On September 14 at 9 PM ET, Logo TV will air “Kevyn Aucoin: Beauty and the Beast in Me,” a documentary about the rise and fall of legendary make-up artist Kevyn Aucoin, who helped define the 1990s supermodel era and became the world’s first celebrity make-up artist. The film reveals, for the first time, extensive Camcorder footage Aucoin shot of his own life and times.
While documentary depicts the glamorous aspects of Aucoin’s life, it also showcases his deep background, both through Aucoin’s own footage and director Lori Kaye’s excellent reporting. Born in 1962 to an unwed, sixteen-year-old mother in rural Louisiana, he was given up for adoption and raised in a nearby town. He knew that he was gay by age six, and so did everyone else: in high school, his classmates tried to kill him with a pick-up truck. Aucoin dropped out. He eventually made his way to 1980s NYC and launched his career.
Aucoin eventually documented on tape his reunion with his birth mother after tracking her down. She rejected him, and told him that he wouldn’t have been gay if she had raised him. But he had the unrelenting, heartbreaking support of his adoptive family, who quit their local church because it taught that homosexuality was a sin. “No one was going to tell me that something was wrong with my boy because he was gay,” his adoptive father tells Kaye in the doc.
Lori Kaye’s access in “Kevyn Aucoin: Beauty and the Beast in Me” is astonishing, and apparently unlimited: everyone from the supermodels of the era to Aucoin’s birth mother spoke with her. The film not only depicts a now-vanished 1980s and 90s NYC, but also gives a surprisingly nuanced portrait of small town Louisiana, where pockets of tolerance thrive.
The original version of this story appeared in the September 2017 edition of Vogue, which celebrated the magazine’s 125th anniversary.