Sometimes, the best costume isn’t even a costume in the first place.
The art of body painting itself goes back to ancient times, but it saw a massive revival in the 20th century, with anyone from sports fans to performers to people who are just enthusiastic about body paint using their bodies as colorful canvasses. Who hasn’t seen a guy wearing his favorite team’s colors (usually accompanied by a ridiculous wig or hat)?
Skin City Body Painting takes body paint to a whole different level. Skin City is a recent addition to the Las Vegas Arts District that works with convention models, performers, partiers and more. They’ve painted for Electric Daisy Carnival, Midsummer Night’s Dream Party at the Palms and even Penn and Teller’s Showtime show.
We had a chance to talk to owner Robin Slonina about this cool new addition to Las Vegas and what they do:
VEGAS.com: What is Skin City?
Robin Slonina: We’re a full-service body painting studio. We do events from start to finish: We have models we can provide, we do full or partial body painting, we do face painting, temporary tattoos, henna and glitter tattoos.
We have circus-style talent, like aerial acts, contortionists, go-go dancers, etc — we can provide a broad spectrum of entertainment to go along with the body painting. We also do special effects makeup.
VEGAS.com: Is there a “typical” client or does it vary?
RS: We have a lot of different clients. We do film & TV shows, in fact, we just did “Hell’s Kitchen,” we’ve done stuff for MTV, and we also have corporate clients. We’ve also done body paint for conventions and of course, private parties.
VEGAS.com: Why do people get their body painted?
RS: A lot of people do it for fun and party. We’ve had requests for embarrassing bachelor party paint, something like putting butterflies on a guy so they have to spend the day at the pool looking like that.
Yesterday, one customer lost a bet with a friend and he had to shave his head in a Mohawk and have Chinese calligraphy painted on him to look just like [MMA fighter Chuck Lidell]. All because [Lidell] lost a match.
We’ve also painted a lot of attendees for the Halloween Fetish & Fantasy Ball. We actually painted 40 people over Halloween weekend. You don’t have to be a model, you don’t have to have a perfect body, we will make sure you’re comfortable and that you look your best.
VEGAS.com: How is painting on skin different from using another medium?
RS: When you’re painting on skin, it’s a whole new set of materials: Only FDA-approved paint that’s made for body painting.
The big difference is that you’re working on a living, breathing human being who moves when they laugh, or when they talk and breathe. They can be ticklish, so there’s an extra challenge and it definitely takes an extra steady hand to do it well.
These materials won’t smudge or smear all night — it has to be removed with makeup remover that we provide. It feels like a second skin, yet ironically you feel clothed.
A lot of people that are shy at first feel almost like they’re dressed when they’re done. Sometimes, part of the fun is having someone help you take it off.
VEGAS.com: What are some of the parties and events Skin City has done?
RS: We painted the SoBe snake girls for MTV Spring Break Vegas. There’s another show, Bad Girls Club, on Oxygen and they’re going to have a body paint episode we were involved with.
We’ve done body painting for the Palms’ Midsummer Night’s Dream party for two of the last three years. We also had some Klingons at the Star Trek convention, with the prosthetic forehead ridges — that’s where the SFX makeup comes in.
VEGAS.com: Since you’re located in the Arts District, are you doing anything at First Friday?
RS: [Tonight] is a special night for us, actually. One of our star artists is making her singing debut tonight and we’re also body painting a contortionist who works at Absinthe.
She’s German, so we’re painting her like a “German girl.” She brought these big heavy beer steins she’s going to be doing hand balancing with them. It’s going to be a fun night!
VEGAS.com: What’s the most interesting skin paint request someone has made?
RS: At David Saxe’s VEGAS! The Show, there’s a portion of the show where they pay tribute to the hotels that are now gone. So for the red carpet opening, we did body painted models representing each of the imploded hotels in Vegas. That was fun, challenging and a cool event.
We also did one job that was very memorable where I painted a woman that was celebrating her 20th wedding anniversary. She asked to be painted like a tiger, and she surprised her husband when he got home. She later said that he loved it and he was shocked and thrilled for it.
Skin City Studio & Boutique is at 1209 S. Main St. and in addition to body painting, they sell jewelry, art and other merchandise.