London-based Dani will hold the title for most of 2017, the year that by happy coincidence marks the tenth anniversary of the start of her love affair with latex. As she recalls:
“The very first time I wore latex was in 2007, and it was by Lacing Lilith. I fell in love with it instantly; it made me feel powerful and sexy. It wasn’t really something you could wear out on a daily basis, so I made it my mission to find parties I could wear it to!”
For the past few years Dani has been a regular face at the Dominatrix weekends which host the Miss Fetish Europe and Best Up & Coming Model awards annually on the outskirts of Amsterdam.
After she won Best Up & Coming Model there in November 2014, many industry insiders felt it would only be a matter of time before she secured the main award too. And she has not let them down.
So how does it feel to have now won the big one?
“It’s a huge personal achievement,” she says, “and a reflection of how hard I have worked to get here. I had a lot of close friends and fans rooting for me, so, it feels pretty good!”
Since Miss Fetish Europe was launched, other fetish events and organisations have jumped on the bandwagon with their own model awards. What does Dani think about the general value of such contests — are they really good for models’ careers, or just a bit of fun?
“I think they are both good for careers, and also a bit of fun! Nothing wrong with a bit of friendly competition,” she reckons.
“At the end of the day, at these events many of the models (including myself) are competing against their good friends. There are numerous online competitions for models these days, which seem insignificant.
“I guess the ones people take seriously are held at actual events, where models attend and win a physical trophy and prize. And there aren’t too many of those!”
These days, even those awards associated with physical events and judging panels usually also include an element of public voting via social media. But as a judge on a couple of awards panels myself (including Miss Fetish Europe), I have noticed that some contestants are more willing, and perhaps more able, than others to exploit their social media followings to garner public votes.
As an indisputably net-savvy model herself, what does Dani Divine consider the right balance between ‘working one’s fan base’ and just letting nature take its course, as it were?
“If I am in a public voting competition, then I will of course announce it to my fans, in order to encourage votes,” she replies. “To me, it would be strange not to, and even then not all do. I am grateful to have a large fan base on social media.
“The reason anyone would vote is an act of support. It’s not like anyone can vote against their will — so these votes are of value.
“These are modelling competitions; it’s purely entertainment. We’re not competing for an organ, so I don’t feel too bad for being at an advantage!”
When I checked for the purposes of this article, the Dani Divine ‘public figure’ page on Facebook had more than 2.6 million likes. This puts her ahead of some previous high profile Miss Fetish Europe winners by up to a million fans.
But unlike these predecessors, she doesn’t have her own website. Why not? Is it something she doesn’t feel to be necessary if you really know your way around social networking?
“That’s exactly it,” she agrees. “I just haven’t found it necessary. I don’t think I’m missing out on anything by not having a website. My fans can see my work and interact with me via Facebook.
“It’s easy for me to update while I’m out and about, and it’s important for me to be able to tag collaborations. I do have an online shop for merchandise and prints.
“Until recently this has been working perfectly for me. However FB are rather prudish and removed some of my images despite no actual nudity. For this reason, I may consider getting a website to share my work.”
It might surprise you to learn that, despite her massive Facebook following, Dani doesn’t consider her social networking to be a particular skill — although, she admits, others might.
“I simply share my latest work on a daily basis, and keep my page updated with what I’m up to. It’s not something I’ve focussed on developing — I’m just happy to share my work with the people who are happy to see it.
“Twitter is more flexible but I never quite got into it as much; my Twitter is automatically updated through my FB. The most important aspect of a Facebook page is keeping it updated regularly with new and exciting material.
“I also like to spend time responding to fans when I can, but it can be tedious to filter through comments. For this reason I have recently created a fan e-mail address for all non-work related matters and chit-chat.”
In 2008, the year after she tried on her very first latex outfit, Dani Divine won Bizarre magazine’s Ultra Vixen Of The Year title.
I tell her I can imagine that was quite a big deal, given how many aspiring young fetish models at that time worshipped Bizarre and dreamt of being on its cover.
“It shouldn’t shock you, but I was one of them!” she says. “I absolutely worshipped Bizarre as a teenager, so it was a huge deal for me to land a cover, as a teenager.
Did it encourage her to think that fetish modelling could one day be a career for her? And at what point did it become more than just a hobby?
“Modelling started as a fun hobby and it still is, except after many years of calling it that, now it’s a career as well. It became more serious for me the moment I started getting serious work offers and was able to support myself from it.”
While people on the fetish scene may perceive Dani primarily as a fetish model, there’s plenty of visual evidence on Facebook and elsewhere that her personal and professional style espouses other overlapping subcultures such as metal and goth, and what for want of a better term I’ll call ‘rock chick chic’.
To what extent does she feel those overlapping interests propelled her towards fetish, and does she feel that having these broader tastes has broadened her appeal beyond just fetish and brought more work opportunities?
“I embraced all of those subcultures as a teenager,” she agrees. “I never cared so much for the labels, as I just listened to what I thought sounded good, and wore what I thought looked good.
“In that sense, my personal style and taste definitely gave a strong direction to my career as a model, and performer. It wasn’t a phase after all!
“Although I tend to stick within the subcultures in my personal time, I am a bit more open-minded when it comes to work. I often perform in clubs that are mainstream, and sometimes a change of look for modelling or scenery here and there is actually okay!”
Something her admirers often say is that Dani Divine has succeeded, where many others have failed, in making fetish modelling a paying concern. In an industry where so much modelling work is done on a trade basis (for pictures from photographers or clothing/discount from designers) rather than actual cash, a model has to be pretty tough and confident to specify ‘paid gigs only’.
But, says Dani, if you are serious about fetish modelling as a career, it’s the only way to go.
“It’s fine for hobbyists with fulltime jobs to be happy to model here and there for free clothes. But as a career choice, modelling is really hard work, so I believe it should be paid if you are confident enough that what you have to offer is worth your rates.
“The hours of admin, prep, appearance maintenance, packing for shoots, organising, hair and make-up and travel that goes into each shoot is literally exhausting!
“The outfits can be cold, hot or uncomfortable, and standing in heels all day is also not amazing. And latex outfit changes are a bitch! Still, I love it with a strong passion and I’m lucky to call it my job.
“Sometimes I might approach someone to work with me, and in that case I could not demand payment. But it depends how busy I am, or what my travel plans are… if I see a good opportunity I will take it. TFP [time for pictures] shoots get rarer and rarer, as I get busier and busier!”
Of course, the model adds, working TFP can be very helpful when building a portfolio, or for exposure, or for plenty of other reasons.
“But,” she maintains, “it shouldn’t be abused as it cheapens the industry. Relying on photographers for paid shoots is fickle.
“Selling merch is more reliable, and another thing models are paid for these days is not just for shooting time, but for social media posts.
“So there are always other ways to make money even if shoots are quiet.”READ MORE QUICK LINK:
Click previews below to see Dani Divine wearing House of Harlot, Iris Thespider and other latex labels.
Click on any individual thumbnail in each gallery to begin a slideshow of all full-size images
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