On Sunday, August 7, 2005, Donny O'Bryan of the Shock Treatment Network finished a phone conversation with actor Cliff DeYoung and then immediately phoned Sandra Exelby, who did make up for several of the stars on the set of Shock Treatment. The taped conversation lasted for approximately 30 minutes. Below is an edited transcript of the interview. Audio clips of the conversation can be found at the very bottom of this page.
Shock Treatment Network: Hi, is Sandra Exelby there?
Sandra Exelby: Speaking.
theshocktreatmentnetwork: Hi, this is Donny at The Shock Treatment Network.
SE: Oh, hi!
theshocktreatmentnetwork: Is this a bad time? 'Cause I can always call you back...
SE: No, it's fine. Just fine. How are you?
theshocktreatmentnetwork: I am so good. I just hung up the phone with Cliff DeYoung.
SE: It's just amazing that Shock Treatment is still around. It sort of got lost after Rocky Horror. Nobody ever seemed to promote it.
theshocktreatmentnetwork: It does always seem to be in the shadow of Rocky Horror. And a lot of people, expecting it to be another Rocky Horror experience, become disappoint when they realize it's not, so they end up turning away from it. But those repeat viewings helped to slowly build up a fan base for it.
SE: It's strange because, working on it, we found the music on it and everything was really terrific. And we really enjoyed working on it. It's very strange. I also worked on Bugsy Malone and there was a similar vibe on it. Everybody thought it was going to be something special.
theshocktreatmentnetwork: Yes, and Bugsy Malone has a large fan base, too. It's own cult following.
theshocktreatmentnetwork: I enjoyed Bugsy Malone. As a matter of fact, Donald Waugh is in Shock Treatment and Bugsy Malone.
SE: Yeah! (laughing)
theshocktreatmentnetwork: But let's get to Shock Treatment. How did you get involved in Shock Treatment?
SE: First of all, a friend of mine, whom I'd done several films with, Pat Hay --who was the make up designer on Shock Treatment--well, actually there were 3 of us. She was doing a movie, and she wanted me on board. And so, that's how I got involved. Pat Hay chose the team for Shock Treatment. A team, basically, of three, including Carole Devine and myself. Then after Ruby Wax came on board, we had a fourth member, Joan Hills. She had done a movie with Ruby called Chariots Of Fire.
theshocktreatmentnetwork: So you telling me that Ruby Wax was the reason Joan Hill came on board -- to the make up team on Shock Treatment?
SE: Um, yes. Because she'd worked with Ruby.
theshocktreatmentnetwork: Was Ruby famous at the time?
SE: She wasn't famous, but ... she'd been a bit wild on Chariots of Fire. And Joan Hills had gotten along with her very well. It was sort of teased, "That wacky woman's coming in. Let's get someone who can handle her." (laughs)
theshocktreatmentnetwork: The make up crew and the hair crew. You guys were like a close knit family then.
SE: Oh yes! It was a long shoot. I knew all the hair dressers very well. Ramon Gow, who was the chief hairdresser on it, was an old friend of mine. As were Chris Tayler and Mike Lockey.
theshocktreatmentnetwork: Yes, Mike Lockey. Cliff DeYoung was telling me an amusing story about Mike Lockey trying to fix Rufus Collin's hair, and Rufus not letting him.
SE: Well, you try your best. Because I had a problem with Pat Quinn. We were doing two days prior shooting, doing tests. And Pat Quinn arrived, having been mugged the day before!
theshocktreatmentnetwork: (gasp) You're kidding!
SE: No. She had two of the blackest eyes I had ever seen in my life. She'd been kicked across the bridge of her nose. So she had an actual cut across the bridge of her nose and her two eyes were the color of aubergine. So the producer and the director came in and --Pat was my main principal artist-- and they said, "Right, if you can cover the black eyes up, fair enough. But if you can't, we're gonna have to fix it. Write it into the story, some way, and keep them there. So they gave me a couple of hours to work on her and I ended up have to use...I think it was 3 or 4 layers of make up.
theshocktreatmentnetwork: And it worked... [NOTE: I have asked what color aubergine is, and have been informed that aubergine is more of a British word than an American word. The US equivalent is the color "bread fruit", a dark shade of purple.]
SE: The first layer did not cover it. So I added, in the end, three more layers.
theshocktreatmentnetwork: I can tell you this: I don't notice it at all.
SE: No, you don't. We shot the film fairly chronologically. So at the beginning of the shoot, her eyes were absolutely aubergine color. But I managed to cover it and they did test shots with the camera--you know, all different lenses. The final test shot that they did, they were shooting up her nose, they were that close. And Jim was able to come back and say to me, "I can't see the black eyes. That's great." So we were able to just go ahead, keep the heavy make up on, until such time that the black eyes had disappeared, and adjusted it accordingly. And she was more than grateful. She was in a bit of a state and shook up when she came in.
theshocktreatmentnetwork: Can you tell me anything about the audience members?
SE: They had this special crowd that came in every day that they used as the audience on the studio set. We had something like a hundred permanent extras--crowd artists. They came in every day. A lot of them were named. Do you know what I mean? They were specific characters that made up a unique audience. But they were such small parts. They weren't principal artists. And there was one of them that ended up being named "the make up girl" and she followed Imogen Claire around during filming.
theshocktreatmentnetwork: So the woman who put powder on Bert Schnick's face was an extra, originally from the audience. She wasn't a real make up artist.
SE: No, she wasn't one of our crew at all.
theshocktreatmentnetwork: I imagine it was tedious to all the audience make up.
SE: We hardly touched them all all. There were certain people in that crowd who were quite well known, and just wanted to come in and be part of the movie. We didn't get to interact with the audience much because we were very busy. We had every single principal cast member to make up every morning. So we were very, very busy in the make up room every morning.
theshocktreatmentnetwork: What was a make up session like for the principal cast?
SE: On normal features, Donny, you had certain days when you were very busy. But other days, you may have only 2 or 3 casts to do. But on Shock Treatment, we had every single principal artist to do, (more than 20) every day. So I was looking after Pat Quinn. I was looking after Little Nell. I was looking after Besty Brantley. Oh, and Manning Redwood was one of mine. I had "aging" to do on him, so his make up was an hour.
theshocktreatmentnetwork: Oh you had to make him age?
SE: Yes, I aged him. ...and Rik Mayall was one of mine.
theshocktreatmentnetwork: Did you do Jessica Harper?
(Pat Hay with Jessica Harper)
SE: No, Pat Hay did Jessica. Uh, Carol did Cliff De Young. Pat did Barry Humphries. Unlike his "usual" character. (laughs)
theshocktreatmentnetwork: Dame Edna?
SE: Our make up was very strange on that. Barry Humphries used to come into our make up room and use our phone. So we bought some screens, and put them up in the corner.
theshocktreatmentnetwork: You gave him his own office! (laughs)
SE: (laughing) That was Barry's office behind the screen. But one day he had to do a photo shoot for Dame Edna and he said, would we mind if he came in and we helped him get into Dame Edna. And it was so funny because it was still Barry while he was having the make up on--and it was still Barry when the wig went on--but as soon as the glasses went on, he wouldn't answer to Barry anymore. He was Dame Edna. And it was really weird, we went, "ooh" (laughs) ...because there's a sudden change of personality. He was no longer Barry.
theshocktreatmentnetwork: Have you seen Barry--or Dame--since then?
SE: No, but I've still got the present that Barry gave me at the end of the movie. He gave me a book of his that he had signed personally. And I've got a great photograph--a lovely photograph of Nell Campbell and Rik Mayall that Nell signed for me personally. I'm in the process of getting a scanner at the moment, but as soon as I get one, I'll scan them and send them to you. And I have got a couple of really good shots of Pat Quinn as well.
theshocktreatmentnetwork: Was there any special make up requirements for specific characters? I know both Janet and Bert had very pale make up.
SE: As far as Cliff was concerned, they wanted to make a contrast between both characters that he played. Brad was pale, but Farley was a bit more "hollywood." I know that they had quite a bit of problems because of the darker make up got in the way of the wig Cliff wore as Farley. Because it was swept straight back, it had hair laced at the front. Mike Lockey did that wig. He had to go to Carol and say, "Stop takin' the make-up up into the hair lace. Every time I put glue in it, it goes wet and everything." They weren't doing well at communicating. Carol was a bit of a strange lady and they wouldn't communicate. In fact, I think it was Carol's first film that she'd done. Therefore she didn't quite understand.
theshocktreatmentnetwork: Were the make up styles different for a film set in the USA compared to the UK?
SE: No. Pat Hay had been told by the director the look he wanted. So she just said, "Make them look Hollywood." I know for Pat Quinn, I took quite a long time to find an eye shadow to match her uniform...so that she got that lovely green eye shadow. To match that green uniform. And I think Mike Lockey did a beautiful hair style on Pat Quinn, all those Betty Grable curls. It turned out just fabulous. And I've talked to Mike Lockey a number of times about Jessica Harper's scene with the big huge black hat that she throws into the audience. When she takes the hat off and the hair all falls down. That hair was held up with just one hair pin. And I know Mike's heart was in his mouth that the hat would come off before the given time. It was all constructed, but she took the hat off and one pin came out, and her hair came tumbling down. It's contrived to make the end result easy, but it came out brilliantly. Until the moment though, she had quite a lengthy routine to wait through, all the while worrying that the hair would fall too soon.
theshocktreatmentnetwork: In an email from you, you stated that some of the make up crew had passed?
SE: Yes, Ramon Gow, who was the chief hairdresser on Shock Treatment and Rocky Horror...and Chris Taylor both have died.
theshocktreatmentnetwork: That's a shame.
SE: And Mike is no longer part of the industry.
(NOTE: an interview with Mike Lockey is in the works. Stay tuned...)
theshocktreatmentnetwork: Can you tell me anything about the wrap party?
SE: There was a wrap party and a pre-production party. We had a lot of fun.
theshocktreatmentnetwork: Was that when Barry Humphries gave you the gift?
SE: I can't remember if it was the wrap party or as a Christmas gift. We shot up until almost Christmas Eve. And then we had a 10 day break before coming back and started shooting just to finish off.
theshocktreatmentnetwork: What fond memories do you have about Shock Treatment that you haven't mentioned already?
SE: I love the music, and Cliff, and Richard O'Brien was very funny, and he would come in and chat with us. Well, they all did. The make up room was always a very social room. Sometimes too social. We took it in turn to go on the road and buy a crate of champagne for the day. (laughing) We insisted that we must keep our room real frigid to keep our make up cold...yeah, it was to keep the champagne cold! And Barry'd come in and it would champagne and orange juice. I don't know how any of us got home! I even think we were having champagne breakfasts. As it got nearer to Christmas, we got more and more jolly. It was a very jolly production.
theshocktreatmentnetwork: Do you remember the date it ended? You said you took 10 days off starting Christmas Day, which makes you return on...January 4, 1981. Which was a Sunday, so most likely Monday the 5th you returned to work.
SE: Um...I think we shot for a week in the new year.
theshocktreatmentnetwork: So probably the last day was...January 9, 1980.
theshocktreatmentnetwork: Now, let's talk about you. Do you have a favorite film (besides Shock Treatment) that you enjoyed working on?
SE: Bugsy Malone. It was obviously very unique being all children.
theshocktreatmentnetwork: That must have been difficult.
SE: Yes and no. It was a scheduled 12 week shoot and we finished at 5:30 on the Friday of the 12th week. The pre-planning and organizing of Bugsy was just spot on. The whole thing was organized like a military camp. (laughs) The children would come to the hair and make up department if they wanted to swim and would ask if it would be okay. It was well organized. And there wasn't anybody over the age of 16 in it. That was a very unique film. But I'm also quite proud of Highlander.
theshocktreatmentnetwork: Yes, and Christopher Malcom (Vance Parker, the cop in Shock Treatment) was also in that.
SE: Yes, but I only did two characters' make up in that, including The Kurgan (the principal evil character) with all the special effect make up. It was one of the first of its kind for make up then. I was using an air brush, but of course, now everybody is using an air brush. But in 1975 they weren't.
theshocktreatmentnetwork: Any last comments before we go?
SE: Um...Betsy Brantley (Neely Pritt). I had seen her in Tour of Duty --the TV show, and I was just so astounded when I made her up because she looked so much like a young Joan Crawford. She was astoundingly beautiful and she was almost unknown when she came and did Shock Treatment. She was a lovely girl. Really nice. Oh, and who was it that played her sound man...?
theshocktreatmentnetwork: Oh, Perry Bedden.
SE: Yes, I did him. Dark hair. (laughs) That was quite a long time ago! When you do make up on somebody you get very close to them. Carol did Cliff's make up so she became closer to him than I did, but I found him quite charming. But I was closer to Pat, and Nell, and Rik Mayall and all that lot because every morning they came and sat in my chair. And I got the laughter and the heartache and "here's what I did last night..."
theshocktreatmentnetwork: Who took the longest to put make up on?
SE: Well, at first it was Pat Quinn because I had so much to apply...because of the black eyes. But Manning Redwood was the longest because I had to age him. To age up his eyes. We aged him a good 20 years.
theshocktreatmentnetwork: What are you doing these days?
SE: At the moment, I'm teaching make up. Doing courses. And I'm the chairman of the National Association of Screen make up artists and hairdressers. It's like a guild for the make up artist and hair industry.
theshocktreatmentnetwork: Congratulations. That's something to be quite proud of.
SE: Yes, I am quite proud of that.
theshocktreatmentnetwork: I am glad I was able to talk to someone on the crew of Shock Treatment. I look forward to interviewing Mike Lockey as well.
SE: I was going to say that Pat Hay is quite difficult to get a hold of. She's filming at the moment, down in Devin.
theshocktreatmentnetwork: Sandra, I really appreciate this interview.
SE: If I can help you with anything else, just let me know. You have my number and email.
theshocktreatmentnetwork: I certainly will. Thank you very much.
SE: My pleasure.
THE FOLLOWING ARE AUDIO SAMPLES FROM THE SANDRA EXELBY INTERVIEW.
THEY HAVE BEEN EDITED FOR CLARITY.
Internet Movie Database didn't do justice to display all the many things that Sandra Exelby has done. A big thank you to Sandra for sending me a c.v. (Curriculum Vitae) detailing much of the work she has done over the years. Here's that part of the email she sent me:
Sandra talks about Patricia Quinn's black eyes.
Sandra talks about which actors she did work on.
Sandra talks about the Dame Edna photo shoot.
Sandra talks about Pat Quinn's eye shadow.
THIS IS A SELECTION OF SOME OF THE PRODUCTIONS I HAVE WORKED ON ILLUSTRATING THE VARIETY AND THE EXTENSIVE RANGE OF MY ABILITIES.
Feris Bella Gawd. Personal S.fx make-up Designer Mohamed Sobhy
Egyptian Spy Epic for Middle
Eastern TV. Dir.Mohamed Sobhy
Back to Secret Garden Chief Make-up. Joan Plowright
(Follow up to Secret Garden) Dir. Michael Tuchner Cherie Lunghi.George Baker
Hallmark/Rosemont Prods. Sheila Steifel.Camilla Belle.
David Warner. Leigh Lawson.
Leprachauns 2nd Unit Make-up Prosthetics and m/up for stunt
(Romeo and Juliet with fairies Dir. John Henderson artists and principals for flying
and leprechauns) sequences.
Blonde Bombshell Crowd M/up & Hair co-ordinator
(Bio. Of Diana Dors 1941-1984)
Wilde Personal Make-up & Hair. Vanessa Redgrave
(Bio.Oscar Wilde) Dir. Brian Gilbert
Supply and Demand Chief Make-up Aemnon Walker. Ade Sapara
(Modern police drama) Dir.Peter McDonald Juliet Aubrey.Ramon Tikaram
La Plante Prods. Freddie Starr
Brylcreem Boys Make-up & Hair Designer Gabriel Byrne Bill Campbell
(Comedy romance set in POW Dir.Terence Ryan Angus McFadyen William
camp in 1939 Ireland) McNamara Joe McGann
Jean Butler Oliver Tobias
Highlander S.Fx make-up Clancy Brown Bette Edney
(Sci-fi cult movie) Dir.Russell Mulcahey
Shadey Chief Make-up Anthony Sher Lesley Ash
(Black Comedy) Dir.Phillip Saville Billie Whitelaw Larry Lamb
Katherine Helmond Jesse Birdsal
Film Prods. Include Three Kinds of Heat Chief m/up
Bugsy Malone Hairdresser
Lifeforce Make-up artist
The Missionary Make-up artist
Television Prods. Crazy Like a Fox Chief Make-up
Around theWorld in 80 Days Chief Make-up
Without a Clue crowd co-ordinator
Jack the Ripper crowd co-ordinator
Education Doncaster High School
Beauty Therapy Jean Reid School.
Aromatherapy Massage Hagman School
Make-up & Hair BBC TV 10 years.
SFX. BBCTV/ airbrush training Bob Kean