If you’ve been to Vegas or searched random things on Google, you’ve probably seen people dressed only in body paint. We talked to the “it” girl in body painting and discovered that it’s not just a strange way to play dress up or an excuse to get naked.
Robin Slonina owns her own body painting studio called Skin City in Las Vegas and is also a judge on Skin Wars, a body painting competition on Game Show Network (yes, there is a reality show about this and it.is.intense).
Rest assured, this isn’t about doodling designs on your body with Crayola paint. Robin received a fine arts degree, and prior to body painting she was a mural painter in Chicago. She moved to Las Vegas after falling for a Cirque du Soleil performer and found a way to make her art thrive in Sin City… by painting murals on bodies.
Photo credit: Square Shooting
It’s not just about stage shows, pole dancers or contortionists. She has private clients, too, and that is where the magic happens. “A lot of people from all over the country and all over the world find our website. They actually plan trips to Las Vegas specifically to come to Skin City and get body painted,” Robin explained. “We’ve had a school teacher from Iowa come just to live out a fantasy of getting painted like Wonder Woman with full pampering.” Think of it as a spa weekend getaway without the massage.
The transformation is something Robin describes as rewarding. “Most of these women have never had a makeover like this so when they look in the mirror it’s just amazing to watch their expression as they really start to fully embody this transformation,” she says. “The way they walk is different after they’ve been painted.”
Photo credit: Steve Horlock
One of the most emotional jobs she’s had is with military wives who came in and got painted in their husband’s army fatigues. Most jobs involve a photo shoot and these are no different. “[We] send the pictures off as a reminder and a token of love to their partners who are quite isolated,” said Robin.
As you can guess, it takes a long time to get body painted. Robin can really get to know her clients. They share stories and even have to take laughing breaks. “When you’re body painting someone it’s almost like [being] a hairdresser. They really open up and they talk. It can be quite an emotional and almost spiritual experience.”
Photo credit: Lisa Rose for GSN
And did we mention funny? Several grooms have actually come to the studio to get the famous Mike Tyson tattoo painted on their face a la The Hangover film and surprise their brides at the altar. Robin has also done zombie-themed weddings and weddings where the bride and groom were painted into their gown and tuxedo. Clothes are overrated anyways, right?
I’m starting to imagine all the possibilities — just think of Coachella. Your own temporary tattoos for summer beach days? Decorating your arm before girls’ night out? You may not be a trained fine artist, but Robin doesn’t think that should stop you from having some fun with body paint. “You can always find good, fun reference pictures online,” she points out and recommends starting with patterns like cheetah spots and zebra stripes. “It’s a really fun way to heighten your outfit for the night.”
Photo credit: Lisa Rose for GSN
And getting the supplies is as easy as buying makeup. Robin recommends Chromacake by MAC, sold at select MAC stores, or Makeup Forever products which are carried at select Sephora stores. “You can [also] experiment with pressing cosmetic grade glitter into the wet paint.”
In the meantime, for more inspiration, you can catch Robin and the outrageous body painting competition on Skin Wars, premiering tonight 9/8c on Game Show Network.