Winterfest Interview with Stu Shef

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Interviews by Fans
Title: Winterfest Interview with Stu Shef
Interviewer: Winterfest
Interviewee: Stu Shef
Date(s): 2007
Medium: online
Fandom(s): Beauty and the Beast
External Links: Vincent Impersonators, Archived version
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In 2007, Stu Shef was interviewed for Winterfest. Its focus was Costuming and Beauty and the Beast.

See Winterfest Interview Series.

Some Excerpts

By the end of the first half hour of the first episode I knew that the 'noble savage' within the Vincent character was something that had appealed to me throughout any literature classes that I had taken -- and that this was a character that was in me just under the surface.
I designed and fabricated all of the items that come together as Vincent. Everything is from 'scratch' including all of the appliances (face, nails, hands, teeth, hair (another story), etc. The only items purchased partially 'fashioned' would be my contacts, the soles of my Vincent 'classic' boots, and various thermal shirts that were carved up for various applications. Originally, I used a wig, although even it was a combination of several wigs and hairpieces removed from their original netting and reassembled onto a new netting. Even the pants I wear are stitched from raw fabric on bolts.
I started with the 'classic' Vincent 'promo' outfit similar to the studio photos (gray corduroy pants, blue thermal shirt with white neck and white arm extensions, gray vertical ribbed vest, cummerbund, 3 strap belt with brass tipping and equine fittings, tall boots with seams, various straps and pads, cloak with dangle), although my work predated any photos I had seen. Later I extended my collection with several 'bedroom' tunics and mukluk boots. Then I went 'outside the lines' and created some fantasy sets that Vincent might have worn at Masquerade (like an elaborate tuxedo set). Then I created a set to mimic Beth Blighton's Tarzan Vinnie and was working toward a 'Last of the Mochicans' Vincent (but never completed the buckskin pants). I have 'round about 12 shirts, 6+ vests, 3-4 cummerbunds, 3 belts, 4 satchel necklaces, 3 wigs (out of service), various gauntlets, bands, straps, several boot sets, and 2 cloaks. THIS DOES NOT include any of the many studio costumes that I own ( I do not wear them). I still prefer the 'classic' set.

It took several false starts to get the appliance and costume right. I have one picture in 1987 where I kind of looked like the 'Burger King' king with a melting face and fur stripes on a torn cloak.

At one time I had also tried to use silicon instead of foam latex - others have been more successful with that material. It was always rock hard when set and broke the mold, or didn't set at all and had to be scooped out sticky wet.

The hardest part is the prep work to create each foam appliance and bake it. The hands are the worst - I may fashion several before I get one that is usable. When the molds are cured by baking in the oven the process is vulcanizing the latex and it stinks like sulfur.
We recreated Beth Blighton's Tarzan Vinnie for the Austin, Texas con in (1993?). :You know -- Vincent in a loincloth. We did a photo shoot in an inner courtyard at a pool with some interesting Tahitian landscaping. It was 3AM and we figured everyone was asleep -- oops, all of the rooms of the 5/6 story hotel faced the inner courtyard -- but we thought we were the only ones awake. WRONG. I am pretty sure that some fans have some pretty suggestive photos -- I sent my favorite along.

I have got to say that without the dentals, and contacts, I still see me. But the moment both are in and the hair is fluffed to fall both front and back I lose myself and see only Vincent!

On special occasions, I have also added prosthetic hair to my lower neck and exposed chest -- Up close, it has been a winner!