Memories From the Makeup Trailer: The L Word Series

By JoAnn Fowler
There are times in one’s life and career that will always be remembered and cherished – there were many moments throughout the 6 years on the show that I remember fondly but nothing can compare to the naïveté, the delight, the comradery of Season 1 of The L Word.

The L Word was so much more than any other show I had ever worked on – it was a show that was breaking ground politically and socially. It was almost all women and although the makeup and hair trailer was always the most fun place in the world, the first year especially, all around, was a blast. We formed lifelong friendships and laughed so hard and so often I can’t even begin! The cast on The L Word was individually and collectively the most talented, funniest, most interesting and loving cast I have ever had the pleasure of working with. There was never a day in our whole run that our little hair and makeup universe was not pumping out creativity and laughter. It’s not that it was perfect – there was always production to deal with – but in our land of hair and makeup, the world kept buzzing along.

When I got called for The L Word, I had just signed on to the 2nd unit for a Ben Affleck feature where Norma Patton-Lowin was Head of Dept. and so, I turned down the position. I think what happened then was that the producer called Norma and asked if they could steal me away. Norma gave her blessing and I signed on to the show along with one of my closest friends, Paul Edwards, as the hair stylist, for an amazing six seasons. 

Photo collage of Paul Edwards hair stylist at various times on the set of The L Word, some with makeup artist & friend JoAnn Fowler

A walk down memory lane... 

Often people ask about iconic moments and there are so many that come to mind!

  1. Watching Bette and Tina’s argument at the end of Season 1 being filmed. With so much heart-crushing emotion and energy going into the scene, to this day I am still in awe of these actors’ talent and dedication to the story.
  1. The overnight pool scene atop the Chateau Marmont with Rachel and Laurel (who was magnificently pregnant) and seeing the sunrise in LA as Paul and I, after an all-nighter, were on a plane to Vancouver to have Pam Grier ready for shooting by 11AM. 

JoAnn Fowler (left) and Paul Edwards (right) on a rooftop in LA at sunrise

  1. The all-night party scene we filmed on a yacht as well as the all-night prom party we filmed in Shane’s garage. Both nights were true parties, joyous, fun… Prom night was hilarious with Laurel off-stage playing “drunk girl”, Mia the misfit teen with big glasses and so many of the background performers having their own very first “prom” – it was super special.   
  1. The NYC premiere at BED and subsequently walking through the city until 5AM, and the premiere at the LA Art Gallery, with outdoor fires and champagne, and Paul and I blasting 80’s disco tunes every trip – because it seemed to just fit the mood.
  1. Going to see Leisha’s band UhUhHer in LA and Sandra, the First AD, sooo excited to be backstage for her first time! 

Photo collage of memorable times with The L Word actors Pam Grier, Kate Moennig, Leisha Hailey, Rachel Shelley, Jennifer Beals and the Uh Huh Her Band

  1. Paul going through Alan Cummings phone book (with Alan there) marvelling and joking about what we would say to all the immensely famous people in his list.
  1. Kate putting Laurel’s bra around her ass, and it fitting perfectly!
  1. Pam’s impromptu line “your majesty” during the scene where Kit meets Rachel’s father – her attention, love and compassion for her character, her consummate professionalism and kindness, especially to Danielle.
  1. Dance parties in the makeup trailer with Pam leading, Prince on the sound system. 

Fun memories collage with The L Word actors having fun, laughing, hugging, smiling and some playfully dressed up

  1. Doing Mia’s makeup any time was lots of fun, but the time she talked us into making her silver-sparkled from head to toe for her strip scene took the cake. Paul created what was literally a sparkled helmet in a flip style – it was magnificent!!! I gelled her whole body with sparkle but as it turned out, the Director wanted her to look completely bare of all hair and makeup. You have never seen such a quick turnaround in your life (we never even got photos) but after that...we always got a director’s meeting! 

Actor Mia Kirshner talking on cell phone in early 2000s during Pierrot character makeup application

  1. Running lines with Jennifer in the morning as she got her hair done; conversations about art, love, spirituality, family, politics; stories of travel, the need for change in our world… Working with her through her pregnancy and birth. So many cherished moments.
  1. Riding behind Jennifer at Pride in San Francisco, witnessing thousands of people celebrating her, celebrating life and celebrating being gay… 

Image collage of Jennifer Beals at San Francisco Pride parade with a huge crowd, inspiring an iconic SAPPHO Pride makeup

  1. Animals were always welcome in our trailer. Floyd – affectionately known as Goddammit Floyd – Kate’s rescue dog, was a regular visitor. Totes adorbs with his natural eyeliner. He was also the love of Kitty’s (Paul’s westie) life but as every bad boy does, he played the field.

Photo collage of actors and crew with various dogs in the hair & makeup trailer on The L Word 

  1. Working with a team of incredibly talented makeup artists and hair stylists that we could count on to do their very best every single day. Our teams were also experts in taking every opportunity to dress up and generally carry on – I so love and appreciate all of them. 

Picture collage of various crew member from the hair and makeup department on the original The L Word TV series

  1. The end of the first season and how we all cried.
  1. The day Pam walked into the trailer, saw me crying as the legal permission for using the characters’ names for my products had been pulled the day before printing packaging and she said “JoAnn, our names will live longer and stronger than those character names – use ours!” I have never felt so humbled and grateful in my life. I checked with everyone, and we went to print! 

Film polaroid style photo of Pam Grier super glam look with platinum blond wig and fabulous sparkly cocktail dress

  1. The opportunity to learn with and from a cast so varied and so talented, from Jennifer informing me on the quality of organic products, cumulating with Mia telling me about parabens and the EU ban of 1400 chemicals and...

Gifting me the raison d’être for Sappho.


SAPPHO founder and makeup artist JoAnn Fowler with The L Word actors Mia Kirshner and Jennifer Beals being interviewed in Vancouver at 2008 launch