Pin-Up Model Angelique Noire talks the main steam vs. pin-up modeling industry, natural hair, DIY beauty regimes, and faith.
You have a ton of professional “main stream” modeling under your belt- both in the realm of runway and print. With such a successful “main stream” career, why make the transition to pin-up?
My career is a model, which can include pinup modeling too. I just look at pinup modeling as another avenue to explore because I don’t plan on hanging up my heels anytime soon.
Have you noticed any backlash from the mainstream community due to your involvement with the pin-up community?
To date, I have not experienced any backlash from the mainstream community about doing pinup modeling. For the most part, I keep them separate. My regular modeling career is for my agents to manage with my real name. Angelique Noire is my pinup persona that I manage. So in a way, my professional modeling and pinup modeling don’t really cross paths much, but have the ability to enhance one another. I definitely have been contemplating on just working as Angelique Noire though.
In your Pin Up Passion interview you mention that one of the biggest differences between your commercial print background and pin-up, is that in the world of pin-up you are the creator of your own destiny. Let me clarify: You have reached a point in your professional “main stream” career, where you have agents and marketing people working for you to promote you. In pin-up, you are talent, booking agent, marketing team, and promoter all in one. What tricks have you learned to both manage your time, and to choose which booking requests you will make a priority, verses the large amount of offers your receive monthly?
The juggling act of my pinup ventures is still a work in progress and learning experience. Not only do I have to keep organized all that is entailed with the goings on of Angelique Noire, but I have to find balance to take care of my children and household too. On the days I am not working with a client, I spend it planning future photo and video shoot concepts; editing and retouching photo and videos; performing the duties of stylist, MUAH, as well as model for some of my photo and video shoots; answering interviews; communicating with “fans” and potential clients; submitting photos for various projects; posting pictures all over the internet; the list goes on. I try to get most of it done while my children are at school, and while they are sleeping. All that I do is time consuming and necessary in promoting Angelique Noire. I have to make myself visible being that black pinups have minimal visibility. If I don’t do it, who else will…for free? I just put my abilities to work, and priority goes towards projects that have deadlines.
In my 15+ years in modeling, I mainly did jobs and castings that my agencies would send me on because of safety precautions. I don’t want to step on my agents’ toes, so my regular modeling jobs booked through them most often take priority over my pinup modeling.
The order of priority that guides the decision making process for jobs are as follows: Catalogue jobs supersede magazine editorials (unless Vogue Magazine or other popular high fashion magazines are interested in booking me the same day); Advertising supersedes catalogue jobs; National television commercials supersede all print work especially if print work is included with the commercial job. All print and commercial work trump runway jobs. In essence, it all comes down to whichever project will pay out the most, and/or how much media exposure I believe I will receive. Time is precious so I have to make the most of it.
You have a list of favorite photographers that you’ve worked with, as well as an extensive list of photographers from all over the world and in many different industries. What are the qualities that your favorite photographers have? What should gals look for when selecting photographers with whom to work?
The majority of my favorite photographers are mostly photographers that I have worked with on numerous projects throughout the years. For example, I worked with Matthew Rolston for over 10 years on various print and commercial advertising campaigns. If you look at his website, you would see only a fraction of his celebrity clientele and completed projects. He has incredible lighting techniques, and a phenomenal creative team of stylists, makeup artists, hair stylists, and more that he regularly works with. He has a meticulous eye and gives his input on all angles of the project. Though he is not specifically a pinup photographer, I constantly see the pinup styled pics that he has done of celebrities like Christina Aguilara, and many more floating around pinup websites. Not only do I admire his work, many photographers do as well. I have several others that I have named on my website but there are still others that I would love to work with too.
During my pin up modeling ventures I have been able to work with the amazing personality and super cool photographer Laura Byrnes, the Supreme Overlord of Pinupgirlclothing.com It is not often that I get to work with female photographers, so I am grateful that she has come into my life. Team PUG is pretty darn great.
I don’t have much advice for girls looking to work with photographers. The main reason being that in regular modeling, the photographer and/or client select you for their project. This is how I get my work. If I want to take photos outside of that, I most often contact friends of mine, and sometimes consider working with photographers that approach me. I don’t know if I can get used to the idea of contacting a pinup photographer to shoot in pre-made concept shoots that a bunch of other women have used. I definitely recommend this for aspiring pinup models though. In looking for a photographer to shoot with, pretty much browse the photographers work on their website, and go from there. Work with the photographer if you like their work.
What are the top three mistakes that beginning models make? What is the difference between a model you would list as amateur or a hobbyist, and someone you would consider professional?
I wish I could break it down so easily to name three mistakes beginning models make. Each situation is different. The same choice may be a mistake for one person, and it might not be for another. It’s hard to say. The biggest advice I can give is to make sure that whatever agreements are made, to follow through. Be on time to whatever shoots or appointments that are made. Also, don’t be afraid to say no if you don’t feel comfortable doing something, and be polite about it.
I consider a professional model to be someone who does this for their living. Most often professional models are also represented by agents that are paid commissions.”Model” is the profession that is claimed on their tax returns. An amateur, hobbyist, aspiring model are those who can be in their fledgling stages to becoming a professional model. Every story has a beginning.
You’ve discussed lots of great DIY beauty care regimens in your interviews. What are your five favorite beauty products that are easily made yourself from household items?
I use Extra Virgin Olive Oil to moisturize my skin and hair. I also use it to remove my makeup. My next favorite product I use is baking soda to wash my hair with, as well as to exfoliate my skin. Unfiltered Organic Apple Cider Vinegar is wonderful for many different skin and hair treatments also. I use it as a toner after washing my face, and to rinse my hair after washing with baking soda. I make different facial masks and hair conditioners with eggs. Finally, I keep my cabinet stocked with an assortment of essential oils to include in my different beauty regimens too. Most of how I use these products are posted on my YouTube channel .
In addition to beauty blogs, you also have some great hairstyling videos for gals with natural hair. You also have an extensive portfolio that includes images of you with both natural and processed hair. Do you have any strong feelings one way or another about the black American hair industry, and fashion’s role in it? You now keep your hair natural exclusively, correct? What was the thought process behind this decision? Is it still a bone of contention in the fashion industry?
I am all about options. I like to wear a variety of outfits, and I like to do a variety of hairstyles. I like my hair in it’s natural state, as well as I like using wigs and hairpieces. I do not ever want to have a relaxer put in my hair again just for the simple fact that relaxers are very damaging, and they contain harsh chemicals that enter the body. I totally think that the media has conditioned women into thinking that they are more acceptable or beautiful if they have straight hair. The majority of beauty ads, high fashion editorials, runway shows, etc. show models with straight hair. The main reason being that most of the time these non Black models that are used frequently, have naturally straight hair/loose wave pattern. Instead of waiting for a hairdresser to try to figure out what to do with my textured hair should the client all of a sudden want my hair to be straight too, I just slap on a straight wig that they can work on. My wigs My hair protect my hair from heat damage too. Over the years that I have been modeling, I have been able to appreciate that more images of Black women with kinky/curly hair that are being produced. Hopefully, the natural hairstyles that I do with a retro 40s/50s twist can permeate the pinup world too.
Your website points out that you are “the first black pin-up of the 21st century”. I’m curious as to how you became so inspired by the original pin-ups of the 40’s and 50’s when for the most part, with very few exceptions, they were all white girls. What was it that you related to in those earlier images?
Beauty. I admired how each image was put together. The clothes, lingerie, swimwear, shoes, hairstyles, accessories, etc….all of these in their various combinations showed an image of a classy, sexy, ultra feminine woman. I am sure you can browse through a magazine, look at the models who don’t look like you, and think how you can totally see yourself in the same dress, pair of shoes, etc. that they are wearing. Just because the women were predominantly white didn’t keep me from seeing myself as being able to look classy, sexy, and ultra feminine too.
In watching and reading interviews you’ve done, it is very clear that faith, in particularly Christianity, plays a strong and important role in your life. This is a trait you share with Bettie Page, and we saw her struggle with her faith verses her work. How does faith enter into the decisions you make professionally?
I grew up going to church and still enjoy having a relationship with God. My grandfather is a preacher, whose church I helped renovate and attended while growing up. My faith in God has shaped and molded me to be the person I am today. I can understand that Bettie Page had reservations about the jobs she would do because of the nudity involved, which was very taboo of that time. Do I think it’s “bad” and “ungodly” to show the parts that God gave us? Not necessarily. I do however think that nude photos can be done without looking obscene, vulgar, and offensive. The Sistine Chapel has nudes all over it for goodness sake! So nudity can be tasteful and artistic. I personally don’t want to put all of my goods on display. Look at examples like Rita Hayworth, Jane Russell, and Betty Grable who did many photo opts without ever having to expose all of their body. A woman can still behold an abundance of admiration without showing everything.
As far as my faith goes, it’s what I do when I am not in front of the camera that guides my choices in life. I feel it’s important to treat everyone I meet with respect no matter if they are an A list celebrity or a janitor…even at times when people don’t deserve it. I have also learned that I can voice my disagreements and concerns without having to resort to verbal degradation, and I choose to avoid verbalizing profanity in my conversations. I give a percentage of all the income i make, to various ministries I follow, and charities that I like. I also choose not to drink alcohol, never tried drugs, nor do I smoke (mainly because I don’t like it more so than because of my religion). I am in no ways flawless or trying to be Ms. Goody Two Shoes, but these are standards that I set for myself to uphold.
What has been the reaction of your immediate and extended family? Do they understand your move to pin-up (I am speaking from the faith, lack of relate-ability, and the professional standpoint)?
When I first expressed my interest in modeling as a teenager, my parents and other family members were pretty leery about my participating in what they saw as the negative side of modeling- the nudity, the drugs…the “fast” life. I reassured them by showing the results of the work that I would do. Modeling is modeling to my family…whether it is pinup or regular catalogue work for a department store. I think that as long as I am not showing all my goods, they are happy.
You have paved the way for more black pin-up models to emerge on the scene. How does that make you feel? Where do you see yourself in 5 years?
I am totally thrilled when woman of all ages and races look to me for inspiration. A lot of times I get messages on the various websites I manage like Facebook, Youtube, Tumblr, etc. saying kind words, and asking advice about modeling. I try my best to answer them all, but it’s extremely time consuming so I apologize that I can’t respond to all compliments, but I do try to answer questions that are asked. At the rate things are going, I can totally see myself being as visible as Dita Von Teese and Bernie Dexter in 5 years.
Does pin-up have more longevity than mainstream modeling? If there is an Angelique Noire legacy thirty years from now, what do you hope it looks like?
Pin up modeling does seem to be more accepting of woman, rather than teenagers made to look older. I do see my pinup modeling contributing to more opportunities for me. In addition, I have seen the demand for women over 30 growing in the advertising market. I have agencies that have “classic” women’s divisions, where the models are over 40 years of age. I guess the reason being that there are a lot of celebrities that have made it more accepting to be celebrated as mothers, business women, and sex symbols even if they are not in their mid 20s.
The legacy of Angelique Noire thirty years from now, I hope is as an icon. I hope I am viewed as having the class of Rita Hayworth and Betty Grable, and the mass media marketability of Marilyn Monroe and Bettie Page. More than anything else I hope that people remember me as not only being exceedingly blessed, but also a blessing to many others because of the various charities, ministries, and people I have and will continue to donate generously towards. I definitely believe I am blessed to be a blessing.