Author Spotlight: Erika Thomas

About the Author

Erika Thomas writes for the lifestyle publications Southern California Life, Los Angeles Confidential, Chevrolet New Roads and others. A former actress and voiceover artist, Erika made the rounds at Paramount, Warner Bros. and the Culver Studios (her drive-on pass often taking her through the Ince Gate), where she was always more interested in the history of the famed structures than she was in booking the acting job itself. She holds a degree in English and creative writing from California State University–Northridge. Her love of golden-era Hollywood began at the age of nine, when she saw a rerun of the 1959 film Some Like It Hot. Since then, she’s been an enthusiast of old school haunts that range from Lana Turner’s favorite booth at Formosa Café and Liz Taylor’s bungalow at the Beverly Hills Hotel to every Googie-era bowling alley and coffee shop in between. Erika enjoys writing about Southern California history, architecture and design.
Author: Erika Thomas

About the book:

When Polish wigmaker and cosmetician Max Factor arrived in Los Angeles at the dawn of the motion picture industry, “make-up” had been associated only with stage performers and ladies of the oldest profession. Appalled by the garish paints worn by actors, Factor introduced the first “flexible” greasepaint for film in 1914. With a few careful brush strokes, a lot of innovation and the kind of luck that can happen only in Hollywood, Max Factor changed the meaning of glamour. His innovations can be experienced in every tube of lipstick, palette of eye shadow and bottle of nail lacquer used today. Join author Erika Thomas as she reveals the makeup guru’s expert beauty tips and the story of how he created the most iconic golden-era looks that are as relevant today as they were nearly a century ago.

Max Factor

Author Interview

What prompted you to write this book?
I’ve loved golden era Hollywood since I was a child. When I first moved Los Angeles, as an actress, I would go on auditions at studios like Paramount, Sunset Gower, and CBS Television City. I loved to visit the many legendary haunts around Hollywood—and beyond—Formosa Café, Musso and Frank’s, the Beverly Hilton, Griffith Observatory, the Palladium—there are too many iconic places to name! Later I returned to school to finish my English degree and eventually began working as a freelance writer. I found that I loved writing about those places. In my work, I’d become acquainted with historian Marc Wanamaker. I asked him if he had enough images to go into a book about Max Factor and he said he did; so we decided to do this project.

When and how did you first become interested in this subject?
I’ve always had a love for history and glamour. Growing up, I was influenced by the old photos I saw of my grandmother with her classic red lips and Aubergine hair; and photos of her sister (my Aunt Nat) at Naval Officer’s Club parties wearing padded-shoulder dresses and a blonde up-do. When I was a kid, my mom (who taught me to correctly apply moisturizer and eye cream) after painting her nails, would use a chopstick to carefully dial from our rotary telephone so she wouldn’t smudge the polish. I also loved classic film before I really knew what it was. I saw Some Like it Hot when I was eight years old. That movie made me want to be an actress. It also made me fall in love with glamour!

Did you discover anything that you hadn’t known prior to writing this book?
I’d known Max Factor was a pioneer of cinematic make-up. But I didn’t know just how many cosmetics items he was actually re-sponsible for creating—just about everything we have access to today, we have Max Factor to thank for it. He was a cosmetics ge-nius.

If you only have a few minutes to apply makeup, what are your must-haves?
Sun block—(something Max Factor started adding into his cos-metics before anyone had ever heard of such a thing) lip-gloss and concealer—Max Factor Erace!

What do you hope readers will take away from this book?
Max Factor worked with the most beautiful wom-en in Hollywood; yet he had a simple philosophy of bringing out each woman’s natural beauty. More than a century lat-er, these same principles still apply!

Max Factor

Click here to purchase Max Factor and Hollywood: A Glamorous Story