Friends Pay Tribute to Lee Garland at Memorial Gathering

Feb 14, 2011 3:00 PM PST
LOS ANGELES — The family and friends of beloved makeup artist Lee Garland paid tribute to him on Sunday night at an emotional memorial service in Simi Valley.

Born James Santiago, Garland was perhaps the most well-known and accomplished makeup artist in the history of adult films before he passed away on Jan. 29 from prostate cancer. The gathering brought out more than 100 adult industry personalities, including numerous stars, directors and production professionals who honored him with personal stories and remembrances.

The hosts for the evening included three of Garland's closest friends, Dyanna Lauren, September Dawn and Shay Sights, who called all those who attended into the foyer of the private residence and asked for a moment of silence.

“Send your love and gratitude to Lee. Think about how much you loved him and what he meant to you,” Sights told the room. Sights then made a heartfelt speech, calling Garland “my best friend and mentor.”

Then Lauren sat down on the staircase next to Garland's portrait and spoke to the crowd.

“He made everybody a star, but no one noticed how much of a star he was. … Even a couple days before he crossed we went to visit him and he never lost his sense of humor. Even with the pain he was in he still wanted everyone to have a good time,” Lauren said.

Then Lauren asked everyone to “raise your glasses” and “put your hands together for the most spectacular human being all of us had in our lives.”

Dawn, a longtime wardrobe stylist who is also a partner in Adult Talent Managers, said that Garland recently “came to me in a dream.”

“He said, ‘You know I’m here, right? No, I’m really here,’” Dawn said. “I know he’s with me. ... He helped make me who I am as an artist. He taught me a lot about everything.”

Friends said Garland was much more than an outstanding makeup artist during his 20-plus years on the set. He was also a teacher, a peacekeeper and a confidante.

“I met him in 1999,” said former Vivid Girl Briana Banks. “He was one of my best friends. Besides doing my makeup we formed a close bond. We spent a lot of time together. He was a big part of my life.”

Banks continued, “He loved old movies and painting and he was an amazing artist. … I believe Lee never took advantage of people. He always looked out for everyone’s best interests.”

Garland became a fixture on high-profile movie shoots with every major studio, and in the process he became a favorite of several of adult's biggest stars. He did makeup extensively for companies such as Vivid, Wicked, Hustler and Club Jenna. In addition to his film production work, Garland also did the makeup and styling for hundreds of magazines and art books. He got into adult after several years in mainstream entertainment. Garland also was an actor, writer and occasional director.

Wicked Girl Jessica Drake said she met Garland on the set for her first movie for Wicked, “Dreamquest” in 1999.

“And I got into his chair for the first time on the set of ‘Shayla’s Web’ for Michael Ninn [in 2000],” Drake recalled. “He did all his signature things. He made my eyebrows amazing, my hair big and teased, and he did his smoky-eye, cue-tip magic that he’s famous for. I looked in the mirror and I barely recognized myself.”

Drake added, “Lee made so many of us so beautiful so many times.”

Wicked Pictures director Brad Armstrong called Garland “the ying to my yang” in his early days coming up in adult.

“I had the art directing background and did all the wardrobe and sets, and Lee did all my hair and makeup. It was the perfect fit back then. I was still new and very green,” said Armstrong, who met Garland in 1995.

Armstrong said that he also always knew when Garland was “off-duty.”

“He would disappear just long enough for you to notice and he’d return eyes glistening with a Cheshire cat look and we knew he had just smoked his off-duty joint,” Armstrong said with a laugh. “That was like him hanging the ‘off-duty’ sign on his chair.”

And on those occasions when the talent was not up to par, Armstrong said Garland would famously say, “I’m not a magician, I’m a makeup artist.”

Director Erica McLean, also an accomplished makeup artist, said she had just met Garland for the first time within the past six months.

“I always heard his name and everybody would say, ‘you have to meet Lee,’” McLean said. “When we finally met I told him, ‘I’ve heard about you forever. I’m extremely honored to meet you. From one artist to another I salute you.’ … I still feel his spirit very much here.”

Performer Kianna Dior said she was “the last person James did makeup on” in 2010.

“He was really, really sick but he still did a phenomenal job,” Dior said. “He loved all of us until the end. We were his life. Our business definitely lost somebody that was on our side. Wherever he is right now I know he is making it much nicer.”

Evil Angel director Jonni Darkko said Garland “pushed the envelope” with his style of makeup.

“I met him back when I worked for Stephen Hicks for Penthouse,” Darkko said. “He made all the girls feel great. He was such a fun spirit. … He was always fashionably late. And he did this dramatic makeup. You would always be like ‘whoa!’ He catapulted girls into their character. Girls were more confident with his artistic touch.”

Photographer Scott Preston said Garland’s gift was making girls who were “plain and ordinary into superstars.”

Meanwhile, Penthouse Studios president Kelly Holland, also a veteran director, said she spent many long nights on set with Garland and that “his personality is what I will remember.”

“I feel sorry for the younger talent who won’t get to experience the magic of Lee Garland,” Holland said.

Lisa Massaro, the former editorial director for Club magazine who is now a publicity specialist with Rising Star PR, articulated what many were feeling Sunday.

“I knew Lee Garland for a long time, but I didn’t know Lee Garland long enough,” Massaro said. “He expanded my world. I feel blessed to have known him. He lives as an eternal flame in my heart.”

More Adult Industry News »
About / Contact