A trip behind the scenes at Madame Tussauds reveals surprising truths about the divas who have called Las Vegas home.
No expensive rhinoplasty necessary for this version of Celine Dion, just some hair spray and a fresh coat of paint.
As 2015 draws to a close, it’s safe to say this was the year of the diva in Las Vegas. In the past 12 months alone, Diana Ross, Mariah Carey, Bette Midler, and Celine Dion, among others, have taken the stage on the Strip. But if you missed your chance to see them live, there’s one place you can always catch them in residence: Madame Tussauds Las Vegas.
During a recent visit to the Grand Canal Shoppes museum, we found Dion’s $300,000 figure undergoing routine maintenance, which in this case means a fresh coat of oil-paint makeup and some hair spray. She looked nearly as flawless in wax as she did in the “My Heart Will Go On” music video—and there’s a reason why.
“It wouldn’t be very flattering to ‘age’ the women,” explains Cole Kouvaris, the Vegas museum’s marketing manager. “I don’t think they’d take very kindly to it.” Instead, the Tussauds team constructs what Kouvaris calls “moment in time” figures of certain (usually female) celebrities; in Vegas, for example, guests encounter Miley Cyrus straddling a wrecking ball—a figure that will remain even as she ages. In fact, here it’s the men who get the most frequent cosmetic enhancements, courtesy of the museum’s studio artists. And while some updates are only minor—like “contouring” Channing Tatum’s face with paint to reflect subtle weight fluctuations or darkening Matthew McConaughey’s hair—others require a substantial amount of elbow grease.
Figures who are undergoing more invasive work are booked for stays in Club Tussauds, whose current guests include Cameron Diaz and Will Smith. “We’ve had a Ben Affleck figure for years now,” Kouvaris says, “but we thought it wasn’t truly representing how he looks anymore.” In addition to carving crow’s feet into Affeck’s face, artists applied a sprinkling of gray hairs to his scalp, a painstaking three-week process that involved heating the wax ever so slightly, then inserting each new strand individually with a sewing needle.
Meanwhile, just a few steps away, the figures of honorary Las Vegan Britney Spears and future headliner Jennifer Lopez (who’s starting her own Planet Hollywood residency in January) have remained remarkably untouched by time, save for a costume change or two over the years, Kouvaris tells us. It turns out that in the world of Madame Tussauds, the divas are the lowest-maintenance stars of all.