Name: Carmilla Jo (I also go by Jo Wu when I’m a writer)
Location: Berkeley, CA
What inspired you to take up modelling?
It was a combination of childhood photos and inspiring photos of alternative models. When I was a little girl, my mother would dress me up, and then my parents would take hundreds of photos of me. I was this cute little girl with snow-white skin and black hair with bangs–I’ve had people tell me I look the same today. As I grew older, I was disheartened to know that I am not tall, skinny, blonde, nor popular. However, after realizing I was goth at the age of 12, I browsed the internet and came across Gothic Beauty Magazine and saw all of these beautiful idiosyncratic models gracing the pages and the covers. They took my breath away. They looked like heroines from dark fairy tales. They showed me a beauty that surpassed the rigid laws of the mainstream, and transcended their physical exteriors – they seemed to thoroughly enjoy and represent the gothic subculture and aesthetics. I just knew that, one day, when I was old enough to shoot, I would strive to join their ranks.
What are your favourite styles/themes to shoot?
Gothic is a rather broad and vague definition, so I will use it as an umbrella term for fantasy, fashion, and beauty. Fantasy novels were my literary staple as a kid, and I relished the ones that made me believe I was immersed in the book’s world and saw everything as if it was a film playing in my mind. Fantasy also influences the sort of sartorial style I love wearing, both for modeling and in my everyday life. Some of the best themes, in my opinion, are surreal concepts that cannot come to fruition in the real world. Furthermore, since I take pride in my pale skin, and enjoy playing with makeup, beauty shoots are very fun to be in!
How would you describe your own personal style?
These days, I am, sadly, sartorially lethargic, due to the fact that I am an intended biology major at UC Berkeley. Homework and studying take up a huge majority of my time, so my go-to outfits tend to be leggings and boots with some simple shirts, scarves, sweaters, and skirts, and sometimes a dress, and layered with a hoodie or a leather jacket. The color scheme is mostly black. I think I look very drab these days. However when I make an effort to dress up, I like to think of myself as a combination of Grimm fairy tales and little-girl whimsy. My favored color schemes are black with either red or violet, and I love wearing lace-up boots with anything feminine. I have this lovely scarlet winter coat with brass buttons and a hood, and I feel like Little Red Riding Hood whenever I wear it. I enjoy collecting anything with black lace and corset lacings. Also, I cannot get enough of adorable hair accessories that have a mix of cute and sweet with macabre. For instance, I have one pair of zombie teddy bear hairclips, and another pair of black hairclips that has red lace and bloody skeleton hands.
Are there any makeup/beauty products that you can’t live without?
Sunscreen! I am such a vampire that without sunscreen, even 30 seconds of sun exposure feels painful. Others constantly tell me how pale I am. One guy I knew joked, “I bet the skin on my inner arm is paler than yours!” and prompted me to pull up my sleeves and take off my gloves. When I had exposed my arm, the guy saw how blue my veins were, and exclaimed, “Your skin is so translucent!” I’m very protective of my skin, so sunscreen is a must. My favorite brand is Neutrogena’s Ultra-Sheet Dry-Touch Sunblock, with at least an SPF of 50. Aside from wearing sunscreen all the time, I used to often wear makeup in high school. I was very fond of eyeliner and lipstick and drawing designs around my eyes. Now that I’m a university student, I usually go bare-faced. But when I do get dolled up, I love lipstick and eyeliner. My go-to lipstick colors are red and black, and lately I have been quite fond of a dark berry purple lipstain that I purchased from Sephora.
What makes you different to all the other models in the industry today?
I am not just a model. I’m an intended biology student at UC Berkeley, and a published writer, with the goals of becoming a novelist. In 2009, I was drawn and wrote a short comic that was published in 2010 in the comic anthology Gothology, Vol. II: Misery Loves Company. I had a horror-fairy-tale story titled “Wilting Princess” published in Underneath the Juniper Tree Magazine back in April 2012. Last year I wrote a short story titled “Key to the Queen’s Elixir,” which will be published in the fantasy erotic anthology Thrones of Desire in September 2012, published by Cleis Press and edited by the famous erotica writer Mitzi Szereto. Currently, I’m a blogger for my school’s award-winning Caliber Magazine, and I’m working on the third draft of my novel, all while balancing it with school. It’s a middle-grade fantasy novel, meaning that it’s intended for children between the approximate age range of eight to fourteen, though I do hope people of all ages will enjoy reading it. I believe I’m going on a tangent, but it’s about a girl who belongs to a race of people with silver key-holes upon their necks, and their vocations were historically limited to political and military secret keepers. However, the girl’s family wants to live normal lives. But when she becomes best friends with a lonely paraplegic princess who is her age, and the daughter of the king of a corrupt country, she has to choose between her friendship and her loyalty to her family. I suppose I’m a student, model, and writer all manifested in one body.
Are there any designers/photographers/other models that you would love to collaborate with one day?
I could eternally babble about my dream collaborators, but I will have to trim it down to a few. For photographers, two of my top favorites are Viona Ielegems and Natalie Shau. I love Viona Ielegems for her highly detailed, elaborate photos. They look like fairy tale illustrations promoted to a level of sophistry for individuals who want to believe in fairy tales, but are no longer children. As for Natalie Shau, I adore her morbid, slightly unsettling, but always elegant and refined images. Her vision is surreal, like a dollhouse of forgotten dreams and shadowed delights. As for designers, I would be ecstatic to model for Steampunk Couture, Bibian Blue, Aesthetic Alchemy, h.Naoto, Posh Fairytale Couture, and A is for Arsenic. If I could collaborate with any models, I would choose Ophelia Overdose, La Esmeralda, Lady Amaranth, and Wednesday Mourning. They are all accomplished models, and I would be very starstruck if I met any of them, but I feel that I could learn something new from each of them.
Where do you hope to be in 5 years?
I’m hoping to get a full-time day job in a lab, but if I’m lucky, my novel will be published as well and be read by children all across the country. I will be working on a second, or dare I hope, third published novel by the end of the next five years. I also envision myself more involved in the alternative modeling industry, working with more photographers, and maybe even gracing the covers of some magazines and modeling in different places in the U.S., and in London! I hope Rebelicious Magazine will also still be kicking lots of asses and rocking it in the alternative magazine publication world in five years! Let’s see where the next few years take me on its magic carpet ride!
Model: Carmilla Jo
Photographer: Terrence Taylor
Makeup Artist: Terry Alabata
Designer: Prince Noir