Questions and Answers

Questions that I always get asked as a living mannequin performer

by - 07/06/2010

  • How long have you been a living mannequin?
    Since 1989.

  • 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 worked for at the time, 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 make-up, 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 make-up?

    Yes, takes about 30-45 minutes.

  • How do you make your face look shiny?

    I used Stage make-up, but I don't use any powder, so that it looks shiny, like a mannequin.

    The make-up took quite a while to perfect. I initially started with a water based make-up, but that ran if I got too hot. Then I started using an oil based stage make-up, which worked a lot better. Now I tend to use liquid latex

  • 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 dressing you?

    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?

    Normally chosen by the company employing me, but preferably something loose and cool, loose to not show that I am breathing and cool, as it gets quite hot under stand lighting and wearing make-up.

    Most of the work I have done has been for safety companies, and there is normally something loose available to wear like a boiler suit, although occasions you do get asked to ware safety clothing that is uncomfortably hot to wear

  • Were did you do it first?

    The first time was in the a shop window in Hackney
    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 make-up, 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.

    The Life of a Hire Shop Mannequin

  • 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!

  • What do I do to relax at home?
    This is a picture of me relaxing after a hard days work