Dallas’ own Melissa Meaow, model, chats about Dallas Burlesque Fest, glamazons, making her much anticipated burlesque debut, and being drunk off decadence.
Interview & Photographs: Shoshana of Through the Looking Glass Studio. MUA/H: LaDonna Hearne Accessories (hats, cuffs, and fascinators): Tara Tonini.
Q: Your portfolio is very diverse, how do you label yourself in the modeling world? [Do you consider yourself a pin-up model, fetish model, fashion model?]
I am extremely versatile — a chameleon. Therefore, I cannot and do not limit myself to labels — everyone has a right to their own opinion of me and I most definitely think my work speaks for itself. I adore the avant-garde and pin-up is always so much fun to do!
Q: When and how did you begin modeling?
I have always loved modeling. As a young girl, I was reading Vogue, Elle, Bazaar. I immediately became obsessed with beauty and fashion. In high school, I started collecting magazines from overseas — a very expensive habit! Now everything is so accessible online, but nothing beats a glossy photo on the page of a fashion magazine. I guess this was my beginning — I was far too shy as a little girl to peruse modeling, so my mother put me in ballet.
In high school, my height (I’m 5’6″) kept me from getting any professional work. My big break was in 2004 — I assisted on photo shoots while working for Toni & Guy and a lot of times stood in for the model while the photographer tested lights, etc. I was dubbed “a natural” and “better than the girl we booked”. It turns out you don’t have to be a glamazon for print work! Also, social media sites like Model Mayhem have really helped me network and grow.
Q: What are your favorite shoots? [Are they based on the fashion, the photographer, the concept? Do you like a certain style more than others?]
Elaborate hair/makeup/wardrobe/set design shoots are always my favorite. I love a concept that brings multiple people together with so much creative juice flowing that everyone is drunk off the decadence — and then it’s all up to you, the model. I love the whole process!
Q: How much collaboration do you do with the photographer from start to finish on a concept?
It all depends on who approaches whom. If a photographer emails me, I know they’ve looked through my portfolio and found I fit a concept they desire. This is not always the case vice versa! If I instigate, then I better have a concept they can use or an idea we can both agree on.
Q: You have a really long list of live modeling credits. How does this compare with print modeling assignments?
I most definitely have more live modeling credits than print! A lot of print work goes through agencies and since I manage myself, the assignments fall off my radar. I hope to do more pin-up print work in the future. It’s always been a personal goal of mine to do a fashion spread as well.
Q: Speaking of live modeling, the first time I ever saw you was the inaugural Dallas Burlesque Fest. Take us back to that event- Feb of last year. What did you anticipate before the event, and how did that compare to the actual event?
Elisa throws awesome events and I was honored she asked for my help! Wrangling the models was fun — getting 10 models and 10 photographers on the same page at the same time, etc was crazy. I think i was the last one in hair/makeup and on stage because I was so busy — but wasn’t it grand? I did not expect a full house with a line around the building — the energy was absolutely incredible that night!
Q: You are coordinating the pin-up model photo shoot aspect of Dallas Burlesque Fest once again this year. What are your plans for this portion of the event? What should the audience of potential shooters expect?
Yes — I’m doing it again this year! Already we’ve had some models and photographers contact us to participate. There will be a pin-up shoot, but we may do three different sets on stage instead of just one. There’s also talk of a lingerie fashion show. I don’t want to give too much away — just be sure to get there early so you don’t miss it!
Q: Okay, so a gal has determined that she’s very pretty. But, being a great model requires so much more. What else should this gal posses to be successful?
Being comfortable in your own skin is key. Self confidence goes a long way — but always be gracious — no matter how bad you think your makeup/hair/photographer are. Everyone knows everyone in this community and word of mouth means more than any photoshopped image in your portfolio. Grace, integrity and punctuality are how I’ve gotten this far.
Q: Let’s talk burlesque for a second. You made your burlesque debut last month at Christmas in Candy Land at The Church. How was that for you?
It was an unforgettable evening! Elisa was a wonderful choreographer and coach – I felt totally comfortable with the routine. A lot of my friends showed up to support me and the other performers were excited about my debut as well. Of course, I was super nervous, but once I stepped on stage, my nerves disappeared and I had so much fun! Needless to say, I cannot wait to to perform at the Crystal Palace show later this month – I am doing more of a traditional burlesque number you must not miss!
Q: Do you have formal dance training?
Yes! I have 20 years of ballet, tap and jazz under my belt – ballet being my most favorite. I’d love to pursue more ballroom, latin and swing in the future.
Q: You are a founding member of the 60’s go-go dancing troupe, The Lollie Dollies. Tell us about its inception and where to find your performances.?
The Lollie Dollies are a 60’s throw-back go-go troupe of 5 lovely ladies that was founded in 2005. We throw dance parties under the name, The Lollipop Shoppe showcasing local bands/djs. We perform every other month, so keep your eyes peeled for flyers! You can also keep up with us at: myspace.com/lollipopdolls and facebook.com/pages/lolli-dollies.
Q: What are your New Year Resolutions for 2010?
More modeling, of course! My goal was 52 shoots last year (I accomplished 46) and I just had my solo burlesque debut at The Church’s Christmas in Candy Land Party! So more dancing too — I’ll be performing at the Crystal Palace Burlesque show as well as the Dallas Burlesque Festival. And I’d love to travel to Austin, Los Angeles and New York to shoot/perform. Finally, I want to get my website up and running — it has been almost five years in the making!