By Erin Williams

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Pasties, g-strings, and lots of glitter – that was pretty much the uniform on a recent Saturday night here in New York City at the Roseland Ballroom. Picture hundreds of people crowded around a stage full of nearly naked Broadway dancers who were perfectly bronzed down to, well, we’ll just say “down” and you can use your imagination.

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Ladies of Broadway get ready for the Carmen Miranda number

“Broadway Bares” is an annual event put on by Broadway Cares/Equity Fights Aids ( BC/EFA), which has being going on for the past 14 years. Just last year it raised almost $6 million to provide direct assistance for entertainment industry professionals and performing artists who are dealing with HIV and AIDS-related issues. But this is the theatre, not a bake sale, so you know it’s going to be fun. Everyone involved – dancers/choreographers/designers – volunteers their time, and the result is an enormous party with pounding music and a smoke machine on overdrive.

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MAC Pro Team member Keri Blair defines a performer for “Rain Men.”

“Broadway Bares” began unofficially by a “boy in the chorus” named Jerry Mitchell when he and eight dancers from “Will Rogers Follies” put on a strip show at a NYC bar and gave the $8,000 in proceeds to Broadway Cares. A tradition was born, and performers now clamor to get down to their skivvies in front of God and country. There are two late-night shows, and over 200 performers were on stage this year. A program of those proportions needs some serious makeup, and that’s where MAC Viva Glam fits in ( For the seven years so far, makeup artists, this year headed by MAC Pro Team member Keri Blair and numbering almost 50, have donated their time to help the cause. MAC itself, aside from donating the products used, also contributed $75,000 to BC/EFA.

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MAC artist applies liner to smoke up the evening

The crazy part is the hair, makeup, and costume designers don’t really all touch base until about three weeks prior to the event when the costume designers give the makeup and hair teams packets of research and inspiration they’ve put together.

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Bryan Carmouche applies fake tattoos from Temptu for AntiGravity’s “Crotching Tiger, Hidden Dragon.”

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AntiGravity performs

Makeup designers are generally chosen from MAC’s trainers or tenured artists, and this year they got to work with a Hollywood theme. Face charts are created, and each number has a captain in charge of the team working on those particular performers. There’s no dress rehearsal and the night of the show is generally the first time designers see their work implemented.

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Face chart for James Bond number

It’s pretty chaotic backstage with guys and girls in various states of undress getting full body makeup. When asked what products they go through the most, Keri replied, “gloss, glitter, lashes, and lots of bronzer.” She said most everything applied stays through the two shows and all of it is done by hand – no airbrushing here. “We’ve gotten really fast at working and blending by hand. Airbrushing requires proper ventilation and electricity, and the venue we are in doesn’t work well for that.”

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Jai Rodriguez sings the finale of the show

Stripping to songs such as “Singing in the Rain” to performances by “Queer Eye for the Straight Guy’s” Jai Rodriguez belting out “Fame – Gonna Live Forever,” performers flew through the air, congaed across the stage, and shook their money makers throughout the night for a wonderful cause.

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Entire cast bow

Originally published July 2004
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