Humanitarians in the Arts: Michael Angelo, The Lipstick Portraits


Humanitarians in the Arts: Michael Angelo, “The Lipstick Portraits”.

If you ventured over to the Highline last May, you would have been impressed by the beautiful photography of entrepreneur and hair and make-up artist Michael Angelo.  The Lipstick Portraits at 401 Projects featured 60 photographs of a men and women wearing bold red lipstick as a symbol of the empowerment it embodies in different cultures.  According to the exhibit’s website, “The Lipstick Portraits is a series of photographs by Michael Angelo of strong, independent personalities from various walks of life—including Susan Sarandon, Dita Von Teese, Daryl Hannah, Selita Ebanks and Alan Cumming who have marked themselves with red lipstick in freedom, standing in solidarity with girls and women who are forced to wear red lipstick while being sold as slaves in brothels.

100% of the proceeds from the sale of limited edition exhibition prints, catalogues and tee shirts will benefit the Somaly Mam Foundation, a non-profit organization driven by Somaly Mam, a trafficking survivor, and one of the most prolific activists fighting sexual slavery today.”
Currently in LA, Michael is preparing to receive the Global Action Media Award, presented by the Global Action Forum.  Through the Somaly Mam Foundation he was approached by Fran Skinner Lewis, the GAF chair.  Lewis called The Lipstick Portraits ”one of the most prolific media campaigns” that she had seen and wanted to see the project acknowledged.   Held at the Beverly Hills Hilton, the same site as the Golden Globes, Michael will be receiving his award alongside celebrities such as Miley Cyrus, America Ferrera & Anne Archer. “Somaly Mam is also being awarded for her work and it’s a major honor for me to be in the same ‘peer group’ as her,” Michael said. “I’m very psyched to meet another recipient, Bobby Sagat, who is the CEO of Polaroid, and a great philanthropist. And I’m thrilled to meet Trevor Donovan, who’s presenting, for purely superficial reasons!”
If you missed the exhibit last year, Michael is working on bringing The Lipstick Portraits back to NYC for another exhibition with The Body Shop.  Details are not yet available, but Michael did allude that it will take place during the Clinton Global Initiative.
Still evolving and creating, Michael is bursting with projects he will be pursuing this upcoming year. He just finished a series of soon-to-be released shots of Carlos Leon, set to coincide with the debut ofImmigration Tango, a new indie film in which Leon stars.  Additionally Michael’s business,Wonderland Beauty Parlor, will be hosting a show of Steam Roller Prints in conjunction with Syracuse University’s printmaking department.
For more information on the Global Action Forum and other recipients of this prestigious award please visit
This is a fabulous campaign that brings additional media attention to the atrocities suffered by women and young girls who are forced into the sex slave industry. Be sure to check out the web link to see the beautiful Somaly Mam’s, a survivor and now activist, picture.
How do you feel about the sex trafficking industry? Do you think this campaign works and gets the message across? Can you think of other ways to bring attention to and call for an end to the sex tourism/slavery industry?