I‘ve done a few articles on Youtube makeup “gurus” in the past, but Cat Tanchanco’s skills set her apart from many of the rest, as do her finished products. Cat, who’s better known by her Youtube subscribers and Twitter followers as “Audfaced,” believes that makeup is a “creative outlet to express different personalities, moods and features already within yourself.” It’s something she makes clearly evident, whether transforming herself into a well-know character from film or stage, or one of her original creations.
Currently a film student at CalArts, near Los Angeles, Cat has a very popular Youtube channel (with over 41,000 subscribers to date), where she does her best to honor her viewer’s requests and give step-by-step instructions as she becomes something that would rival any Hollywood professional’s creation. However, what’s all the more impressive is that she works within a limited budget, using modest equipment and her bathroom for a studio. Despite that, she even incorporates some pretty impressive theatrics into her video tutorials, all of which she produces solely herself. Also a skilled photographer, nearly all of the photos you see of her in character, such as the above Bellatrix Lestrange-inspired look, were taken by Cat, herself.
Cat and I had hoped to get this interview done and posted here for the Halloween season, but due to her hectic schedule and some setbacks, that didn’t happen in time. However, I’m glad it did eventually happen because, considering her talent and ambition, I’m sure in the not-too-distant future I’ll be saying, “I did an interview with her before she was famous.”
CHRIS CHARLES: I’m especially pleased to have you here, Cat. I assume in the near future, you’ll be much more in demand for interviews. Please give me some background on yourself. CAT TANCHANCO: Hi! I go by Cat, Auds, or Audie and I was born and raised in California. It’s a common question: I am Filipino-American in terms of ethnicity. As for education, I went to private schools all my life until college. It took me three tries to get to the college I knew I would be happiest in and fulfill my goals. First it was a big university, then community college and at last, art school. Here, I’m studying all aspects of filmmaking but also actively working as a freelance makeup artist. CHRIS: How did you arrive at your user name “Audfaced”? CAT: Well, when it comes to screen names, ever since I was little I liked to have truly “original” names. I didn’t really like the idea of just combining words and throwing a number after it, for example, something like, “snowprincess7.” No ill-will to anyone with that actual screen name, I didn’t check, but I wouldn’t want that for myself. To me, it’s not memorable. What I like to do is combine words, but then play around with the spelling. For example my film and photography name is “Audivila” and that came from combining the words “odd” “evil” and “villain” and playing around with it. “Aud” branched out of that when I created my YouTube name; Audfaced. Audfaced is supposed to really stand for “odd face” because I really wanted my channel to focus on makeup for primarily the face. To me, “odd” isn’t a degrading word and neither is “weird” or “freak,” so “aud” was really supposed to stand for everything out there; everything odd, crazy and extravagant. It was a symbol for all the costuming and character work I intended to create under this name!
CHRIS: Well that sure explains that. So, as I’ve told you, I’ve seen and spoken with a lot of Youtube makeup gurus and your look and skills have impressed me more than any other. I know you’ve been asked this many times before, but for my readers who aren’t familiar with you; what sparked your interest in makeup, particularly theatrical makeup? CAT: Wow, thank you! To be honest, when I got into makeup I had no idea I would end up focusing so closely on special effects and Halloween themed looks. BUT, it was always something that I admired and enjoyed. Back then it just went way over my head, I never thought I would delve into learning how to do it. I got into makeup as a craft and into the Youtube guru world at the same time: I was online looking for makeup tutorials because I wanted to learn how to do my own prom makeup while I was in high school to save money. Getting a face of makeup done at a counter at the mall costs about $50. One video led to another and soon I was obsessed with learning to do prom makeup, which eventually led to creating my own channel. It was a VERY rough start since I was trying to make videos when I barely knew anything! The thing is, while making these purely beauty makeup videos and product reviews, I didn’t feel very “myself” or really alive. I constantly felt like I was just trying to fit into the makeup guru world by molding myself to that genre. CHRIS: Even though I think you blow many of them away, are there any other makeup gurus you admire or have studied? CAT: Definitely! I have great, great respect for makeup artists like Gossmakeupartist, Manwomanfilm (Asahi), Petrilude, KlairedeLys, Goldiestarling, CharismaStar, Michelle Phan, Bubz, Pixiwoo …. I try not to watch other makeup guru’s videos too often though because I want to see what kind of looks I can come up with before being too heavily influenced. But when I have time and remember, I am always amazed by what they come up with.
CHRIS: Ah yes ….I’m familiar with a couple of those names. Anyway, there are beautiful monsters and there are terrifying ones. You’re very cute and pretty, so does that make it all the more difficult when trying to transform yourself into a horrifying character?
CAT: Well, I have mostly been working with 2D makeup so really all of the work that I have posted on Youtube is still very much my own face. Just wait till I start doing full face prosthetics, you won’t recognize me at all then! The most I’ve ever been able to transform it was by adding the illusion of decaying skin, zombie wrinkles or by gluing pieces of metal to my face. I really enjoy transforming my face because so often people tell me I’m “too cute” to play a villain or an evil character so by pulling off these scary looks it’s kind of my personal “Yup, I can!” to people who didn’t think I could.
CHRIS: Well I’m sure it’s a challenge for you. So, are you a fan the show Face Off?
CAT: Um …. it’s only the center of my life! Well, at least every time there’s a new season. I am obsessed with that show, I’ve watched every single episode to date and I am actually aspiring to be on that show within the next six or so years. I don’t care if it’s season 20, I want to be on that show!
CHRIS: Well that answers my question about you wanting to be on that show someday. Even though I haven’t seen you do a lot of work with serious prosthetics, is that something you’ll eventually be getting into?
CAT: Absolutely, I’ve actively been learning about different kinds of prosthetic and how to make them in the past year. But the really professional pieces require more equipment than I have right now, especially if I wanted to make foam latex or silicone pieces. Right now I’m still trying to perfect basic face painting technique and smaller-scale methods for realistic wounds, burns, bruises, bites and other lacerations. Film shoots most often call for these kinds of makeup jobs and for film, it’s very important to be subtle and realistic, which is always a challenge to me since I tend to go very theatrical with any makeup I do. I don’t know how many times the director had to tell me; “less!”
CHRIS: The judges on that show can be pretty harsh. Would you say, you’re a harsh critic of your own work?
CAT: I think that it’s best to be your harshest critic at times, who else cares more to push you to be better? I see my work, and I know when it’s good and when it’s not and where improvement is really needed. But at the same time it’s important to take time to enjoy what you HAVE accomplished, otherwise you’ll just make yourself miserable without the joy of the journey of learning.
CHRIS: What’s been your most challenging character to create, either for yourself or for someone else?
CAT: Making my FX makeup look realistic is the biggest challenge of mine right now. I’ve been really interested lately in realistic blood. It’s something people like to throw all over the place but when it comes down to it few people have actually seen the real thing in the same amounts that many FX makeup looks portray. That said, I don’t think I’ve created enough “creatures” yet to have really bumped into extreme difficulties. But lately I’m struggling to figure out how to make my work look realistic for film, like cuts and bruises. There’s such a subtlety to realistic lacerations, so it’s taking me some practice to acclimate myself to that frequency.
CHRIS: Have you always produced all your own videos by yourself?
CAT: Yes, so far I’ve never had a crew or anyone really helping me to film my tutorials. Literally once or twice I have asked a friend to help hold the camera for my introduction sequences, but when it comes to the tutorial; so far, it’s just me, the camera, and my bathroom.
CHRIS: You aren’t afraid to get physical in some of your videos. Ever had any mishaps while making a video?
CAT: I actually AM afraid. For example, I was nervous about going underwater in my Samara video, but honestly when it comes to art and film and getting “the shot,” I put my hesitations aside. I haven’t done anything crazy yet though, the worst results I’ve ever gotten from filming my makeup videos are are following, and they aren’t even bad: bruises, body aches, water up my nose, extreme cold, extreme sweating, pain from sharp objects, extreme stinging in the eyes, itches from plants, thorns in my shoe. Ta-daa.
CHRIS: You’ve appeared at Fright Fest in 2010 and 2011, where they had makeup artists there do your makeup. Be honest; after looking in the mirror after any of them finished on you, did you ever feel that you could have done a better job?
CAT: The makeup artists at Fright Fest are really on a time crunch and they only have enough time to really use an airbrush, stencils, maybe some creme makeup and then drizzle blood here and there. Next! But of course I’ve looked in the mirror and wished there was a little more here, a little more there. I won’t say WHICH park this happened at, but it’s happened to nearly everyone. That’s why when I recently became a MUA (Makeup artist. “MUA” is an abbreviation that’s commonly used and known by those in the industry) myself at Fright Fest, I really tried my best to make everyone look as scary as I could with the time I had. But honestly, with the fog, darkness, strobe lights and scary music, sometimes they really don’t need that much makeup to get a good scare. People have to understand that any good makeup takes time and there’s so many people to go through in a short amount of time. But it’s true; everyone wants to walk out of that room looking scary in the daylight as well.
CHRIS: Besides being a makeup artist, you’re also a photographer, actress and model. Do you feel more comfortable behind or in front of the camera?
CAT: Naturally, I’m more “comfortable” behind the camera because I don’t have to think about how I look, if I’m in frame, if the angle is flattering or about what I’m doing; all my attention is only on making my subject look amazing. When I’m behind the camera I can be bundled up in a jacket with comfortable shoes and makeup stains all over my hands. When I’m in the front of the camera for my tutorials especially, it’s really a one-woman show and there’s so many things I need to constantly pay attention to, as the subject and as the camera operator. But, I always have and always will crave to be in front of the camera as well. I had a passion for acting long before I even picked up a makeup brush or arranged my first photo shoot! It shows in the way I conduct myself in my videos.
CHRIS: Of those career paths; makeup artist, photographer, actress, model, is there one you plan on focusing on the most in the future?
CAT: I ask myself this all the time. Not too long ago I also thought I would have to choose just ONE and ultimately one only. But at the moment I am finding this impossible. I am constantly tugged back and forth between focusing my attention on filmmaking and makeup, but the two almost always end up overlapping and intertwining in my life. Once I am out of film school I would like to put more attention on my makeup career as well as my acting career. I know it seems silly to switch gears so soon after graduating from FILM school, but to me it makes perfect sense: film school is providing a good background of the entertainment industry, so makeup and acting can jump right into that. It would be so much easier to just put 100% into ONE craft, one medium but few artists are like that … we need new stimulations, new colors, more ways to express ourselves. I thought I had to pick just one, but now I see that would just be foolish to limit so many possibilities, but at the cost of having to divide my time and attention.
CHRIS: I’ll ask you sort of the same question you asked Tim Burton: What character that you’ve created for yourself, do you identify with the most?
CAT: Come to think of it, there are few makeup looks I’ve done that have been 100% original. Most of my most well-known Youtube videos are recreations of existing characters like, Samara from The Ring, Bellatrix Lestrange from Harry Potter and Emily from Corpse Bride. “Steel Assassin” is what I count to be my first original character, born out of my brain (smiles broadly). But anyway, out of all the makeup looks I’ve done … I think I identify with Elphaba from Wicked (The Wicked Witch of the West) the most. Getting to be her in that video was especially meaningful to me, because as corny as it may sound, a lot of her songs from Wicked, the musical personally mean a lot to me. Her character is someone who was always seen as the odd one out but she was really just such a passionate and good-hearted character. Her song “Defying Gravity” still holds a lot of weight and heart to me; it’s about breaking free and rising above the limitations people force on you. If there’s one thing my closest friends know about me, it’s that I strive to have a free and wild spirit, and that song embodies that for me as well as Elphaba as a character. Put it this way, that song gives me goosebumps and that’s how I know there’s a connection.
CHRIS: I saw your short Hate Dolls, but I’m afraid to say I didn’t get it. Can you please shed some light on it for me?
CAT: In Hate Dolls, the only back story the viewer really gets is a picture of the two girls at the start of the film, a picture obviously from a time when they were close friends. The expression of the girls in that picture is very important, especially if you pay close attention to the emotions going on in their faces and who is paying attention to who. That said, Hate Dolls is about a girl the brown-haired one, who had feelings for a close friend, the blonde, that didn’t feel the same way for her. Though the blonde tried to simmer it down and to at least keep the friendship, their relationship became severely awkward and she cut her off. Now the blonde girl is merely trying to forget her and is spending time at a trashy Halloween party. She just met this guy, they’re making out in the bathroom while the brunette girl is sitting at home, alone. She casts a spell on both herself and her friend and
by cutting herself and drinking her own blood she is able to possess the other girl’s body. (Needless to say the brunette is a witch.) It isn’t shown on camera but the brunette puts on a blonde wig, which tells us she is clearly very obsessed with the girl. We also saw she had a piece of blonde hair from the other girl, which was used to cast the spell. She makes herself throw-up blood and the other girl does the same, that’s how we know now she is controlling her. Her mentality is; “If I can’t have you, no one can” or more accurately; “If we can’t be together, no one can have us,” so she takes both of their lives by cutting her throat – their throats. Hate Dolls is a play on the term of Voo-Doo dolls. It’s a bit of a shallow-ended story but it’s really just rawly about how feelings of lust, jealousy, love, and hate can so easily become intertwined and mixed up to drive a heartbroken soul to a method like this. It’s a story about passion, the dark-side of emotions and our desire to “possess” someone and be their only one.
CHRIS: Do you ever get approached by people who’ve recognized you from your online videos?
CAT: This has actually happened to me more than twice in the past year and I always get shocked when this happens! I still can’t wrap my head around it, and the fact that people have asked to take pictures with me before is really flattering!
CHRIS: Ever been mistaken for any other popular Youtubers, makeup gurus or not, such as Natalie Tran or Michelle Phan?
CAT: Never mistaken for, but if I had a dollar for every time someone has told me I’m a “Michelle Phan Wanna-Be”, I’d be rich! I don’t think I look like them or they look like me, but I understand that people naturally categorize faces as well as “types of people.” For example, many people compare Lady GaGa to Madonna or Christina Aguilera to Britney Spears etc. because what; they’re both musicians and blonde. The fact that Michelle, Natalie and I are all simply “Asian and female” already makes people categorize us. That on top of all of us being Youtube video-makers.
CHRIS: Have you been approached to endorse any makeup products or lines yet?
CAT: I have been approached by a handful of companies ranging among skincare lines, eye shadows, makeup brush, jewelry, face wash, shaving creams, prom dress making companies and more. I do product reviews for some. But at the moment I don’t represent any brands, I just do reviews. I’m striving to team up with some respectable companies in the future!
CHRIS: If you were fulfilling a request to do a Kiss (the rock band) makeup tutorial, which character would you choose and why?
CAT: I’d choose Gene Simmons, the one who always sticks out his tongue with the doo-da on top of his head! Just because the design on his face looks the most fun and appealing to recreate on a female face.
CHRIS: Hmm …I would have thought you’d choose Peter Criss’ (the Catman) makeup, but I hope to see the Demon makeup tutorial in the near future. Oh, one last question: If you now could say something to that butt-naked lady with the saggy everything that glared at you in the shower several years ago, what would it be?
CAT: Ha! I would say; “How do you do?” and hope that she is in a much better mood this time. Good thing I hadn’t seen the movie The Shining before that happened to me. I would have been 100 times more traumatized.
CHRIS: Okay, so with that, I thank you again for granting me this interview, Cat. In closing, any shout-outs or words to your fans?
CAT: Thank YOU for such an eye-opening interview! And to any Audfaced channel supporters and anyone at all, I say: Keep creating and keep looking for new sources of inspiration. Push yourself, but remember to appreciate what you have accomplished as well. Nothing worth having comes too easy. When you hit a low in life, just think, that’s ‘the sad part in the movie of your life before you bounce back and rise above it!
A rare shot of Cat working behind the camera. Below are a select few of her creations.
The Corpse Bride
The Evil Nurse
Lady Gaga “Born This Way” video inspired
Little Dead Riding Hood
Marilyn Manson Inspired
Sally from The Nightmare Before Christmas
Samara from The Ring
The Zombie Clown
Steel Assassin, whom Cat considers her first, all original character
Cat’s Elphaba makeup tutorial from her Full Halloween Collection.
This is a prime example of what sets her apart from the rest.
See more of Cat and her makeup art for your alter-egos at:
Originally from the San Francisco Bay Area, Chris flirted with the music business there and in Nashville before joining the U.S. Army and serving in South Korea. He remained in Asia for several years afterwards, teaching English and covering the regional entertainment scenes. Currently in a mindset between Seoul and San Francisco, besides Idol Features, you can also catch his writings in the print edition of the quarterly magazine, Effective.
Rachael was included in my first James Girls feature and a subsequent solo interview. Her resume includes Playboy magazine to, more recently, her role as the leader of the Van Houten sisters in the indie horror Bleeding Hearts.