Questions that I always get asked as a living mannequin performer
- How long have you been a living mannequin?
- It that a Wig?
- Are those your real eyes or contact lenses?
Contact Lenses, I had them specially made to look like painted mannequin eyes.
- How did you start doing this?
A question that I have been asked more times than I can remember.
My stock answer is
Well I saw a guy on Television trying to break the world record for standing still,so I thought I'd have a go. I practised, and got quite good, even being able to control my breath. Then I decided it was time to write off to the Guinness Book of Records, to find out what the exact record was. They replied, and the record was over Thirteen hours, which would have required serious dedication to break. So, what could I do with this new skill? I had remembered reading in a newspaper, quite a tragic case really, of a Woman who had stabbed and killed a man, in order to settle an argument as to whether he was real or not. He was standing in a shop window, made up to look like a mannequin. Taking heed of this warning for the future, I decided that there must be a market for this type of skill, and set abut practising to be a mannequin.
Standing still was only the start, next I had decided to study actual mannequins, how they posed, and what their faces looked like. Fortunately, at the time, I was on the health and safety board of the company I worked for, and I had been the previous year to a Health & safety exhibition called run by RoSPA (Royal Society for the Prevention of Accidents). I remembered seeing lots of mannequins on stands, demonstrating all sorts of safety equipment . It was coming up to that time of year again, so, armed with my camera, I travelled up the the NEC for one of the days of the exhibition.
I took loads of pictures of mannequins, their poses, their makeup, I'm sure any
onlookers would have thought I was mad.
I also picked up loads of brochures to get company names, as I thought that this would be a good place to get some work as a mannequin.
- Do you do your own makeup?
Yes, takes about 30-45 minutes.
- How do you make your face look shiny?
I used Stage makeup, but I don't use any powder, so that it looks shiny, like a mannequin.
The makeup took quite a while to perfect. I initially started with a water based makeup, but that ran if I got too hot. Then I started using oil oil based stage makeup, which worked a lot better.
- How do you manage to feel like a mannequin to the touch?
This one is a difficult one to answer, as I don't know how I do it, but apparently I do. I just try to only allow my limbs to be moved in the limited way you would a mannequins.
- How long can you stand still for?
I have managed 2 hours, but I normally like to do it in 20 minutes stints. I once stood for too long, and for a couple of months lost the feeling in in my toes.
- Do people really not realise that you are human when they are carrying you or
Believe it or not they don't, they just assume that I am a dummy, unless they are initially suspicious, or have been studying me closely for a long time, and even then they don't always believe their eyes.
- What do normally wear?
Something loose like a boilersuit/coverall, gloves, boots and (normally) whatever safety gear you are promoting.
I don't like wearing anything that is tight around my waist, so boilersuits/overalls are perfect, as you can't see me breathing.
Most of the work I have done has been for safety companies, so a boilersuit has always been provided. So I started collecting them, initially so that I could always provide my own, which would match the company's colour scheme, now it has become a.hobby, collecting unusual or company branded ones. So, I have been know to do a job, just to get hold of an interesting overall.
I once had to dress up as an Indian Chef, and the costume didn't cover my arms, and there were no gloves, and the feathers made me sneeze, so that was a bit of a disaster.
- Were did you do it first?
The first time was in the a shop window in Hackney (picture)
- How do you get the separate head effect?
I can tell you what it is not, and it's not and elastic band... I did try that but I found that they can constrict the neck too much. I find it is far easier to have totally removable head, as pictured here. I'll keep that one as a trade secret!
It had a display window that overlooked the road, which I thought was perfect.
So one day, I decided I would go there on spec, and ask if I could stand in the window. I packed my makeup, a real mannequin's wig that I had go from a shop fitters and a yellow overall that I had bought from Alexandra, as their scheme was Yellow and Blue.
I stood outside for ages, trying to pluck up courage to go in, eventually I did, and the manager said yes, probably through disbelief, and also relief, because they thought that because I had spent so long outside, that I was casing the place for a robbery.
- What do I do to relax at home?
This is a picture of me relaxing after a hard days work