I sat in the ZinZanni tent for what seemed like the millionth time. This time I was waiting for our star Liliane to arrive for her photo shoot. She blew in as stunning as always; gliding through her makeup routine with the ease that only comes with decades of practice and experience. She smiled wistfully during our introduction; I the ZinZanni intern and she our leading lady, and waived away my frets with her painted fingernails–protesting any food or flowers. “No frills,” she demanded, “Just bring me my ‘shampoo’.”
From there, I followed the crew (consisting of Korum, Lisa, and Miriam) on my little orange scooter to Michael Doucett’s photo studio in Pioneer Square where we were scheduled for an afternoon of set-up shots featuring Liliane. Stuffing ourselves into an elevator that looked as though it had been excavated from the sunken Titanic, we held our breaths until lifted to our destination; a vintage shared studio littered with ceramics, photos, paintings, and a collection of other artistries. The landlord appeared in time to give Liliane the tour of his studio–a world of brightly colored flowers, music, and statues from around the world. “You are so talented!” Liliane exclaimed at the pictures, “you must teach me! I am, of course, no good–but I must learn this from you!”
Much obliged, the artist agreed. “So, what’s your story?” he asked timidly, still not sure what to make of the woman praising his work, “what do you do?”
She tipped back her head with dramatic flair, “Why, I am a star,” she pronounced. “First, I was a ballet star, then I was a movie star, then I was a Broadway star, and now I am a Teatro ZinZanni star,” she smiled widely upon reflection, “All my life I’ve been a star!”
He shifted his eyes in confusion or embarrassment, not sure where to land. “Good, very good,” now laughing, “That’s wonderful.”
She smiled and laughed back to him, “I know!”
By now, Michael had appeared in the other room, busy throwing together lights and backdrops, playing with the ideas of different props and scenarios. His words fell rapidly from his mind as he filled us in on all the gossip of the photography world, the ideas he had for ZinZanni characters, and whatever else happened to run across the screen behind his eyelids. He melted over Liliane as she walked into the room, “You’re make-up is perfect! Everything is perfect! Hands down, the most beautiful woman I have ever photographed!”
As she changed into her dress, I popped open the champagne and the party began. I asked again if she might need anything to eat to which she responded, “Oh no. I don’t eat, only drink,” she laughed, “and at this age it’s okay to say.”
Must be a good age to be, I thought, probably for the first time.
She dazzled us with her poses–her energy seeping through her pores, capturing the lens with the same charisma she uses to captivate her audiences nightly. She chatted through life stories of living next to Judy Garland, tucking her into bed after wild nights of Vegas parties.
“You knew Judy Garland?” Michael stopped, nearly dropping his camera.
“Oh, yes,” she shrugged, “I only want to be surrounded by talented people. I love talented people! How else can you learn?”
“Judy Garland…” Michael drooled, for once, seemingly speechless.
After a few more costume changes and what seemed like a hundred shots, we rendered it a day. Liliane said her goodbyes to her newly established painting instructor as we cleared the studio.
She seemed to confirm herself that day, proving that which she and everyone else already knew; Liliane was simply born to be a star.