Sharon Gault (aka “Mama Makeup”) is not your ordinary makeup artist. Part artiste and part muse, she is equally at home being behind the camera as she is being in front of it. After shooting to fame as Madonna’s hair stylist in Truth or Dare, Gault later became the go-to artist for Lady Gaga – doing her make-up in such videos as “Poker Face,” “Love Game,” “Paparazzi,” “Dirty Rich” and her iconic Rolling Stone cover shot by David LaChapelle.
However, it wasn’t always red carpets and celebs. Growing up on welfare with a single mother, being a make-up artist to the stars hardly seemed possible. But with a little chutzpah, that is exactly what happened. —Photography by Vijat Mohindra, Interview by Rachel Khona.
Like many people who grow up with little means, the choices are: become a victim of your situation, or use it as an impetus to break free. Though her childhood may have been bleary, her escape (as it is for many) was the world of fashion. Collecting fashion magazines like some people collect baseball cards, Gault had every issue of Vogue: “I was obsessed with collecting my Vogue magazines, and I loved the make-up in the late ‘80s and early ‘90s.” (Scroll down for more images and interview.)
Surprisingly, make-up was not where Gault started off. Sharon Gault got her start as a wannabe photographer in California after she became infatuated with a sexy boxer named Lee Canalito. “He looked like a Michelangelo sculpture – he is so beautiful. I started photographing him and photographing things at the gym.”
But as a babe on a budget, photography soon proved to be an expensive habit this was back in the days when people still used film – imagine that. So Gault got a job as a receptionist at Vidal Sassoon.
And thus a new chapter began.
“I used to have a Farrah Fawcett kind of hairdo, like feathered hair and highlights. So I became a hair model.” Her mane soon became the sounding board for Vidal Sassoon. Red, black, platinum, asymmetrical cuts, shaved, she did it all. “I’d go from having this long gorgeous lion’s mane hair to cutting all my hair off, being a house model at Sassoon.”
Though she loved modeling the different looks, Gault’s interest ran deeper than just the superficial.
“I was fascinated at how hair revolutionized fashion and I was really excited about studying what Vidal Sassoon did and how he created his signature shape.”
Her fascination with hair soon led to Gault doing hair for others. She studied at the Vidal Sassoon Academy where she honed her skills as a hair and make-up artist.
Her charming, personality and skills soon took her to the top of the celeb circuit where she notably became famous for appearing in Madonna’s movie, Truth or Dare. Under the guidance of Peter Savic, she keyed the hair for the background dancers and singers for Madonna’s Blonde Ambition tour.
Though she may not have become Madonna’s BFF, she did find a soulmate in David LaChapelle. “He’s the closest thing to a husband I’ll ever have,” she jokes. After meeting LaChapelle at a photo shoot in New York, the two became fast friends.
“I was assisting a hairdresser and someone on set said, ‘If you and David LaChapelle meet each other, you will be inseparable.”
And inseparable they were. She went on to become LaChapelle’s muse, working with him on an i-D magazine shoot in which she appears naked lying underneath a bubble perched on a field. Gault may have appeared calm and serene, but in reality she was lying on a trash landfill.
“I’m lying on this landfill, sweating, thinking I’m going to get some bad toxic thing in my system. I’m sitting there crying. And they had no permits and the police were driving by, and here I am naked, and everybody is looking at my coochie.”
Though most people might be a little hesitant about appearing naked even if they have model-perfect bodies, Gault says she was comfortable being photographed nude.
“My mom tried to teach us to honor our bodies. It’s that side of me that likes to show that people love me for me, not for my body.”
Not unlike what she did for the Calvin Klein “Pepper” fragrance commercial.
The commercial was all about encompassing different body types, different people,
and different looks.
“Kate Moss used to live with me, and it’s so nice because it opens up with Kate talking – and at the end it’s
me, and I’m like, ‘It’s for you, it’s for me, it’s for everyone.’ Like we’re all one.”•
Sharon resides in Santa Monica, CA and is represented by Opus Beauty. Sharon’s work can be seen at www.opusbeauty.com