INTERVIEW with Dani Divine by DEMONA LAUREN
Dani Divine. A name that resonates for many. A professional model and burlesque performer, she got to know the alternative goth scene when she was still a teenager. It is thanks to an overflowing passion for the American series Buffy the Vampire Slayer, (and an avowed love for Spike!) that she truly integrates the universe of the Vampires. From then on, she multiplied the vampiresque photoshoots, focusing not only on broadly goth but fetish, steampunk and glam metal. She developed a unique and inimitable style that allows her to be published in the magazine that inspired her to become a model, Bizarre Magazine, and rewards her with the annual Ultra Vixen of the Year. She appears in the best alternative events in Europe and America, as in the fetish club Torture Garden (London), the REPTILE Club (London), or the Endless Night Vampire Ball (New Orleans).
You may have noticed. Her face is everywhere in magazines, at Vampyres events or on the best alternative websites. Yet the young woman is quite discreet about who she is. However, Dani is not only an outstanding performer, she is also a unique character with an interesting background, and great generosity. Tonight, it's the big night. The heels of these ladies which resound on the ground, the fangs of these gentlemen which are reflected in the mirrors. Welcome to The Endless Night Vampire Ball, Dani's favorite and most anticipated event in the Vampyre community. A few hours before the grand opening, Dani sits down to tell us about her life, her aspirations and her ideas to tell us more about the bubbly young woman behind the fire and flames of such unforgettable performances.
† Hello Dani, how are you? What are you busy with lately?
Hi! I'm currently in the US, I've spent the past months around LA and Salem, working on shoots and performing. I'm currently in New Orleans, for the Halloween Endless Nights Vampire Ball. It's been a really great few days here. This city amazes me every time. It feels like magic! I am mostly looking forward to performing my new Vampyre Lilith act on Saturday night - I'll also be doing some spooky photoshoots with the talented Aries Photography Nola, a very dear friend of mine. I'll definitely be doing some exploring, and lurking around the alternative shops too with whatever free time I can find, and of course visiting the old cemeteries. My next stop will be Tampa, for the EN Vampire Ball at The Castle. That venue is my most favourite goth club in all of the US. Then be back in LA for awhile with another performance at the infamous Bar Sinister. I feel so incredibly blessed to be back here doing my thing after quite a long break due to the current global situation.
† You are a burlesque Vampyre performer and photo model. Is this what you always wanted to do?
In a way, yes! But I never really anticipated that it would actually happen. My career actually started in the field of science, with modelling/performing being a hobby.
It took off in a way that made it hard not to pursue, since this is where my heart lies. I actually started modeling at a very young age, shortly after becoming acquainted with the London goth scene and attending clubs such as Slimelight. I fell in love with the alternative subculture and its dark fashion, and experimented with shoots as a form of self expression. It was so fulfilling for me, as a teenager to have this outlet, and it still exists for me now just as much as it did back then. I have been dancing since the age of 6, and I attended ballet and hip-hop dancing until I was a teenager, but dancing to the music I love is what got me into performing. I was a gogo dancer at rock/metal nights while I was studying for my degree, and that led me into performing. I started learning tricks from other fire performers in the scene and put my own shows together
† Where does your knack for fire come from?
Playing with fire is dangerous and sexy, so it's no surprise that it was so appealing to perform with. While I'm mostly self-taught, I've had training from the infamous "Shade" Flamewater who is an incredibly skilled fire artist. I really enjoy performing solo acts, which I can get very creative with in creating my own themes. I am also part of a larger UK-based fire performance group. There are six of us in Pyrohex, so when we do perform together, it's HUGE. We tend to perform at many of my favourite metal festivals, such as Hellfest, (France), Wacken, (Germany), Bloodstock, and Download Festival (UK). We create our own routines and matching props, notably our flaming angle-grinding guitars, which drive the metal crowd insane!
† Guess it shouldn't have been easy to make a name for yourself in a big city like London. Wasn't it hard to make contacts in the community?
London, for me, was the perfect place to start breaking into the alt-scene. There's always so much going on in terms of events, and it's very easy to meet fellow creatives, photographers, and clothing companies. There are many events that I perform at regularly, as well as catwalk. Many of my favourite designers are also London-based. For example House of Harlot latex, whom I work very closely. The CEO is one of my best friends. We actually met in London, at a Torture Garden party, further proving my case! Together, we designed many of my stage outfits, my yearly calendar outfits, and many of my cosplays. A few years ago, we collaborated on a latex line together: the "Black Widow Collection". The latex is all black, with badass silver details such as spikes, buckles, and chains. It was recently worn by Pink in a music video, which was quite an honour! London has brought me so many huge opportunities.
† What do you think are the best burlesque Vamp clubs to perform in London?
There are quite a few London clubs and events that I absolutely love to perform at. First, REPTILE, the creation of Arif Kaan, known to us all as DJ Vade Retro.
† An amazing DJ and a fantastic person. I particularly love the music they play there.
They play a wide-reaching mix of industrial/metal/goth/post-punk/80s/cult classics, and have dark diversity, with live acts and bands on stage to celebrity DJs and bands. When I'm not there performing, I'm there partying with my friends! Club Antichrist is another one of my favourites, which is a multi-floored goth, metal, and fetish night-club, with a strict fetish and goth dress code. Their events tend to have a different theme each time, such as Medical, or Military, but they also have a recurring Vampire-themed event!
† How about abroad, among those you have explored til now? Why?
It goes without saying that Endless Night runs the best Vampire Balls in the USA! I've had the privilege of performing at the yearly events in LA at the Globe Theatre, which is a beautiful, classic venue. I've also had the pleasure of performing at the Castle in Tampa, which is perhaps the most stunning goth club and venue I've ever been to! I'm actually performing there next weekend, and I'll be sure to fit in a shoot at the venue. Of course, New Orleans at the House of Blues. I love the entire vibe of the parties, everyone is super dressed up with gowns and headdresses, and I just love to perform for these gorgeous vampires.
†If you could perform on stage with a famous personality from the entertainment industry, who would it be?
I would love to perform with Masuimi Max. She's so talented and an inspiration to me! I first saw her work in Bizarre Magazine, dressed in latex, which was a huge influence on my career. We've attended events together and are closely aqcuainted, but it would be fantastic to hit the stage with her, especially since she also incorporates fire into her acts!
† Is that person someone you’ve always looked up to as an inspiration?
Dita Von Teese is my ultimate inspiration. To me, she is the embodiment of elegance! I admire her as a model, performer and also businesswoman. Her style is iconic, and I feel like we have much in common in the sense that we drift between goth, boudoir, fetish and vintage looks! I would love to see her live one day but I’ve never had the opportunity. I’ve seen lots of her videos and she simply blows my mind.
† Do you consider Jack the Ripper’s town to be Hell-icious for a Vamp? A kind of a place-to-be?
Absolutely, yes. London really does have it all for the modern day Vamp. From its quaint old pubs, to beautiful historic hotels, art galleries, and it’s impressive museums of history and science, there is so much to see and do. Not to mention its cemeteries - my favourite place to take a quiet walk. I’ve never grown tired of London and honestly do see myself living there forever.
What’s more, London is a multi-cultural, diverse city. No one bats an eyelid if you’re dressed differently or stand out in any way, unless it’s in a very conservative neighbourhood. Even when I’ve been in the English countryside, where communities are more traditional, I’ve received many compliments about my goth look from elderly people, which was quite nice to hear and heartwarming to experience.
† The burning question: How did you come to associate with the Vampyre community? Can you provide insight as to how Dani Divine, the Vampyre, emerged?
I grew up on Buffy The Vampire Slayer, which definitely turned me on to vampires from a very young age. I had a huge crush on Spike, (which I’m sure many women can relate to). I watched some of the classic Draculas, and read Anne Rice, and fell in love with Vampires. The first time I fully vamped up was on a Halloween, in my teens. So it has definitely come full circle to be spending Halloween in New Orleans, the Vampire city, with my Vampire show! I met Father Sebastian many years ago in London and we have been good friends ever since. I modeled his fangs and attended conventions in full latex and vamp attire. More recently, I had my permanent fangs fitted on my canines – otherwise known as Eternal Fangs. They are fairly natural looking, more like kitten fangs! They peek out whenever I smile, which often catches peoples attention. I still have my clip on fangs which I wear on my incisors for stage and shoots.
† Well, I do have an extra question on the fire you use during your performances. What does it bring the most of to your shows?
Performing with fire is exhilarating. There’s something very attractive about playing with dangerous elements. It’s risky, yet very sexy, and you can feel the audience’s energy and excitement in their reaction when I’m doing an unexpected trick. The performances can be different each time as my fire skills evolve and a certain move is perfected to a certain theme.
† If you had an unlimited choice of props for the stage, what would you choose?
Definitely all the fire, lights, smoke, chains and vampire props. Coffins, cauldrons, give me all of it! Fake blood, and hot candle wax are an essential element in all of my shows. Oh, and lots of glitter!
† What has been your most impressive performance so far, from your own perspective?
I have a new vampire show for this year which I've taken to the Endless Night Vampire Balls in Salem, Nola, Tampa, and then to Bar Sinister in Hollywood. I've just spent the weekend in New Orleans and had a fantastic show! Unfortunately, many of the venues don't allow fire, but that doesn't stop me putting on a huge show. For this act, which I call my Vampyre Lilith act, I come on stage veiled, all dressed in red, with a huge glowing crescent moon headpiece. I perform a routine with LED wings, before a burleque strip tease, where I end up drinking blood from a skull, and stabbing a heart filled with red glitter with a huge and very real Vampire Stake. The crowd was screaming and I'm sure those in the front row got a little messy!
† How do you choose the music and the dances during the preparation for a show? How long does it take to get ready?
I listen to music all the time. When I'm working at my laptop, at the gym, walking around, and travelling! What I listen to really depends on my mood. I tend to stick within grunge, classic rock, and metal genres. I really enjoy my horror movies and TV shows, so that's usually where I find myself most inspired. I often base my performances around a character, or a theme, and then select the appropriate music. One of my more recent debuts was my Evil Ursula show, The outfit was custom made by myself, and House of Harlot. The show involves lots of choreographed fire tricks and glitter, and a strip tease! I play with fire bubbles and use them to set my ass on fire. I finish the show fire-breathing from my custom fire trident. An unimaginable amount of prep goes into all of my shows. It can take weeks to rehearse, hours to pack, as well as getting hair and makeup ready - not to mention the clean up!
† Stage makeup is a necessity anytime someone will perform on a stage - musicals, operas, ballets, etc. What brands do you mainly use for the stage? Are they different from the ones you use in everyday life?
For stage makeup, any performer knows more IS always more! It's usually quite dark, so the bolder the better, and glitter works very well at adding a touch of glamour and catching the light. For lips, I use very long lasting lip colours - The best one I've found is by Maybelline! When fire-breathing, the paraffin takes any makeup right off, but this tends to work the best for it. I’ve experimented a lot with makeup over the years. In fact, it’s what I have a degree in from the University of London and I’m hoping to launch my own makeup line at some point in the future. I tend to use the same makeup pallets on stage as the ones I use in everyday life, they’re all from various brands. Jolie beauty are one of my sponsors, they offer the vibrant colours I also use a lot of.
† Are there makeup gurus from the alternative community that you can't stand? If so, which ones and why?
I believe each person works hard on developing their own style and look, and they cater to various sectors of the alternative community, so there’s something for everyone and people’s tastes and preferences differ. There's definitely no makeup guru I can't stand! I don't follow anyone in particular, but I occassionaly scroll through something I really like and save it as a reference point for inspiration. I usually and almost always do my own makeup for shoots and shows. In fact, people often ask me to start a makeup channel, but I just don't have the time!
† Do you find the Vamp community to be the subunit of the goth community whose members get along best? Opinions differ. What is your opinion, based on your own interactions and events you attend?
Goth and vampire communities go hand in hand, it’s all about embracing the weird and different. People who don’t find themselves fitting in to the everyday world and who are looking for community members that are more relevant to their lifestyles and interests, even if the looks and aspects of these different community members vary as they express themselves. As a member of both communities, I can say it’s fairly even!
† What are your best and your worst anecdotes and encounters in the community?
My best encounter has to be working with the infamous Danny Trejo on a shoot for the cover of Girls and Corpses magazine. We shot at his house in LA, and we were both dressed in leather, posing on his motorcycle, (of which he has many). I just remember him being a total sweetheart and I will always cherish that shoot. My worst encounter thankfully isn’t too bad, but probably consists of people being unreliable or disorganised, which is my biggest pet peeve!
† I feel you on that ! Are your closest friends part of the community or is your circle relatively diverse?
Some of them are, but my circle of friends is pretty diverse. I make friends with people for their transparency, values and who they are on the inside, or when we have things and interests in common, even if they aren’t from the alternative community. Mutual respect and non-toxicity is very important in a friendship, regardless of which community the person is a member of. I have an incredible circle of girlfriends and a night out usually consists of us complimenting and gassing each other up all night!
† We know Dani Divine on stage, but what does Dani look like as a friend from a social, psychological and demeanor point of view?
I believe I am a very loyal friend. I respect my friends’ beliefs and cultures and I like to empower my friends, especially my female friends, into looking and feeling their best selves. I like to have fun and fool around at ridiculous hours of the early mornings, but at the same time, I’m a very good listener and love to lift my friends’ spirits if they ever need me, or need my advice on various life matters. In my downtime I enjoy going to tearooms and vintage/antique shops with my girlfriends in the daytime, then metal bars at night, and I’ve been very lucky thus far to encounter friends that we can bounce off each others’ energies and they understand my lifestyle and hectic work commitments.
† And visually, what does the “cozy winter” Dani look like?
When I'm at home, I'm usually in comfy band shirts and black leggings, with a hoodie. I have an entire drawer of black band shirts!
† Nothing that fancy though?
Sometimes, I leave the house dressed as such to run local errands, or go for walks, but when I'm going somewhere that demands a little more effort, I normally get by with my summer wardrobe underneath multiple layers and a big beautiful black, fur-trimmed coat! Not forgetting the boots. In the winter, I'm very focused on staying warm. It gets quite cold in the UK, but thankfully not to temperatures I can't handle! Though I have spent winters in much colder climates I tend to avoid that lately, and I escape to somewhere milder such as LA.
† It’s time! The Ball is about to start off ! Let’s go!
© Demona Lauren
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