JILLIAN HANSON: Hi Betsy!
BETSY diFrancesca: Hi Jillian! How're you?
JILLIAN: Good! It's good to talk to you!
BETSY: Yeah! I finally get to meet you, sort of.
JH: Yeah, sort of. Good! I'm glad you didn't have any trouble getting into this conference call line. This is a new company that I'm trying out, so…just hoping that it works. I think the recording quality's going to be better.
So yeah! Just so you know, this is definitely going to be recorded. So…Hi! (laughs)
BETSY: (laughs) Hi!
JILLIAN: So since we really don't…you know, I've heard so much about you from Kim over the years, but we really don't know each other at all, right? So I don't know how much Kim and Claire were telling you about this practice when they were at your house a couple weeks ago. But really, this interview is about wanting to get your story from a very particular point of view, which is the creative spirit; the sort of through-line of inspiration and creativity; how and when and where it's expressed itself through you, in your life and all this stuff.
So I guess what I'm wanting to start out with is just to find out….because I really don't know anything about you, particularly about what your path has been like…where or how does the story of your creative life begin? And, you know, creativity in a larger sense, of self-expression and inspiration and whatever really has turned the lights on for you, you know? So anywhere you want to dive in there, go for it.
BETSY: All right. Well, I guess I started out drawing and just getting very involved in art. I loved art when I was in grammar school, and I remember I used to always draw pictures of hairdos and makeup. I can remember being in fifth grade or fourth grade and drawing these pictures of pretty women that I wanted to look like. You know, that I thought you looked like when you were an adult. And it's funny, because when I was cleaning out my parents' house a couple years ago when they were moving, I found all these drawings that I did that were still on a chalkboard in my mother's attic.
JILLIAN: Oh my god!
BETSY: …and it was funny, because Kim was saying "you should save that! Save that for your book cover!"
JILLIAN: Right! Well…did you take some photos of it?
BETSY: I don't think I did. I just thought it was so bizarre to find something that I did in fifth grade, still on a chalkboard, you know?
JILLIAN: Right! That's amazing, actually, that it was preserved.
So-- let me just interrupt you for a second-- kind of set the stage for me. Where did you grow up? Where are you from?
BETSY: I'm from Piermont, New York, and it was a little Hudson River town. My father was mayor of the village that we lived in. He was also an electrician full time; he was mayor when he got home at night.
JILLIAN: (laughs) that's interesting.
BETSY: (laughs) …and in grammar school, I always got good grades…and loved artwork. But we went to a middle school when I was in sixth grade, and it was a regional school, so all of a sudden there were a lot of kids from different areas. And a lot of kids that had moved from New York City to the suburbs; the parents had moved there to bring their kids up in the country, so to speak. But the kids that I was meeting, all of a sudden, were much more urban, and sort of…well, what I thought of as "worldly". (laughs) you know, than I was. So I just felt like, oh my god, thrust in the middle of these kids that were just much more ahead of me.
And so I found that getting involved in theater was something that really helped me a lot. And that's when I met Kim.
JILLIAN: Wow, in middle school? You guys have known each other a long time!
BETSY: Yeah! So I guess I got into theater through Kim and Martha and Jennice because they were very involved in it; it was happening in their town, in the community theater. And it was just a really great sort of outlet for me.
JILLIAN: So do you remember some of the things you did? Do you remember plays you did?
BETSY: Oh, yeah. We did musicals. We did Pirates of Penzance, and Guys and Dolls. And then when I would be home by myself, I would imagine myself as if I was being the lead in the so-and-so play. But I never had the courage to audition for that. And so when I finally did get the courage up to do that, I GOT a lead in the play.
I started singing, and doing more of that, and getting involved in choir and getting solos in that. So I really kind of put the art-project stuff second, and my music stuff was really the stuff that I was clinging to then. So when I got into college, I was a music major, and then got the lead on some things in college-- and then I left college after two years. It was the same college that Kim went to-- we went to the State University of New York in (TOWN?).
And I left there to move to New York City. I just decided that I wanted to go full force into the acting and singing thing.
JILLIAN: Wow. So did it feel like you'd taken a big change there, leaving school and going into the city and…following your dream, in that way?
BETSY: Yeah. It did, in a way.
JILLIAN: That's a really brave thing to do.
BETSY: Yeah…well, I did it with a boyfriend that was also into acting, and he was kind of the person that got me into…he directed me in high school, in a couple of the plays that I did where I was the lead. So he was really instrumental in giving me the confidence to go for what I wanted to go for. And it felt like it was something I had to do. I just knew I wasn't going to be happy in college anymore. I hated the winter, which is was really a big thing. Because up there, in college, it was winter all the time, it seemed like.
JILLIAN: Yeah, I get it. (laughs) I grew up in Minnesota, so I really know what you're talking about.
BETSY: Yeah. And you know, I just really felt like…I'd always wanted to move to New York City, since I was a kid. I remember when I was in grammar school, and thinking about moving to the city, I wanted to become a secretary. (laughs) That was like a big thing. But this was something totally different, and I just felt like I had to do it.
JILLIAN: And so you did! What was it like? Do you remember what it was like to move to the big city?
BETSY: Yeah-- it was really exciting, but also there was this major scary thing about it. Because for one, my parents were not happy about me moving to no New York with a boyfriend, and were not happy about me leaving school, and were not happy about me going to live in Greenwich Village, which is where we lived.
JILLIAN: What year was this?
BETSY: 1976. And so I kind of did…you know the Beatles song "She's Leaving Home"? You know, I left a note for my parents and just kind of took off. (laughs)
JILLIAN: Oh my god, really? You just left?
BETSY: Yeah. And in fact, when I finally got to New York City and moved in, in all my packing of boxes and stuff, I found that my mother had put in a little book of "(?????) Goes to New York" because I didn't put that there. (laughs) And for the short first duration, I really felt like "(?????) Goes to New York." It was really wild. And also because in Greenwich Village, none of the streets line up the same way that they do in the rest of the city. So you have to know you way around Greenwich Village really well, because it gets really odd down there. The streets aren't numbered; they're all names.
So my boyfriend…we'd go somewhere from the apartment, and he'd say "okay, take me home." (laughs) That was how I learned how to get around New York City. You know, "find your way home now."
JILLIAN: So…what was Greenwich Village like in the 70's? What was it like to be there?
BETSY: Oh, it was really great. I mean, it was very community-like. It was a really small sort of community; you would see the same people on the street every day. And it was just before Soho was coming around-- people were starting to buy up old buildings to make into lofts, and there was always a lot of construction going on down in Soho. And we would always walk down there and see what was going on, and it was great.
I guess I was there about two months, and I got into an off-Broadway musical.
JILLIAN: Wow. In two months? That's pretty great! Do you remember what the musical was?
BETSY: It was pretty wild. It was a show where….it was called Boy Meets Boy. It was a gay musical. It was really sweet; very 30's style, and it was right around the corner from my apartment. Six nights a week, eight shows a week.
JILLIAN: Wow. So what was your part? Do you remember what you did, being in it and being onstage and stuff?
BETSY: Oh, yeah. I was one of three women in the chorus-- there were three women and three men in the chorus. It was a small musical. But it was so great! Every night we'd put on these major false lashes and fishnets. (laughs) It was a real chorus kind of scene. It'd be in this tiny theater on 7th Avenue called The Actor's Playhouse, I think. The dressing rooms were all in this basement, and you could hear all the stuff that was going on on the street from the basement where we had our dressing rooms. So there were all these great little nightclubs and…in fact, Kim's father played his guitar, I think every Monday night, at this little club that was right across the street from the playhouse.
JILLIAN: Oh my god!
BETSY: Yeah. It was just really magical, you know? It was one of those great things. And my boyfriend at the time worked at The Bottom Line, which was a big music venue. We would see anyone from Dolly Parton to Bette Middler, or the Harlettes, which were her backup singers…and so I got to see a lot of music after the show. The show would be over at eleven o'clock at night, and I could go over to West 4th St, where The Bottom Line was-- it was more in the East Village-- and go see a show! It was amazing.
JILLIAN: Wow. It kind of sounds like a magical time.
BETSY: Yeah. I did that for seven months. But there was always hardly any money-- I made sixty dollars a week.
JILLIAN: Were you working another job?
BETSY: On the seventh day, I waitressed. (laughs) I was always exhausted from being up half the night, and having to work a lunch job or something. But it was still a great time to be living there. It was when all the…like, the punk scene started, really, about then. So there was that other club, that was in the East Village-- I can't think of it right now-- (CBGB???) it's closed down. But there was always something going on down there. It was pretty cool.
JILLIAN: It must've been. It sounds like you weren't lacking for inspiration, right? It sounds like such an artistic community to be in, and a lot of fun, and a really interesting time to be there.
BETSY: It was. It was great. I mean, it was hard, definitely…but there was more of an artsy community down there, I would say, than there is now. It's much more upscale. And then there were definitely people who were struggling, but really trying to make it with their art.
JILLIAN: So you must've met a lot of people during that time…did you keep going, then, in the theater?
BETSY: Yeah-- actually, I got my equity card, and I did this children's musical getting my equity card, where I had to travel for three months and do this really terrible version of The Wizard of Oz. (laughs)
JILLIAN: Oh my god. Where did you tour?
BETSY: Pennsylvania and Boston, and then New York. In New York they threw eggs at us. (laughs)
JILLIAN: Oh no! For real? They threw eggs at you?
BETSY: (laughs) Yes. And I couldn't blame them. It was terrible. And I was Dorothy, of course.
JILLIAN: Of course! Wait, so why… the director was awful, or was it some weird take on the play…?
BETSY: It was a weird take on the play, you know? It was kind of like, I'd start singing "Somewhere Over the Rainbow" and it would go "somewhere over the rainbow… (upbeat jazz)…THERE'S A LAND OF LOLLIPOPS AND ROOOOSEEESSS…."
JILLIAN: (laughs) Oh god. So it messed with the classic, and everyone…oh god.
BETSY: Yeah. And not in a good way. (laughs) And then, after that, I came back to New York, and I was waitressing again. And I got into a band with two other women, one that I'd gone to college with and one that I met waitressing. We were in a band called Modern Romance, and it was kind of a disco band, sort of along the lines of Doctor Buzzard's Original Savannah band. It was kind of like swing disco. (laughs)
BETSY: Yeah. You know, it was more geared toward a cabaret sort of thing. We tried very hard to get a record deal, and couldn't, but in addition to being in the band, we did a lot of backup singing gigs with other people. And one was a guy that we went to college with who's now directing Barbara Streisand. He just got finished with Christian (??????)'s show …he does really well. He's really made a name for himself in the Broadway music situation. And another guy that we sang backup with wrote a lot of the songs for Whitney Houston for The Bodyguard. So they were really fun gigs to be doing. I loved backup singing; it was really fun.
JILLIAN: Really? Tell me about that. I've always wondered what that's like. It's such a specific thing.
BETSY: Well, it's really great to harmonize with two other people, and to kind of sing in the middle of all of that, and to know exactly where to go, to the next notes and all that, and I just really loved it. I loved that whole…I liked the little bit of choreography; we did a little bit; not much. We called it "hand-eography" because it was mostly with our hands. (laughs) But it was fun, you know? It was a good time.
JILLIAN: Yeah, it sounds like it. Okay, so did you do that for a long time?
BETSY: I did that for a couple of years, and then I just knew I couldn't waitress anymore. It was really tough.
JILLIAN: I do know. I had a few years of waitressing myself, in my past, and it's just grueling work. It's really hard.
BETSY: Yeah! And in New York, it's just like…New Yorkers and food, oh my god. (laughs) It's like a whole other animal. So I just knew that I wanted to do something else. And I always liked the makeup part of performing, when we'd get ourselves all duded up for a backup singing job, or when we were in Modern Romance, and so I took a course at Parson's School of Design, just in doing makeup for yourself. And I let the teacher know that I really wanted to try to be a makeup artist. And was great. He said "you know, if you just get yourself a Polaroid camera and practice on your friends, taking before and after pictures, and see what works well for the camera." And that was really fun, you know? I really enjoyed that.
JILLIAN: So you did that? You were, like, practicing on people that you knew…
BETSY: Yes. EVERYBODY that I knew. (laughs)
JILLIAN: …and experimenting with what worked and what didn't…
BETSY: Yeah. And then…Kim was working at Self magazine at the time, and she said, "why don't you come with me on some of my shoots? We're basically doing real people, but you'll still get to see what the makeup artist does on the set." And so I did that, and it was great. It was really an eye-opener. And actually, the makeup artist that she had me watch became kind of a mentor-- my first mentor. I'm still in touch with her, you know?
BETSY: Yeah! So that was really great. And with my little stack of Polaroids, I went to the different modeling agencies and said I was a new makeup artist, and can you set me up with some photographers who're looking for pictures, and new models who're looking for pictures, where we would all work for free, but get pictures for our portfolios. So that was really great, to be able to test with new models and photographers, and that's kind of how I got my portfolio together.
JILLIAN: Okay, wait, so…while you were taking the course, and then while you were making some contacts and meeting this mentor and practicing and all this stuff, were you still waiting tables, or were you starting to make money at this point…?
BETSY: I was still waiting tables. But I just knew that I had to do that a little bit longer in order to get my portfolio together. And actually, Kim gave me my first editorial job. And it was for Self magazine, doing somebody who… they were doing a shoot at her house in Nantucket, so I did her makeup for the shoot. So that was really great. And the after that, I got a job doing the MTV awards. And that was through a hairdresser I met through one of the waitresses that I was working with.
JILLIAN: Oh my god!
BETSY: Yeah! And he just said, you know, I think you can do it. He got a whole team together for the MTV awards, and we did it. And one of my first men I ever did makeup on was Sting. (laughs)
JILLIAN: Oh my god, you're kidding.
BETSY: It was really wild. It was at Radio City Music Hall, and just to be in Radio City, in the dressing room where the Rockettes used to, you know… I can remember when we were all waiting, we had our station set up and everything, and the elevator door opened and everybody came off the elevator that I'd ever loved musically. (laughs) Everyone from Sting to Chrissie Hynde…and It was kind of like, oh my god, I'm in it now. (laughs)
JILLIAN: Right! Right! Okay, wait. Sorry, I'm just so curious; I want to back up for a second. There are two parts of this that I'm really curious about. The first is: before you started working with people, particularly stars and singers and stuff, when you first were doing the course at Parson's, what did you like about it? What was it? Just tell me a little bit about…what about being a makeup artist made you want to go in that direction?
BETSY: Well, I had always seen models on the street in New York, and they just always looked… like, they were usually coming from a job, or going to a job, or whatever, but even though they had makeup on, they always looked really natural. And I loved that. I wanted to know how to do that. And that's when Bobbi Brown first-- you know, she was selling like ten lipsticks and three powders in the back of Glamour magazine, you know? (laughs) You'd send away for them. And they were all very natural-looking lipsticks that you couldn't find in a store, then. And so I kind of wanted to be able to do that, and to be able to make somebody look so beautifully natural. To me, that was a lot more difficult than playing to the eight-millionth-row in the theater, when you had to wear huge eyelashes and contour every aspect of your face in order for it to show up.
JILLIAN: Right! And there is also the whole aspect of makeup artistry where-- I don't know if you've ever done any of this, but-- where you'd do the makeup for the (?????) design. You know? It would be much more like creating a mask. Did you also learn to do that kind of thing; to do sort of special effects makeup? Or were you really focusing on…
BETSY: I was focusing on beauty makeup. I loved that. And I really didn't have any interest in any kind of special effects makeup or any of that. I was really interested in just doing a natural look. And I realized that that was much harder to do than the theatrical makeup.
JILLIAN: I would think that's true, yes. I can certainly imagine that.
BETSY: Yeah. I loved working with the colors that were all sort of earth tones, and natural colors. Browns and grays.
JILLIAN: Well, you had to learn…different tones look natural on different skin tones, on different people, under different light, right?
BETSY: Yeah! And I didn't realize… it took a long time for me to kind of get to where I felt like I really knew how to do that. So I was constantly striving to get better at it. But it was funny, because I was testing a lot in New York, you know, with new models, and then at that time, which was like in 1983 or 84, I decided I really wanted to move to LA. I knew I needed to be in a city, but I wanted something that was more…like, where I am now, in the Valley, is much more like where I grew up. It's sort of suburban LA. And I just loved the weather here, and so i wanted to focus on going to LA.
JILLIAN: Had you stopped singing and acting at the point? Were you just focusing on makeup?
BETSY: I was gradually getting out of the singing and acting. And it was not an easy segue-- I really felt like, "how can I give all this up that I worked so hard for?" With singing and acting….but I just felt like, you know…I'd really lost that drive to be a performer. It didn't come easily. I kind of went kicking and screaming. But I felt like I had to either choose one or the other, and for me, I just did-- because I'm not good at multitasking. (laughs) And I just decided that I wanted to focus on makeup, and coming out here. So in '86 I finally came out here, with a different guy that I was then dating, and engaged to, actually. So I came out here and house-sat at different places before I actually made the definite move. I did all these housesitting jobs, which is another whole story. (laughs)
JILLIAN: It's so interesting, they way you'll get to know an area. And being in people's houses when they're not there is a whole particular thing.
BETSY: It's very weird! And most of these houses, they were people that had a lot of animals that you had to take care of, or…the first house that we sat at had all these ancient textiles that had to be in a humid house, so their humidity level had to be a certain way. And it was very bizarre, being in humidity in LA. (laughs) And that house actually came with its own booklet on how to take care of it.
JILLIAN: (laughs) No way! Are you serious?
BETSY: Yeah. And two cats that we had to feed, you know, they were Bombay cats and they had to be fed certain…you had to put it in the microwave, all this nonsense.
JILLIAN: Sounds a little nerve-wracking, actually.
BETSY: It was! It was. And the guy that I was with, it was this guy from Queens, New York. And he was kind of like "What the fuck is this." (laughs) He was not one to follow the rules.
So we did a number of house-sits, all over LA, and everybody had a different story. It was bizarre. But while I was out here, and while I was housesitting, I decided to see if I could get with a makeup artist agency. So I chose a small agency, so that I knew that wouldn't get totally lost in the bigness of a major agency. And that was great, because…his name was Keith (NAME?), and he just had me assisting other makeup artists, so I got to learn more while I was working with them, and I could make money with them.
JILLIAN: So what kind of makeup were you doing? Makeup for movies, or…?
BETSY: Commercials, music videos, still shoots-- it was mostly commercials. And he also said to me, "You know, you're going to have to do hair too." And I just said "what?" (laughs) I didn't do hair. And he said "oh, you can do it." It was just one of those things…(laughs) And he just gave me all this-- hair setters, and brushes, and all this stuff, and he said "here-- you can do it." (laughs)
JILLIAN: Oh my god. But-- hair is a whole different thing!
BETSY: I know! The makeup artist that I assisted also did hair, and he would show me…you know, he really became my mentor out here with everything. It was just amazing what he taught me. Everything from how to behave on a set to how to hold certain curling irons-- just every little thing. What you should wear to this kind of job, when you should go in and do your job-- so it was great. Really great.
JILLIAN: Wow. Okay, so…did you learn how to do hair?
JILLIAN: Well, it seems so hard to me. I don't know why. Is it hard?
BETSY: (laughs) Well, it can be, yeah! Now I just say that I style hair and do makeup, and I style hair for everything I do now-- weddings and everything.
JILLIAN: Yeah! So it was important, and you learned how to do it.
So...I'm just so fascinated because it's a whole world that most of us have no access to, right? Creating any kind of commercial or video or movie… so you said he taught you how to behave on the set…so how DOES one behave? Do you have story about that?
BETSY: Well, he kind of emphasized that you have to anticipate what the person you're assisting needs, and also what needs to be done as far as powdering…how you should first ask the assistant director if you should go in… that kind of thing. So you're just constantly anticipating what has to be done. And it was really the best way for me to learn. He would just teach me little tricks. And he was very kind, too, which really helped.
JILLIAN: Right, I can imagine-- because that must've been a nerve-wracking thing to learn on the job. Was it a high-stress kind of situation?
BETSY: Yeah, but it was great, because watching somebody do it…for me, has always been more…that's how I learn. And how he would talk to the actresses or actors, and joke with them…I mean, our makeup room was like the most lively room on the set, you know? That's where everybody wanted to be. It was kind of like the kitchen, you know? Because it was the most fun. And we also would deal with wigs and hairpieces, and things like that, so somebody would always come in and try one on when they shouldn't…(laughs) …it just was fun. It was a really fun time to be doing that kind of thing. The commercial world is different now, too, than it was fifteen years ago or twenty years ago.
JILLIAN: What's changed? How is it different?
BETSY: Well, it felt like it changed around the time of the dot-com era, when that became really…like, everyone was advertising on all these different websites like ETrade and Cnet, and all of a sudden all the directors wanted to go from doing commercials to doing movies. I worked with a lot of directors who started out in commercials and now do movies, like David Fincher and Michael (?????), so all of a sudden it became really intense. They wanted everything yesterday, and they want it done in like ten minutes. Hair, makeup, and nails. You know? It was all very quick, and there was a lot of ego on the set then, too. So that's when I started moving away from commercials and decided that I'd just always loved makeup, and I'd always loved doing brides and weddings.
So…I think when September 11th happened, it felt like I had to just change my priorities. Like, I've got to do what I want to do, and what pleases me…I just had to be happy, you know?
JILLIAN: Yeah, right, exactly! I mean, it really did that for everyone, I think, to greater and lesser degrees. It re-oriented everybody in similar ways.
Okay, so… you did commercial work and music videos and stuff for how long before…
BETSY: For about fifteen years. And I've been doing weddings now since about 2001. And that was like a whole thing of getting a website… because my agency didn't want to do weddings at all. So I just broke off and started doing weddings, and I really liked it.
JILLIAN: So you only do weddings now?
BETSY: I also do headshots, and I've been doing these jobs for the YouTube Initiative-- YouTube now has a channel called The Tasting Room, I think it is. It's all these little segments every week on different chefs around town. There's seven questions that they ask in the kitchen-- the ask the same questions and they all approach it differently. It's really great. So I'm doing that, special events…
JILLIAN: Right. Wow! Yeah. Okay, so we're sort of up to the present day?
JILLIAN: And do you ever sing or act or anything these days?
BETSY: Nope. I have no interest in it. (laughs) I mean, occasionally I sing in the car when I'm in traffic, but that's it. I have no interest in performing-- I'd much rather be behind the scenes.
JILLIAN: Right. Actually, I get that. I've had a similar journey in performance myself. I have a background in theater also, and did it for a long time, and then a moment came when I also was like "you know what? I need to stop." It was difficult! It was sort of a wrenching moment in my life, and yet I just had to make the break.
BETSY: Right! It's hard to explain that feeling where you're kind of going…I want to hold on to it, but I don't, you know?
JILLIAN: Yeah! Well, what it meant to keep doing it was that there was too much I'd have to give up, you know? There was a way in which it just wasn't working for me anymore without too much sacrifice. And for me it was also about…I became a mom, and having to try to juggle having a baby with that whole world… but it was so wrenching to have to do it, and yet now-- that was seventeen, eighteen years ago-- and I don't want to. People say basically the same thing that I'm asking you-- you know, "will you ever do any acting on the side…do you want to…you have all this training…" …and I really don't! It's over!
BETSY: Yeah! That was like my other life! (laughs)
JILLIAN: Yeah! And somehow, that part of me is being expressed in an entirely different way. So, all of that to say-- I get it. I really get it.
So I'm curious to hear a little bit more-- you get to do bridal parties, on the day, and all this stuff-- what is that like, and what do you love about that? It's its own sort of thing...
BETSY: Well, one thing that's really great about it is that I'm finally doing…like, my tagline for my business is "the most beautiful version of you." So I feel like when I talk to a bride-to-be, and we're talking about the look she wants to go for….we start out by doing a trial run where she gets to try different looks. A couple weeks before the wedding, or a couple months before the wedding. And I take pictures of her after we try each look, and then I print them for her right there. And she can take the pictures home with her and decide the look that she wants to go with, or if she wants to work with me. But also, she gets to see how her makeup reads for the camera-- because they don't realize that you have to have, even if you never wear makeup on a regular basis, that you have to have some on to look good on camera. Your pictures are your memory of the day. And you're wearing white, usually, and that has a tendency to wash everybody out. I tell them to come with a camisole or a tank top that's the same color as her dress, and bring whatever she needs to bring as far as…if she's going to be wearing a veil, or whatever. So I shoot her from all different angles. And I'm a terrible photographer, but I figure if she'll look good in my pictures, she'll look good with a professional. (laughs) But it does give her an idea. And if she's not used to wearing, say, lashes…I use individual false lashes just to give her a little bit of a lift. They feel real; you don't even know that you have them on.
So: everything is geared toward making her feel comfortable, and like herself…but on the best day of her life.
JILLIAN: That's so good. Yes.
BETSY: And so I feel like I always want to convey to them that if we get it all down at the trial run, then we have nothing to worry about the day-of. And that's the last thing you want to have to think about the day of your wedding. I shouldn't have to be worried about what look I'm going for or how my hair's not going to work in the veil…you know, the whole thing. So I try to give her an idea of what all will be happening with her look. And I give her a little touch-up kit that has blotting papers, the lipstick I use, an lip-brush, and some bobby pins, and I also talk with the maid of honor; make sure that she's attending to the bride, you know? They have a tendency to forget that, especially in this town. Everybody's like "oh, it's my time to be on the red carpet." (laughs) It's like, wake up ladies. You're attending to a bride! But you know, I do it in a much more subtle way. But I just try to cover everything. I bring straws, in case they're all drinking something and they don't want to mess up their lips…I just try to anticipate everything. I learned that.
JILLIAN: Yeah-- there's a LOT that you've learned over the years, that only you would know…
BETSY: Yeah. It's been fun! And this finally makes sense to me, you know? I feel like I've learned everything…and I always just wanted to make the women pretty, and make the men handsome, you know? So It feels like this really works. and when I have them over to my house, for the trial run-- I try to always make it here, unless it's really inconvenient for them. But I set out tea and cookies and fruit, and we talk about what they want. I don't like them to feel like they're getting a bum rush-- "sit down, we'll talk about your look, and raahhh…" I try to ease them into it. (laughs) Because also, they're coming to a stranger's house, and they're at their most vulnerable-- with no makeup on, and they have to say what they want. And I tell them "you can bring a friend if you want, if you feel better with a friend, or your mom, whoever, and we'll just have a party." (laughs).
JILLIAN: Right! So do you ever just consult with people or do makeup for them for other events as well, or is it mostly specializing in weddings?
BETSY: Yeah, I also do special events. I've done different people who have gone to the Oscars or the Emmys. A lot of it is similar; just what they're wearing is different, and…they're going to be in a lot of different kinds of light. And so we try to check them outside, and check them inside, and make sure they're looking good in all the different lights-- that's a lot of fun too.
JILLIAN: Yeah. Well coming up for me is that you really have particular thing that seems so valuable-- because it's a skill and a talent that you have, and it's not common. And just from talking to you, hearing you talk about it, and hearing about all your experiences, what comes up for me is that as an almost 50-year-old woman, I've never been comfortable with my relationship to makeup. (laughs) I wear a little bit, but i don't know a thing about…the only thing I have ever been taught about makeup is stage makeup, which is completely different, right? And I would love to have a consultation with you about: here's what looks good on you, here's what doesn't, here's what you want to do for special occasions when you are going to be photographed.
Because let's face it, we're all being photographed now a lot more than we used to be. it used to just be special occasions; someone would haul out the camera. Now it's just always. Right? We're always all being photographed, all the time.
BETSY: I know! With cameras in every phone!
JILLIAN: Exactly-- and it's a little hard to take sometimes, right? So for me personally, that would be a really valuable…
BETSY: Oh yeah, next time you come out, we can do a lesson.
JILLIAN: Yeah! Because I don't know what to buy, I don't know what colors…you know, I don't wear foundation because I don't know how to put in on so that it's not really noticeable as foundation, you know? I'm sure that I could look a lot better. (laughs) You know, I'm getting older, my skin is uneven, blah blah blah….
BETSY: Well, I saw your pictures from your wedding, and you looked gorgeous. When Kim went to your wedding and she had the pictures…oh, you just looked gorgeous.
JILLIAN: Well, as we're talking about weddings, of course I'm thinking about my own. And thinking about how…It was one of the things I was sort of stressed out about was the makeup. Because, as I said, I don't really know what to do with myself. (laughs) And, you know, you can spend all this time picking out the right dress and all this stuff…and I was also thinking, this is my second marriage and I'm not doing this again. (laughs) For sure this is…I mean, I guess "never say never", but hopefully, right? And this is my last chance to look really smokin'…I had a friend come and do my hair, but the makeup was the one thing. And it's funny, because I was all dressed, and I was just about to go downstairs, and my friend, who had done my hair, was like "wait! What are you doing!?" and I said "what do you mean? It's time to go!" And she said "you don't have any lipstick on!" And I was like, "but I never wear lipstick!" and she said "you do NOT go down to your own wedding without lipstick." (laughs) And the thing is, she was right. (laughs) She was! because when I look at the pictures now, every time I look at the pictures I think "thank god she made me put lipstick on!" because it looks so much better! But I wouldn't have done it, because I didn't…you know? That's the thing.
BETSY: You know, it's so true for a lot of women that I work with. They say "I don't wear makeup on a regular basis." So we go really easy, and we just work from there-- I show her. We do a before picture, and an after, and then a very-much-after-that picture…so she can see how different colors will affect the picture. And she can choose whatever she wants…and I just make her feel totally comfortable. You know? That's really important for me, anyway, when I work with them, is that they feel like they can walk down the aisle and everybody will know that it's them on their best day. You know?
JILLIAN: Right, right. Well I would love that. So someday we'll do that. For real, I'd really like to do that. But also, I'm wondering if that's something that you want to pursue with your business.
BETSY: Yeah! I love just working with somebody for their everyday look. I think that's a great thing to learn, and I think I'd be good at that. I mean, it's funny-- the next thing I want to do is I want to convert our garage into a makeup studio, so that it really feels like it's my business, and they're going to an actual studio. But yeah, I'd love to do that…that would be…and, you know, I do it for different people that are just going to a party that night, or whatever, and they just want to look better than they usually look, so…yeah! You should come, and we would have a nice time doing that!
JILLIAN: Yeah! Well, I'll definitely be out again, and I do want to meet you in the flesh, regardless of whether or not you help me figure out how to put on makeup. (laughs). That would be great.
So…you want to make your garage into a studio. What else are you wanting? What is feeling inspiring to you just in terms of your work, your life…what next?
BETSY: Well, I feel like…you know, I'm just so close to what I want, and that's just a little bit more work. I pretty much do a wedding a weekend right now, and I would just like a little bit more work; maybe two weddings a weekend and do a trial run or two during the week. But I'd like to have, also…I love working in my yard and my house, and that's really where I get a lot of comfort, as far as…instead of meditation, I work in my garden.
JILLIAN: Yeah! I saw some pictures of your garden and your house, and it was just beautiful.
BETSY: Oh, thanks!
JILLIAN: I really can see…I get that sense from you, definitely. So say more about that…gardening is like meditation for you?
BETSY: Yeah-- and we have an actual vegetable garden now, and we eat out of that; have a salad from that every night.
JILLIAN: That's so satisfying, isn't it?
BETSY: It really is. And it's a lot of work-- I do all the mowing and the gardening. My husband helps too, but right now he's only available on weekends, and he's really bogged down with his job-- he's in TV production. When he works, he works all the time. He gets hiatus every year, where he gets months off at a time, which is so great-- then we really work on stuff together, and it makes such a difference. I mean, it used to be that he would cut down everything I put up. You know, he took that hunter-gatherer thing way too far. And he wouldn't gather anything up afterwards. (laughs) I'd have to do all the gathering, putting it in bins and stuff. And he would cut the wrong thing, and, you know…now he knows more about the garden and what works and what doesn't. So he really is a major help. (laughs)
JILLIAN: How did you learn gardening? Was that something you just taught yourself, or…? I mean, that's also not easy.
BETSY: Well, we learned by killing. (laughs) We killed a looooot of stuff. (laughs).
JILLIAN: Well, I do the killing without the learning. I don't have a green thumb, I guess. (laughs)
BETSY: Well, one thing about California is that you pretty much can't go wrong with the weather, for gardening. The only thing is that we live in the Valley, which is always about twenty degrees hotter than the rest of the town, especially the beaches. So it's kind of hard…I've tried to make and English garden in the desert, basically. That doesn't really work. (laughs)
JILLIAN: To me, from the pictures, it was working pretty well…
BETSY: It has its moments. Spring works really well; it's just now it's getting into the summer where everything starts looking a little crunchy. The grass makes a lot of noise when you walk on it. But basically, it's really a great weather to garden in. I just love it. It's something that I picked up because I wanted everything to look nice, and I didn't realize how much I was going to enjoy it.
JILLIAN: Right, right.
So if we can just get my studio made, that would be great. My husband looks at me like, "right, okay…you want to do what?" (laughs) And "where are we going to put all our stuff that's in the garage?" And I say…"when in doubt…throw it out." (laughs)
Anyway…I think it'll happen. I just have to ease into it.
JILLIAN: Well, like everything. It'll happen in its own time.
JILLIAN: Wow. Well, it's been so amazing, so interesting to hear your story. Definitely, the way this has been going-- I may want to talk to you again. I listen to these interviews and transcribe them, and then all these other questions come up that I didn't ask in the moment-- you get caught up in the story of the moment. So I hope, if you don't mind…
BETSY: Oh sure! Any time, any time. Please feel free. You know, because I'm sure I missed a lot too. (laughs)
JILLIAN: Well, is there anything else that…now that you've sort of taken me all the way through that through-line in your life of your own self-expression and creativity and stuff-- is there anything that comes up…either that you missed, or that you noticed, having talked through it?
BETSY: Yeah…it might be something that I'll think of later on, and I'll jot it off in an email to you, and if you want to talk to me more about it, we can arrange another talk. But I think I've covered, basically, what I've been through, and continue to go through. I think that's it.
JILLIAN: Okay. Also, I'm always curious to know from folks, after the fact, a day or two out, having told the story from this particular perspective, and having spent an hour, or more than an hour talking about yourself…what the experience brings up for you, you know? Tomorrow, when you think about it-- just how it felt, or if it brings up any memories that you hadn't thought about in a really long time…you know what I mean. If it makes you sort of think about things or your life in a way you haven't-- or not, it may not have that impact, but sometimes it kind of wakes something up for people-- so I'm curious about that too.
BETSY: Okay! I'll keep that in mind.
JILLIAN: Yeah! Well, thank you so, so much. I'm so appreciative of you doing this.
BETSY: Oh, thank you! You made it really easy. (laughs)
JILLIAN: It was so interesting, such a fascinating story, and I just loved hearing everything. And yeah, I'm sure I'll have more questions. So I'll let you know. I have your email, and you have mine, and I'll see you…you're a Facebook person, right? On the Blue Sky page, right?
BETSY: Yeah, that would be great. Well, thank you Jillian!
JILLIAN: Thank YOU, Betsy! So much. It was so great to hear your voice, and we'll talk again.
BETSY: Okay, take care!
JILLIAN: You too! thank you so much.