No Holds Barred - Saving Face

by Blair Sabol

Saving face is a full-time job in Los Angeles. Everyone seems to have their plastic surgeon and laser tech on speed dial. That's along with their veneer dentist, physical therapist, drug connection and high colonist.

Although now this goes on as well in New York City, Houston, Miami and everywhere. But there is no stronger mecca of physical "morph masters" than the avenues between Camden and Roxbury Drive in downtown Beverly Hills.

I always get a kick out of studying the shiny new semi-gauzed faces standing in my hotel elevator whenever I visit Los Angeles. As I take my morning walks down Charleville Drive I pass all the plush plastic surgeon offices and note the various blood sample vials sitting on their stoops waiting for pick-up. It's a world.

"Best kept Hollywood secret" Dee Bartolo.
Cutting edge team: Dee Bartolo and Dr. Marc Mani.
Many of my LA pals often tell me of the latest doctor and aesthetician and I never listen cause until a face lift comes in a bottle I am passing. Trust me ... I am fully lined (my frown lines are such deep crevices no Botox shot could fill them), I continue to sit in the sun, and am afraid of all needles and surgery.

I am not a candidate for "face work.” But the name "Dee Bartolo" has been whispered to me for some time and I decided to take note. She is the latest and most popular "face maker.” Not to mention she is many of the Hollywood stars’ and agents’ "go to girl" for skin rejuvenation. She has a lengthy wait list (who doesn't in Beverly Hills ... even the car washes) but magically I recently scored an appointment. She shares an office with Dr. Marc Mani – a newer younger plastic surgeon and supposedly rated as "the best kept secret" in LA.

Both Bartolo and Mani work independently and together and many in the" "nip and tuck" industry consider them "the cutting edge." I can see why. Why wouldn't a plastic surgeon want his "work" kept up to date with a decent skincare program? On the other hand why wouldn't a medical aesthetician need some help from a plastic surgeon who can follow up with some needed injections and a few minor pull-backs?

In between all this is the dermatologist as well. Mani's office covers all this (many of these aesthetic offices do) but with a subtler approach. The actual office is done in a deluxe all white theme and when you first walk in you feel like you died and went to heaven. I am not sure how they keep it so pristine but the effect is dazzling, not clinical. The coffee table has serious expensive art books displayed (no dated USA Today or Financial Times), and Mani's own dramatic art work decorates the walls. The receptionist revealed herself behind a frosty sliding door.

Both Mani and Bartolo met me at the "pearly gated" threshold. I confessed to Dr. Mani (no "blow-off" intended) that I was not ready for "primetime cutting" or filling. He seemed to understand my cowardly stance and immediately turned me over to Bartolo without a moment of hard sell. He vaguely winked and laughed saying "Maybe some other time."

Mani and Bartolo are an impressive duo. His sleekly tailored white lab coat matched his office and Bartolo sees clients in 7-inch platform shoes and sleeveless Prada sheath. No name tags on white coats for her. She called me "Lovey" and directed me into her white "safe haven."

Bartolo is from London and her history is loaded. She studied skin in England and got all her necessary degrees from there and then traveled to Tokyo and the Caribbean and finally ended up in Los Angeles at the Jose Eber salon. Those were the "good old days."
Dr. Mani and Bartolo's all-white office.
After more education she went through serving time with two major Beverly Hills dermatologists and scored a lengthy clientele. They all followed her over to Dr. Mani's office. She prefers his style "cause he flies under the radar and is extremely ethical and does gorgeous, subtle work." Unusual in a city that lives for the biggest "fish lips" and star doctor-turns on Bravo Reality TV.

Bartolo's "facials" are actually "treatments." This is not about picking pimples, scrubbing, steaming, creaming and leaving. This gal has got some major voodoo in her hands and her approach.

"I am committed to finding the latest techniques and product and the field of 'medical aesthetics' is seriously competitive, and it should be. I want to be on the forefront."

And so she is with her unusual potions (many from Europe and strange sounding locations ... who cares if they are “legal"?) and her favorite LED (Light Emitted Diode) machine which she uses for instant rejuvenation.
Mani's lobby coffee table reading.
But her expertise is her "in depth skin" analysis and her custom treatment plan. Not to mention "follow up." She has that unique blend of supreme knowledge and complete attention to each person's skin. It has put her on the map. During awards season she sees her "star clients ("I can't tell you names ... I respect all privacy and there are many") at 7 AM to 9 PM. She wakes them up and "plumps" them for pre-dawn shoots and then puts them to bed post late night makeup removal. She is "on purpose."

Bartolo herself actually looks ageless and resembles Emily Blunt. I can see why people adore her. She CARES about ALL of you. She wanted to know what I ate and what drugs and vitamins I took in detail, and in general my whole lifestyle. Then she turned her microscopic lens on my face and it was incriminating. She "read" me completely. Psychic and otherwise. I couldn't hide a thing. Her amazing fingers lifted every face-fold, nook and cranny ... including ear lobes, the back of my neck and down to the décolleté.

She didn't miss a trick. She lectured me in that soft Helen Mirren accent and away we went. It felt like she had given me Nitrous Oxide or Michael Jackson’s fave drug Propofol .... I was gone from the first swab. It felt like she was ironing out my "11s" (the frown lines) and stretching my "Howdy Doody" laugh lines. 

Mani's office sliding door entrance.
I vaguely recalled that: she blew oxygen all over my face, LED'd me in a special light chambered helmet, rubbed sheep skin cells on my nostril creases and put some snail serum on my neck "rings." Later she paraffin-waxed it all into my subcutaneous tissues.

At the beginning and end she massaged my hands and feet with amazing maneuvers. I knew before I went under that this could become a major addiction. She did speak very slowly and methodically throughout (who remembers) and her big message is her integral approach. Her products are homeopathic and traditional. She uses both Oriental and Western ideas, and a lot of her own "ooga booga" thrown in. "Healer" not "technician" is what she wants to be.

Ninety minutes later I was awakened from my stupor. I told her she best call me a medicab as I could barely stand up. I was so out of it ... in a good way. I was amazed that with my ultra sensitive skin she didn't leave a single red blotch ... and believe me she "went for it."

Yes, my face looked cleansed, lifted and vibrant ... not so much wrinkle-free but moistly radiant and certainly different. The last 20 minutes she went over my program and gifted me with some ampules, tubes and vials. If I could only remember what to do and when to do it (she gives you a printout).

By the way, her basic skincare line is Epicuren, but she pulls from everywhere. She is currently investigating "menstrual blood and lamb uterus tissues" for application. Don't get scared. It's just her desire to stay ahead of the curve. She stops at the recent trend of putting live leeches on the body to suck the toxins out. "I do have my limits."

She's been in the business for 30 years, and believe me she could apply anything on my face as she transmits such confidence ... and she GETS the results. I stumbled down the opalescent office hallway (I see why they used that hue ... it makes your skin glow) and she showed me to the "star" back-door exit. I got the royal treatment and I never looked and felt better. And it lasted ... as long as I did my regime.
Dee Bartolo's recommended rejuvenating products.
As Bartolo was leading me out, she was checking her Blackberry and I saw a huge list of names calling "for help." That night she checked up on me to make sure I had started with my snail serum. Now she emails regularly and wants to hear feedback. As she says: "I always like to think I am like that character in Remains of the Day ... that servant who is totally dedicated to his people." She is. And now I'm dangerously "hooked." Finally I found a "face lift in a bottle.” Or so I like to imagine. "The bottle" is pricey but the results are assured. Her two-hour deluxe treatment is $575. Dee Bartolo, 9675 Brighton Way, suite 340, Beverly Hills, CA. Phone: 310-871-0108.

The same day I got my Bartolo "face off," I went downtown to makeup/jewelry designer Tarina Tarantino's 2012 Fall/Holiday shoot. Tarantino made her name in sparkle jewelry and for ten years has been extremely popular with her own boutiques and online sales.
Tarina Tarantino and production crew shooting the Fall makeup campaign.
Production designer Pedro Zalba sporting Tarantino pin. Model with Tarantino "sparkle/darkle" eye shadow.
She started years ago as a MAC makeup girl. Since then she has exploded on her own with her recent Sephora cosmetic/makeup line and continues with her lucite baubles. I have been a huge fan for a long time cause she got me into high color ... pinks and oranges and purples and of course 'sparkle.' But now she explained she needed a new palette.

"I wanted to get away from all this 'Miss Kitty' stuff and do something with more range and depth."
Tarantino model "Erica" at Spectrum for her Fall 2012 makeup shoot. Tarantino adjusting Erica's makeup.
She is now into a deeper theme. Better known as "darkle.”

"Don't get me wrong, I am still going to have all my brights and pink crystal but as a designer I have to evolve into a fresher theme. I have always done 'smokey eye' but this takes it even further with a shimmer."

I'll say. This look is more androgenous and certainly resembles "Girl with the Tattoo Dragon" minus the Goth piercings and tattoos. Her shoot model's name was "Erica" but she looked more like an "Eric" to me.
Tarantino model in Fall "darkle" look. Tarantino's "darkle" jewelry line.
("NOT that there is anything wrong with that," as Seinfeld would say). There was a tremendous amount of creativity going on during the session with all the new makeup, jewelry and graphic work.

They were using Tarina's new downtown office location for inspiration. The building is vintage and used to house the Western Costume Company. It was the same structure that comedian Harold Lloyd famously "clock dangled" from in 1923's film Safety First.

"We feel so inspired from that black and white film era," says Tarina"s husband/biz partner/film maker Alfonso Campos.
Tarina Tarantino's new black and white jewelry line.
More from Tarantino's new jewelry line.
The black and white jewelry was dazzling and the makeup was loaded with deep sapphire, purple slate and black chocolate. The campaign should do the right "shock and awe" in Fall 2012. Right on trend since I just read where Johnny Depp won't do a movie unless he can wear black eyeliner.

"I call our new makeup line 'Spectrum.' I want everything from black to white. But the beauty industry is so confusing right now. Our brand is so different ... and androgyny is what is really going on ... in that chic Marlene Dietrich way,” says Tarina.

My money is on Tarantino. Obviously the current look is NOT "the girl next door." America ... get ready!
Designer Tarina Tarantino at her Fall 2012 makeup fashion shoot.
Last Word: When I landed in Phoenix I spotted the most amazing guy walking in a nearby mall. He had a leopard printed (dyed) short haircut. I accosted him and insisted I needed to know more. His name was Stephen Sacra. He's an "entrepreneur" and actually manufactures and designs dog toys for his successful VIP Product line. His "big QVC seller" is his dog ring "jawbreaker in 135 different variations."

I met up with Sacra two weeks later for his "spot refresh" appointment with his hair stylist Curtis Michael at the Ballantine Salon in Phoenix. It was a labor intensive 90-minute appointment. Sacra was there with his longtime girlfriend Wendy. She was carrying a leopard bag and was getting her routine blonde roots touched up.
Hair dresser Curtis Michael and Stephen Sacra.
Sacra has been into this head painting gig for at least five years and believes he did it before Dennis Rodman (who moved onto plain platinum blonde). "I'm a metrosexual male and I love fashion and doing my own thing. But I always did stuff to my hair. One time Curtis and I did a Louis Vuitton print and then a little zebra ... and now leopard. It is my creative outlet."

Sacra is over 6' 2" tall and obviously gets a lot of attention. And trust me, he can carry it off. And here I was getting so sick of "animal printed" anything. Along comes Sacra and gives it a new spin ... and in Phoenix yet!!!!!!
Stephen Sacra at first hair process. Spot painting begins.
An hour into early "spot" process.
Fine tuning head spots. Final Leopard head.
Sacra's matching leopard cowboy boots. Wendy's matching bag.
Stephen Sacra with girlfriend Wendy after a day at the hair dresser.
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