Oh the Stories Corey Grant Tippin Can Tell
Eduardo Gion Espejo-Saavedra,
Corey Grant Tippin is a make-up artist, model and artist who lived the New York City underground next to stars such as Warhol, Antonio López and Candy Darling, among others. He worked hand in hand with all of them thus their pasts are forever intertwined. Sweet, kind and handsome, here Corey reflects back on his work, his beginnings and how his crotch became the cover for the Rolling Stone’s Sticky Fingers album.
A version of this exclusive interview first appeared in the pages of the 15th issue of ODDA Magazine.
You worked as a model in the first men’s fashion show for Pierre Bergé and Yves Saint Laurent.
The fall of 1972 in Paris Yves Saint Laurent presented his first men’s RTW collection. It was held on the Rue Spontini and consisted of about 5 male models (of which I was one). Yves himself dressed us in the Cabine. The clothes fit my body perfectly and, upon arranging my papillion tie, Yves ex- claimed: Corey, tu est très chic. We each had several changes of clothes and the floor squeaked under the sisal carpets. It was held in silence, no music, with only occasional murmuring of the editors. Myself and friend Jay Johnson were cast, as we had recently filmed Andy Warhol’s L’Amour in Paris. We were thought by the French to be actual movie stars, rather than two expat arrivistes.
Valentino, Kenzo, Bill Blass and Ralph Lauren also presented men’s RTW collections that season. W Magazine dubbed them all “The Great Gatsby Look.”
Were you living and working in Paris at that time?
I had arrived in Paris in October of 1969. There, I joined my friend Donna Jordan and we stayed together at the fashion artists Antonio López and Juan Ramos’ apartment, way out in the 16th arrondissement, waiting for their return from Tokyo. Antonio had sent for Donna as he needed an illustration model for a campaign that they were about to start for French Vogue. Donna had aspirations to model and had tried her luck in London with not much success. During this time, I began imposing my influence on Donna’s appearance. I was styling her, doing her make-up and taking photos of her.
I loved the old-copy machines that allowed me to do “cut and pastes,” and drew on the photos enhancing the make-up and creating collages that I would sneak into Donna’s portfolio that she would present to photographers on a ‘go-see’. There was a migration of heterosexual American photographers to Paris at this time, which formed a ‘boys club’, which saw the current models as nymphs and milk maids, quite to the contrary of the idealized, completely unnatural, ‘plastic’ look which I adored.
“ANDY HAD ASKED ME IF HE COULD PHOTOGRAPH MY CROTCH BECAUSE HE WAS ALWAYS SO OBSESSED WITH MEN’S CROTCHES AND PENISES” – COREY GRANT TIPPIN
You worked with Antonio López and Juan Ramos, tell us about your work with Antonio Lopez.
It was Antonio that suggested that I declare myself a ‘Make-up man’, and pursue it professionally. In the late 60s, there was but a handful of professional make-up people, practically all men, who represented make-up companies and were present only at the most exclusive editorial shoots and commercial advertising campaigns. The models, in those days, were proficient in doing their own hair and make-up and frequently brought their own wigs to set in a carrying case
I worked closely with Antonio and Juan supplying the craft of makeup to enhance their models which inspired their drawings. I did the make-up on the girls Donna and Jane Forth for Andy’s movie L’Amour, in which we were basically playing ourselves. Jane and I had been experimenting diligently with her shaved eyebrows as an homage to 30s Hollywood with which we were obsessed.
Candy Darling gave you an interesting make-up tip, what was it?
Fred Hughes, a great friend and what you might call a Factory PR man today, had a talk with me about wearing as much or more make-up than the girls, suggesting that I was becoming another Candy Darling or Jackie Curtis. I considered this a kind of compliment rather than admonition. Candy had taught me to heat up the metal Maybelline mascara container with a cigarette lighter and apply while wet and hot! (although I never believed in mascara on men’s lashes, but rather a sweep with a toothbrush smeared with black eyebrow pencil.)
Thus, Yves and Pierre hired me to create the first YSL make-up line and flew me to New York City to present the ‘look’ to the Charles of the Ritz corporate owners. I started working with Guy Bourdin for French Vogue. Karl Lagerfeld asked me to design and create the make-up for the Italian Vogue cover shot with Anna Piaggi and Chris von Wangenheim. Here I got to show the ‘bleached brow’ on Donna. With Chris Von Wangenheim I worked for American Bazaar, but by then I was basically bored and lazy and thought modeling was much more fun, easier and way more glamourous.
Is it true that supermodel Pat Cleveland taught you how to walk like a model while you were both in an airport?
I got signed to Pauline Agency in Paris and stayed on after L’Amour was finished. Karl Lagerfeld designed special men’s garments for Antonio and myself to wear in some of his special fashion presentations. Once in the airport in Berlin on a layover with model Pat Cleveland, she taught me how to pivot and walk a (fashion) runway. I had it down after an hour of practice and put it into good use for Karl on our next stop (which was Venice, Italy).
You studied at Parsons, what did you study? How were your first years of school?
In 1969, prior to leaving New York City for Paris, I briefly attended Par- sons School of Design. It was suggested to ensure admission that I apply as a student of Industrial Design and, upon acceptance, I was immediately moved to Fashion Illustration. It was at Parsons that I first encountered Antonio and Juan who were visiting guest professors. With them was the model Cathee Dahmen who was the top model in the states then, even eclipsing Twiggy. Cathee had gone to an old school beauty parlor in Queens to get her hair permanently frizzed in the style of Hollywood starlet’s of the 30s. She also had a gloriously-curled, brunette wig that she wore in ringlets along with her surgically precise upper and lower false lashes. She had THE look, absolutely! A kind of Orphan Annie waif-doll, appearing decades more youthful and current than her model peers. It was at this precise time that Antonio picked me out of the crowd of students to pose with her, and my life was to forever change!
Are you the model that appears on the cover of the Rolling Stone shot by Warhol for his album Sticky Fingers? How did you create that cover?
My mother (who had seen an article in the Village Voice that Andy was doing a film version of Romeo and Juliet) advised me to go to the Factory and introduce myself. She sent me the address with the instructions, “just go there.” I did, and there at the old Silver Factory, I met Fred Hughes, Paul Morrissey and Andy, who invited me to a party that night at Betsey Johnson’s loft. After that, I would see them all at Max’s Kansas City and for a while they called me “Romeo”.
Andy had asked me if he could photograph my crotch because he was always so obsessed with men’s crotches and penises. I wasn’t surprised in the least and, of course, agreed as he said he would pay me $75 dollars.
I had no idea why and didn’t much care as $75 dollars was a small fortune to me in those days. A few months later, at a party for Mick Jagger at Fred Hughes’ apartment, Andy handed over the art work for the Rolling Stones’ Sticky Fingers album cover, which was the Polaroid taken of me at the Factory.
When designing make-up, is it based on references such as cinema or painting?
I still love make-up. I’ve been wearing it since I was a teenager. I only wear it now to attend events or when photographed. At my age, the psychology probably works better than the products. Today, I make a living as an interiors stylist working with designers and photographers, creating images for advertising and websites and designing visuals for many friends who now have interesting shops. I spend way too much time on Instagram and I am very fortunate to have a friend that invites me to travel.
What are you currently working on?
The new documentary film Antonio 70, in which I am honored to be a participant, will be distributed in Europe. It is all about the fascinating story of Antonio, his decades of influence on culture, art and fashion, and the world I briefly touched on in this interview.
Tell our readers a make-up secret.
Drag Queens today are the make-up geniuses of the world. They have single handedly set the bar for editorial make-up and are responsible for the vast choices of product currently flooding the market. A man impersonating a woman is genesis for retail success in the cosmetic field. That is why there is a sudden shift to skin care products vs paint. Mother Nature, or science, has emerged to reclaim her realm of beauty and quiet the chaos. Of course, plastic surgery is the real new make-up, so the “artificial impersonating the natural” is the current paradox.
Eduardo Gion Espejo-Saavedra
Filmmaker, Journalist and documentary. For several years working as an assistant director of short films and feature films in 35mm. His documentaries have been shown at festivals Festival de Cinema de Sitges, New York Film Festival, Portland Underground Film Festival, San Francisco Film Festival, and others. Worked at events “080” in Barcelona, collaborating with photographers Miguel Villalobos for the production of the tribute to Thierry Mugler. Writes and produces reports for magazines “Candy Magazine” to Luis Venegas, Also works for the magazine “Paraiso Magazine”, and Features Editor at ODDA Magazine.
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