"More exquisite than any other is the autumn rose."
--from "Les Feux" by Theodore Agrippa D'Aubigne
Chances are that by now most people have acquired their 1991 wall calendars, and many have Sports Illustrated magazine's annual swimsuit issue. What's the connection with older people? Not much. That's the point.
Older people are rarely portrayed as sexy or glamorous. But they don't have to accept the stereotypes of how older people should act and look.
The desire to feel and be considered attractive is healthy. It stays with us all our lives. The advantage of age is the ability to recognize and to appreciate inner beauty along with that pinup-girl "come hither" smile.
We visited the Simi Valley Senior Center last month, where we discovered Lee Evangelista, their 64-year-old ceramics and sculpture teacher. She agreed to a glamour makeover to give readers a chance to see what it would be like to be a calendar model or cover girl.
Evangelista, who was widowed in November after 45 years of marriage, spoke candidly about physical changes.
"Love is growing old together. You get fat. You loose your teeth, and your hair falls out. But you see a kaleidoscope of the person over all the years. My husband was still gorgeous--he was just gorgeous different," she said, laughing.
Evangelista and her granddaughter, Jennifer Carey, were both born on Jan. 21, 52 years apart. "Jennifer was my birthday present," Evangelista said. "My daughter goes to extreme lengths to avoid buying gifts."
We took them on their birthday to Glitter Photography in the Buenaventura Mall for a glamour photo session.
Here is how it went:
10 a.m.: Yvonne Rockwell took some before shots of Evangelista with no makeup. "We aim to please. We don't shoot to kill," said Rockwell.
10:10 a.m.: Evangelista was seated in a model's chair with hair pulled back from her face by an elastic headband. The pink room was adorned with glamour portraits of people of all ages. The music was upbeat, and we were ready for a good time.
Wendy Guest, the makeup artist, drew lines under Evangelista's cheeks, under her jawbone, and around the tip of her nose with a chocolate-colored pencil. She spread the lines with a makeup sponge into shadows that contour and disguise problem areas.
"Oh, that's how they non-surgically remove those double chins," said Evangelista. Twelve-year-old Jennifer's eyes widened. Her "Grammy" looked more ready for a performance of "Marat Sade" than a glamour layout. Next came the foundation. "I just lost five pounds from my face," said Evangelista.
10:30 a.m.: "You've got beautiful eyes," said Guest applying pink and purple eye shadow. Guest styled Evangelista's hair, and applied some light cosmetics to Jennifer's face. Evangelista had styled her granddaughter's blonde ringlets earlier that morning.
11 a.m.: In the studio, photographer Michelle Borlaug helped Evangelista slip into a silver lame wrap. Then Evangelista put on a white fur coat and silver jewelry before reclining on the table. When asked how she felt, Evangelista responded, "Kittenish. I never got this treatment on my wedding day." Next, she was transformed by a white feather boa.
11:30 a.m.: Evangelista changed into her black and white outfit and put on the cameo pin she wore at her wedding. Jennifer joined her in the casual shot.
11:45 a.m.: We reviewed the poses on a color video monitor and Evangelista received a "miniature masterpiece" to take home. After the proofs are ready, she will return to select her favorite poses.
When asked how she felt during the photo session, Evangelista joked, "I don't think I've ever felt that sexy with so many people around."
But in a more serious tone, Evangelista said, "I really liked it. Anyone with a sense of humor would enjoy it. Besides, a picture is something to always treasure."
To get glamorous on a budget, ask your beauty or barber shop about senior discounts. Cosmetology schools offer great savings. On senior discount days, the average cost of a haircut is $4. A shampoo and set costs between $2.50 and $4, ($6 or more with tint). Prices for a perm start at $10, manicure $2, pedicure $5.50, and facial $15. The following is a list of the cosmetology schools in Ventura County.
* Lu Ross Academy of Cosmetology, 97 S. Oak St., Ventura, (805) 643-2401. Hours for seniors age 60 and older: Tuesday 10 a.m.-5 p.m., and Wednesday 9:30 a.m.-5 p.m.
* Oxnard Beauty College, 655 S. C St., Oxnard, (805) 483-5202, and Thousand Oaks Beauty College, 193 N. Moorpark Road, Suite T, (805) 495-8100. Hours at both establishments for seniors age 55 and older: Tuesday through Thursday 9:30 a.m.-3:30 p.m. Ask for their senior discount card, which entitles you to a free service after 10 visits.
* Simi Valley Adult School of Cosmetology, 1149 E. Los Angeles Ave., Simi Valley, (805) 527-8234. Hours for seniors age 60 and older: Monday 9:30 a.m.-noon, Tuesday through Thursday 9:30 a.m.-3 p.m. and 5-8 p.m. There is no charge for some services performed by supervised beginning students.