while we slowly built a proper replacement. The first major addition was a wig, carefully styled to cover my ears so the Fiona ears we made stuck out properly. The skirt was replaced with a proper flowing one, and I kept adjusting the color of the makeup until it was perfect.
The costumes would each last several months; I probably had about seven in total. The wigs lasted longer, but I went through four of them over time. Every night I would hand-wash the costume and hang it to dry, or spray it down with Febreeze. The wig was aired out, often hanging out the window, because to de-style and wash it was incredibly difficult. I was extremely conscientious about keeping my costumes clean, well-repaired and smelling good, especially since I was a smoker. There were so many flat-out smelly characters on that street, and I refused to be one of them.
I did do a brief stint as Jadis, the White Witch from The Lion, The Witch and The Wardrobe. I needed a break from the green paint, although the elaborate ice-queen makeup took even longer. The amount of contouring that it took to make me look even remotely like Tilda Swinton is impressive, and I had to just sit and have my face painted.
But after a month or two, it was back to the green. When I left Hollywood, the last costume was pretty battered, so I didn’t keep most of it. Which was too bad, since everyone wanted to see me in costume as soon as they heard about it. I made one last costume, this one out of a simple, knee-length dress. Since I wasn’t struggling to survive, I took the time to do some really pretty embroidery on it. I made a new wig, not the highest quality (since there are not many professional wig shops on the Oregon coast) but certainly workable. I wore that costume for two Halloweens, even though I really wanted to wear something else for a change. But when I went back to Hollywood for a visit, I spent one day being green, just for old time’s sake.
And so, I could tell Miss Ella truthfully that I had really, really worn that dress in Hollywood, which made her all the happier. Most of the pictures I took of her were blurred as she danced and spun in her joy. I could not wish for a better place for that last dress to go. And it gives me tremendous pleasure that Fiona could make one last little girl very, very happy.