When Prohibition began, two regular guys thought it would be fun to sign up to enforce the new law. They were right.
Styling Secrets Jonna Mendez Learned as the CIA's Chief of Disguise
Jonna Mendez, in disguise, with then-President George H.W. Bush.
Photo: Courtesy of Jonna Mendez
No one understands the power of fashion to communicate — and conceal — better than Jonna Mendez.
Having served with the CIA for 27 years prior to her retirement in 1993, Mendezꃪrned the title of Chief of Disguise, ran a multi-million dollar program and received the Intelligence Commendation Medal for her services. During her career with the agency, she became a specialist in identity transformation andlandestine photography and came up against the KGB in Moscow, the Stasi in East Germany and the Cuban Intelligence Directorate. No big deal.
In the years since she left the agency, Mendez has used her experience with real-life spies to co-write books like "Argo," "Spy Dust" and "The Moscow Rules" with her husband Antonio Mendez, who shared the title Chief of Disguise. Jonna is now a lecturer, consultant and a founding member of the board of advisors at the International Spy Museum in Washington, D.C. — and she&aposs arguably the best person to ask for advice if you&aposre taking a trip to your hometown and don&apost want your ex to recognize you on the street.
When it comes to disguises, people often focus on what you see from the chin up — wigs, mustaches, facial prosthetics — but tend to forget about the rest of the body. Curious to know more about how fashion can be used to totally transform perceptions, we reached out to Mendez to uncover the styling secrets she learned as the CIA&aposs Chief of Disguise. Read on to see what we learned.
You can tell where someone is from based on their shoes.
If the CIA was sending one of its officers to a different country, it would have them buy their shoes after they landed in their new location. Why?
"In all my years of working, shoes were the number one thing [that marked people as foreign]," Mendez says. "It&aposs either American or it&aposs not. We wear brand new, blaring white sneakers."
So if you&aposre traveling and want to blend in, make sure you go straight from the airport to a shoe store.
There&aposs a specific reason why French fashion is so coveted.
"What [Americans] put in our suitcases when we travel [is meant for comfort]… That translates either to flip flops or sneakers for a lot of people," Mendez states. "Most Europeans, when they step out the door, they&aposre put together — especially the women."
It&aposs not that French women are inherently more chic, Mendez argues. It&aposs just that they&aposre more willing to spend a little time on their appearance, and they&aposre less likely to prioritize comfort over style.
"They spend some time in front of a mirror," she says. "And that&aposs why everyone always comments, &aposOh, French women are so beautiful.&apos"
It takes only a few tweaks to completely change who someone appears to be.
Mendez explains that people often believe the CIA&aposs disguise department is spending most of its time with wigs and mustaches, but that&aposs definitely not the case.
"That&aposs just talking about the facial oval, and a lot of times, that&aposs not the issue," she says.
Using an American diplomat as an example — a nicely dressed person wearing a suit and tie — Mendez reveals that making this person hard to spot would take only a few tweaks.
"We could take off their tie, unbutton their shirt, maybe one button too many, put on some sort of awful gold chain, remove their wedding ring, so you can see that they have a wedding ring, but it&aposs not there. There&aposs that dent in the finger," she says. "Splash a little bit too much cologne on them, put on a couple of tattoos or a piercing… it takes nothing to completely change people&aposs impression of that guy on the street."
It&aposs simple to change how people see you because, according to Mendez, when you&aposre looking at people coming and going on the sidewalk, it&aposs almost like you&aposre scanning a barcode. You take one look at a person and without even consciously thinking about it, you draw conclusions about what kind of person they are.
The labels you wear can be seen as currency in other countries.
Pop into any local thrift store and you&aposll likely find a heap of Levi&aposs jeans. It doesn&apost strike you as out of the ordinary if you&aposre in the US, but somewhere else, it might.
"There was a time when if you showed up in Europe in Levi&aposs, in genuine American Levi&aposs, somebody would want to buy them from you," Mendez says. "They were very, very conscious of branded items and labels. Also, if you were wearing phony Levi&aposs jeans, they could see that too."
From the CIA&aposs perspective, this wasn&apost desirable, since they wanted to blend in and make sure they were wearing what locals were wearing.
Photo: Courtesy of Jonna Mendez
It doesn&apost take much to change your perceived social status.
It seems obvious that to play with perception of socioeconomic status, you need to buy more expensive clothes and accessories if you&aposre trying to visually climb the ladder. However, it doesn&apost have to be that complex or costly, according to Mendez.
"We had a hard hat like you&aposd see on a construction site. We had a red kerchief. We had a big rolled-up piece of paper. And the idea was that if you put that hard hat on and the kerchief around your neck, everyone who saw you at the construction site would assume that you were a laborer," says Mendez. "But you pick up the rolled-up piece of paper and you put on a tie — now you got the hat, a tie, the paper, take off the red kerchief, and you&aposre probably the boss of the job or the architect looking to make sure it&aposs being built correctly."
With these minute changes, you can subtly play with stereotyping to achieve an impactful shift in perception.
The CIA had officers keep track of trends that were coming and going in any given area.
If you&aposre a fashion professional or fashion lover, you might keep up with what people are wearing via Instagram or this very website, which can help you get a sense for what&aposs trending. The CIA, though — which places a high value on staying on top of trends — took a different approach under Mendez.
"[I]t became not just a matter of being aware of the style, but being aware of what&aposs in and what&aposs out [in a given place]," she explains. "Because things cycle through. So someone has to keep an eye on that and your local disguise officer, who would either be a resident in the city you were in or would come through the city you were in once or twice a year, could keep you clued in on what you could get away with and what you probably wouldn&apost want to be seen on the street wearing."
In short: If you want to know what&aposs cutting-edge, the internet is fine. But if you really want to look like the average person on the street in another country so you can become effectively invisible, your best bet is booking a ticket there to observe or querying someone who lives there full-time about what to wear.
Jewelry and makeup really are all you need for your day-to-night transition.
"When we were disguising women, it was really fun," says Mendez. "Because women are very open to it. We&aposve all been playing with makeup since we were three."
She goes on to say that an easy way for a woman to change her appearance is to switch out her jewelry: "If she wears a really quiet, small gold necklace and little hoops, you put on some chunky costume jewelry — something she would never wear — and jazz up her makeup a lot, she can just disappear."
This transition can happen in five minutes, which is great news for any woman trying to transition from a corporate office setting to a warehouse rager in minutes (not to mention proof that all those articles in fashion glossies about the ease of switching from day to night looks were onto something).
Photo: Courtesy of Jonna Mendez
The CIA used perfume and lipstick to hide cameras, and the Russians had a lipstick that doubled as a gun.
While discussing whether spy devices have been placed in jewelry (they haven&apost — but the CIA did try with watches), Mendez reveals, "We could put a camera in a lipstick. We could put a camera in a perfume atomizer. It was like a Chanel perfume atomizer, a black lacquered thing, we could put a camera in there so that when you push down on the atomizer, instead of spraying perfume, it took a picture."
But the Russians took the whole lipstick-turned-spy-device trick to the next level.
"The KGB had a gun that was in a lipstick and fired one shot. It&aposs in the spy museum," says Mendez. "It would be used by a woman who was really, really close to the person she was getting ready to kill."
Appropriately, this lipstick gun was called "the kiss of death."
Color palettes have a lot of power.
Looking to get noticed outside the shows at fashion week, or hoping to blend into a sea of faces at an event where your scary ex-boss is likely to be present? The colors you wear have a big role to play in how effectively you&aposre able to do so.
"You can make yourself recede or you can make yourself stand out [depending on your color palette]," says Mendez. "Red being at the one end and maybe black being at the other end. Today, now that I&aposm not working and I&aposm trying to stay under the radar, I wear almost entirely black."
This tidbit can also help you learn something about your own psychology: all it takes is a quick peek into yourloset to see if you&aposre subconsciously trying to hide or stand out in a crowd.
Fashion can be as protective as a suit of armor.
Mendez says that the CIA&aposs men weren&apost keen on dressing up in wigs and mustaches, but that completely changed when they started working against terrorists and doing counter-narcotics work.
The Cold War Spy and CIA Master of Disguise Writing the History of CIA Tactics in the Cold War
Aleisha Smith is an intern for the History News Network.
Jonna Mendez is a former Chief of Disguise with over twenty-five years of experience as a CIA officer working in Moscow and other sensitive areas. She is the coauthor with husband Tony Mendez of Spy Dust and her work has been featured in the Washington Post, WIRED, NPR, and other places. Her husband, Antonio (Tony) Mendez, perhaps best-known from his book-turned-film ARGO, was one of the most celebrated officers in CIA history. He, sadly, passed away in late January. THE MOSCOW RULES: Tactics That Helped America Win the Cold War is their last book together.
What was it like going from being &ldquoin disguise&rdquo as a CIA agent to the whole world knowing that you were once an operative? What as that transition like?
I worked for the CIA for 27 years. That whole time I was under cover, whether living in the US or overseas. The cover would vary to fit my circumstances. It usually revolved around other official US government entities. While my colleagues knew, of course, of my true affiliation, my social contacts did not. This would include some close friends over many years &ndash who thought I worked a very boring job for the US government. Some members of my family knew, but none of my friends. When Tony and I came out publicly, it created a good deal of friction with friends I was close to, and in fact I lost several friends who could not believe that I had deceived them over the years. That was painful. My foreign friends probably understood better than my American ones. It was also actually difficult to speak publicly at first. We were so inured to obfuscating that speaking the truth, about such a simple thing was hard.
What do you think your personal role is in history and what was it like writing about it?
Tony Mendez and I worked together for many years. After our marriage the duality continued. When we began speaking and writing about our work, we did it together. Of course, he was the catalyst for our being able to speak &ndash when others could not. But we had done much of the same work and we had many similar experiences. I think his role in history is heroic, while my role will be helping to publicly un-demonize the CIA. We thought that our role was to personalize the CIA to demonstrate that it was composed of normal Americans trying to do the best job possible for their country. An apolitical group of really excellent employees. It may sound simplistic, but I think that together we opened up the door to afford a peek inside &ndash at the machinery of this government agency and the people who work there.
I also feel that I had a creative role to play in the Disguise arena. We were beginning to produce very advanced disguise systems, modeled after some we had seen in Hollywood, and they became necessary tools in the denied areas of the world, the hard-to-work-in places where surveillance would almost prevent you from working at all &ndash like Moscow. We were constantly innovating and creating new tools to enable our case officer colleagues to work on the streets even though they were surrounded by surveillance.
Does the current political climate shape how you discuss your work as an author and as a former CIA agent?
The politics do not shape the discussion as much as the need for sensitivity to the information that is classified. The CIA maintains a fairly tight rein on its former employees, insisting on publication review of any written material and keeping a watchful eye on pubic discussions. It is not politics that limit what we say, but the need to protect sources and methods. I have always been glad to comply. I have no desire to divulge classified information. On the other hand, when the CIA has seemed heavy-handed, I have not hesitated to question their decisions. Neither Tony nor I have felt constrained by the CIA in what we say or write.
You were a clandestine photographer and are still an avid photographer. What are the similarities and differences between preserving history through photography and the written word?
I really do believe that a photo is worth a thousand words. When two people are caught in the act of passing classified information, when the license plate of the car is clear in the print, when the face of the traitor is captured on film, this is evidence that is incontrovertible. In fact, no words are necessary. The photo is proof. But I would never dismiss the written word, the analytical approach to solving the problem, the connecting of the dots. However, if you have a photograph of the minutes of the meeting, or the scene of the crime, you have proof positive. Historically you want to have both.
As a member of the Advisory Board for the International Spy Museum, can you speak on public history and the importance of sharing your knowledge with wide audiences?
I see this as the primary role of the museum, an opportunity to educate the public and to shine some light on an area that has typically been off limits &ndash the world of espionage. The American public is fascinated by this covert world and seems always interested in the subject. Being a member of the Spy Museum gives me an opportunity to explain how it works, how the tools are used through expansive training programs, and what the work product might look like. We are an international museum, so approach these subjects with a wide-angle lens, so to speak. The museum connection offers a rare opportunity to connect with and educate the pubic at large.
There is a fascination of spy life that is often portrayed in the media, particularly in movies and television. Do you think this excitement is justified? Are there accurate portrayals?
It took me years to understand this fascination. I believe it is based in part on the pop culture image of the spy (Ian Fleming, Graham Green, John LeCarre), the also on the lure of the unknown, the secrecy surrounding all intelligence work. There is a basic curiosity about the work, and an assumption about the glamour surrounding the work, that draws the public in. If they only knew that for every five minutes of excitement, there are hours and hours of mundane planning, meetings and administrative details. There are few portrayals that I have seen that seem real and that is why I really don&rsquot watch much espionage-themed media. One exception was The Americans &ndash a TV show that I believe thoroughly captured the ethos of the culture of the spy. The characters seemed real the situations close to life, and the disguises were fabulous. BBC also did some nice productions of John LeCarre&rsquos work. And Jason Matthews&rsquo recent novels have an ability to place me back on the snowy streets of Moscow with danger around each corner.
As the former Chief of Disguise, are there any historical events that you think disguises played a role in? If not, how do you think disguises have helped shape the history of the world?
Yes, there are a number of historical events that revolved around the use of disguise and we have described some of them in our new book, The Moscow Rules. In a city where we could not meet face-to-face with our foreign agents, where the KGB surveillance was smothering our case officers, and where the use of tradecraft was the only thing that allowed our operations to take place, disguise was a tool that allowed operations to move forward. We used unique proprietary disguise techniques, derived from the make-up and magic communities in Hollywood, to protect our CIA officers and their Russian agents. These tools allowed the intelligence product to be delivered to American hands, resulting in a number of incredibly successful clandestine operations in the Belly of the Beast, the name we gave to Moscow. Failure in Moscow would result in the arrest and execution of our foreign assets. This was a life and death situation.
You also co-authored the book Spy Dust with your husband Tony Mendez. Why did this one seem important to write next?
Spy Dust was a natural follow-on to The Master of Disguise. We met with our editor after the publication of MOD over cocktails, and she asked about how we had met during our days in CIA. When she heard the story she basically commissioned the next book, Spy Dust. She thought the story would make a very interesting book. As it turned out, her publishing house was not the one that bought the manuscript. In fact, there was a heated discussion, once the manuscript was done, about whether our romance belonged in the middle of a spy story. We insisted that there was no book without that story, and so it stayed. It was difficult to write, as it involved the break-up of my marriage, but it was important to us, on several levels, to tell the story truthfully. And so we did.
Why should people read The Moscow&rsquos Rules? What message do you hope they take away from it?
Many people feel that the Cold War is over and that we should move on with normalized relations with our old antagonists. The Moscow Rules opens with a late night scene at the gate of the American Embassy in Moscow. Set in June 2016, it details the savage beating of an American diplomat by the FSB, successor to the KGB, as he attempts to enter his own embassy. The beating continued into the embassy foyer, legally American soil. The American was medically evacuated the next day with broken bones. This was in 2016, in the middle of our most recent presidential campaign.
The FSB was exhibiting a consequence of The Moscow Rules the heretofore unwritten but widely understood rules of conduct for American intelligence officers in Russia. My best guess was that the American had violated one of those rules: Don&rsquot harass the opposition. The FSB is heavy-handed, as is Putin, a former intelligence officer.
The Moscow Rules were the necessary rules of the road when working in Moscow, the understood methods of conducting yourself and your intelligence operations that had proven themselves over the years. They were never before written down, but were widely understood by our officers. And they are dirt simple: Use your gut. Be nonthreatening. Build in opportunity but use it sparingly. Keep your options open. Use misdirection, illusion and deception. All good examples of The Rules.
What do you hope this book adds to the legacy of your husband, Tony Mendez, as well as your own?
The Moscow Rules is Tony&rsquos fourth book and my second, third if you count my work on the book ARGO. Neither of us is looking for a legacy. Tony&rsquos legacy is already well established my goal lies more in the educational area. We always believed that our unique opportunity to speak for the CIA and to educate the public on the work that is done in their name was a chance to open the door to a myriad of career opportunities for young Americans who might never give the intelligence field a second thought. While I am not a traditional feminist, I can serve as an example of the continuing, on-going success of women in this field. And in our work with the International Spy Museum we have tried to further these same goals. Between the two of us, and in the books we have written, we have tried to further these goals.
Secret Agent X
Secret Agent X was the title of a U.S. pulp magazine published by A. A. Wyn's Ace Magazines, and the name of the main character featured in the magazine. The magazine ran for 41 issues between February 1934 and March 1939. 
The Secret Agent X stories were written by more than one author, but they all appeared under the "house name" of Brant House.  The first Secret Agent X story, The Torture Trust was written by Paul Chadwick, d. 1971, who went on to write at least fifteen others. Later stories were produced by G. T. Fleming-Roberts (born George Thomas Roberts, 1910-1968), Emile C. Tepperman (1899-1951) and Wayne Rogers (pen name of Archibald Bittner (1897-1966).
The Prohibition Agents Who Became Masters of Disguise - HISTORY
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Loki, Loki, Loki, what kind of trouble have you gotten yourself into now. The sterling second episode of the newest Disney+ MCU series dropped and it’s a total delight. Action, drama, time travel, and a lot of wonderful Loki moments, the second episode might even be better than the season premiere. And like every awesome MCU series so far, it was also chock-full of comic book nods, deep cut Easter eggs, and hints of what’s to come. So let’s get to it!
An Easter Egg of Time and Place
The episode begins at a Renaissance faire in Oshkosh, Wisconsin in 1985. Not only is this a very fun place to start any superhero shenanigans, but both the time and place are likely Easter eggs. In Marvel lore, Oshkosh is where Wendell Vaughn’s mother resides. The possessor of the alien Quantum Bands, Wendell is better known as the cosmic superhero Quasar, a fave of writer Mark Gruenwald. The creator launched a Quasar solo series 1989. If you’ve read any of our explainers or our last Loki Easter egg round-up, you’ll know that a lot of Loki comes from Gruenwald’s work. That makes this little location Easter egg a pretty sure bet. And who knows, maybe a certain Wendell Vaughn will turn up as a TVA worker in future episodes?
Our second egg here comes from the date. Marvel 1985 is a pretty great Mark Millar and Tommy Lee Edwards comic from 2008. The story follows a young boy who finds a collection of comics and eventually realizes the villains from the Marvel world are trying to take over the real world. It’s a dynamic multiverse tale that features some of the biggest superheroes and villains from the MCU.
Holding Out for Hero
As the mystery Variant Loki takes down TVA agents, we hear this iconic song. Not only is this Bonnie Tyler classic a timeless banger, but it is probably best known to most people under the age of 25 as the song from Shrek 2. Seeing as the crew is at a renfaire which is thematically and era appropriate to Shrek 2, we think this is a reference to that. Either way, it’s a really, really great scene that will likely go down in MCU history.
Why Does Mobius Love the s So Much?
Something very interesting about Mobius M Mobius is his s fetish. While the s in comics was a huge and impactful period, we’re learning that the TVA manager really loves anything from the s. Last week it was Josta Soda, this week it’s jet skis. Could this just be a reference to the extreme era of comics creators? Or is it a hint to when Mobius himself was created? Could it be that the TVA has only been around since then?
Kiss That Baby Goodbye!
Speaking of that jet ski, a very famous and very funny Marvel cover features one. At the height of his s fame, Jim Lee—with Klaus Janson—created one of the best comic covers of all time: Punisher War Journal #19. The cover shows Punisher riding a get ski with the unforgettable caption: “You’ve Just Rented a Jet-Ski to the Punisher. Kiss That Baby Goodbye!”
No, this doesn’t mean the Punisher is going to show up. Maybe the Loki creative team have never even been blessed by this cover. But if you bring up a jet ski in a Marvel series, we’re going to bring up this very, very good cover.
The Variant Lokis
We see a few different Lokis here. While none of them seem to be immediately comics relevant, they are fun. Note: some of the numbers designated to the Variant Lokis that were seen in the holograms were mixed up and repeated. We did our best to grab what we could! We also definitely made up all of these monikers.
#L6792 – Normal MCU Loki / Dark World
#L1247 – Tour de France Loki
#L6792 – Hell Hulk Monster Loki
#L6792 – Green Suit Beard Loki
#L7003 – Sexy War Loki
An Interesting Reflection
We also see another interesting number on Hunter B-15’s little screen, we see the date April 12 (04.12). This is the reverse of December 12 (12.04)—the last date of the Loki variant (in France). Seems interesting to note at least.
In her role as the apparent head of the TVA, we learn Ravonna gets to keep the souvenirs from TVA missions—including the ones run by Mobius. Owen Wilson’s agent is less than happy about that as we learn when the pair meet in her office. One of the most obvious collectables that she has is a random roller skate. To old school Iron Man fans this can only mean one thing: a reference to when Iron Man had jet powered roller skates in his suit. First debuting in Tales of Suspense #40, the skates appeared sporadically in the Avenger’s first decade, including here during the “nose” era in Iron Man #81. While this might seem random, the TVA plays with some of the most fun and silliest bits of Marvel lore so we’re taking this one.
Yes, more hexagons show up this week! But the most prominent of all is in Ravonna’s office with the coaster that Mobius uses. We get a giant long close up on the coaster, so it seems like we’re supposed to notice it. Will we ever learn why the hexagon became the shape du jour of Marvel? Maybe not, but it’s a cool shape so we’re actually okay with it.
“Loki Is an Evil Scourge.”
Ravonna seems very anti-Loki, have you noticed? She describes Loki as an evil scourge during her chat with Mobius. And, of course, two Marvel characters share the name Scourge our minds went there straight away. There’s the mask-wearing master of disguise and then the one you’re more likely to think of: Skurge. While this might not be a direct reference to Karl Urban’s comedic henchman in Thor: Ragnarok, he was so charming—in a himbo henchie kind of way—that we immediately thought of him. Seeing as Loki is obviously also in Ragnarok, thinking this is a little reference is in no way a reach.
Name Association Game
While Mobius is in Ravonna’s office we see a Franklin D. Roosevelt High School pen. While hundreds of schools are named after the president, the focus on this pen seems relevant. Franklin is the name of Reed and Sue Richards’ kid, and they’re ancestors of Kang the Conqueror… Also, behind Loki at his desk is the number #372, which is definitely a reference to the second appearance of the TVA in Thor #372.
Destruction of Asgard
Loki’s cool theory about the Variant hiding in apocalypses comes with a reference to Ragnarok. In case you’ve forgotten, that was the destruction of Asgard in the third Thor movie.
Roxxcorp / Roxxcart
We already spotted the massive Marvel corporation in a Loki trailer, but the way they’re utilized is really fun. The futuristic shopping center is like a nightmare Walmart. And it’s where we finally meet the Variant Loki.
Journey into Mystery Returns
This season has already included a few fun Journey into Mystery Easter eggs. The reason for that is because it’s the comic where both Loki and Thor hail from. The #26 on the door at Roxxon likely refers to Journey into Mystery #26. The stories include “The Man From Out There” and “The Machine.” The latter is particularly interesting as it features a bureaucratic scientific community that creates a calculator that gets bored with them and transports itself to another world. Good sci-fi weirdness.
There She Goes, There She Goes Again
And there it is guys, the big reveal that Lady Loki is the Variant Loki the TVA has been looking for. As Loki and Hunter B-15 head into the strange world of Roxxcorp, they face the Variant. Loki eventually reveals them to be an unexpected—yet utterly expected—version of himself. Lady Loki has long been a fan fave so this makes a lot of sense. What her role will be is yet to be seen. But we do know her plan: she dropped multiple reset charges throughout history and set off multiple new timelines!
Timelines Lady Loki messes with:
- 1492 Portugal: In 1492, Columbus sailed the ocean blue… not from Portugal, but his colonization of the West Indies in 1492 did encourage Portugal to draw up a treaty claiming ownership of vast swaths of land. Which is terrible.
- 2301 Vormir: The planet where the Soul Stone was hidden in Avengers: Endgame.
- 1551 Thornton, USA: ?
- 1999 Cookeville, USA: ?
- 2004 Asgard: This could be a reference to the young Thor series from 2004, Thor: Son of Asgard.
- 1390 Rome: Papal drama was occurring as Pope Boniface IX “saw to it that Ladislaus was crowned King of Naples at Gaeta on 29 May 1390.
- 1984 Sakaar: The battle planet we visited during Thor: Ragnarok and the setting of the now-classic Planet Hulk comic book story arc.
- 1808 Barichara: The Cabrera municipality was set up on this date.
- 1208 Porvoo: A city in Finland, but this date would have been pre-colonization by the Swedes.
- 1382 Ego: Whatever it is, this occurred on Kurt Russell’s living planet as seen in Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2.
- 1982 Titan: This is the moon orbiting Saturn where Thanos hails from. It’s also the setting of Marvel’s first graphic novel, The Death of Captain Marvel by Jim Starlin, published in—you guessed it.
- 1947 New York: There was a smallpox outbreak in New York during 1947, but it’s also a key location for Agent Carter!
- 1984 Japan: There were multiple disasters and new incoming political figureheads this year.
- 0051 Hala: This is the home planet of the Kree.
- 1999 Kingsport, USA: ?
- 1991 Xandar: Homeworld of the Nova Corps. In 1991’s Quasar #20, the Fantastic Four teamed up with Quasar in an issue set between Earth and Xandar.
- 2005 Beijing: In the comics Beijing sometimes holds the Eighth Gate a transdimensional portal.
One Last Comic Book Reference
Ravonna Renslayer’s Hunter helmet in her trophy case says A-23. This is a reference to her first appearance in Avengers #23. This continues a nice trend of the MCU shows using A numbers to signify little Avengers Easter eggs.
New creator credits:
Olivier Coipel and J Michael Straczynski: Co-creators of the mid-00s Thor series where Asgard was reestablished in Oklahoma and Lady Loki first debuted.
Avs’ Gabriel Landeskog a master of disguise
Checking a new look, Avalanche left wing Gabriel Landeskog gets fitted for new suits by Han of Cherry Creek Tailor & Alterations before a recent road trip. The Swede moved to Canada when he was 16 to play major junior hockey. "It was probably the best decision of my life. I learned so much about myself that first year," he said. John Leyba, The Denver Post
Gabriel Landeskog, the No. 2 overall pick in the 2011 draft leads the Avswith a plus-11 rating. John Leyba, The Denver Post
Gabriel Landeskog hops out of his Range Rover at a Qdoba after a recent Avalanche practice, wearing a sleek leather jacket and a look that says, “Yes, I was the No. 2 pick in last year’s NHL draft. Yes, I play major minutes for the Avs, and yes, I’m only 19.”
For roughly a half hour, though, Landeskog sits undisturbed. A steady stream of lunchgoers stroll past his table, but the only autographs come from customers signing their names for debit-card burrito and quesadilla lunches.
That’s OK, though. Maybe someday there will be “Entourage” scenarios in his life, like that in his favorite TV show. Maybe some day down the road, anonymity will be a quaint memory from an innocent time.
Until then, Landeskog is OK looking like just another teenager in a burrito shop. Looks are deceiving. Next weekend in Ottawa, the rookie will represent the Avalanche at NHL All-Star Weekend, selected to participate in the skills competition.
“I’m living my dream. It’s the truth, and I’m having so much fun,” said Landeskog, the highest draft pick in team history. “But there’s still so many important games to come, and you don’t want to kind of float away in your own thoughts. Maybe after this season is over, you can sit down and think back to how crazy everything was.”
Crazy is a relative term to describe Landeskog’s lifestyle in his first NHL season. While he flies on charter jets, earns a million-dollar paycheck and stays in five-star hotels for his job, at home he’s just one of three boys under the roof of a local Denver family.
Landeskog is living with a “billet” family, a couple with two younger boys. Similar to the traditions of junior hockey, NHL players often live with families their first few seasons in the league. Landeskog prefers to keep the name of the family private.
“They let me do my thing,” he said. “We were up in Breckenridge for Thanksgiving with them, and it was great, my first kind of American Thanksgiving experience. I like to play pingpong, video games, pool, mini-sticks &mdash anything like that with their two boys. I’m only 19, so it’s nice to still feel like a kid again with them.”
Some young players live with older veterans, such as Matt Duchene did with Adam Foote his first two seasons. Alex Tanguay once lived in Patrick Roy’s basement, and Ryan O’Reilly lived with Darcy Tucker and his family.
The truth is, Landeskog probably is beyond his years in maturity and self-reliance. After all, he left a comfortable family and hockey life in Sweden at age 16 to play hockey in the tough Canadian junior system, with the Kitchener Rangers of the Ontario League. There, he became the first European captain in Rangers history.
“When I sit back and look at my decision to move to Canada at 16, it was probably the best decision of my life. I learned so much about myself that first year, just getting away from what was safe and secure,” said Landeskog, who has nine goals and 22 points in his first 48 games and leads the team with a plus-11. “Of course, it’s tough to be away from friends and family. But at the same time, for me to be living my dream now, I don’t think I’d be doing that if I stayed back in Sweden. My dream was to always play in the NHL.”
Landeskog has fond memories of being a “skate kid” at a Swedish pro game and shaking the hand of a pro player. He wanted hockey to be his life from that point on. Things have gone like clockwork toward his NHL goal, but it’s easy to see in his demeanor that he wants a lot more.
“I just have to work harder at different things, to get a little better each and every year,” said Landeskog, who keeps in touch with his parents and sister in Sweden by Skype. “It’s still early. You’re going to have ups and downs. I probably would have loved to have scored more goals, but then there’s times when you have to just look at yourself and say, ‘Keep doing what you’re doing.’ I’m pretty close with (Carolina’s) Jeff Skinner, because we played together in junior, and he’s helped me with things like, ‘Don’t get too high when things are going good or too low when they’re going bad.’ I think that’s very important, to kind of stay in the moment.”
Avs coach Joe Sacco sees nothing but bright days ahead for his young star. “He’s really done a lot of good things for us,” Sacco said. “He’s a big part of our team already. You don’t say that about too many 19-year-old players.”
Landeskog, called “Whitey” or “Landy” by teammates, may not be recognized by the local public just yet. But his presence has been felt in the organization.
The Gabriel Landeskog file
Position: Avalanche left wing
Selected to represent the Avalanche at the NHL All-Star Weekend in Ottawa next Sunday.
One of 12 rookies who will participate in the NHL skills competition Saturday,
Leads the Avalanche in plus/minus (plus-11), shots-on-goal (140 and is tied for first in game- winning goals (two).
Is the highest draft pick in Avs history.
First player in franchise history to wear No. 92.
Had his first career multigoal game, which included the tying goal with 1:48 left in regulation, Oct. 22 at Chicago.
Tallied his first NHL goal Oct. 12 at Columbus, the tying score with 41 seconds left in regulation to send the game into overtime.
CIA's former chief of disguise Jonna Mendez on how to hide spies
One of the final testing grounds for disguises specially designed for the CIA's operations officers &mdash particularly those still coming begrudgingly to terms with wearing wigs and prostheses &mdash was centrally located and usefully crowded, according to the agency's former chief of disguise, Jonna Mendez.
"We would send them to the cafeteria at the agency," she said. "We'd send them down to go have lunch with everyone who knew them: their boss, their peers, their subordinates. Everybody was there."
"And that could be a very come-to-Jesus moment," she said. "When they discovered that nobody paid any attention."
In an interview with "Intelligence Matters" host and CBS News senior national security contributor Michael Morell, Mendez, who spent nearly 30 years at the agency before retiring in 1993, said the disguises she and teams around the world would create in the agency's Office of Technical Service could be life-saving.
"We disguised any intelligence officer or asset who had a need, either for deniability [or] possibly for personal-safety reasons, in order to be able to step away from a surveillance situation," she told Morell. "There were lots of situations where disguise was the obvious remedy."
One of them, she said, included handling so-called "walk-ins" &mdash potential but untested agents who enter an embassy to volunteer information. Intelligence officers can often take the first meeting.
"It quickly became apparent, when terrorism started raising its head, that those officers needed protection, when they're walking down and meeting with you-don't-know-who, and you don't really understand, initially, what their intent is," Mendez said. "So we used with them what we would call light disguise" &mdash just enough to mask their identities without being unduly elaborate.
"It was enough to conceal who they were, when they walked out of the embassy at the end of the day," she continued, "and somebody would not follow them home, for instance, and see where their house was and see where their family lived and set them up for something untoward."
"Intelligence Matters" Podcast With Michael Morell
Disguises used by the agency could involve typical props &mdash wigs, beards, masks, or fake ears &mdash but more sophisticated techniques have also evolved, Mendez said.
"We have people who have chemistry backgrounds, who evaluate materials for us, who actually invent materials for us," she told Morell. After modeling some disguises on Hollywood masks, which were usually made of latex, Mendez said, the CIA soon sought out better techniques.
Latex masks, she explained, "were uncomfortable. They didn't breathe. If you were in a climate with any humidity, they were suffocating."
"So we went off chasing other materials that would animate more, that were breathable, that were easy on, easy off," Mendez said.
Hair posed a similar problem. "We like to use real hair," Mendez said, "But that's a problem, especially if there's humidity. So then we use Kanekalon and things like that," she said, referring to a synthetic material typically used in hair extensions.
"And then there's a problem, security-wise. Because if you look at it with infrared, it looks like a glowing snow cone on your head," she explained. "We were always chasing down those kinds of things."
Mendez also discussed her marriage to Tony Mendez, a celebrated former CIA officer and master of disguise who was famously portrayed in the Oscar-winning film "Argo." The two had met while on assignment overseas and been married for nearly 30 years.
They had just finished working together on a new book, "The Moscow Rules," about their time spying in Russia during the Cold War when Tony passed away last January.
"Tony always said that working at the CIA was drinking from a firehose, and that retiring was like jumping from a moving train," Mendez said. "I think what Tony and I have tried to do is open it up enough where young people could consider, maybe, this kind of work, government work, as honorable work."
"Now, I know that CIA has 50,000 applicants a year," she continued. "They are not worried about getting to the bottom of the barrel."
"But we just like to encourage people to consider it as a career option."
For much more from Michael Morell's conversation with Jonna Mendez, including highlights from her new book, "The Moscow Rules," you can read the transcript here and subscribe to "Intelligence Matters" here.
How to Become a Master of Disguise
Perhaps you'd like to get a job as an international spy with the Central Intelligence Agency. You might want to do your research and due diligence on what that really means before submitting an application. The glitz and glamour of film and television shows lend fantasy elements to the concept of disguise, but some people really can become masters at this art. They are typically those who study for years in theatrical departments of major universities. Make-up artists and costume designers are the people who often bring alive the characters of film and television. To master disguise, you will need to invest considerable time, finances and maybe even some high-tech gadgetry.
Train in dialects and learn languages that appeal to you. Become fluent enough to make easy conversation. Study with a voice teacher to learn how to alter your voice to upper and lower ranges. You may need a voice device to help you. The voice is often overlooked by people who dress up and think they can fool family and friends. The voice is the first giveaway -- when you can disguise your voice consistently, enough to fool even audio recording comparisons -- then you can add the outer layers of costume and make-up.
- Perhaps you'd like to get a job as an international spy with the Central Intelligence Agency.
- The voice is the first giveaway -- when you can disguise your voice consistently, enough to fool even audio recording comparisons -- then you can add the outer layers of costume and make-up.
Attend a prominent college or university known for its theatre department. Find the professors with awards and kudos and study with them. Take courses in make-up and hair design, including wigs, ageing, racial, ethnic and effects. Practice with hair dyes, cuts and styles in combination with various make-up themes and costuming. Master make-up arts and you're on your way. Be careful with some of the toxic forms, though, as they can cause skin irritations and rashes -- you'll be taught this through reputable schools.
- Attend a prominent college or university known for its theatre department.
- Practice with hair dyes, cuts and styles in combination with various make-up themes and costuming.
Study costume design and implement the designs you create. Learn about layering, padding, thinning, elongating and other factors that give the illusion that a person is taller, shorter, heavier, etc. Study costuming history and current fashions. It doesn't bode well to show up in Paris in a 1940s steelworker outfit that makes you stand out against the well-dressed citizens walking about in 2011.
Take acting classes and perform live on many types of stages for different theatre companies. Your talent will escalate you into better roles. These roles provide you the necessary talents to "become" different people.
Practice your knowledge and talents by combining your voice, make-up, hair, voice and clothing, then visit friends and family to test your abilities. Once you have fooled all of them (not just a few), continue to your job and work outward into the community at large. When you have convinced a visiting Irish author or a Kenyan drummer that you are from the same clan or tribe, you are getting closer to the goal of mastery.
You could get a government job that requires disguises, but you will still have to train at length to become a master. Governments have high-tech, state-of-the-art equipment that can accelerate certain aspects of your goal, but to get such a job will require a number of other skills as well. Disguises for Halloween, concerts, programs and events can be great fun to create, but remember who you really are under there and where to draw the line between having a playful good time and getting seriously sidetracked.
Newton J. Jones, Makeup Artist to the Spies
With a change of posture, a bit of car grease, and some soot from a stovepipe, a spy could quickly transform himself from a respectable businessman into an innocuous hobo. The OSS knew the “surest way to hide is to be one of the crowd.”
A peacetime Hollywood cosmetics expert became an OSS master of disguise, helping wartime agents hide in plain sight.
UNITED STATES NAVAL RESERVE Specialist Second Class Newton J. Jones stood 5 feet 9 3/4 inches tall. He had short-cropped brown hair, a prominent nose, and the pale complexion of his mother’s Swedish ancestors. In the summer of 1944, he was 36 years old, with laugh lines beginning to deepen around his slate-gray eyes.
But all that could be changed in an instant.
Jones knew that if he slumped his shoulders and wore his trousers low on his hips so that the fabric pooled at his ankles, he could shave several inches off his height. Allowing his jacket to hang open, its pockets stuffed with newspapers to weigh it down, would enhance the effect. Shoeblack painted on the collar and cuffs would make the garment appear soiled from nights spent sleeping rough, and some car grease stippled across his cheeks would mimic a days-old beard. His hair and eyebrows could be blackened with soot from inside a stovepipe the same ash, mixed with rust scraped from a water heater vent, could be used to create the appearance of heavy bags beneath his eyes, gaunt cheeks, and a crooked nose, perhaps broken in a long-ago bar brawl. A small stone slipped into the heel of one of his socks would give him the stuttering step of an ailing man—and suddenly, Jones was no longer a hale American naval specialist on a secret assignment from the director of the Office of Strategic Services. He was a stooped and elderly tramp, easily overlooked on the streets of any city.
Jones’s ability to transform one person into someone else entirely was invaluable in Hollywood, where he had been an in-demand movie makeup man for more than a decade, but now he had been asked to take his talents into the operational theaters of World War II. Armed with only his makeup kit, Jones would teach the espionage agents of the OSS how to hide in plain sight. “If just one of the things you learn will save the neck of just one operator in this war—it is well worth all the effort we have put into it,” Jones told the spies he drilled on personal disguise in 1944 and 1945. “Remember—that man might be you.”
Naval Reserve Specialist Newton J. Jones turned his skills as a leading Hollywood makeup artist into a valuable wartime asset for the OSS. (National Archives)
OSS DIRECTOR Bill Donovan wanted his agents everywhere. “Wild Bill,” as he was known, had convinced President Franklin D. Roosevelt to establish the intelligence organization in June 1942 with the promise of a new weapon for the war: information. “Strategy, without information upon which it can rely, is helpless,” Donovan warned the president. To obtain this valuable intelligence, he staffed the OSS with “men calculatingly reckless with disciplined daring.” The next challenge was inserting his spies behind enemy lines, a mission that would require the cooperation of America’s allies. Donovan had spent early December 1943 in testy negotiations with China’s intelligence chief, General Dai Li, for permission to send operatives into that country to surveil the encroaching Japanese forces. In late December, the director headed to Moscow in hopes of forging an alliance with the NKGB, the Soviet secret police. But there would be no bargaining for access to Germany.
The question of how to infiltrate the Reich was on the director’s mind as he hopscotched around the Mediterranean in the winter of 1944. There, Donovan heard stories of thousands from France who had been pressed into labor at factories in Germany. Could OSS agents pass as young French workers? “I directed that a study be made at once to determine if something might be done to instruct intelligence agents in the use of simple disguises,” Donovan informed his deputy.
The London branch of the OSS already had a props department to rival that of any movie studio. The Research and Development Division’s secret “Camouflage Shop” was located at 14 Mount Row in London’s upscale Mayfair neighborhood. By the time Newton Jones arrived in late summer 1944, printing presses clattered and sewing machines whirred, producing counterfeit documents and picture-perfect European clothing, some secured with hollow buttons for hiding contraband. Even among the closed-lipped agents of the Camouflage Shop, Jones and his mission were a cipher. “No information or advanced notice was given relative to his arrival,” complained one higher-up, and “he is reluctant to pass on any information to us.”
The company founded by makeup mogul Max Factor, here with actress Bette Davis, loaned its cosmetics workshops to the American war effort. (The Hollywood Museum)
The mysterious Jones had been a member of the OSS’s Field Photographic Branch since 1942. The branch itself got its start in Hollywood in 1940 under the direction of John Ford. As in the credits of his Oscar-winning movies, Ford took top billing as commander of the Naval Reserve unit cinematographers were his lieutenants and grips, special-effects artists, and makeup men populated the lowlier ranks. In its earliest days, when the United States was still at peace, the reserve unit had mustered on a giant soundstage at 20th Century-Fox. The dimensions of a ship’s deck were taped out on the floor. The men learned—as every navy man must—to salute when coming onto the quarterdeck, but they drilled not with guns, but with Mitchell cameras and the film ends left over from Westerns and love stories. When the war came, “the cream of Hollywood motion picture technicians”—as Donovan said when he brought the naval unit into the OSS—aimed their lenses at coastlines and airports, trade routes and troop movements, and produced training videos. Jones had a decidedly unglamorous job in postproduction, adding title screens to the footage—until 1944, when Donovan’s disguise request arrived.
Lieutenant Ray Kellogg, the acting head of the Field Photographic Branch, had known Jones was the right man for the undertaking Donovan described. Jones had been in Hollywood since the arrival of the talkie. From his start as a blueprint boy for famed Paramount art director William Cameron Menzies in 1928, Jones had made his name as a makeup magician. When, in 1937, Jones transformed mezzo-soprano Gladys Swarthout into a 1920s Austrian beauty for Champagne Waltz, she told people she had the “bewildered feeling she is someone else every time she peers into a mirror.” Other subjects, though, were far less willing. After Jones wrestled Henry Fonda into pancake makeup in 1938’s I Met My Love Again, someone tattled to the papers about the star’s aversion to cosmetics. As one reporter described it, Fonda “practically has to be bound and gagged before a makeup man can get a dash of this or that on his face to kill a shadow in a close-up for some particular scene.”
The persuasive makeup man also had a knack for making something from nothing: Jones had carved soap into an army for the miniature sets used to create sweeping battle-scapes in Cecil B. DeMille’s The Crusades in 1935 and painted a Great Dane into the spitting image of a tiger for another film. After so many years in showbiz, Jones was “touched,” the OSS personnel department cautioned, “with some of the frenetic drive and tension of the industry,” and there was a “component of instability in this man.” But in a city under siege, tasked with rapidly training agents destined for enemy territory, those qualities would be more benefit than detriment.
JONES SPENT the month of September 1944 in London developing a curriculum on the basics of disguise, both quick changes with materials scavenged from one’s surroundings for eluding pursuit, and character changes with professional makeup for long-term undercover work. He would train both agents preparing for espionage missions and those who would teach these skills to others.
“It will not try the impossible: to turn them into skilled make up men in a few easy lessons,” Jones reminded his superiors. “All, however, should be able to learn enough basic rules and tricks on disguises to make the effort well worth while.” He would show pupils how to transform their clothing, change their posture and gait, and reshape their features. False mustaches would be a particular point of focus Jones spent significant time locating a reliable source for the delicate, handcrafted prosthetics. Most importantly, though, he planned to instruct on human behavior. In his first lecture, he advised, “People as a whole, fortunately, are very unobservant. Put an accepted commonplace label on a man or a thing and most people never go any deeper. The surest way to hide is to be one of the crowd.”
Jones’s first two students were “Gene” and “Bob,” two agents whom he referred to in memos only by those code names. Gene and Bob were assigned to “Milwaukee Lookout,” a new outpost established in Luxembourg for the purpose of infiltrating Germany. He only needed a few hours with them on Friday, October 6, before putting their new skills to the test the following day. The men collected materials—rust, soot, and ashes—and together spent nine minutes giving Gene a “quick change.” With his arms akimbo, a coat gathered loosely in one crooked arm and a hat held in his hand at his other hip, his stance casual, his face bare and his smile wide, Gene was short with a solid build, an affable salesman. Moments later, wearing the hat and a pair of dark-rimmed glasses, a carefully trimmed mustache attached with spirit gum above a tight grimace, his shoulders thrown back and spine straight, Gene was a tall, slender, and severe attorney. He “wandered through the bldg. and classes,” Jones noted. “All students saw him none recognized him.”
Despite this success, Jones would not be in London for much longer. His superiors believed his skills were also needed in the Pacific Theater. Before he departed in late October 1944, he began writing a 33-page manual titled “Personal Disguise” to be distributed to OSS bases. It covered everything he had taught to Gene and Bob and offered the same advice, in all caps, that an actor might hear on a Hollywood soundstage: “Disguise must be to a great extent an internal matter. The less there is of it on the outside the better.”
In 1944, Jones and the Field Photographic Branch produced the secret “Personal Disguise” manual, with detailed instructions on how agents in the field could affect their appearance. For example, with nose plugs or pads of paper tucked under his lips, an OSS man could easily alter his facial features. (National Archives)
THE TRICKS AND TOOLS of a Hollywood makeup artist had served Jones well in London. The well-known brand names he relied on needed little adaptation for use in the agents’ European destinations. Max Factor No. 6 blue-gray eye shadow transformed alert eyes into tired ones on a backlot or in Vichy France. Arrid antiperspirant may have been more commonly found underneath arms in Los Angeles, but the same formula could be rubbed along the upper lip to keep a hair lace mustache in place in Slovakia. And Inecto Rapid hair dye was as convincing on the big screen as it was behind enemy lines—though only for assignments lasting fewer than two weeks, lest the spy’s roots begin to show.
The same was not true in China, Burma, India, and Singapore, where Jones was dispatched beginning in November 1944. There, the air was heavy and humid, mosquito repellent was essential, and the missions undertaken by the OSS’s Detachment 101 were those of a special-forces group, not of undercover agents. They ambushed Japanese troops, trained local militias, and rescued downed airmen. In Europe, Jones had been concerned with the close-up spies had to withstand face-to-face scrutiny. In Asia, he was preoccupied with the long shot—the long shot of a Japanese sniper for whom a white American operative among brown-skinned local troops was an “automatic bull’s-eye.”
“It is absolutely essential to know the individual problems involved before it is possible to know the materials to use or how best to use them,” he argued forcefully in a memo to Lieutenant Kellogg. Each region presented its own challenges, and none of the methods that Jones had devised in London could be applied in Asia. “The wrong materials for a particular area are worse than nothing—They are dangerous as hell!”
The men of Detachment 101 needed something Jones did not have in his makeup kit. They needed “war paint.”
Jones created a unique skin rub composed of red, yellow, and black iron oxide powders which, when blended in various proportions, could produce different camouflaging flesh tones. The storyboard for his “War Paint” training film demonstrates how to mix the powders in the field. (National Archives)
IN THE FOGGY ASSAM VALLEY of far eastern India, the resourceful Jones set about manufacturing a potent skin-coloring agent concocted from the same iron oxides that provided pigment for the eye shadows and lip rouges he was familiar with. It took much trial and error to find the combinations of red, yellow, and black oxides to mimic the complexions of the region’s different ethnic groups. “This is it,” Jones finally wrote in a February 6, 1945, memo smeared with a rusty red powder, which, when spread in varying amounts on exposed skin, could effectively disguise an outsider.
At first Jones made the war paint by hand, measuring the colors as carefully as he could in the field and grinding each batch for 15 minutes in a mortar. If he tapped and tamped the power, he could press 13.5 grams into a small, easy-to-hide vial, enough for 25 applications. Jones made 50 vials—about two days’ work—which were dropped for troops on and behind Japanese lines, and then made 100 more. When Colonel Ray Peers, commander of Detachment 101, requested another 3,000 vials, Jones enlisted the most prominent Hollywood cosmetics producer for help.
Max Factor & Company was synonymous with “makeup” in the motion picture industry. When the greasepaint sticks used in stage production proved inadequate for the early era of Hollywood, the company pioneered a creamy foundation that looked just right under studio lights. By the ’20s, the firm had a full line of film-friendly products and a reputation for beautifying the industry’s biggest stars, including Lana Turner and Rita Hayworth.
The cosmetics company supported the war effort publicly with Tru-Color lipstick—the brand on the lips of every pinup girl—and leg makeup, a liquid substitute for the nylon stockings rationed during the war. More quietly, Max Factor lent its research and development department to the U.S. government. Jones knew that the microgrinding machine used to produce fine powders for the firm’s cosmetics could make war paint. He rushed back to the States in the spring of 1945 to strike the deal and, with the company’s help, also developed a hair black that could withstand the sweat and rain of the jungle. The company hired extra help to fulfill the contract, and, by the end of the war, it produced at least 8,000 containers of skin and hair coloring to be carried by troops operating on the front lines in Asia.
Working near enemy lines in the Pacific Theater, OSS agent Bob Flaherty applies Jones’s concoction to darken his exposed arms and face, making him less of a target for Japanese snipers. (Critical Past)
Jones never received a credit for the most important makeovers he ever did, but some of his efforts were captured on film. In 1945, Jones himself produced an eight-minute movie for the Field Photographic Branch on the proper application of war paint. He carefully sketched out a storyboard and wrote and rewrote the script. The final scene, filmed on location in the Pacific Theater, introduces fellow OSS agent Bob Flaherty—“a man,” the narrator intones, “who knows this war.” The young guerrilla fighter looks like the type of leading man who would argue with Jones over the need for makeup, but Flaherty applies the war paint quickly and expertly.
“Do you like that stuff, Bob?” the narrator asks the agent.
“You’re goddamn right I do,” Bob mouths.
This article was published in the August 2020 issue of World War II.
Master of Disguise / The Dominatress by Savage Grace (2010) Audio CD
Very rarely is a remastered edition of an album SO good that it completely makes you re-evaluate the original album & its place in history. Such is the case with the amazing reissue of Los Angeles cult metal legends SAVAGE GRACE(you may remember them from "Metal Massacre 2" & their KILLER track "Scepters Of Deceit") and their 1985 classic "Master Of Disguise" LP. For those of you who like me grew up listening to "Master Of Disguise" on vinyl, then you'll understand exactly what I'm talking about. The original "Master Of Disguise" LP sounded like it was mixed and mastered by either someone more concerned with snorting coke than producing a killer sounding LP, or by someone with NO experience in the studio. The mix was uneven, lacking bass, contained a terrible drum mix, and was generally just a mess. Which was SUCH a bummer, because any right minded metal fan could tell that the musical substance of "Master Of Disguise" was just great! With their high-energy, proto-speed metal crossed with Maiden styled licks(played at 45 RPM) it didn't take a metal expert to recognize these guys meant serious business! Tunes like "Bound To Be Free", "Sins Of The Damned", the raging title track "Master Of Disguise", "Sons Of Iniquity", "Betrayer", hell, every track on "Master Of Disguise" was simply AWESOME! It's unfortunate that "Master Of Disguise LP would be the only recording made with vocalist Michael John Smith(future vocal duties on 1986's "After The Fall From Grace" LP were handled by guitarist Christian Logue), as he was quite a talented vocalist and a perfect fit for the SAVAGE GRACE style.
But now, praise the metal gods, we have a re-issue that includes a remixed/remastered version of "Master Of Disguise" LP which corrects all the flaws of the original LP master/mix without altering history and fundamentally changing the album. The bass levels are corrected, the drums are actually audible, and FINALLY these killer songs can be enjoyed to the max without putting up with the terrible sound of the original LP. I hope that this "new" version of "Master Of Disguise" will not only blow away those who've never heard the album, but more importantly, gain the attention of those who may have passed up the album back in '85 due to its rather poor production. Now, the talent, brilliance, and power of SAVAGE GRACE is here for all to hear.
In addition to the rad "Master Of Disguse" LP this great CD contains SAVAGE GRACE's classic debut mini-LP "The Dominatress" from 1983(featuring the enthusiastic, if at times a bit rough technically speaking, super-high pitched vocalist John Birk, who would be replaced following the release of "The Dominatress" by the aforementioned belter Michael John Smith for the "Master Of Disguise" LP). The sound quality of this classic piece of early US heavy metal is also MUCH improved and has NEVER sounded better! Those of you with the original vinyl or any of the bootleg versions that have come out over the years will be STUNNED by how great "The Dominatress" sounds. Unlike the high speed and frantic pace of "Master Of Disguise", "The Dominatress" is a bit more traditional(it was '83 after all) in its approach(yet it is still an important example of US proto-speed metal). This is early US metal at its finest. Songs like "Fight For Your Life"(featuring some jaw-dropping, sky-high vocals from vocalist John Birk), "Curse The Night", and the awesome title track, "The Dominatress" is a vintage piece of underground early 80s US heavy metal.
This release would be mandatory if it were ONLY "Master Of Disguise" and "The Dominatress". But IN ADDITION to these two classics you get four SERIOUSLY BADASS bonus tracks! Three demo tracks from 1982 including the totally mind-blowing tune "Scepters Of Deceit"(seriously one of the raddest early 80s metal tunes-I cannot believe SAVAGE GRACE did not include this amazing song on either of their first two vinyl releases, although it is on the "Metal Massacre 2" compilation from '82) and an awesome alternate version of "No One Left To Blame" from SG's 1984 Demo. These four bonus tracks aren't just filler tacked on to bulk up the release, they're seriously mandatory SAVAGE GRACE rarities!
This release also comes with a HUGE booklet packed with VERY in-depth liner notes explaining the early history of the band, the reasons for the constant line-up cahnges(especially regarding vocalists), and technical info on the release itself and the remix/remastering techniques which were used to breathe new life into these two recordings. There are also tons of photos, lyrics, and a cool glossy cardboard slipcase which the jewel case slides into. In so many ways this is the cadillac of heavy metal re-issues(matched only by the great re-releases put out by labels like High Vaultage, etc.).