Doing makeup has taken over the life of one Platte County woman, and she wouldn’t have it any other way.
This is not the first time Kansas City North artist Jacki Butler has been featured in the Citizen. In 2009, it was with her daughter, Morgan, as both were working at Kansas City theme park Worlds of Fun for its annual Halloween Haunt. While she was still in high school at Platte County R-3 in 2007, Morgan started work as a Haunt “screamster,” an actor in one of the dozen haunted attractions in the park. She quickly recruited her mom Jacki when the park needed more makeup artists.
“She said ‘hey, mom, you should come do this,’” Jacki said. Jacki described herself as the mom who created elaborate Halloween costumes and makeups for her children, also throwing them themed birthday parties and always looking for ways to express her creativity. With an established career doing hair and nails, adding professional makeup artist was a natural next step.
Now, 11 years later, Jacki is still at Worlds of Fun, and said she can’t imagine leaving her Haunt family. As one of four special effects makeup supervisors, her job is to oversee a crew of makeup artists as they transform about 400 actors into zombies, vampires, crazed hillbillies and various other creatures.
Daughter Morgan has moved on. She worked at Worlds of Fun for several years, both in haunted houses and as a “street freak” roaming performer. After a stint as a dancer for magician Ed Alonzo at the park, she left to pursue an acting career. Most recently she starred as Columbia in the “Rocky Horror Show Live” at Prohibition Hall in downtown Kansas City.
While she always had an interest in special effects makeup, Jacki said her work at Worlds of Fun has given her opportunities she once never thought possible.
“I wish I had known when I got out of high school that this could be a career,” she said. “That’s one of the reasons I like Haunt, because I get to train up and coming makeup artists.”
One of her artists recently left Kansas City to attend the makeup school founded in Pittsburgh, Pa. by Tom Savini, famous as the artist behind the first “Friday the 13th,” “Dawn of the Dead” and more. Savini was also mentor to “The Walking Dead” makeup head and producer Greg Nicotero.
Zombies have proved a theme for Jacki, who worked as a makeup artist last year for a “Fear the Walking Dead” tie-in attraction in Las Vegas, Nev. She’s also worked on smaller productions closer to home, doing makeup for independent films — including for local horror film legend Todd Sheets — photography shoots and live theater such as the recent “Evil Dead the Musical” in Kansas City.
Worlds of Fun Halloween Haunt will open for just one more weekend this year — Friday, Oct. 26 and Saturday, Oct. 27 — but the job is far from over for Jacki Butler.
Last year, the park introduced Winterfest, a holiday event featuring a whole new array of special effects makeup, including Jack Frost, Santa and Mrs. Claus, tin soldiers, elves and more.
“This is becoming a year-round thing,” Jacki said, as she will continue as a supervisor for Winterfest this year.
In the off season, she also does makeup at conventions, including at growing pop culture celebration Planet Comicon held every spring at Bartle Hall. For Kansas City Crypticon, an annual horror convention held in St. Joseph, she hosts the Stan Winston makeup artist competition, spotting more new artists on the horizon.
Next year, she hopes to visit Los Angeles to meet Academy Award-winning makeup artist Ve Neill, famous for giving Michael Keaton and Robin Williams their good looks for “Beetlejuice” and “Mrs. Doubtfire.”
In the Oct. 28, 2009 issue of the Citizen, Jacki said it was a dream to see her name in the end credits of a movie. A decade later, Jacki has her own page on IMDB and several movie credits to her name.
Haunt remains her home base, but when the Halloween mists clear who knows what may lie ahead.
Butler’s work featured at instagram.com/thebutlerdidit4u.