‘Painted with Raven’ champion Matt Perkins on winning reality competition

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It’s not every day that someone enters a reality show competition from their parents’ basement. But that’s what Matt Perkins did to compete in makeup competition “Painted with Raven.”

Hosted by “Ru Paul’s Drag Race” runner-up Raven and created by “Drag Race” production company World of Wonder, the pandemic-era show was filmed entirely remotely in April 2021. The final episode will be released on Thursday on World of Wonder’s streaming service, following contestants’ grueling nine hours of creating makeup looks.

A makeup artist and drag entertainer with a degree in 3D design, Perkins showcases intricate makeup looks that can take up to eight hours to create on their Instagram account (50,000 followers) under their entertainer name, Crimsyn. 

With only three hours to do each makeup look, Perkins competed from the show out of their parents’ basement in Virginia while battling a psoriasis flare-up and juggling a wide variety of side hustles, including costume-making, an Etsy store, and a math tutoring gig. Below, they share how they did it.

How did you first get started with makeup artistry?
“I started in the cosplay world making costumes. I originally started building armor, wearing helmets and going to conventions, and all that stuff. And then I got to the point where I was trying to do characters that did not require helmets anymore. And I was like, ‘I need to start wearing makeup.’ If you have this elaborate outfit on and you don’t have makeup on, it doesn’t really all go well, cohesively. The first character I wanted to be was Patrick Star from ‘SpongeBob.’ I would say Patrick Star was my gateway into drag, because it was half cosplay, half drag.”

What are your top sources for makeup inspiration?
“I love video games and reflecting back on all these different strong female characters. 

But I’m also really interested in dissecting and researching different things in nature, whether it be crazy plants or sea creatures.”

What was it like doing a fully remote reality show?
“I swear — if I was there in person, around the lights, the producers, the famous people, I would have been shaking in my shoes. But I was here in my own basement with my dog, my bed, everything around me that I know. I was definitely more calm. 

When we got the call and were given all the information, I think that’s when we were told that it was going to be done remotely.” 

And have you gotten to meet anyone from the show in person?
“Ryan from the show lives 30-45 minutes away from me. So we actually did meet up, because she was the closest one and she is fantastic. 

As for the rest of the cast, they are scattered across the U.S. So we are definitely trying to plan some sort of meet-up or get-together to meet everybody in person.”

Was there less drama than a typical reality show, because of the remote setup?
“If you’re going to be crazy over there on the screen, that is your prerogative. But as soon as you start getting crazy around my personal space, that’s when we start having an issue. In-person might have been a different situation; we might have had a little more drama going on. But it depends on the personality, for sure.”

What was your inspiration for your final winning makeup look?
“We had to actually do three separate looks for one episode. It was crazy. In one day of filming, we had to do three hours for each makeup look. 

My concept was kind of a reflection of my life. I did part of my life where I felt like I was innocent and heavily influenced by people around me and not very confident. And then my villain was those people influencing me, making me think a certain way. And then my superhero [look] was me coming into my confidence and using my artistry to find myself. 

I was really proud of my ability to reflect on myself, dissect my inner emotions and how I am, and use my artistry to reflect that.”

Who are your top beauty icons?
“Of course, I have to say Raven. She is a trendsetter in the makeup world. 

And someone who is definitely starting to impact the makeup world in a very positive direction would be Krystal Versace. She was the winner of “Drag Race UK,” and just the way she does her makeup has really changed some people’s [approach to] makeup and the drag world currently.”

What are you planning on doing next?
“I’m planning to hopefully pay [off] a large part of my student loans and be able to move out of my parents’ basement, taking that next step in my life of independence. 

I’m also very interested in continuing my Etsy line to create my own products. [I also want] to create some sort of artistic kind of vaudeville variety show that entails not only drag and makeup artistry, but also other forms of our entertainment.”

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