The Man Behind the Makeup

Kaleb Stephens, Omega Chapter Archon and vice president of the Paint Crew, prepares for a home basketball game.


stephens-kaleb-purdue2-040314Those who watch him during Purdue basketball games think he’s a wild-ass super fan. In actuality, he’s mild-mannered and a former high school athlete himself participating in golf, basketball and football.

Archon Kaleb Stephens, Omega (Purdue), is the guy behind the make-up, wig and Purdue swag.

“I’ve always loved the game of basketball,” Stephens said. “The passion that members of the Paint Crew had for the men’s basketball team my freshman year showed me that this was the perfect organization for me. I came to Purdue with the goal of making a difference and I knew this was the perfect opportunity to do just that.”

As vice president of the Paint Crew this year, he leads one of the largest student sections in the Big Ten in cheers, jeers and sneers.

It takes him about 45 minutes to put on his game face. Sometimes that happens at the fraternity other times in a building nearby Mackey Arena. The black clothed Stephens, first paints the charcoal black Ben Nye make-up around his eyes Ð from covering his eye brows to the base of each nostril in an enlarged comma sorta way.

Then the routine has him using a paintbrush with Aztec gold paint from his chin to his forehead and on his lips around the already blacked-out eyes. With precision, he paints his face back and forth until the gold sparkles and skin tone vanishes. Then black mascara is smeared from his chin down his neck to inside his Paint Crew t-shirt.

With his face colored from hair to chin, he dons a black and gold wig and hangs a gold chained Block P license place around his neck that parks on his chest. Long gold evening dress-type gloves go up his arms with black wrist bands on top of them. The finishing touch is a black Purdue headband and a Boilermakers placard as a belt. His feet are complete with calf-length Boilermaker socks black shoes with gold laces. Then his game attire is complete.

He makes an impression.

“Every game, I have both children and adults seek me out to thank me for what I do and to take photos with me,” the senior management major says. “The appreciation they have for all the of the hard work that we put into running the organization is incredibly humbling.”

Sometimes, he draws the ire of opposing players who sit 15 feet to the right of his front-row chamber, which is about six feet from the pep band. He’s been flipped off by players and joked with by officials.

“I’ve had people from across the country reach out to me and tell me they see me on TV all the time and they love what I do,” Stephens says. “My social media interactions always spike during the season and it’s always fun to receive the ‘smack talk’ from Hoosier fans.”

His admirers come in all forms. There’s even a member of the Izzone at Michigan State who now mimics Stephens’ attire, but with a green and white motif.

His most memorable event in his four years in the Paint Crew was when the Big Ten Network dedicated a portion of its weekly documentary, “The Journey,” to the student section in 2012. Stephens was interviewed for, and broadcast on, the show.

“It was a unique experience and one of the most memorable of my college career,” he said.

The Paint Crew is not the only thing he does with Purdue. He’s also been a football manager.

Photos of Stephens preparing for a game, during various games and as a football manager on senior day can be found at:

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