Nail technician Lisa Postma would like to show you a sample of her work. But you won’t have to go to a nail competition, take a class, or even make an appointment at a salon. Just head down to your local video store and rent "Naked Gun 33⅓."
Postma, the only on-site nail technician at Hollywood’s Paramount Studios, did silk wraps and manicures for Priscilla Presley’s nails for the movie. The studio left no detail unattended; Postma says, “I even did nails for Priscilla’s stunt double!”
Postma’s background has her well-prepared for her current job at Paramount, where knowledge of the latest nail techniques is crucial. “I worked at a salon for 10 years. I taught educational classes and ran sales meetings for a manufacturer, and I’ve done nails for print ads,” she says.
Postma is the sole nail technician at Paramount — for 3,000 employees. Her customers range from secretaries who schedule monthly manicures to starlets who drop in for daily touch-ups. Although she’s often seen, supplies in tow, on the sets of well-known movies, most of her business comes from walk-in clients. Unfortunately, she adds with a laugh, she can’t charge “movie star” prices for her in salon customers, no matter how many millions they make on the silver screen.
“I do get to double or triple my prices when I go out on a call to the set,” says Postma. But traveling to the set takes extra time, and the steady work is back at the salon where the basic rate is what goes.”
One of Postma’s favorite parts of the job is the friendships she forms with her regular customers, like Jane Velez Mitchell, the 8 p.m. news anchor for television station KCAL in Los Angeles. “She’s really a lot of fun,” says Postma.
Fun aside, Postma has learned a lot about which nail techniques and polish colors do and don’t work well on camera. “What looks good on camera is different from what looks good in the real world. For instance, you can’t wear a French manicure on camera. The nails look all white and horrible!” she exclaims.
Postma is now ready to tackle some of Hollywood’s trickier nail techniques. “I’d like to do special-effects nails — like for [FOX Television’s science-fiction drama series] ‘Deep Space Nine,’ which films on the lot,” she says.
Despite the fun and the challenges of being a professional nail technician in Hollywood, Postma says her long-range goals include doing more nails for photo shoots, like the nails she did for NAILS’ February 1993 cover shot of Florence Griffith Joyner. “I’d like to do more commercials and print work,” she says. Postma has already reached what many consider to be the top of the print business — her work will be featured in a nail manufacturer’s ads in upcoming issues of Vogue, Glamour, and Cosmopolitan.
In the meantime, look for Postma’s handiwork the next time you’re at your local theater. But don’t bother searching for her name in the credits: It won’t be there. “Unfortunately, you have to work a certain number of hours to get listed in the movie credits,” she explains.
While she has yet to see her name in lights, Postma still finds a bit of old-time Hollywood Stardust floating around her salon. “My salon is in what used to be W. C. Fields’ office,” she says.