Jennifer Aspinall on makeup illusions, toxic transformations and gothic nymph fashion tips

Jennifer Aspinall is one of the most prolific and respected artists in the world of makeup. Her creations have been seen by millions, including her work on Saturday Night Live and her Emmy award winning work on MAD TV. To horror film fans, she’s best recognized for her inventively gruesome special makeup effects in the 1980s cult classics “The Toxic Avenger” and “Street Trash.”

Ms. Aspinall was kind enough to take time out for a chat about her life and career.

How did you become interested in makeup?

I was really really shy as a kid, and I liked to disguise myself. I found a book at the library called “Stage Makeup” by Richard Corson, this book is a makeup artist’s bible. It gives you pretty much all the basic information you’d ever need to know. So for me that book was amazingly inspiring. I got really into illusion. I would make myself up, and disguise myself, and be different people. This is about when I was nine years old. When I was ten my next door neighbor, who produced dinner theater and summer stock, took me to a professional makeup supplier in Philadelphia. By the time I was eleven, going into twelve, I started working for her doing theater productions. I celebrated my twelfth birthday onstage, doing a dinner theater production. And from that point on I just continued working.

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Mark Torgl on First Turn-Ons, atomic Melvins and Toxic tutus

One of the key elements to exploitation film magic is when its actors are willing to go earnestly wild. The first face we see in “The Toxic Avenger” is that of Mark Torgl as “Melvin Ferd” – and his hapless dopey victimization is our entryway to an utterly demented movie where everything is silly and grotesque in equal measure. Mr. Torgl was kind enough to answer some questions about his days with Troma and being an iconic part of a cult classic.

(Originally posted March 2013 at Cinemachine)

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