Behind The Scenes Icon Stories with Kevyn Aucoin’s Former Makeup Assistant

What do you get when you hear stories from legendary makeup artist Kevyn Aucoin‘s former assistant? Jaw dropping, awe inspiring and straight up hilarious moments that we can’t get enough of!

Celebrity makeup artist Berta Camal tells all and holds nothing back with authentic behind the scenes stories of working with A-list celebrities since the 1980’s.

She breaks down the good, the bad and the ugly. Which celebrities stole on set, which ones were not so kind and which ones were like industry guardian angels?

Enjoy as she reminisces backstage details from the most iconic productions in entertainment history with Janet and Michael Jackson, Winona Ryder, George Clooney, Courtney Love, TuPac, Dave Matthews, Sarah Jessica Parker and more.

Berta Camal interviewed in the Kevyn Aucoin Beauty & the Beast in Me documentary

Berta who was a close friend and makeup artist assistant to Kevyn Aucoin for over a decade shares beauty artist assistant advice, based off of Kevyn’s personal opinions of what he told her that he looked for in a makeup assistant.

Reflections on her personal, intimate and never heard before memories with Kevyn reveal how special he was and why it is so important to keep his spirit alive.

Listen to the Interview
VIDEO: Listen to Kevyn Aucoin’s Former Assistant Celebrity Makeup Artist Berta Camal Tells All Exclusive Interview with Host Beauty Expert Kayla MiChele

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Beauty Artist Conversation on an artist’s day in life

Kayla MiChele

Today I am with top makeup artist Berta Camal. Thank you so much for doing this interview with me. We are on our way driving through New York. It’s an artist’s day in life. We are going to do Tory Burch’s hair and makeup today.

Berta Camal

Going to Long Island. 

Kayla MiChele

Yes for an event. So happy to have her as a client. She actually referred me, how amazing is that?

Berta Camal

It’s so nice to work with people that are good around. Good energy. 

Kayla MiChele

I love it. I love you. I’m so appreciative of you. Berta is an amazing makeup artist. She’s been a top makeup artist in New York City for quite a few decades. She’s here to share amazing stories and give great advice to beauty artists. She’s worked with every top celebrity that you could think of and she also assisted Kevyn Aucoin. The iconic makeup artist from back in the day, Kevyn Aucoin. So she’s going to give us a little bit of their story and their journey together. I’m so inspired and I can’t wait. How did you start your career as a makeup artist?

Starting a makeup artist career in NYC

Berta Camal

My ex-husband, who was a hairstylist, is who I learned a lot of hair tricks from. Because nowadays in the business, it seems that us makeup artists have to swing some hair brushes every once in a while. You know, it’s kind of a given. Especially when you’re on location, and they only want to fly one person. So thank you, Christopher Camal for teaching me.

Kayla MiChele

I didn’t know he was a hairstylist. How did you guys meet, was it a salon? 

Berta Camal

We met at a bar in New York City after a shoot I was in. Back then I was modeling and the photographer and I went out for drinks and Christopher was there after another photo shoot, and we just started chatting. He knew the stylist, the fashion stylist. And that’s how a lot of people meet in the industry in the city. It’s all just meeting people in different groups that are shooting and you go out for a drink, and you all start talking. And then you move on and you set a date to do another shoot.

Kayla MiChele

I do agree. Being out and being connected with your network means the world.

Berta Camal

Yes, being out and about. How did I start?

Kayla MiChele

Where were you? Did you start in New York?

Berta Camal pictured on the left as the winner of a modeling competition before her career transitioned to makeup artistry

Berta Camal

Yes, I did. I started in New York. I was doing some modeling and acting stuff. I started as an artist, out of high school. I took a lot of art classes, professional art classes, and I worked under an illustrator for two years. But people would approach me and wanted to photograph me and stuff like that. So it turned out that I was very good at doing makeup for the camera and photographers noticed it.

Kayla MiChele

You had to do your own makeup?

Berta Camal

I did do my own. And then I noticed that when other makeup artists did me, they sometimes were making me look worse than what I did for myself. Then I would meet hair stylists, makeup artists and become friendly with them, and I liked what they were doing. I liked their lifestyle. And I thought, wow, I can incorporate this to make a little more money. So I started working with some photographers doing tests, and then started getting paid for the tests. I was getting paid 25 bucks a face back then, and the rate started going up and up because people were asking for me.

Kayla MiChele

Yes because with a test shoot a lot of times people do it for free because they’re just building their book or whatever.

Berta Camal

It was a little bit of money. The modeling agencies like Elite, Zoli, and Wilhelmina would send girls to get their books together with this photographer. And so it was paid shoots.

Kayla MiChele

And you met the photographer through your acting and modeling?

Berta Camal’s began her career in the industry as a model

Berta Camal

My brother Steven, who was also acting, went and had a photo shoot with him and I tagged along. And I met the photographers.

Kayla MiChele

Nice. So you’re already kind of in the right place at the right time in the industry. That’s awesome. What year did you start doing the makeup work? 

Berta Camal

Doing makeup work? I’m going to say about 1985. 

Meeting Kevyn Aucoin and becoming his makeup assistant

Kayla MiChele

How different has the industry changed throughout the decades?

Thanks to Berta Camal’s client TV Host Rolonda Watts, Berta was introduced backstage to Kevyn Aucoin

Berta Camal

For me the 90’s were fantastic. I love the 90’s. That’s when I met Kevyn Aucoin. By then, I had already started and I was working TV. I was doing Rolonda Watts, who was a black talk show hostess. She was really awesome. I would really beat her face, like contour and lashes. Then Kevin came on for a spring makeover show with the model Dayle Haddon. I introduced myself to him and he asked me if there was anything sweet to eat. I ran and I got him a plate full of all the different pastries. He was my friend forever after that.

Kayla MiChele

Was there violins playing in the background and stars twinkling around his face? Was it magical or what?

Berta Camal

Well, he’s awesome. Kevin Aucoin was awesome and he had a great sense of humor. We just kind of clicked that day.

BTS Kevyn Aucoin applying makeup on Linda Evangelista

Kayla MiChele

So behind the scenes in the glam room for a talk show?

Berta Camal

Yeah, that’s where we met. On the Women’s channel, and it was because of Rolonda Watts. He loved the way I did her makeup. He asked me to call Jed Root, who was his boyfriend and at that time representing him. I started assisting Kevyn.

Working with A-list celebrities

I did quite a number of music videos with him like, Janet Jackson, En Vogue, Salt n Peppa. I did Tupac Shakur’s makeup two weeks before he was shot. It was just horrible to hear that, because he was so sweet and his skin was gorgeous.

Kayla MiChele

Did you have to powder his bald head?

Berta Camal

No, he was wearing a bandana. He was on for an En Vogue video. Back then, my main thing of what I liked was working with musicians. And through Kevyn I got in touch with Atlantic Records with Tori Amos. I started working with a lot of their artists. It was a lot of fun.

Kayla MiChele

So how many years were you with Kevyn before you went on your own?

Berta Camal

I was always on my own while with Kevyn. I was doing my own work too while working with Kevyn.

Kayla MiChele

Which video was that with Janet Jackson and Michael Jackson that you worked on?

Berta Camal

The Scream video. I would also do all the runway shows, I was on his team. The Janet Jackson Scream video took almost like two weeks to film. I flew in that afternoon and he showed me what he had created. Her look was very, very strong black eyes, and ringed with kind of a golden tone and the beige mouth. It was difficult though, because the filming took forever because they were trying to light Michael and Janet together in the same shot and it was just impossible, because she was so golden colored and he was so white and pale. So they turned it into a black and white. Most of the segments of them together became black and white because of that. It was an incredibly fun video though. It was electrifying to watch Michael dance, I have to say. They cleared the set, but they let hair and makeup people stay. I swear I had the back of my neck tingle. It was electrifying watching him work. 

Kayla MiChele

Was it the moonwalk or was it the crotch grab?

Berta Camal

No, none of that. You have to watch the video. No, he was just a freestyle dancer that was phenomenal. 

Kayla MiChele

I remember the video but I haven’t watched it for over 10 years. But the imagery of the video that’s ingrained in my memory forever is the close up images of Janet’s face and her makeup, truly it was so iconic. And the lighting was really gorgeous.

Berta Camal

It was Mark Romanek. He’s unbelievable. He also did Trent Reznor’s videos, who I worked for, for close to five years too, for Nine Inch Nails. He did incredible work for that which is a whole other genre of music. It’s very strong and hard. Industrial rock, which is my baby.

Kayla MiChele

It’s your favorite. I remember you mentioning that.

Berta Camal

Tool and The Perfect Circle.

The passing of the industry legend

Kayla MiChele

So how many years were you with Kevyn? Were you with him until he passed?

Berta Camal

Yes, until he passed away. 

Kayla MiChele

Is it something you can share on how he passed? 

Berta Camal

He had a tumor in his pituitary, the growth gland. That’s why he was so big and his hands were so huge. It was making him grow and giving him horrific headaches. He had passed out and that’s when he went to have it operated on, but it started growing again. He was on terrible painkillers. We filmed Sex and the City and he did Sarah Jessica Parker and I did Heidi Klum for that. That’s when Sarah Jessica Parker trips and falls on stage and then Heidi Klum just walks over her. But in that taping, he had massive headaches and we had to stop taping because he had to go into a dark room and lay down and close his eyes with a horrific migraine. It killed him.

Behind the scenes memories

Kayla MiChele

He was such an icon, so how did you notice the industry react when he left? At the time there wasn’t social media.

Berta Camal

He would have been great with social media. He started social media by bringing a little video camera, taking snippets of backstage doing stuff. He was one of the first people, he would have been like a frickin’ monster in this social media stuff.

Kayla MiChele

The content creator world. His books were so iconic. Were you a part of the book process at all? 

Berta Camal

For some of his videos I actually did do his makeup. I kept the shine off of him and stuff. He hired me to make sure he looked good.

Kayla MiChele

I’ve heard things about him along the way and I’m wondering if some of them are true, if you want to share. I heard that he would do some celebrities while they were laying down and sleeping. Is that true?

Berta Camal

Yeah, that did happen. They weren’t really sleeping. Some of them were resting or some of them were loaded. One person that I ended up doing while sleeping, because she passed out, was Courtney Love. He did do Courtney Love quite a bit. 

Courtney Love | Makeup artist Berta Camal’s portfolio

Kayla MiChele

Was there anyone else that he did a lot?

Berta Camal

Vanessa Williams, Whitney Houston, Cher, Tina Turner, so many.

Kayla MiChele

Madonna, she was in his book. So major. Whenever I first got interested in the hair and makeup industry, as a teenager, I bought my first makeup books and of course ‘Making Faces’, was one of them.

Set etiquette advice for makeup artist assistants

Berta Camal

I was part of the process because I was one of the assistants on the shows, the videos, this and that, you know. He said that I could really emulate his style. Another thing that I have to say, this is a word of advice to all you assistants out there. He said that I was respectful of him. That he really felt that I had loyalty to him and that I wouldn’t try to steal one of his clients behind his back. That is important because I have actually had… who amongst you has not had an assistant that has done this. I’m doing something and I will watch them go to the client and give them their card. I was like what? I was like, bitch, I am never going to hire you again.

Kayla MiChele

You can say the F bomb as much as you want too because I love when you do. 

Berta Camal

I do say fuck a lot.

Kayla MiChele

You do say fuck a lot honey.

Berta Camal

I grew up with brothers and working with rockers.

Kayla MiChele

Right! Exactly. I mean, we’re artists.

Berta Camal

 It also shows honesty.

Kayla MiChele

If you don’t like the F word, you can do something else.

Influences of contour and highlighting makeup techniques

Another thing I heard about Kevyn, I don’t know if it’s true, but it’s interesting. I heard that Naomi Campbell was directing another makeup artist who was doing her makeup. She was saying that she learned from Kevyn to put a lighter color, I don’t know if it was foundation, a skin product or if it was an eyeshadow product, but she was telling the makeup artist to put a lighter color on the bottom inner corners of the eyes as it makes them look larger. So that stuck with me and now I always notice that in her pictures and think that she may have directed that eye detail.

Berta Camal

It’s the look throughout the years that has transpired. Look at all these girls in the YouTube videos, how light they are in areas. Like Kim Kardashian. I’m a political junkie, so I was looking on MSNBC and one of my girls is Joy Reid. You can really tell that there’s one good makeup artist that does her and then there’s another one that I don’t like. She just looks so sculpted, the contour, the really light under the eyes and then really killer lashes. And I mean that’s basically Naomi. You know Kevyn started that.

Kayla MiChele

Yes, the highlight and contour. 

The idol of Kevyn Aucoin

Berta Camal

Before Kevyn, there used to be another great, who was Way Bandy. That was Kevyn’s idol, Way Bandy. Way Bandy once did my makeup and Scavullo shot me for a skincare ad. I was like in awe, because it was Way Bandy, Scavullo shooting it and Harry King did my hair. Those are three greats right there.

Kayla MiChele

The classics.

90’s supermodel era

Berta Camal

The classics. Scavullo, he was on all of those old school 80’s Cosmo covers with all those sexy girls. He shot all of the supermodel girls. I have to say when I see runway shows, nothing can ever compare to these girls.

Kayla MiChele

The 90’s supers?

Berta Camal

The 90’s supermodels are it for me.

Kayla MiChele

I agree. That’s why I got into the business.

Berta Camal

Each girl had a different quality, a different personality and it showed when they walked. They didn’t look like all of these robot faces. I mean, I’m happy now that a lot of designers are choosing different looks and I really think that’s great. It’s becoming more different.

Kayla MiChele

More eccentric.

Berta Camal

More cool.

Kayla MiChele

More weird. You know, there’s all the vibes.

Berta Camal

But the supers. The girls of the 90’s. They didn’t look like waif figures, like really skinny. Maybe Kate Moss is the one who started bringing in that little stick figure thing.

Kayla MiChele

Yeah, there were more curves and boobs. 

Berta Camal

There were more curves, and a strut. There was a strut.

Kayla MiChele

It was sexy. 

Berta Camal

It was sexy. 

Kayla MiChele

Forever live sexy in my heart for real. Seriously. 

Berta Camal

I agree. 

Aucoin in NYC

Kayla MiChele

So Kevyn Aucoin was dating Jed Root?

Berta Camal

Oh yeah, for many years. They came from Louisiana together. They sold a car to get up here.

Kayla MiChele

Wow. That’s like their New York story.

Berta Camal

They were together for like 10 years.

Kayla MiChele

Did Kevyn ever live in LA?

Berta Camal

No, I don’t think so. 

Berta Camal’s background

Kayla MiChele

Have you ever lived in LA? 

Berta Camal

No. I’ve just flown back and forth. 

Kayla MiChele

Now you’re originally from Cuba?

Berta Camal

I was born in Havana. Havana, Cuba. My dad’s from Spain. Madrid.

Kayla MiChele

Can you tell us a little background about what year you came to New York? You came straight to New York?

Berta Camal

It was from Cuba to Miami. Very Cuban over there. And then to Jersey in Union City.

Keeping it cool around celebs

John Legend and Robert De Niro | Makeup artist Berta Camal’s portfolio

Debbie Harry has a song called Union City blues. They say that Debbie Harry is adopted and they think that she’s of Cuban heritage. I don’t know, but she’s cool. I’ve done her makeup too. 

Kayla MiChele

I’ve worked with her too. 

Berta Camal

Yeah, she’s a strong lady.

Kayla MiChele

She was one of the few celebrities that I’ve been around that I felt nervous. 

Berta Camal

I was a little nervous around her too.

Kayla MiChele

Because I’m a fan and her iconic level, and of course, we are around celebrities all the time. I’ve had some assistants do some weird shit in front of celebrities. Once I worked with Will Smith and Marc Anthony on a music video, because I was doing Joan Smalls’ hair. My assistant, who was a local Miami assistant, basically told me that she was going to go over to Will and ask him to take a picture with her. And I said, “No, you’re not”. He is friendly. He was engaging with us, but no.

Berta Camal

Was it during or after the job? 

Kayla MiChele

During the middle of shooting, but while he was just chit chatting with random people near a catering area.

Berta Camal

That’s a tough call. 

Kayla MiChele

Some advice for assistants, you definitely don’t just assume that you can do that, or should do that. You should ask whoever is keying and the answer probably is going to be no. 

Berta Camal

I agree, just have a little boundaries. 

Kayla MiChele

It’s so interesting to us working in this industry, and even the New York culture. When we see celebrities at a grocery store, or backstage at Fashion Week, or like Beyonce walking through the studio at Pier 59, you kind of like play it cool.

Berta Camal

Yea, there they go. If you’ve worked with them before, you might want to say hi.

Kayla MiChele

I also worked with Courtney Love a couple of times for the front row of a fashion show in New York. And then I saw her at a restaurant and I stopped her because we were crossing paths. I said, “Remember me, I did your hair”, and then she remembered me and then booked me for the Met Gala. 

Berta Camal

Oh, cool. She’s a trip.

Kayla MiChele

She was very quiet. But you know, she was trying to book me more often but when you’re with an agency doing those do and go rates are sometimes just impossible. I had to turn down so much do and go jobs. Which is interesting.

Jobs as a freelance session makeup artist

You have a lot of experience of doing music videos, do and gos, you even said, you take a bride with a really nice budget. But what’s your favorite type of job nowadays? Is it editorial for fashion? Do you really enjoy the advertising side of things?  I’m personally feeling the do and gos lately.

Berta Camal

I have to say, those long 12 hour days! It gets to a point where it’s really nice to have certain clients that you go back to and do. They become like family to you. It’s really sweet and you get to know the same people that do them and work with them and you travel with them. Like the lady we’re going to do now, Tory Burch, the designer, who is so lovely to work with and gracious and classy and very loyal.

Kayla MiChele

As a freelancer, tell me about it. Loyalty is so cherished.

Berta Camal

So yeah, things like that I do love. I like the team and getting to know the people and seeing the same faces, and just the friendships that ensue.

Authentic BTS celebrity stories

Kayla MiChele

Your first couple years in the industry. What do you recall about what your dream was within this industry back then versus what it is right now? 

Berta Camal

I think back then my dream was to work with musicians and see them perform off of the side stage or up in the sound booth or something. For me that was the funnest. Getting to do just every aspect, like magazine covers with them and travel.

Kayla MiChele

You really become friends with these people. 

Berta Camal

You do you. You really do.

Kayla MiChele

Did any of them ever try to sleep with you? We’ll leave that one for the imagination. If you can do anyone’s makeup that is alive or dead? Who would it be? 

Berta Camal

Anyone’s makeup alive or dead? 

Kayla MiChele

If they were alive.

Berta Camal

Oh, god. 

Kayla MiChele

Kevyn’s again?

Berta Camal

I love Kevyn. Let me think. I haven’t seen him in a long time. I’d love to work with Nine Inch Nails again. Yeah, Trent. That was just such a cool thing. But he’s changed his look. When we used to do him I would also blow dry his hair straight. He had longer hair, now he’s got like a buzz cut, so he doesn’t need that. But he was wonderful. He was someone that was amazing. And so was Marilyn Manson.

Kayla MiChele

And you really enjoyed it because he was an artist himself?

Berta Camal

He is an amazing artist.

Kayla MiChele

He’ll do makeup and he will do the contacts.

Berta Camal

It was thanks to Trent Reznor that I was able to do him for an interview and then for a performance at Madison Square Garden. Trent is extremely intelligent and so is Manson. Well spoken, soft spoken, but when the interview turns on, “Fuck this, fuck that”. His language, he just gets tough and rougher. And that’s not really who he is behind in real life. He puts on his hat, his costume.

Kayla MiChele

Yeah. It’s like the persona. I’ve worked with Carson Kressley from ‘Queer Eye for the Straight Guy’. That was a long time ago, like one of my first jobs ever, and I thought, he’s going to make me laugh. But he was just chill. He was just quiet and polite.

Berta Camal

A lot of the comedians too, they are just more low key. I’ll tell you who I wish I would have worked with. It just came to mind. Robin Williams. It was just his birthday this week and that man was amazing. I remember there was an interview where he spoke with Whoopi Goldberg about homelessness. I forget the quote, I have it on my phone. Don’t wait until you have to pick them up off the floor, just don’t let them fall. So I do think that everybody as artists, whoever is in the limelight, we need to keep an eye on everyone around us. We need to give, we need to give back. So that is who I wish I would have worked with, Robin Williams.

I do a lot of men’s grooming. I’ve worked with Marc Anthony too and a lot of actors, male and female, but I do like working with men. Oh my god, George Clooney is hilarious. He’s not a comedian, but he is someone where behind the scenes I had tears rolling down with him and with Dave Matthews too. They were just hilarious. So hilarious.

George Clooney | Makeup artist Berta Camal’s portfolio

I do like people who help people. I really will respect somebody so much more when they give back. They’re so fortunate to that level they’ve risen to their bank accounts. Like fuck, man, give back, give back. 

Who would you rather do? (makeup that is)

Kayla MiChele

I’m going to name a couple of people and you can tell me who you’d rather do. And when I say do, I mean their makeup? We’ll keep it positive energy here. Kim Kardashian or Khloe Kardashian? 

Berta Camal

Neither.

Kayla MiChele

Come on for a million dollars?

Berta Camal

For a million dollars? I guess I’d do Kim.

Kayla MiChele

Who would you rather do? Jim Carrey or Robin Williams, I guess it is Robin? 

Berta Camal

I like Jim Carrey too. His artwork is amazing. 

Kayla MiChele

Who would you rather do? Veronica Lake or Marilyn Monroe?

Berta Camal

Oh, wow. I guess Monroe. Yeah, she was amazing. I love the clean makeup she did and the eyeliner. I just love black eyeliner.

Makeup signatures, trends and tips

Kayla MiChele

I love the fact that people back then had their signature eyebrow, their signature eyeliner shape, their signature hairstyle. It was just so cool. On that note, do you find that you have your own personal signature when it comes to your makeup? Or something that you prefer to do more?

Berta Camal

I think that I can do a natural smokey eye that is still very soft, touchable, and sexy on a woman. I think that is my signature. It’s also not a heavy base. I don’t like a heavy foundation. I just don’t like it.

Kayla MiChele

What do you think about that trend right now where the lip liner is literally drawn all the way up the mustache area of the lip? You can’t really tell from far away but when you pinch and zoom in on the pictures, like Jennifer Lopez has, and I love her, she’s beautiful. But lips lined up that far are just so over the top, literally.

Berta Camal

It’s crazy. I don’t like it. I like it for a video, like far away.

Kayla MiChele

But no red carpet because you’re not fooling anyone.

Berta Camal

The problem is so many people are overdoing it with their lips now with the injections. I have a really beautiful daughter who just turned 28 and she’s going out with a really rich guy and money’s no limit and she’s like, “Oh, I want to try this”. And when she told me that she did that, I have to say, I pretty much must have been foaming at the mouth when I was talking to her on the phone. I was like, “How can you do that?” She’s got a huge mouth.

Kayla MiChele

She has beautiful full lips. 

Berta Camal

Yeah and she did that and I hated it on her. I do think that it just looks clownish. It can look porn star. It can look like a blow up sex doll. It’s gross. I don’t like it. Sorry.

Kayla MiChele

Well, you have gorgeous natural lips. I would take a picture of your lips to the injectors and say how many vials do I need?

Berta Camal

Oh shit. Yeah, they’re real. 

Kayla MiChele

They are beautiful. You are beautiful.

Berta Camal

So are you.

Kayla MiChele

Oh thank you. Do you want to show me some little makeup tips? Do you have anything you want to share? 

Berta Camal

Let me think. One of the things that I like is showing a very high priced item as opposed to going to the drugstore. I do think that in the heat a lot of people are doing primers. Here’s NYX which is cheap-o. Shine Killer, which is great. And then there’s Yves Saint Laurent Nu Blotting Lotion. To block and knock off shine for your T zone.

Kayla MiChele

Which one do you prefer? They both kind of get the job done?

Berta Camal

Well a lot of people are not going to afford this YSL. NYX is a great company. They don’t test on animals. Or a product to do the shine on the cheekbones. I’ve got the Glossier Haloscope and then I’ve got a Gucci Westman Atelier Lit Up Glow Highlighter Stick that is really expensive. I like having it all in my kit for clients and models. And say, “You could splurge on this, but you can get the same effect if you want for $12.99”.

Kayla MiChele

It’s a factor, especially because it all adds up after all the skincare and getting every detail of the face defined, it can be pricey, especially if you wear makeup every day.

Evolution of the industry

Berta Camal

Oh my god. We’re only on Route 37 here. I used to always do a client here, Bunny Koppelman. With her it was the first private jet that I flew on. We went to LA. They were in the music industry. Like Gloria Estefan was signed to them with EMI. That was pretty awe, to be in there and have Gloria Estefan walk in. And to get put up at the Beverly Hills Hotel that I could never afford when I was 30 years old. 

Kayla MiChele

Yeah, I stayed at The Ritz in Paris for a job for Teen Vogue and Chanel. That was so major.

Berta Camal

They used to have good budgets. Magazines don’t have good budgets anymore. It’s sad.

Kayla MiChele

Didn’t you say that the rates back before the recession used to be like triple?

Berta Camal

They were better. They were like triple. The day rates were unbelievable. I mean, seriously, everyday you’d walk away with close to $3000.

Kayla MiChele

That’s nice. That adds up fast and nice for freelancers.

Berta Camal

Editorial still was always kind of on the lower end. It always has been, but I think it’s gotten worse. Now a lot of people are shooting for Instagram stuff, and they want you to do it for free. So much is free, free, free. Until you become one of those beauty influencer kind of people. It’s really difficult because when I was starting in the industry in the 80’s and the 90’s, and in the 2000’s, you weren’t supposed to have… I call it diarrhea of the mouth. You were supposed to be discreet about the people that you were working with. And now it’s absolutely the reverse. 

Kayla MiChele

Right, everyone’s doing behind the scenes and then it’s instantly live. 

Berta Camal

There’s a lot of advertising and things that you cannot do that. You would just get in so much trouble if you do behind the scenes before a campaign goes out. And you’re so warned. There’s so many times I do something, and they say you can’t post anything until the thing comes out, the product or whatever comes out, then I forget. 

Kayla MiChele

Yeah, exactly.

Berta Camal

I forget. Like when is it going to come out? I just forget what job that was back then.

Kayla MiChele

I’ve heard of makeup artists that kind of get warned by photographers. We don’t want you doing BTS content anymore. Certain people are really against it. But it’s interesting, because there’s almost like a pressure for us beauty artists nowadays, like we have to do that stuff in a way too. So it’s like finding this balance of this new evolution of the industry.

Berta Camal

You’re either going to dive into it and do it or not.

Kayla MiChele

Don’t you think it’s kind of a pain in the ass that we’re kind of forced into this right now?

Berta Camal

I do think it is a pain in the ass. It is another job. It’s totally another job. Yes, it is. 

Kayla MiChele

It’s crazy. If we’re tagging brands and stuff, we should be getting paid for someone to do it for us.

Berta Camal

The thing is when you post a picture, you have to remember who the photographer was, who was the stylist, who made the clothes, who did the hair, who did so many things. It’s that just putting up a beautiful picture isn’t as fun anymore. I mean, I know everybody deserves credit, but I should just say, “Okay, I’m putting up this picture. If you recognize that you worked on this, tag yourself on it and let me know. No offense. Sorry, I forgot. I forgot”.

Advice for aspiring beauty artists

Kayla MiChele

Do you have any advice for people that are aspiring to be beauty artists, like a hairstylist, a makeup artist, a nail person, like any sort of beauty artist that wants to get into the industry? Any big takeaway?

Berta Camal

Any advice?

Kayla MiChele

On how to get in? How to break into the industry?

Berta Camal

You just have to dive in. Well, number one for a makeup artist, start putting together a kit, like different skin tones, this and that. Start working on friends and family. Get used to working with people. The kit is definitely important. I started building my kit in Bloomingdale’s because I was doing makeup for Diane Von Furstenberg and I was able to walk out of there with a nice kit from stuff at Bloomingdale’s with my discounts. That’s how I started. So actually working for a makeup line, even if you’re doing it part time. Working in Sephora or MAC, it will allow you to build yourself a kit with a discount.

Kayla MiChele

I know a lot of makeup artists that started off at MAC.

Berta Camal

Oh yea. MAC is great. I love MAC. I was one of their pro people. I went to a couple of cities to teach makeup classes.

Kayla MiChele

Oh, that’s really cool.

Berta Camal

I worked on MTV too doing a show where I had to make somebody look like someone else. So I did someone that looked like Christina Aguilera. I did someone that looked like Lil Kim and it was just a fun show. Molly Sims was the hostess then. Yeah, that was fun. I liked doing TV. That’s another way of camaraderie, you know, working on a show. You become friends with the staff. It is fun and I think it’s a great way of getting out there and making connections.

Kayla MiChele

Totally. Yeah, because it’s a real foundation with these relationships you are building. Compared to editorial, where you’re in with one crew one day and with another the next.

Do you have a place that you traveled for work that’s your favorite place that you’ve been to and were paid for it and were like, wow, dream job?

Berta Camal

I have to say going to Marrakech with Tori Burch was just amazing. We did the fragrance campaign there. We stayed in La Mamounia. Look at that place, it was a gift to a prince from his father. It was this huge hotel that’s just breathtaking. I love Marrakech. I love Morocco. I love it there. And then the fact that I was able to jump and see my family in Madrid right after was great too. 

Kayla MiChele

I always like to sometimes stay a couple days extra and just have a little vacation while you’re already there. It’s like why not, you know?  

Berta Camal

It’s true. It’s true.

Collaborating with hair stylists

Kayla MiChele

Are there any hair stylists in your career that you’ve witnessed work, that you’ve seen and you were just floored, like blown away, by their artistic expression? Or something about them? For me, Guido.

Berta Camal

Guido is great. Oribe was amazing. Danilo. And Serge Normant is just fantastic. He has someone under him that was working in his salon that I think is amazing. It’s Sebastian Scolari. We did a show with Martha Stewart’s daughter, Alexandra Stewart, and every single day this guy Sebastian did a totally different do for her. It was just like, what other trick is going to come out of your sleeve?

Kayla MiChele

Sounds like a fun muse. Someone that wants something different.

Berta Camal

She was all ready to do anything different with her hair. Like shoulder length hair, like all kinds of updos. I think that he really deserves more credit than he gets. There are so many talented people in the industry that do not get up there. 

Kayla MiChele

Right, because there’s more competition now. 

Berta Camal

There’s so much competition. And you were pretty damn good when we were doing Vanessa Carlton. I was very impressed. Vanessa is someone that I started doing when she was 18. She’s the piano player. You can still hear her when you walk into a drugstore, a supermarket, all her songs. But I knew how she didn’t like product in her hair, she was very fussy about that. I loved the way that I saw you take a curling iron and just go boom, boom, boom. I hate curls that are like these Barbie doll ringlets. You just impressed me with that. So each person has these strengths and sensibilities to bring out certain people. There’s a singer Tori Amos, and Tony Lucia used to do her hair a lot and Kevyn Aucoin did her makeup for a lot of things. But I had to do her hair occasionally and I’d fly in and she had dreadlocks. 

Kayla MiChele

Not on purpose? 

Berta Camal

No, from being tired. On the road, you’re sleeping on a bus. I did that one time, sleeping on those buses, it was not the best. It’s not all it’s cracked up to be. I kind of did the hair look like what you do. It’s like when you’re working with musicians and rockers, they’re not like the glam girls like Beyonce and Kim Kardashian. Well, Kim’s not a singer.

Kayla MiChele

I get it. Someone that likes more of a look. 

Berta Camal

These people liked it more ratty. It’s funny because Courtney Love at that point when she was with Hole, she liked that. More of an undone when she was with Kurt Cobain. But now after all of her work, she got glammed up. I mean, she had a lot of work, like a crazy amount of work.

But I’m always so in awe of a hair stylist that comes in that makes a client super happy, however small or large they do. It’s about making them happy. Or the or the art director.

Kayla MiChele

Has anyone ever made you cry in the industry?

Berta Camal

They can be bitches. Well, if Courtney Love didn’t make me cry, no one would. She was awful.

Kayla MiChele

Really? She was so quiet with me. Maybe after a couple years people can change, you know.

Berta Camal

Oh, and Winona Ryder. I mean, I love Winona Ryder. I didn’t do her makeup, but she did steal from me. She stole in front of me. I’m doing body makeup on Courtney, and I look over and Winona is going through my makeup. And I had said, “I’ll help you out with whatever, I’ll touch you up”. And then I saw her. This was years ago. Now she’s in Stranger Things and I hope that she’s okay and she’s taking care of her problem. But she did have a terrible kleptomania problem. And I’m sorry I’m saying this now, but she did. She took my freakin brand new Chanel lipstick. And I was like, “What?” She put it in her bag. 

Kayla MiChele

You saw her put it in the bag? Did you just let it slide? 

Berta Camal

Yea. I let it slide. But then I told the stylist, “I was like, you better watch her. You better watch your shit”. Watch the really expensive pieces.

Now Courtney, I worked with her a few times and she was like putting down Kevyn in front of me, because she knew I worked with him.

Kayla MiChele

Behind his back?

Berta Camal

Well, yes. She was saying stuff about him and I grabbed her arm really hard and I was like, “You say one more thing about him, I’m walking out of here”. I grabbed her and I was like, “He’s my friend, you know. One more thing and I’m out of here. One more thing about him”. So I don’t think she’s such a nice person.

Kayla MiChele

Don’t call Berta.

Berta Camal

You know what, and I can say this about her because I’m never going to work with you again girl. I refuse. Clients that I love, I don’t say anything about them. They have my trust. I have people’s backs, like I will fight for them. But when I see somebody being evil like that, I will tell the truth about what they did. You know? But not people I love.

Kayla MiChele

There’s loyalty there. 

Berta Camal

I’m a very loyal person, extremely loyal.

Kayla MiChele

That’s one reason why people keep continuing to work with you. They trust you.

Berta Camal

I’m just utterly loyal but I actually refused to work with Courtney after that. And she did steal a lot of shit from my girlfriend. I mean this is just awful when artists and people come in and take the clothes on the stylist. I mean, do they realize that this poor stylist has to cough up that $5,000 that you just racked up and you don’t want to buy? My girlfriend had to pay for all those clothes. That’s not nice. You make a lot more money than my fashion stylist girlfriend does. That’s not cool, they should really just not do that. That’s not cool. And you have money to buy your Chanel.  I don’t know what they do with it, but they like something and they never return it to the stylist. You know that’s how it goes.

But anyhow, I love Stranger Things now. And I love you Wyonna. I do. I love her. I’d love to do her makeup. 

Kayla MiChele

Oh, I love that. Bring it back full circle. You know?

Berta Camal

She could bring me back a Chanel lipgloss.

More Kevyn Aucoin stories

Kevyn Aucoin | Keeping the Legendary Makeup Artist’s Spirit Alive

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Lisa Eldridge on Inspirations, Balancing Life & 1920’s Beauty History

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Kayla MiChele
Kayla MiChele

Kayla MiChele is a celebrity and fashion beauty artist who is interviewed in the pages of Vogue Italia featuring her as top talent in the world. Her work is in prestigious editorials from Harper’s Bazaar to W to Vogue with clients for fashion brands ranging from Tom Ford to Chanel. Kayla's beauty expert collaborations include indie clean beauty brands to leading cosmetic brands Estée Lauder to L'Oréal. She began her career assisting hair stylist Guido Palau backstage at fashion shows from Louis Vuitton to Marc Jacobs. Since then, she has worked with top models and iconic artists including Vanessa Hudgens, A$AP Rocky, Jared Leto, Joan Smalls, Hailey Bieber, and Gigi Hadid.

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