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Zombie Gras attracts living dead in Baltimore

A gala of gore attracted a human figure adorned with sharp plastic claws and accompanied by a little fake blood cocktail sauce. Baltimore's Zombie Gras is that kind of event.

The fourth annual celebration of creative decomposition and masterful makeup drew hundreds of aficionados Saturday to Geppi's Entertainment Museum. The blood was all fake, and those who spent hours applying it were more than willing to discuss their approach to graveyard glamour in the setting of classic movie posters and treasures of the golden age of horror, imagination and adventure.

Cheryl Jasper, an Anne Arundel Medical Center oncology technician, spent a year haunting thrift stores and bargain sales for the right eerie ensemble.

"My outfit cost $2 at the Goodwill and the wig was $8," she said. "I like all this. It's a wonderful emotional outlet. It helps me deal with the stress I have. And my patients cheer me on."

She came to the event with friends from Glen Burnie, Bobbi and Steve Mone.

"After Halloween I go to the dollar stores and the costume places where they reduce the fake blood and the prosthetics parts to nothing," said Bobbi Mone. "I am a Marylander and I am a Maryland zombie."

She wore a real Chesapeake Bay fishing net. Attached were a plastic blue crab and a synthetic rockfish, along with a real Natty Boh can, and for more realism, a discarded plastic syringe. She joked she could be a body found floating in the bay.

A dark haired man dripped fake blood from a toothy skull. Unlike others at Zombie Gras, he declined to give his name, saying he went by Screech. "I'm in the military. That doesn't go well with this image."

But he readily divulged the recipe for his oozing plasma: "It's mostly corn syrup." His fresh scabs were really a form of gelatin, he said.

Casey Driskill, an IT worker from Ellicott City, wore a white summer linen suit, ripped at the knee and splattered with red.

"I use a couple of different types of blood. The beginning steps in my makeup are the blood, some toilet paper and latex. ... I've gotten to be very good with trauma," said Driskill, who also appears in films. "We film in empty warehouses and in creepy attics and along broken-down railroad tracks," he said.

The event attracted experts like Rhonda Hardesty, a Middle River artist who owns Fantasy Artz, a business she founded to bring professional face and body painting to clients. She brought a full makeup box offering tones of greens and blues appropriate for the living dead.

"I can make you look older or younger," Hardesty said. "I feel like I've found just what I always wanted to do in this job."

She sat with her niece, Breanna Floyd, an Overlea High School student, who said she was "in training" for facial painting and makeup.

"I prefer the face painting. It's more about art. Anyone can use prosthetics."

When asked about what removes the layers of applied paint, tissue paper (creates the look of dead skin) and sticky stuff, Hardesty answered: "Soap and water."

jacques.kelly@baltsun.com

Copyright © 2014, The Baltimore Sun
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