What's Your Most Frightening Fantasy?

Every woman has her fantasy. Whether they are fantasies of grandeur, fame, or wealth, out-of-body fantasies allowing you to act as someone else, or simpler fantasies of success, happiness, or family, fantasy plays a vital role in our lives as women. Today, women do it all. We take care of the kids, maintain a full time job, manage the house, groceries, dog, birthday parties, and the PTA. It’s a wonder we have time to wash our hair let alone think of ourselves for enough time to fantasize about what we desire. Whether we realize it or not, there is one sacred woman act that allows us to delve into our fantasies and set us up for success. It is the few minutes that we have to ourselves in the morning, when we can close the door to the bathroom and be alone with our reflection in the mirror. Putting on whatever make-up that we do, allows ourselves to check-out from the real world for a brief moment. While we put on our mascara and eyeliner, we embrace Audrey Hepburn. We roll the lipstick over our lips, and for a brief moment we become Marilyn Monroe. Our make-up is applied and we look in the mirror feeling confident, and we are Jackie-O. Make-up is transformative, and that is exactly the message that Blades Salon make-up artist Lori Karnes is spreading across Louisville.

Karnes’ passion for make-up came while working in retail. A seven-year-old little girl whose face was burned in a house fire came to Karnes with her mother looking for help covering her scars. A week later, the girl and her mother returned to visit Karnes at work, thankful and excited, telling her how the new make-up had changed her life. Making this little girl’s humble fantasy a reality motivated Karnes to look in to make-up schools around the country and is what gave her the fervor and dedication to work with burn victims later in life. After gaining her education, traveling, and working for such companies as Universal and Disney, Karnes settled in Louisville and opened up her Studio at Blades Salon on Chenoweth Lane in St. Matthews. Jackie Sturgeon, Co-Owner of Blades Salon is the founder of Cool Cuts, a non profit organization providing wigs and hairpieces to children with medical challenges. To Karnes, it seemed a natural fit for her to open up her studio with a passion for helping burn victims, close to Sturgeon. 

Karnes’ is not only well know for working with burn victims, but also for her fantasy make-up artistry. Karnes is one of Louisville’s most talented and best known fantasy make-up artists. According to Karnes, “fantasy make-up is creating any character that you can’t be every single day. Being able to be something completely different…to me that’s fantasy.”  Fantasy make-up, according to Karnes can range from a bride on her wedding day transforming from a plain Jane to a beauty queen, a beautiful peacock painted on a face, or bloody zombie make-up transforming someone one into “night of the living dead.” Karnes has a deep appreciation for the art form of fantasy make-up. Her father was an artist and taught her how to use the airbrush at a young age.  Between her father and the geniuses she learned from at Universal Studios, she has become one of the only skilled airbrush make-up artists in Louisville. Her unique skill set, background, and knowledge of the “blood and gore” make-up world are all reasons she is back for her second year at the Waverly Hills Sanatorium Haunted House.

One of Karnes’ most massive undertakings to date, the make-up in the Waverly project is sure to impress, that is if you can dare to look at the characters long enough to see. Waverly Hills Sanatorium is known as the “Most Haunted Place in the World.” A fifty bedroom Tuberculosis Hospital located in Southwest Louisville, the hospital was built in the early 1920’s and has seen it’s share of illness, death, and reportedly, paranormal activity.

Karnes started work in  June for the Waverly Project.  With roughly sixty actors that needed head to toe make-up, there was a lot of work to be done. Karnes started out the process by going room by room of the haunted house, learning the theme of each room, how many characters there would be, and if the characters would be zombies, ghosts, clowns, etc.  She then sat down and sketched each character, deciding their individual head to toe looks and unique quirks.  Once all sixty sketches were done, she ordered all the make-up including airbrushing materials, three kinds of blood including dry, stage, and scab, she then had to work with the engineers on lighting for each room, work with casting, and the list went on.  The Waverly Project is a full scale production. 

This year’s haunted house is more extravagant than ever,  with thirty rooms and thirty different scenes. Among the rooms is a 3D clown room where visitors must wear special glasses while walking through a neon colored room inspired by Steven King’s “It” and the film “Killer Klowns from Outer Space.”  Karnes was able to use this year’s Waverly Hills Haunted House to explore the boundaries of fantasy make-up.  Relying on her own terrifying and humorously twisted fantasies and assuming the visitors’ most frightening fantasies, she created the most realistic and petrifying haunted house experience possible.   

Tours of the Sanatorium and the Halloween Haunted House are some of the recent attempts by Waverly Hills’ owners to cut down on vandalism and raise money to restore the historic building.  This year’s proceeds from the Haunted House will be split between restoring the building and the WHAS Crusade for Children. The Haunted House opened September 21 and will be open every Friday and Saturday night from 7:30pm to 1:00am through November 4.Tickets are $20.00 cash at the door. For more information go to Facebook.com/scareatorium2012 or www.therealwaverlyhills.com.     

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