A local cosmetic company puts trans icon Amanda Lepore front and center.
Quaint, tree-lined Glen Ellyn boasts few claims to fame: The western suburb is the birthplace of performance artist Laurie Anderson, and it was featured prominently in Winona Ryder’s debut film, Lucas. As of September 1, it’s also home to a cosmetic company with a trans person as a spokesmodel.
The beauty company and retail store Camp Cosmetics (a cheeky acronym for Cosmetic and Makeup Professionals, CampCosmetics.com) is the brainchild of out makeup artist Michael Perich. At 32, Perich is a 13-year industry veteran who entered the profession out of high school and made a name for himself as a young artist working for MAC before Estée Lauder bought the company in 1996. Burned out from making sales for everybody else, Perich decided to create Camp in 2003. Its slogan: “Women are born beautiful. We make them pretty.”
“I was sick and tired of seeing all the high-end fashion and cutting-edge things coming out of New York, Canada and London and nothing out of my home city,” Perich says. On May 1, 2004, Camp opened in Glen Ellyn as a cruelty-free cosmetic company with an emphasis on pigment-based products that, according to Perich, penetrate the third layer of the skin (essentially the root) where it can’t break down. “What I did with Camp is create everything that everybody has always been looking for as far as product,” Perich says. “No tricks, no gimmicks.”
Even more noteworthy: Perich recently signed New York–based transsexual fashion icon, recording artist and nightlife legend Amanda Lepore to become his spokesmodel—an industry first. “She’s the extreme epitome of glamour,” Perich says. “Here you have somebody who has transformed themselves into something that is a cross between Marilyn Monroe and Jessica Rabbit. It’s about being true to yourself and not caring what everybody else thinks.”
To woo Lepore, Perich sent her a bunch of products for her birthday. Lepore was pleased: “Camp is a company on the rise,” she writes via e-mail, “with a founder that has wonderful energy and an amazing quality line of products.” It took a year to ink out a deal, which includes representing the face of Collection Lepore and touring the world in support of the new line. But will women be smitten with a Manhattan transsexual bon vivant turned cover girl? For Perich, that’s the whole point. “Chicago doesn’t have anything cutting-edge or risqué,” he says, “a company that has an attitude of not going the comfortable route and thinking extremely outside the box.” If Camp Cosmetics can work in conservative Glen Ellyn, it can work anywhere, Perich says. “It’s not about gender. It’s about looking the best you can possibly look and not having any kind of barrier or stigma to that. Beauty is beauty no matter how you define it.”
To help promote the new line, Perich has teamed up with nightlife guru Scott Cramer, best known for bashes at Debonair Social Club and Funky Buddha Lounge. Cramer’s newest weekly venture, Stardust, happens Thursday 16 at Berlin and promises, in Cramer’s words, to be “sweaty and trashy with a side of rock & roll. We want to show Boystown a good time and get laid.” Stardust kicks off with a private, $100-a-ticket reception that includes a complimentary three-piece color collection (five-eye-color palette, a cheek color and lipstick), an open bar and a private meet-and-greet with Lepore. Opening to the public at 11pm, the event will include Cramer’s usual A-list guest DJs, startenders and friends. At midnight, Lepore will perform live.
“What I’m working on is bigger than me,” Perich says. “My home city is an untapped market.”
Amanda Lepore and Stardust paint the town Thursday 16.