Today it’s my distinct pleasure to be able to bring to you all, my interview with the irrepressible Felina Vie. It’s a piece we have been working on for many months, and I am thrilled that the stars have aligned, and schedules have finally allowed this article to see the light of day. When you work with Felina, it’s clear you’re working with a creative fountain of positivity and energy. She’s a woman who never stands still, and is always reaching for that next exciting project. Someone who embodies and celebrates the powerful woman, and looks for the exquisitely positive in life’s endeavours. Not only a stunning pin up model with an exotic and vastly interesting look, but also a very friendly and down to earth lady, eager to encourage creativity within herself and others. She’s someone I can’t hep but be inspired by, and every project she becomes a part of gets instantly lifted. It’s feels amazing to be able to present to you all… Felina Vie!
Hello Felina, and welcome to my blog. It’s a true delight to interview you. How are you doing?
I’m doing very well, thank you Rich. Woke up nice and sore from my workout yesterday. I’m excited to be beach-ready-sexy for summer of 2013! I just made some breakfast, and ready to start the day. Lots to get done before college starts up again!
When interviewing a modeling talent such as you Felina, I usually begin by asking how you started your career. But before I do I have to first ask about your extraordinary name. Felina Vie is very unusual, at least to this humble British fan. Is it happy coincidences that you have such a fabulous name, or did you come up with it as a modeling persona?
Growing up I always loved to listen to Marty Robbins and other classics with my grandpa, and El Paso was always one of my favorite songs. The idea just popped into my head one day, while contemplating the perfect pin-up persona… ‘pop!’ the ballad of the wicked Felina swam in my head, and so it was decided :) Here are some lyrics:
Out in the West Texas town of El Paso
I fell in love with a Mexican girl.
Night-time would find me in Rosa’s cantina;
Music would play and Felina would whirl.
Blacker than night were the eyes of Felina,
Wicked and evil while casting a spell.
My love was deep for this Mexican maiden;
I was in love but in vain, I could tell.
On to modeling Felina, if we may. Can I ask where and why you began your journey? Was modeling something you considered from an early age?
Well, I actually grew up quite jolly and chubby, fluctuating between thin and thick throughout puberty. I never even considered modeling, because my self-esteem would have never allowed that. On one of my chubbier fluctuations, when I was 16, I won a pageant! That whole year of events really shaped my ability to communicate with new people, to be more comfortable in my own skin, to speak comfortably to a group or crowd, to walk with poise (especially in heels), etc. About two years after the end of my ‘reign’, my aunt volunteered me to do a pin-up photo shoot for her photographer friend. I was in love with retro style and class from a young age, and even though I was nervous, I agreed to do the photo shoot, for fun. To my surprise, the photos came out very nicely, and so I decided to create a Model Mayhem account, and here we are today! It has been barely over a year since I did that first pin-up shoot, and I didn’t shoot again after that until about April of 2012. Now, in January of 2013, I am amazed and humbled by how many projects and amazing people I have had the pleasure of getting involved with. It still shocks me every day. I am beyond excited to see what 2013 brings!
I know you have a love of all things pin-up and retro, but I was first introduced to your work after seeing Harold Gonzales’ Steampunk pictures of you. I’ve also detected a few more Sci-fi references in your portfolio while researching this interview. Does Science Fiction play a big part in your life as well Felina? Harold’s Steampunk photos are amazing; you really complemented the costume well. Was that a fun shoot?
It’s so funny that you ask that, because I actually love science fiction. I grew up reading sci-fi classics like The Time Machine, Frankenstein, Brave New World, Nineteen Eighty-Four, and anything by Bradbury. These are still some of my favorites today. Sci-Fi was really a pivotal part of my imaginational development. As for my Steampunk shoot with Harold, that was awesome! The energy that Harold and I bounce off of each other is really a lot of fun. I am looking forward to more shoots with him at Wonderland Studios, especially in February! Keep your eyes peeled.
I’m always interested in the individual experiences models have in their careers. Before you got into the industry, did you have any idea of what to expect? Have those initial expectations been altered at all now you’ve participated in multiple shoots?
I had absolutely no idea what to expect when I first started out. I always thought that I would have to PAY every photographer to take my picture, and I was overjoyed to learn the meaning of ‘TFP’. I booked shoots with people on Model Mayhem, and then discovered meetup.com, where I ended up meeting some of my very favorite photographers, models, hair and makeup artists, and clothing designers. One person who has really always stood out to me, from the beginning, is a kind, silly man named Allen Freeman. We have worked together on many occasions, now, but it all started with his meet-up group. He was very sweet from the start, and we have always managed to create dynamite images together. Seriously, every time we shoot, we have to ‘ooh!’ and ‘ahh!’ at the results. I look forward to a lasting friendship with that amazing man! (he also produced the Dream Girls 2013 calendar that I am featured in… check the link at the bottom of the page)! Again, I am humbled by the whole experience so far. How could I have been lucky enough to meet so many selfless people? Of course in this industry, and every industry, it’s inevitable to run into a stinker every so often. You just have to remember to make the best of any situation.
You have an extraordinary look if I may say Felina, and it’s very versatile. Your natural beauty seems to lend itself to a variety of shoots and styles. How much of your style do you put down to background and ethnic roots, and how much have you cultivated yourself? Do you have a beauty regime or a diet that you’re strict with?
I do feel that my mixed ethnicity makes me somewhat of a mystery to a lot of people, because they can rarely guess my roots! To clear the air of any confusion, I am Mexican, Irish and German. My Mom’s side of the family is the Mexican side, and this is how I grew up. Mexican heritage shaped me! On top of that, my style has always been very eclectic, since a very young age. I went through all sorts of phases through my development, and all of that has been mixed up, lending a small percentage to my overall fashion personality, accompanied by my adult need for a timeless style. As far as regimens, my only rule is to not deprive myself of good food! Mexican heritage is based around food and family, so indulgence is a quintessential belief of mine. I couple this idea with regular exercise and baby oil to remove makeup.
Your portfolio is very diverse indeed, but the one constant is the quality of your posing and expression work. You use your body very well, particularly in pin-up shoots. You also have an incredible smile that lights up every image. Where do you think you’ve developed these modeling skills? Is it all down to experience and constantly learning, or is it more improvisation when you get on set?
I definitely believe that these skills, which are now innate, came from my year of pageantry! It had to be a constant that you were always in the correct stance (pose!) at events and fundraisers of all kinds. Our director couldn’t have us looking sloppy, because crowns are supposed to have poise! The same is true with the smiling. On stage during the pageant, through interviews and dances, and then for the whole year of events, that smile is STUCK on your face, no questions asked. It all just feels so natural now. You can almost always find me smiling quietly to myself :) And as I move forward with my modeling career, my repertoire of poses and expressions grows on its own. It is a constant learning experience! And yes, I cheese out on myself in the mirror quite often. It sounds silly, but it’s important to make your face used to making expressions without looking foolish, because you can’t always be looking in the mirror during a shoot!
What may I ask is your ideal way to shoot? Do you like a quiet set, or a more energetic set? Do you like photographers to direct you, or give you freedom for your own ideas? How do you prefer to work Felina?
I love a mixture of everything! When going into a shoot, especially with a new photographer, I usually like to have a sort of story-board of new poses I may want to try, a list of my outfits so I don’t forget elements, etc. I generally like to flow with poses, moving smoothly from one to another, but sometimes it’s also fun to have a photographer suggest new ideas. It’s all about the collaboration! Things get boring if all of the ideas are coming from one source.
You describe yourself as a “modern Pin-up model” and it’s clear to see that you’re in love with the Pin-up style. When did this love affair with all things retro begin? What is it about the period and its women that attracted you so?
I have always loved retro music… jazz, blues, rock n roll, country western… and of course I have always loved the style. And the thing that I’ve always loved most about this whole scene is the total acceptance to embrace yourself and flaunt what you’ve got! There is a great understanding with pin-up that it doesn’t matter what shape you are, or what size dress you wear… it’s all about the confidence that you present yourself with — the croon in your voice, the sway of your hips, the click-clack of heels on the sidewalk, the stain of your red lipstick on a man’s jaw, the bounce of your curly hair, the flutter of eyelashes… it’s all just so sexy! The power of women is immense, and women like Jayne Mansfield, Bettie Page, Liz Taylor, Marilyn, Rita Hayworth, and countless others are great reminders of a woman’s allure.
Pin-up and 50s fashion is very popular at the moment; ladies are putting Kerchiefs in their hair and really running with polka dots and motifs of the period. Why do you think this is? I’ve always felt that the women of that era held a certain aura, a strength and independence if you will. Would you agree?
Yes I completely agree. It is exciting to see this explosion of 50’s inspiration, especially because of the smut and desensitization that is trying to swallow the world whole in this era. It is important for a woman to remember her worth, and to be alluring without being vulgar, whether it be with the flash of a garter and a silken stocking, a high-waisted polka dot bikini that shows JUST enough skin, or cat-eye glasses to cover up the devil in her eyes! Hopefully some old ideals will also re-appear with the re-emergence of style principles.
The work of artists such as Gil Elvgren has long been recreated by models in photographs. There’s something magical about bringing those gorgeous illustrations to life. Do you take inspiration from that style of art at all Felina?
Oh, most certainly! I have attempted to re-create a couple different Elvgren pieces, my favorite being one of me sliding down the banister of a staircase! This classic cheesecake pin-up is really one of my favorite things to shoot, because it can be sexy, silly, and fun all at the same time.
Your Pin-up shoots produce really entertaining pictures, there’s a story being told in every image. Are the shoots themselves as fun to work on as they look? I loved that banister series you just mentioned (with Lee Sterling), what can you remember from that day?
I absolutely have fun at every shoot. The model’s energy really shines through in a photo. The day I slid down the banister was the first day I met Lee Sterling, and it was a blast! He had an Elvgren book and he really wanted to re-make the banister photo. SO, we went for it! That was a nice little thigh workout, to steady myself on the banister until we got a good shot. Many laughs were involved in the re-creation of that image
It seems to me that for you the Pin-up style is more of a lifestyle than a modeling genre. Do you take elements of the Pin-up look into your personal life Felina? Do you have props and period features in your home/wardrobe?
I have a very strong tendency to frequent antique malls, vintage clothing stores, estate sales… really anywhere that I could stumble upon a vintage treasure. The hunt is so exciting. My place is full of quite a variety of odds and ends, new and old. As far as wardrobe goes, I love vintage styles, and I like to get dressed up as often as possible, with gloves, silk stockings, and the whole nine yards. But a usual week day for me is quite busy, so if I’m running around with school, work, gym, and errands, then it’s a jeans-and-a-t-shirt day; where I can throw my hair back with a barette, put Chucks on my feet, put on some lip balm and GO!
I’d like ask about you more now Felina. Away from the modeling and photographs, what do you enjoy doing in your down time? What music are you listening to? What books are you reading etc…?
Down time? What is that? Hehe just kidding. Well I am an avid reader. Currently, I am reading Lullaby by Palahniuk, as well as re-reading one of my favorite novels, City of Thieves by David Benioff. Music-wise, I don’t know where to start, but at this exact moment, I am totally excited about the record I found when I was out, costing less than two dollars at Amvets… Gunfighter Ballads and Trail Songs by Marty Robbins! Earlier in the week, a different Amvets was having a sale on records, 5 for one dollar!!! Needless to say, I sat in front of those stacks of records for an hour, managing to spend $3.50 in the end on some jazz and blues gems. I am also about to start another semester of college, so that is always exciting. I am taking a couple less units this semester to allow myself a little more time for networking and business-tending, and hopefully also a little time to get back into sewing! I have been so busy these last months that I haven’t gotten to modify clothing or start anything new… I am itching to do so, let me tell you!
You have some fabulous art on your body Felina. Would you be so kind as to talk us through some of your tattoos? I particularly love the piece on your left calf, beautiful!
Thank you so much! On my left calf is my Mother Nature, a nude red-headed woman covered in leaves, surrounded by flowers and butterflies , the sky adorned with purple clouds and a rainbow! The whole piece is technically only halfway done, as I am going to wrap the extension around my whole calf. The rest of that tattoo will be a surprise.
My right forearm is my favorite piece, based around the Strawberry Fields lyric “Living is Easy with Eyes Closed”. It depicts a beautiful woman with a demon perched on her shoulder, covering her eyes with a silken scarf. This lyric has always meant to me “Follow your heart” and also to just remember that superficial things don’t matter in the grand scheme of things. These are my two largest pieces, both done by Eno at Guru Tattoo in San Diego. I also have a very naughty buterfly on the back of my neck, done by Adam Hathorn. There is also an assortment of small tattoos on all sorts of random body parts, including the side of my booty, behind my ear, on my foot, etc.
Do you have any immediate plans for further tattoo additions?
I have a tattoo appointment set up for the end of January with another awesome Guru Tattoo artist, Cooper. He is going to be starting my half-sleeve, which will be a memorial piece for my grandpa, my Tata. It’s going to be beautiful, I can’t wait!
Finally, could we go back to your pictures briefly before I conclude the interview? I adore the Allen Freeman shot of you in a Western motif bathtub. It’s the kind of image I’d love to own and display in my home. Where can fans of your work get their hands on Felina Vie prints?
I think I can arrange for a poster-sized print of me in the bathtub with a sombrero, just for you, Rich ;) Would you like that ? I have actually been trying to figure out WHICH photos to get posters printed of! What do you think? I am actually thinking of starting up a website of some sort where I could sell merchandise? But perhaps it would just be easier to go through Facebook, where fans can simply send me a message with their orders, and we can work out the details from there! Once I get a stack of posters printed, I will certainly post about it on Facebook, so make sure to check in there every so often www.facebook.com/pinup.felina.vie
Lastly, where might we be able to see you next Felina? What projects are you currently working on?
This year I have a few things going already, and in the process of booking lots more fun events and shoots! You can choose one (or all!) of these 2013 calendars. One for the garage, one for the kitchen, and one for the bedroom!
Pinups for Patriots:
http://www.pinupsforpatriots.com/#!shop/c13xf (Proceeds go to the troops! )
http://sweetdreamsmagazine.storenvy.com/ (I’m on the cove!)
(Here you can also buy an implied-nudie poster of me, and the proceeds go to the troops!)
The Female Canvas:
Lots of exciting events coming up with Pinups for Patriots, and I will be shooting some photos for a few different coffee-table books. I am so excited to see what 2013 has to offer me!
Also, my retro cooking show, Comet Lounge:
https://www.facebook.com/CometLounge is on a short hiatus. Feel free to go there and show some love, and hopefully we will be filming again within a few months.
Can we please end with Bernard Pivot’s questionnaire?
What is your favourite word? Exquisite
What is your least favourite word? Spew
What turns you on? Restraint, honesty, Freudian slips, lace, muscles, the smell of old records, fingers, confidence, spanking, adventure, hair grease, citrus fruit, teeth, salt and pepper hair, beer with a perfect head
What turns you off? Stagnation!
What is your favourite curse word? Mother of Pearl!
What sound or noise do you love? Gasps and laughter, needle on vinyl, cat coos, silence
What sound or noise do you hate? Fighting
What profession other than your own would you like to attempt? Being a chef!
What profession would you not like to do? Telemarketing
If Heaven exists, what would you like to hear God say when you arrive at the Pearly Gates? I would want him to say “Yeah, I’m as surprised as you are”, and then give me a high-five and a beer.
I’m sure my appreciation for Felina’s work is not lost in this piece. Ever since I first contacted her and suggested this collaboration she’s been nothing but positive. Time restraints (as well as the million-and-one things she’s got going on) did delay things sometimes. But the article we’ve produced more than makes up for any of that. I’m proud to feature this lady’s work on my page, and encourage everyone to experience Felina’s creativity for themselves by heading to the links above. I’m very grateful to this extraordinary woman.
All images used within this piece were sourced with Felina’s permission, and are the creative property of various photographers including: Adam Engle, CosmicFrogs, Lee Sterling, Manny Llanura, Kendra Dunn, Robert Chalfant, Sherman De Priest…