Awesome Exclusive Interview With Katy Perry’s ‘E.T.’ Makeup Artist: Kabuki!

Katy Perry from her ’E.T.’ music video and Kabuki.
Photo: Courtesy of Katy Perry’s Facebook page/Kabuki

ZOMG. So you’ve all seen Katy Perry’s “E.T.” video by now, right? Directed by Floria Sigismondi, the space-alien, fantasy scape is no doubt gorgeous, but the one aspect that we must pay heaping scads of homage to is how AWESOME the makeup is. We’d been stalking the looks for weeks now, but when Katy revealed via Twitter yesterday that none other than THE KABUKI (you should totes follow him, he just joined) was the man behind the magic, we were just BESIDE OURSELVES with joy and excitement. Kabuki is an unimpeachable legend and GOD in the field. He’s worked with Madonna, Kylie Minogue, Michael Jackson, Lady Gaga and went so far as to be a consultant on projects with Kanye, the entire cast of Sex And The City, the Disney TRON movie aaaaaaand once upon a time even modeled for Thierry Mugler. We were lucky enough to catch up with the sickeningly talented artist to talk about what it was like onset at the “E.T.” video shoot, his proudest career moments, and Katy Perry’s plans to send Russell Brand into outer space! Literally!

Whoa, so you’ve worked with EVERYBODY, but let’s start with your latest project that premiered just today, Katy Perry’s “E.T.” video. Super ambitious, right? What was the process like?

Makeup megastar and fantasy god Kabuki: I received the 24-page treatment and my imagination started working overtime. The director, Floria Sigismondi and Katy already had mood and a story line, so I did an outline sketch of Katy’s face so I could illustrate my makeup ideas on paper for their feedback. We agreed on our favorites. There was a great creative synergy on the set. And we chose an alien look, a fawn look and a tribal look.

Crazy hours?

There were two shooting days, and Katy was totally hands on in the best possible way. She knows what looks good on her but allowed me the freedom to do my thing. Both shoot days were long (the second day was, like, 15 hours), but we got it done and it was exciting to see her perform and bring the looks to life.

Two days to get all those looks. Wow. Were you nervous at all?

One of my biggest worries was, ’Is Katy Perry going to sit still for hours in a makeup chair and let me go a crazy with her face? [But] Katy is quite a trooper and a delight to work with. We developed a great rapport and she told fun stories, like how she wanted to buy her new husband, Russell Brand, tickets to a flight to outer space.

As you do…

James Franco on the ’Candy’ cover and a ’Vogue’ cover.
Photo: Courtesy of Candy/Vogue

Name some people, living or dead, that you would lovelovelove to work with?

Cher, first and foremost; David Bowie in 1972, his glam rock period (I wouldn’t be a makeup artist if it weren’t for him); Grace Jones; Elizabeth Taylor; Greta Garbo – an endless list, really.

’Paper’ magazine cover and the NARS Fall 2005 ad campaign.
Photo: Courtesy of Paper magazine/NARS

Man, you’ve given us so many memorable moments. What career highlights are you most proud of?

Working with Michael Jackson for Ebony and L’Uomo Vogue. Those were his first photo shoots in 10 years, and they wound up being his last. That’s something that I’ll always cherish. I’m also proud of my work with Lady Gaga for the 2009 VMAs because it seemed to me that that was when she had arrived. Kylie Minogue is awesome to work with. And all of these shoots that I’ve done with fashion photographer Steven Klein.

Amazing. *swoons*

Michael Jackson on the cover of ’Ebony’ and ’L’Uomo Vogue.’
Photo: Courtesy of Ebony/L’Uomo Vogue