Tuesday 16 April 2013

Ink'd: Gwen Anastasia

Today we feature straightedge alternative model Gwen Anastasia. With a passion for radio and music technology Gwen has created the Ladies of Metal radio which airs every Tuesday night at 7pm, not only do we discuss the radio show but we also dive into her transition into modelling, her future dreams and her athletic/educated side. Which sadly, is something society tends to neglect when it comes to the alternative 'scene' side.

While you enjoy learning more about Gwen, go ahead and listen to one of her favorite songs.

What made you want to model and when did you first start modelling?
After watching America’s Next Top Model all through high school, I knew I’d like to try modelling. However, I'm only 5’2 so I knew I wouldn't be able to get into an agency like Ford or Wilhelmina models. When I got to college I met a few friends who were Photography majors, so I practised taking higher quality photos with them for school projects. When I graduated and had way more free time to practice, I pursued modelling further. I officially started modelling about 2 years ago.

What has been your favourite,least favourite or embarrassing photo shoot?
It’s hard to pick my favorite photo shoot, because each photographer is so different! But if I had to pick, I really love the photo of me in the bright green grass field with the graffiti shack in the background. I love the way my friend over at L | B Photography captures color, which makes for very interesting and eye catching photos. I can’t say I've had an embarrassing shoot so far so that’s good, right? My least favorite shoots are when it’s super cold, like the dead of winter on the East Coast. I'm super little so I turn into a popsicle pretty easily! But I try not to let it come out in the photos.

How does it feel, to be seen and judged by hundreds of people from all around the world?
It’s funny, Ladies of Metal has 63,000+ likes on our facebook page, but only a fraction of all of the people that like our page actually see and like our photos. It’s all about when the photos are posted. Half the world is asleep, you know? So while it seems like a ton of people might be harshly judging me or something like that, you have to keep it in perspective. I'm always very confident in myself and my photos so I'm not like anxiously staring at my computer screen hoping people ‘like’ them. I like them, and that’s really all that matters to me! I don’t recall seeing any harsh criticism on my photos, I think once someone said I looked like Davey Havok because of my hair! Which I took as a compliment, that’s one good looking guy with an awesome hairstyle!

Hard not to be confident.
When did you discover the Ladies of Metal, what made you decide they were right for you?
When I graduated from college after working with a few photographer friends, I talked with my friend and photographer Kyle Ross, who has shot several of my sets for Ladies of Metal. He suggested I submit the photos we did together to Suicide Girls and Ladies of Metal. I was accepted at both, however at the time I wasn't aware that all sets submitted to Suicide Girls had to be nude. Nude shoots are definitely not my style. I know it’s kind of a staple in the alternative modelling industry, but I think it’s much more challenging to produce a great photo in a high fashion dress rather than modelling nude. Also, modelling by its definition requires the model to model a product. That’s kind of hard to do if you’re not wearing any clothes!  That’s why I really admired the Ladies of Metal models. Some photos were a bit more risqué than mine, but overall they were much more classy to me. The models seemed like real girls of ALL body types and looks, and I thought I would fit well into the group.

Speaking of metal, what are a couple of your favorite bands and genres? How about your favorite song?
My favorite genre is metalcore. My favorite band is Underoath, and I'm not just talking They’re Only Chasing Safety. I'm talking ALL seven records. Define the Great Line is my favorite record of all time from any band, and some of my favorite Underoath tracks are You’re Ever So Inviting, Writing on the Walls, and Emergency Broadcast: The End Is Near. Other bands I listen to are August Burns Red, Miss May I, Texas in July, The Ghost Inside, Gideon, and Bring Me The Horizon. I love all the BMTH records, but seriously, the new record Sempiternal is incredible.

For you, what is the appeal of the metal subculture?
The metal subculture is very accepting of individuals who are alternative, straightedge, atheist, punk, and in general, just different. We do not conform for any reason, even if it sets us apart from friends or family. Metal is a lifestyle, in addition to a genre of music. I feel like I belong somewhere when I go to metal or hardcore shows, even when I'm in a room full of strangers. We’re all there for one reason, and it’s what keeps the community so close knit.

Tattoos are almost a necessary part of the culture, tell me a bit about yours? i.e. Your first, your favorite, most painful, any you may regret, future ideas?
I don’t know if tattoos are a necessity per se for the metal or ‘scene’ culture, but people who are into that style of music are usually into that ‘look’ if that’s the right word. Traditional tattoos are very popular in the metal, hardcore, and punk culture, but it’s not like people won’t accept you if you don’t have tattoos. I know a few of the Ladies of Metal models don’t have any! But I have 3 so far. My first one is the Underoath null symbol with lyrics from You’re Ever So Inviting that read, “To Fit Inside Your Mold Would Be To Sell Myself Short.” When people ask me what it says and I read it, I get some pretty awkward faces, or comments like, “Wow that’s hardcore.” I really connect with that line because I'm a non-conformist and I'm straightedge. That one did hurt; it’s on my inner forearm…it felt like a razor blade! My second tattoo is inspired by the Peter Pan short stories by J.M. Barrie, and is located on the outside of my thigh. It features the crocodile that always follows Hook with the alarm clock. The quote reads, “Time is Chasing After All of Us.” My third tattoo is a vintage/traditional straight razor on my bicep area to symbolize my lifelong commitment to the straightedge lifestyle. I'm planning to get a giant lion head, a pin up/alternative Tinker Bell, and the little guy from the animated movie ‘9.’

In honour of the straightedge lifestyle.
Peter Pan inspired.
Underoath lyrics.
Do you feel that society has become more open to tattoos and the lifestyle commonly associated with them? 
I feel like the metal and alternative community is the only group of people that are completely accepting of tattoos and the lifestyle that is associated with them. Well…except for maybe bikers! But most of the time, regular people associate tattoos with prison, drugs, low class, and minimum wage jobs. News flash, parents and grandparents everywhere: I've never been to prison, I'm straightedge, I went to college, I have a degree, and I'm starting my career…and I have tattoos! It’s not like I have a giant middle finger tattooed on my neck or something either. All of my tattoos are very well done and each mean something very important to me. How could that be a bad thing? I also really despise when people say, “You’ll regret those when you’re older.” How could I regret something that means so much to me? Or, “Those will look ugly when you get wrinkly.” Guess what, everyone gets wrinkly at some point, tattoos or no tattoos.

How about your family? Are they understanding about piercings, ink and the 'alternative'?
Oh boy, get ready. My family HATES tattoos, gauges, piercings, etc. They don’t get it. My 2 cousins have very small tattoos, but overall it was a huge shock when I got mine. Although I can say, they've finally accepted my ‘wacky’ hairstyle. I cut my own hair so I know it will look the exact way I want it too. So I'm sure that surprised them a bit! What’s crazy is, I'm the only alternative person in my entire extended family.

You know the saying, 'Never judge a book by its cover'. Tell us something about you that we could never guess by looking at your cover.
Okay here are some things you might not be able to tell just by looking at me: I graduated from The Pennsylvania State University & Schreyer Honors College with a B.A. in Telecommunications and a minor in Music Technology. I've been running competitively since I was 11, so I've run cross country and track all through middle school, high school, and college. I am still an active long distance runner even though I compete much less. I've played almost every sport, but running was my favorite so I stuck with it. I was even a competitive figure skater at one point! I also played classical flute all through middle and high school.

All flute players look like this, right??
Care to share your dream? What do you, one day hope to achieve?
This one’s easy: my dream is to start a hardcore & metal station on satellite radio. Yes, I know Liquid Metal already exists, but it doesn't feature music from the ‘scene.’ The station I have in mind is very similar to Ladies of Metal Radio, which I created, produce, and host every Tuesday at 7pm EST at http://myradiostream.com/lomradio. I currently work for a group of radio stations in Atlantic City, NJ. I'm relocating to LA this summer, so I hope to continue my career in broadcasting at a much bigger station in the second largest radio market in the country. While I'm in LA, I’d love to develop my alt modeling as well. There are a ton of great photographers in that area (obviously!) along with beautiful landscapes to work with. We’ll see! Just trying to be patient (not one of my strengths!) and see where it all takes me. 

Want more Gwen?

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