When you think of alternative models one of the first names that comes to mind is Dani Divine. The London based icon has appeared in a string of well-known magazines including the now defunct Bizarre along with Metal Hammer and Bedeseme. She has worked for most of the top clothing manufacturers that cater for the fetish and alternative market and is a regular on fashion runways. Dani met Gary Trueman at Murder Mile studios for an exclusive shoot for Devolution magazine. Afterwards they discussed what it’s like to be an alt model, the difficulties of latex and homemade festival she wees.
You were 17 when you went into alternative modelling. Had you done any work in front of a camera before then? What is your earliest memory of thinking “that’s for me”?
I was 17 when I had my first professional photo shoot. Before that I guess the only experience I had with a camera was just taking pictures of friends and dressing up and doing pictures at home or wherever was cool. With my first shoot I never planned for it to be a career, it was just for fun, it was for a gothic webzine on My Space. They invited me to a shoot and I remember being so nervous, not knowing what to do. Shortly after that it just spiralled and I built up a portfolio and before I knew it I was doing it on a regular basis.
Are your family supportive of your career? Was there any apprehension from them initially?
At the start it was difficult because I was really young so obviously they didn’t like the idea of it and they were worried about me going to photographers that I didn’t know. They didn’t know what I was up to and how much I was revealing in shoots, things like that. Now they’re extremely supportive, like my mum has some of my modelling shots on her fridge, so they’re very supportive.
Do you think that’s because they can see it’s a genuine career choice?
Yes. They can see how well I’m doing and neither of my parents are on Facebook so they don’t really understand that part but when I get in magazines I always show it to them, like this is my new cover and they’re always impressed when they see the printed magazines. They think I’m actually doing something.
You’re now very successful. Were you surprised at the positive reaction to your early work?
Yeah, extremely surprised!
Did you start out doing alt and fetish work or was it something that you were naturally drawn to?
It was something that I was drawn to because one of the first magazines I picked up was Bizarre and I was seeing all these hot latex girls. Straight away I knew I wanted to do that. One of my first shoots was latex and I started doing some catwalks as well. That’s how the fetish stuff started.
You have a degree in cosmetic science, the chemistry of makeup. Do you find yourself looking at the contents of make up out of curiosity to see what’s in a particular brand?
Yeah I do that quite a lot actually. The degree in cosmetic science isn’t just a separate thing to my makeup skills, I do find cosmetics interesting and I’m really interested in science as well. It merges a couple of my interest.
You obviously know most of the other alternative models on the circuit. Do you all support each other or can it get a bit bitchy sometimes?
I guess I’ve had experience with both. A lot of my close friends are models and of course we help and support each other, and give each other ideas. Some of my friends are clothing designers and I work with them. I do have a really good network of people and we all support each other. Sometimes it happens where girls can be a little bit competitive.
Do you look out for each other if there’s a studio or photographer that someone has a bad experience with, or maybe an overenthusiastic fan?
Yep, we all discuss it together. There’s no keeping any secrets, definitely not.
Unlike most alt models you have no tattoos. Is that something that is just a personal choice or is there a professional consideration involved where some brands might prefer no visible ink or where you could work in the mainstream more easily if requested to do so?
The reason I don’t have any tattoos is purely personal choice. I like the look of having blank skin and it’s a big commitment. My fear would be getting a tattoo then looking in the mirror and thinking I don’t want any tattoos any more. That’s why I’ve waited. I might get tattoos in the future, I haven’t completely written that off. Maybe when I’m a bit older. I have a lot of friends that made regrettable decisions to get a tattoo and at the moment I’m just happy the way I am. I feel like it’s an addiction, a can of worms, and once you’ve opened it there’s no stopping. But I do love tattoos, especially on guys.
Much of your modelling involves latex. Do you like to do something a bit different sometimes and like it when an idea is pitched to you that is away from what you normally do?
Yes of course. Anything that takes me outside of the box is good especially for my portfolio. When people suggest I do shoots not wearing latex I get a little bit excited, I think maybe I can work and be comfortable.
Can latex be a bit…..difficult?
It’s so tough, especially things like cat suits. It’s getting in them that is the pain because you need to use a lot of silicon lube. You end up like that episode of friends where Ross is trying to get into his leather trousers. That’s what I feel like getting into latex, especially if there’s talc in it because it ends up a mess. I tend to avoid talc and stick to silicon.
Outside of modelling you also perform as a fire act both solo and with Pyrohex. How did you get into that?
I started doing that a couple of years ago. My first show was for New Rock actually, over in France. They asked me to come and do a performance and I was still very new to it but thought wouldn’t it be cool if I could get a little fire act together for the show. A friend of mine taught me a few tricks and we practiced together and it all went from there. I’d known some of the Pyrohex girls from before then and they were looking for a new performer and they asked me to join.
Is it something you’d like to do more of given the opportunity?
Definitely, although I am a bit worried about my lungs.
It’s made to all look so easy other than you need to make sure you don’t set light to your hair. Is it quite hard work?
It’s really hard work, particularly if we’re performing at festivals. There’s lots of walking around carrying heavy equipment and lots of travelling. It’s kind of like being in a band. Being on stage is the fun part but everything else can be a chore.
You have a very long standing friendship with Vish who fronts Pretty Addicted a favourite at Devolution Magazine. You’re very supportive of one another. How did you meet?
I could talk for years about Vish. This is a very exciting story for me. I think I met Vish when I was sixteen, nearly ten years ago. I met her on a night out in Slimelight, we were both clearly under age to be there (laughing). We met in the girl’s bathroom and we just got really drunk and we had a lot of fun together getting into trouble. We managed to stay in contact over the years and she’s one of my best friends of all time. I’ve modelled a few of her shirts and done fire in one of her performances with Sakura (Pretty Addicted performance artist). I hope to get to do more of that at some point.
You and Sakura now that would be a great fire act wouldn’t it, a great double act?
Oh yeah. When we did that show everyone fucking loved it. I think the world isn’t ready for the three of us on a stage together.
You are often seen in a Motorhead top and wore one to our shoot today. You are a metalhead at heart then?
I am. The leather jacket I normally wear has got a massive Motorhead back patch. I’ve been wearing that jacket for years. I fucking love Motorhead, so sad about Lemmy. I never got to meet him which made me sad. Every time I’ve stepped into the Rainbow I was always hoping he would be there but I just never caught him.
Lemmy’s death came as a shock to most people even though he drank heavily. What are your thoughts on his music and his passing?
His legacy is pretty much eternal now. For the new generation of metalheads he is such an icon and he will forever be in the metal scene.
What bands are you into at the moment?
I like a mixture of genres. Like you said, Alice In Chains. They’re probably my favourite band; I’m a huge grunge fan. I love that whole era of Seattle grunge. Soundgarden, anything Chris Cornell related. Some of his solo stuff was a little bit Maroon 5. Not that there’s anything wrong with that. I listen to quite a lot of dad rock. I love seventies rock, that whole era.
Is there anything or anyone you listen to that might raise an eyebrow, something surprising?
Hmmm, let’s have a look (consults phone) let’s see what the most shocking thing on here is. Hmmm, well I have Eminem on here. That’s about it. Not too shocking.
Our shoot for this feature is based on the idea of a good girl gone bad at a festival. Do you think some people can enjoy themselves a bit too much at a festival? Being serious there are dangers?
When you’re at a festival it’s very easy to forget limits. I know myself when I’m at a festival I almost morph into this different person. I become festival Dani, I don’t wash, I don’t bother brushing my hair, I just get really drunk and end up having the best time ever with my friends. I don’t care about all the things I would normally care about. Once you’re in that festival mode it’s very easy to get carried away. One of my all-time favourite festival moments was during Metallica I didn’t want to miss them but really wanted to pee. All these guys were pissing against the wall where the posters are and I thought fucking hell how come they can do that? I want to do that. So I fashioned a she wee out of a cup by putting a hole in the bottom and I pissed against the wall with all the guys. Five minutes later someone posted a comment on my Facebook saying they’d just seen me pissing against the wall during Metallica. I can’t get away with doing anything without someone spotting me.
That’s the best Metallica story I’ve ever heard. Staying on the theme of getting wasted at festivals. Do you have a few stay safe tips for any Devo festival goers out there? Something that might stop you getting arrested and ending up in a jail cell with a bottle of Jack.
I think it’s best to stick with a group of friends and stick with people that are a little bit more responsible than you. Try not to get lost and arrange meeting points if you do. Bring spare batteries for your phone or battery chargers. Sometimes though the signal is shit so you just can’t win. I’ve lost people at festivals many times. It can be a bit of a nightmare.
Modelling must come with a certain shelf life. Do you have any plans for the long term future?
I’m definitely going to keep this up as long as I can. I have that cosmetic science degree so I might pick up again with that. Who knows?
Is there a particular shoot that sticks in your mind? Maybe one that you thought was poor but the shots came out great, or one where the shoot was good but the shots were rubbish?
What like today (laughing), nah just kidding. I’ve done a shoot in the snow. The idea sounds amazing but the photos were horrible. Too cold blue skin, red nose and teary eyes. Just no.
I’m guessing you weren’t wearing a big thick coat either?
No I wasn’t!
If you could go back and give the 17 year old you one piece of advice what would it be?
Oh my god girl! Grow those eyebrows back. I used to shave my eyebrows and draw them on like a real Goth.