DJ Red Viking of The Wasp Factory Interviews Model, Pole Dancer and Fire Performer Missy Phillips
DJ Red Viking: Where are you living, where are you originally from and where do you want to end up?
Missy: I live in London. I was born in Essex, but was brought up in Hertfordshire. I would love to live in New York.
DJ Red Viking: You come from a background in the arts trained professionally in ballet and have a masters in Illustration first I want to complement you on your unique poses as a model, I find all the best models have a background in dance and you are no exception, how important do you find movement to modeling?
Missy: I always say that I'm a dancer before mentioning the modeling work. I prefer moving to standing still, so I love being booked for video shoots or live shows. I've been complimented by photographers and videographers for the way I move on a shoot, and I feel happy to be making their work a little easier for not always having to be directed. It's a two way situation with the lens, and I think people get a better sense of who I am with the more movement based work I do.
DJ Red Viking: Second since you have a masters in illustration I was wondering if you have designed any of your own tattoos?
Missy: I haven't designed any of my tattoos. I would feel a bit narcissistic wearing my own work. Also, I think it takes away from a tattooist if you say 'oh yeah, I love the quality of your work, but if you wouldn't mind just using my design instead ...?' It's not something I'd feel comfortable doing. As an artist myself I really appreciate and respect what a tattooist does. My most recent tattoos are the ones on the backs of my legs. I worked with Alejo Barros Lombardi to create the final designs. I had quite a bit of input, but at the end of the day Alejo takes full credit for taking the ideas I gave him and executing them perfectly. My own work is fine line drawing, and suits a gallery context.
DJ Red Viking: In regards to your tattoos which are very unique by the way, do you have a limit to how many you will get and since the shark piece on your stomach was payment for a job are you still willing to work for tattoos?
Missy: I have a fixed idea of what I'll look like when I'm finished. I don't plan to get anything above my stomach or below my knees. I might fail on below the knees, as I do think I'm addicted. I have so many people ask me why I have no tattoos on my arms. I'm a classically trained dancer and still respect the image of a ballerina. To me that means no visible tattoos outside of the dance wear. I'm quite sure I'd regret tattooing my upper body. It's one of those personal tastes. I have some amazing fashion pieces, and I would feel that my skin would be competing with the designs of the garments if they were on show. I value the work of designers such as Gareth Pugh very highly, and some days much more than anything on my skin. I also love the fact that I can wear a form-fitting dress and not look tattooed, then when I unzip it I'm like a wilder version of myself. I'm always willing to work for tattoos! I love performing for parties, events, club nights and tattoo studios in exchange for ink.
DJ Red Viking: Do you feel you have your own style as a model/artist and if so how would you describe that style ?
Missy: It's easy to be labelled in the industry. I get 'goth', 'vamp', 'Marilyn Manson girl', often. I do have quite a strong look, I suppose. I definitely do not enjoy smiling on camera. I'm not into cuteness or general innocence. I like to stare into the lens and offer a suggestion of cruelty and confidence. My absolute pet peeve is models looking overly submissive with a 'I know nothing' look. If you're intelligent and in control then I think it's sexy to show that.
DJ Red Viking: Who or what would you say has had a major influence on your style?
Missy: Christina Aguilera. I've loved The video for Dirrty since it's release. I wanted her chaps, her hair extensions, and those grinding moves. I adore Rose McGowan for all of her films, as well as her vampish beauty. Any girl with a gun for a leg is a girl I want to hang with.
DJ Red Viking: What was the last thing that inspired you to be creative?
Missy: My friends. I have the most creatively skilled friends, it's sickening. They challenge me, and I love them for it. I work with a magician called Samuel Hurst. Since knowing him I have wanted to up my game in everything I create or promote. He's my partner in my new act "Dirty Tricks". I never would have thought that by the end of this year I'd love magic so much, but I'm just in awe of the dedication to the art and the skill involved. It's still not seen as sexy enough. That's what I'm trying to achieve with DT.
DJ Red Viking: Why do you feel the constant desire to be creative?
Missy: Some people are naturally artistic or scientifically minded, in my eyes. I was drawing and dancing (much more than for hobby time) at the age of three. It's not something I desire, necessarily. I love science. Too much of an arty brain can be limiting, I think. The scientists in my family really balance out all that art school thinking that can be annoying to me. Sometimes my mind is out of control with creativity and I don't know where to start, so I don't! It can be a very negative thing.
DJ Red Viking: Is provoking a strong emotion from your viewer whether positive or negative an essential to your art?
Missy: I tend to provoke quite strong reactions from viewers. I've never really done anything mild or neutral. My artwork at Central St. Martins was basically soft porn drawing, and it sat amongst less provocative portraits and landscapes. I like the shock factor. It amazes me that I have such loyal followers who send me regular messages of support. At the same time I do receive negativity. I'm bored by tame imagery and a lack of opinion. I tend to have very strong opinions, and so I do also receive negativity. I take it all on board, and mainly carry on as I was, otherwise I might crash and live in self-loathing.
DJ Red Viking: What type of projects have you been a part of/worked on?
Missy: High fashion videos, alt fashion campaigns, music videos, magazine shoots, gallery art videos.
DJ Red Viking: From all the projects that you have worked on, which has been the most challenging or outside your comfort zone?
Missy: Recently I worked as a dancer for a music video, where I had to wear a full latex body stocking, including face mask, wig, shades, 8" heels. I was sweating liters, and it was all ending up around my toes. I had water balloons for feet. It was horrific and I was sick with a fever and a cold that day, before even getting dressed. It was a long day, but I'm sure the results will be worth it!
DJ Red Viking: What do you think is the most important aspect of a photo?
Missy: Feeling engaged with the model. Expression is everything. Is the pose and body is good, but the eyes are dead, then the photo is nothing worth editing.
DJ Red Viking: What do you think makes a model stand out?
Missy: Evoking fearlessness.
DJ Red Viking: You are not just a model but, also a live performance artist could you at all talk about your involvement with "The Cyanide Girls" and your "Dirty Tricks" and "Gruesome Twosome" Act?
Missy: I was hired as a Cyanide Girl two years ago by my now amazing friend Gabrielle Doll Facee. We now work together as an act called "The Gruesome Twosome". I was hired initially as a CG because of my dancing background - pole and lap dancing. I've since gone on to perform with fire and angle grind metal. I'm hoping to get GT lots of bookings in 2014. We want to go global with our act.
"Dirty Tricks", as I mentioned earlier, is a sexy magic act with dangerous stunts, such as glass walking. I met my performance partner Samuel in February when I was pole dancing for his friend's stag party in east London. Realizing we both had very different performance skills, we joined forces. Now we're performing for night clubs, parties, tattoo conventions, with more on the horizon.
It's all very exciting, and I have the best time of my life performing with all of these talented people.
DJ Red Viking: What goals do you have for yourself in modeling?
Missy: I don't have any specific goals. I see myself as a dancer first and foremost. It's great when I model for amazing clothing labels or for magazines or books. I'm not a high-end fashion model, which is where my real respect and adoration for models lies. The alt model industry is saturating at a very high rate , and I don't want to be only thought of as an alt model. It seems if you're a girl with tattoos, then you can get a shoot. Where I thrive is being booked for music videos as a dancer.
DJ Red Viking: If you don't mind me asking how did you turn from ballerina to fire breathing pole dancer?
Missy: I left ballet to study Illustration. I then received a BA(Hons) degree and a Masters degree. My work was always sexually driven, so I progressed by taking my art to a high-end sex shop. I then worked in management for a few different sex shop companies. After several years of dedication to dildos and wealthy clients, I decided to do something with my dancing, but being inspired by my sexual environment. I starting lap dancing. I did all the big clubs in London. It was then that my pole dancing skills were recognized by "The Cyanide Girls", through Facebook, and before I knew it I