Robin Barcus Slonina, artist and owner of Skin City Body Painting spent a month in LA judging 10 contestants on the upcoming Skin Wars, a competitive body painting reality show premiering August 6 at 9 p.m. on the Game Show Network.
Hosted by Rebecca Romijn, the show also features judges RuPaul, Craig Tracy and a handful of guest judges. We talk with Slonina (also one of the show's producers) about the experience and about the body as a canvas.
How'd Skin Warscome about? I had been in touch with many different production companies over the years. What I loved about Michael Levitt (Michael Levitt Productions) and Jill Goularte is that they really wanted to emphasize the art of body paint. They were smart, they were savvy and they did a ton of research. They studied everything—the history, the best artists of the day. Of course there is going to be drama inherent anytime you put a bunch of artistic types together, but I love that their main focus was in creating amazing art. They really wanted to get the best of the best as far as emerging talent goes.
Were you impressed? Yes. I was totally blown away by what they came up with in such a crunched time frame. I know how long it takes to create the type of work they were expected to create, especially working alone without assistants. I would get nervous in my trailer, thinking they’re not going to have enough time. When I would come out for the reveal and see what they accomplished in such short time I was shocked.
I don’t think RuPaul when I think body paint. He doesn't have a lot of experience in body paint, but that man knows makeup. The way that drag queens change their faces and their face shapes with highlights, shadows, contouring, that’s a whole art in itself. You can chisel your face, you change the shape of your nose, and the shape of your chin and the shape of your brow all with makeup and so it’s a very logical fit. He is a master of transformation himself.
What is he like to work with? Ru is a consummate professional, he’s everything you would imagine him to be. He is polite. He is professional and he is funny. He just kept us cracking up.
How does Rebecca Romijn fit in? She was the very first supermodel to be painted in a swimsuit for Sports Illustrated. And then of course she’s used to being Mystique (in the X-Men films) where she spent six to eight hours in the makeup chair. So she has firsthand experience
Do you think Skin Wars will draw a new audience to body paint? Yes. Definitely. I think this is going to open people’s eyes to the art of body painting. Decorating the body is such an old tradition throughout all cultures and I feel like everybody can enjoy this show. It really is treated as a fine art canvas on this show.
Are the competitions pretty demanding? For every show there is a mini challenge going into the major challenge. Sometimes we filmed both in one day. Those turned out to be very, very long days for those artists. And sometimes they were cranking out major masterful art pieces with very little sleep, at times just working on the brink of exhaustion.
And they all lived in a house together and they had to turn in their cell phones and be a little bit isolated from the rest of the world, so it really was like a intense artistic pressure cooker as far as they were living, breathing, sleeping art for the full month we filmed.
Do you hope to see a Season 2? There are so many more amazing artists out there that I hope that this is a very long-running show. There’s so much more talent to tap into. I’m looking forward to Season 13.
Skin Wars Premiere Party August 6, 7 p.m.-midnight, Inspire Theatre, 501 Fremont St., free