How Minx’s Makeup Maestro Perfected The Performers’ Prosthetic Penises

HBO has never been a company to shy away from sex and nudity, with the premium network embracing its reputation of encouraging creative projects with content that might be viewed as too extreme for the status quo. 

One of HBO's latest endeavors is the period piece comedy "Minx," about a young woman named Joyce (Ophelia Lovibond) who moves to Los Angeles to follow her dream of launching a counter-cultural magazine as second-wave feminism is in full swing. She brings her idea to the 1971 Southern California Magazine Pitch Festival, where she is, of course, thwarted at every turn by stuffy old white men who refuse to take her seriously. But then, Doug Renetti (Jake Johnson), the editor of "Bottom Dollar Publications," offers to publish Joyce's "The Matriarchy Awakens" magazine on the condition that she include male nudity, becoming "the first pornographic magazine for women."

In our current era where pornography can be accessed on a refrigerator, it may be hard to remember a time when the only way to consume nude imagery was between the pages of magazines you'd keep hidden under your mattress. But that's exactly the world in which creator Ellen Rapoport's "Minx" thrives. Produced by the brilliant Paul Feig, "Minx" allows us to travel back to a time when male nudity was the hot, new ticket. Rather than have the actors show their actual bodies, "Minx" enlisted the help of a makeup designer to create genital prosthetics to be worn on screen. Thanks to a new interview with Variety, we finally know how the collection of prosthetic penises came to be.

Prosthetics Were Sometimes Worn For 10-14 Hours

Carleigh Herbert ("The Sex Life of College Girls," "Ratched," "American Horror Story") serves as the makeup department head on "Minx," and took the job as a way to continue working in a period piece setting. "They said, 'It's great you do prosthetics because we're going to have some,'" Herbert said. "I asked, 'What are we going to do?'" 

It was clear from the very beginning that "Minx" was not the average period piece series, when in the middle of the show's very first episode, Joyce must cast models for the magazine, complete with a cattle call of hopeful auditionees. Herbert has done just about everything in terms of prosthetic creation, but "Minx" would require a new set of skills to craft a prosthetic penis.

Prosthetic genitals are nothing new, and are used frequently in film and television scenes requiring full frontal nudity. The topic is frequently debated as using a perfectly crafted prosthesis can perpetuate harmful taboos and doesn't actually destigmatize male nudity, but the team at "Minx" worked with Jason Collins of Autonomous F/X to base their prosthetics on real photos approved by Rapoport. Depending on how the prosthetic needed to be used, the application ranged from glue to belts, and even the assistance of tucking tape (commonly used by drag queens and trans women). 

The prosthetics are used for actor's comfort and, in the case of erections, for safety (if you've had an erection for longer than 4 hours please go to the emergency room) but according to Herbert, that memorable parade of bottomless auditionees was all natural.

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