Local boy makes gore

Vincent Damyanovich

Photo By Larry Dalton

Vincent Damyanovich, a 21-year-old Sacramento native, has just returned from his third season as a theatrical make-up artist at the Universal Studios theme park in Hollywood. After a harrowing Halloween spent transforming actors into vampires, ghouls, murder victims and other unsavory specimens of the un-dead, Damyanovich’s come home to walk among the living.

How did you get started doing theatrical make up?

When I was like, 8, I was already getting into my mom’s make up and making myself up. … When I was in fourth-grade, I bought my first set of grease paints. … I got into the gory monster stuff because I stumbled onto this book, Grande Illusions, by a make-up artist named Tom Savini, who did Friday the 13th and Dawn of the Dead and all the really bloody ones. … I fell in love with all that stuff. So I started making up myself and everyone on my block. I would have, like, a fork coming out of me. I’d scare my neighbors, but that was my normal childhood. I’d be running around with my arm cut off, and everyone would be saying, “That’s the neighbor’s kid!” Then I went to L.A. … I’d always wanted to go to L.A. to be a part of the entertainment industry, wacky as it is.

Now you’re back in Sacramento. What is it about this city that keeps you coming back?

The trees, to be honest. It’s not that I don’t like L.A., but I need to un-plug. I get stimulated easily by all the stuff that’s going on, so when I come to Sacramento, it’s a different pace. … I think it keeps me well-rounded and more aware.

What do you do at Universal Studios?

I was a part of their effects team for Halloween Horror Nights. I’ve been doing that for three years.

What happens on Halloween Horror Nights?

The people [I make up] are called “scare-actors.” There are mazes in the park. They close the park down; people run around with chain saws and scare you. We make people really bloody and scary and send them off, and that’s what it’s really about.

What were you for Halloween this year?

I went drag this year. As no one in particular. I think I was just going for the “sexy woman” and that was it. … But it was fun. You know, I don’t dress as a woman that much. Actually, this was the first time.

How did you look as a woman?

You know, I think I have decent legs.

Did you shave them?

No, I had a couple of layers of panty-hose and some awesome fishnets. Then knee-high white vinyl boots and a vinyl black mini-skirt. And I did my make up.

Is the gory monster stuff your favorite work?

No. I can do that, but I don’t want to be caught up in that. … I don’t want to be “the gore guy.” I can do it, and it’s fun, and I can be really sick with it, more sick than I should probably show … but what I am really into, for the immediate future, is characters. It’s easy to do the gory stuff, but to take someone say, historical, and actually sculpt that … I’d like to do something more positive. I want to make something that’s more of a challenge and something I would want to look at.

What’s the best transformation you’ve ever created?

I turned this one guy into a Hellraiser kind of a character. I slit, like, four or five giant gouges into his head. I had to do it really fast, and it was made out of toilet paper and latex.

Where do you find your supplies?

Some of it I bring back from L.A. In Sacramento, there’s Broadway Costumes, which is one of the older make-up stores around. I love Broadway Costumes. I actually grew up on Broadway Costumes. … It’s over on Franklin Boulevard. They don’t have all the stuff that I need, but for starting out, they have enough so that you can get lost in it.

What are you like at the movies?

I want to watch a movie where I’m just watching the movie, but I can’t, and it’s really sick! I watch everything. I look at the sets, the make up, the lights … even the extras. Like, “Did that person smile? He’d be fired!”

What movie make-up inspires you?

John Carpenter’s The Thing remake has some really scary make-ups. Also subtle character make up—like in True Romance, the pimp, Gary Oldman? His hair and all that. It was very subtle, but Gary Oldman looked so different. … Or Jack Nicholson in Hoffa. You know, the nose? Dick Smith is one of my favorite make-up artists. He did The Exorcist and The Godfather. Rick Baker, who did American Werewolf in London.

What’s your function in society?

Right now, I would say that my function in society is to stand for the possibility of self-creation. As a make-up artist, or an artist, or even a human being, I think my purpose is to keep creating and change it if I don’t like it. There’s power in that, an exuberant amount of power.