“It was about seven in the morning,” Mendicino tells Refinery29. “The girls were in hair and makeup since 5 a.m., so everyone was really mellow — they needed to save up their energy."
The chill vibe Mendicino paints is a major contradiction to the actual visuals in the video, which is almost four minutes of ass shaking, champagne splashing, pole dancing, split dropping, and, of course, twerking — and during all that action, the body paint didn't budge one bit. What type of sorcery is this?
Mendicino, who has been working on human canvases for over 15 years, says that when she got the call from the "Twerk" camp to turn Cardi B into a tiger and Miami into a zebra, durability was a top priority. “I was specifically asked if the body paint I used was champagne-proof,” Mendicino tells us.
And given the nature of the main "Twerk" scene — which involved splits, dips, and tricks — Mendicino needed to make sure the body paint was immune to more than just a few champagne splashes. “The art needed to be sweat-proof, twerk-proof, and water-proof,” she says. “A few days beforehand, I practiced on my friend and had to make sure that the paint could withstand some jiggle and booze.”
To take the rappers' skin from regular shmegular to safari, Mendicino and Ram used alcohol-based body paint from ProAiir and Silly Farm. And it only took Mendicino and Ram about three hours (collectively) to complete the freehand art on both women. “Two hands are better than one, so we were able to work on Cardi and Miami at the same time. It took a little over an hour and a half to paint each of them.” Mendicino added that the paint only takes a few minutes to dry, so both ladies were able to sit, move, and pee soon after the process was complete.
Since Cardi and Miami spent most of the production dancing, the body artists also needed to make sure that if their undergarments slightly shifted during filming, their animal art wasn’t disturbed. “The trick is lifting up the edges of the underwear and bra and painting the skin underneath and over the garment,” says Mendicino. “You have to create an illusion so that no matter how the body moves, the paint still looks the same." Which means you really have to get in there. “Overall, a job like this is clinical. You have to tell clients when to bend over and stick it out to get the best job done, which is what we did for this video.”
Once the transformation was complete, it held up during the full 11 hours of shooting and only needed minor touch-ups in areas like the knees — which we're guessing got smudged around the moment the rappers dropped into full splits in the sand.