Mother and son makeup artists create the walking dead

Jazmin Johnson, 10, was made up for a Halloween party by make-up artist Mike Vacchio.
Jonathan Wiggs/Globe Staff
Jazmin Johnson, 10, was made up for a Halloween party by make-up artist Mike Vacchio.

REVERE — The 34-year-old nurse came in with a sweet, pretty, round face . . . and left utterly ravaged.

Her eyes were hollow sockets; the skin on her cheeks rotted through and caked with blood; her forehead pockmarked with hollows of ragged black that looked like birdshot wounds.

“You look . . . completely gross,” said Maria Sartorelli’s husband, Rob Sartorelli (who, at that very moment, was being made to look ghastly himself).


The undead walked the halls of the Hampton Inn in Revere last Saturday intermingled with a few witches, skeletons, and at least one Grinch. Halloween had come early, with seemingly genial locals being transformed into grisly ghouls, zombies, and other unthinkable creatures by hair and makeup artist Ginny Colangelo and her son, Michael Vacchio.  

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“People love Halloween; they really get into it,” said Colangelo, 63, who runs Revere-based Gin C. Productions, and does a brisk business this time of year, taking back-to-back appointments at the Hampton Inn to scare people up for Halloween parties and events. Clients paid $35 to more than $60 for the privilege of looking ugly.

Jonathan Wiggs/Globe Staff
Makeup artist Ginny Colangelo with client Janet Ruzzo in Revere.

“I think grownups never like to get old,” she said of the appeal.

But they don’t mind being dead (or at least pretending to be).

“Everybody’s zombie-d,” Colangelo said as she moved between tables laid out with brushes of all sizes, liquid latex, freeze spray, color wheels, makeup wedges, airbrushes at the ready, and special touches such as fake glass shards. “Zombies are a big thing.”


Jeff Janco, 47, of Methuen  was a nurse zombie: face mangled, nose rotting and gushing with blood, jagged fake teeth protruding, blue scrubs gore-streaked and flecked with gobs of chewed-over flesh, paired with wife Laura’s Amy-Winehouse-as-a-zombie. A Mr. and Mrs. Edward Scissorhands also made an appearance, as did a pink-haired, white-skinned witch, and a sexy skeleton (if that’s at all possible).

For Cheryl Ryan of Lynn, Colangelo layered on gelatin to create a cadaverous texture; airbrushed on a pallor with the not-so-subtle title “corpse flesh;” dabbed and spattered a syrupy-like blood mixture onto her nose, mouth, eyebrows, and face in no particular pattern. Like some sort of macabre Jackson Pollock.

“You like my face?” Ryan asked her granddaughter Jazmin Johnson after getting a bit of a shock herself with a peek in a handheld mirror.

Jonathan Wiggs/Globe Staff
Makeup brushes used by Ginny Colangelo.

“You’re kind of freaking me out a little bit,” the Chelsea 10-year-old replied, her own face painted like a hollowed skeleton.

The occasion? Jazmin’s birthday costume bash.


“I just like to be made up,” Ryan said of Halloween. “No one knows who you are.”

‘You’re kind of freaking me out a little bit.’

The Sartorellis, for their part, were zombifying themselves for a house party — fittingly in their home in Salem, the mecca of howls and haunts — and planned to complete the dead look with clothing that they ripped and dyed to be dingy and ratty, and speckled with fake blood.

But going one more rigor mortis-stiff step beyond that?

“I’ll roll around in the dirt, get grass stains, like I just clawed my way up out of the ground,” said Rob, a 30-year-old engineer, his wife sitting nearby, somewhat of a dichotomy with a destroyed face paired with benign jeans and a sweatshirt.

Face disfigured, fake blood trickling from his ears, Rob ruminated on Halloween: “I like that it’s the only holiday just for fun.”

Colangelo will be doing makeup at the Hampton Inn on Friday, Saturday, and on Oct. 31, and is available for appointments on other days leading up to Halloween. Call 617-610-4720 or e-mail

Taryn Plumb can be reached at