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FACE OFF’s Brea Joseph was eliminated from the Syfy show for
a makeup that was deemed not realistic enough. Ironically, as we found out in
our interview with Joseph, realistic wounds are this artist’s bread and butter.
FANGORIA: Can you explain what your regular job is?
BREA JOSEPH: I own a company that supplies makeup artists to
military, law enforcement and medical agencies for training. A lot of what we
do is military; before the men and women go into actual combat, or get shipped
out to Afghanistan, they go to training camps where they do simulated
scenarios. They have role-players who speak the language, and villages set up
to look like whatever town it is they’re going to, so that they’re not so
shocked when they’re actually in live combat. We provide crazy medical
injuries, broken bones, body parts and wounds.
FANG: So it has to look very realistic, is what you’re
JOSEPH: Yes, or it won’t even be allowed on the field. We
work with actual medics who see this stuff first-hand. They’re the ones who
come to us and tell us what they need: “I need five people with so-and-so types
of injuries…” We have to do those, and they send them into the field. So they
have to look very realistic.
FANG: What’s your background, makeup-FX-wise?
JOSEPH: My background is basically doing trauma almost my
entire career. I got into the acting part of it; I was acting and singing
throughout my childhood. I was a role-player at one point, and I’d get the
makeup done on me. And I just thought it was really cool, because I’m into art.
I can draw, I’ve always painted, my mother’s a painter, my brother’s a painter.
So when I got involved in that and saw the special effects makeup, and that it
was something in the arts but something cool and different—that kind of got me
right away. This is sort of a new little niche for special effects. It’s stuff
that people don’t normally get to see, and it actually saves lives. That kind
of turned me on to it, and I started my own thing, and it took off really big
FANG: It’s always interesting to find out what the FACE OFF
contestants do to make a living. It seems like a really diverse group this
JOSEPH: Yeah, that’s what’s cool about it. You get to see
everybody’s palette—they even had tattoo artists and body painters. That’s what
makes the show really neat. They have something for everybody in there to
FANG: You do FX in the context of realism and real-life
experience. Are there also have makeup artists, or films, that influence you,
or spur you to pursue film work?
JOSEPH: Yeah, there are all kinds of different things.
Fantasy movies I saw growing up as a kid—LABYRINTH, DARK CRYSTAL. Tom Savini,
he’s an influence because he does gore. So I look up to him as a makeup artist.
[FACE OFF judge] Ve Neill is another inspiration, just because she’s a female
who has been so successful in the “man’s world” of effects makeup. I could go
on and on.
FANG: Are you a fan of the horror, fantasy and sci-fi genres
JOSEPH: Yeah. Sci-fi, of course, just because of the
creativeness of it. Seeing the crazy things people can come up with. And gore,
obviously, because that’s the world I’m in and what I do for a living.
FANG: Being a horror fan, all my friends think I’m a fan of
books full of car-accident photos and footage of real surgeries. And I have to
tell you, the real stuff makes me pass out. I can’t take it.
JOSEPH: [Laughs] So you get lots of books of medical photos
for Christmas or something?
FANG: Yeah, I have friends who work at second-hand stores,
and they’re always, “Here’s a book about surgery!” You’re doing the makeup
version of it. Are you hardened to it in real life?
JOSEPH: This is going to sound crazy: I’m kind of numb to it
now. When I’m in the field…you have to imagine. Imagine a war movie taking
place in Afghanistan somewhere. Imagine the props, the look of it. That is what
I sit in. So to me it’s like, I’ve been so desensitized and traumatized at the
same time, because I’ll be in the field doing this. I’m right there when all
the training is coming down. Me and my friends joke around. We’ll be in what we
call the “bloodhouse,” where we make all the body parts. We’ll be eating lunch,
looking at pictures, trying to recreate body parts and wounds. I know, it
sounds so weird. There are times where there will even be heads and body parts
lying around [the house], and my mom’s like, “Brea, you cannot leave that stuff
lying around the house. That’s not normal. Other people don’t find that normal”
[laughs]. I have to tell myself that, too, at times.
FANG: You have kids, yes?
JOSEPH: Yes, I have a daughter. She just turned 2. She’s my
little handful, but I love her to death.
FANG: So she’s going to grow up with all this stuff around
her. Not just horror movies, which of course FANGORIA advocates, but
super-realistic trauma FX. Are you concerned about that?
JOSEPH: No! She’s actually really creative. She’s the “Z” in
my company, KBZ FX. She’s always back there with us, painting
the stuff. I know that sounds crazy. She calls it “painting owies.” “Mommy, I’m
painting owies with you?” We put her with clay sometimes, and give her a little
plate, and she’ll sit there and do what she thinks is sculpting and painting.
FANG: If she’s 2 now, she must have been really tiny when
you left to shoot FACE OFF. That must have been a hard decision to make.
JOSEPH: It was, but I knew at the same time it was a good
opportunity for us. It was a good opportunity for me to further my career. Of
course it was hard, and I missed her. But it was for the best. It was a cool
opportunity, and she was well-taken care of. I knew it would be OK.
FANG: What was the toughest part of being on the show?
JOSEPH: The time. The pressure to come up with something,
start sculpting, get it done and have it movie-ready given that time—and
knowing the world is watching you, to be honest. Knowing that things you say,
or things you do, are going to be analyzed, and some people are going to like
you and some people aren’t…figuring out that you are going to be broadcast to
millions of people to analyze you as a person.
FANG: Let’s talk about when your model got sick during the
“Rock Your Body” body-painting challenge. You must have been exhausted by the
time you finished painting a second person.
JOSEPH: Oh gosh, yes. And we even had to wait for the next
model to get there, and the stress of being up from the night before—it was
just too much. And I know it came across maybe that I was more concerned about
my painting. But I swear I was very concerned about the model. He was fine, he
ended up being OK. I think he had a gig or something the night before, so he
hadn’t really slept at all. So I think that, combined with standing…I don’t
know, he passed out [laughs]. Hey, I guess it makes for great TV, right?
FANG: When he went down and they took him away, were you
involved in heavy discussions with the producers about what was going to
happen? Or did they just come in and tell you what the solution was?
JOSEPH: They didn’t know what to do, really, to make it
fair. They didn’t come right in, so that was stressing me out a little, because
I didn’t know what was going to go down. Then I guess they came up with that
eventually. “You’re going to have to paint it again.” But you know what? I’m
kind of glad, because it pushed me. It’s a show, it’s a competition, and hey,
this is a part of it. This could happen. And it made me stronger, and now I
know I can do a body-paint in 12 hours. My first body-paint ever, mind you. So
that was kind of cool.
FANG: And the judges liked it, as I recall.
JOSEPH: They totally did. And it looked awesome. I was
really proud of what Matt [Valentine] and I did.
FANG: When you were eliminated after the “Night Terrors”
challenge, you seemed to take it pretty well.
JOSEPH: You know what, call me crazy, but I didn’t think
[her work] was as horrible as they said. Tom Savini didn’t totally bash it, but
they didn’t show that. It was my interpretation of [mustard gas injury]. Let’s
keep it real. I know not everyone is going to like everybody’s work, and I’m fine
with that, and someone had to leave, and only one person is going to win the
money. And you know what? Hey, there are things I probably could have done
differently, in hindsight. But overall, was I totally disappointed with the
work? No, I wasn’t totally disappointed. Of course I’m going to sit here and
think, “Oh, I could have sculpted this, and I could have done this different…”
But overall, I’m happy just to have been on the show, to be totally honest with
you. What a cool experience. I stay positive.
FANG: Who are you rooting for to win?
JOSEPH: I want Matt or Sue [Lee] to win, either one of them.
Personally, I love Sue’s style. I love her to death. Matt’s really cool, and he
has an awesome style, too. He’s an awesome guy.
FANG: Are you planning on moving to Los Angeles?
JOSEPH: I’m always going to be in San Diego, because I own a
house down here, and I love it. This is where I’m from. There are all kinds of
opportunities that are going to come my way, that have come my way, ventures
that I’m going to get into with makeup and the industry. I go to Los Angeles a
lot. I’m always there, and I even have a product line I’ve started selling,
prosthetics, like Halloween-wear. So I’m always up there to try to get into
stores and do all that kind of stuff. But no, I’m going to stay here in San
Diego. This is where my home is. I’ll travel when I need to for work.
FANG: Would you be on a reality show again?
JOSEPH: [Groans, then laughs] If the price was right. I’m
kidding. I don’t know if I would do the whole competition thing again. It was a
cool experience. Competition reality show? I don’t know. I’m leaning more
toward “No,” but you never know. Never say never.
FANG: What’s next?
JOSEPH: I have my prosthetic line that I launched through
KBZ FX. There are pieces I want to do for some art galleries out there. Trying
to stay relevant, trying to keep my name out there. I have a music career; I
have a group, and we tour. Expect lots. Expect more. There’s so much I’m going
to do in the makeup world, and as a businesswoman.
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