From being a showgirl in Vegas to flying between New York and LA for photo shoots, Danae DiGiulio is an up-and-coming model that is steadfast on succeeding in a competitive industry. Around the time she was 16, she made the decision that modeling was the career choice she wanted. But it would be unwarranted for someone to say that Danae is merely is just another model. Even though her life experience has been untraditional for the past several years, Danae maintains grounded values that give her the moral conviction to surpass adversity that comes her way. She may only be 22-years-old, but she has wisdom beyond her years and can be an example for not just people in the modeling industry, but anyone looking for some guidance. What I love most about this interview is how Danae unmasks the appearances of the world around her, which is something I attempt to communicate as the overarching theme for Frequency of the Unknown. If you wanted to know what life is like on the road less traveled, you will not be disappointed here.
So Danae, tell people about yourself. What is your background?
Alright, well I grew up punk rock. I was a respectable young punk. The kind of rebel you could take home to your parents. When I was 11 years old, I chose to be homeschooled. By homeschooled, I mean self-taught. I did two years of online schooling. By high school, I went to Academy for Individualized Study. They gave us textbooks (same books as regular high school), and I’d test once a week on it. You’d get your grade immediately. It takes a lot of discipline, but it worked a lot better for me. My dad took me to Princeton University once. That campus was so inspiring! It was a beautiful campus. High energy. I was always in accelerated classes until I stopped caring. I only did enough to pass. If I really applied myself in school maybe I would have gone to college. I do plan to go eventually.
Anyway, I’ve always been a fan of blues, jazz, and rock n’ roll music. I collected records before it was hipster. We just called it “indie.” Hipster wasn’t a popular term. I started playing guitar at 14. I don’t play as much anymore which I always feel guilty about because I have three gorgeous guitars at home. A Fender Strat, an Ovation A/E, and an Epiphone Les Paul. I have my hands in so many projects. I can do it all… just not in one day. One day, I’d like to focus on it more. My dad has written a few songs I’m dying to cover. So I grew up going to shows. They were mainly punk, indie shows. My favorite bands were always classics like The Rolling Stones, Pink Floyd, Hendrix, and Zeppelin. I also went more underground with my classics like The Seeds, 13th Floor Elevators, The Kinks, and The Buzzcocks. There are a few obscure bands people aren’t as familiar with such as The Zounds, The Epileptics, and Crass. I’m kind of a music snob, especially when it comes to punk music. There’s a softer side to me, too. I love French music. I can’t understand a word of it, but I like it. Also, many days all I want to listen to is Billie Holiday.
When did you start modeling? What inspired you to start modeling in the first place?
I started to model at 14. I did local fashion shows. They were small, commercial events for JCPenny and similar department stores. That was just a hobby when I was younger. When I was 16/17, I took it way more seriously. I wanted to focus on it like a real job, so I signed with a modeling agency in Las Vegas. There wasn’t a lot to offer in Vegas (shoots mainly consist of liquor, clubs, lounges) especially for a model under 21 years of age. I was very limited because of Vegas’s lack of a market, but I did manage to shoot a few editorials, as well as e-commerce. What inspired me to model was simply my friends always saying I should model because I hit 5’7” at about 11 years old. That lit a bulb in my head, and I started to dream about it. My interest in fashion has always been apparent. My teachers always commented on my style, even in elementary school. I can show you pictures at four years old wearing my mom’s high heels and lipstick! It was my destiny.
Your work has brought you all around the country and the world for that matter doing shoots. How would you describe how the industry operates in layman’s terms for someone who has no idea what it is about?
Well, I’d have to say Gavin McInnes is 100% right when he talks about who’s running fashion. Women and gays created your size 0-4 standard. Ha! Well this one time, I was speaking with an agent interested in helping place me. We call it a “Mother Agent.” Being as focused and spontaneous as I am, I had already bought a flight to New York. That agency and I had been emailing for a while, so I sent digital snapshots in a bikini (what we call polaroids) until I stopped responding to her emails. Which now I look back on and feel very stupid about it. They placed my girlfriend with every popular agency imaginable in London, Japan, Milan, Spain. I admired her a lot. My mentality was, “I’m about to go to New York so I can do it myself.” I did not understand the value of having a manager, and I saw it complicate a few of my friends’ careers and shied away from it. If I could go back, I would rather have been micromanaged because I learned a lot of hard lessons doing it alone. That being said, I learned very valuable lessons from those experiences.
In other instances, I had renowned photographers reaching out to me to shoot, and although our photos were not always published, it helped build my portfolio into what it is today. The photographers were extremely reputable and shot in all the big magazines; Vogue, Harpers Bazaar, Elle, Victoria’s Secret, you name it. I was about 19 when I went to New York, and my portfolio was weak. It was surreal to me because I was just a wild child from Las Vegas who grew up punk rock (listening to Cramps, Germs), and going to Burning Man. What did anyone see?! I’m a freak. And I can be model-y, but I am not model-y if it makes any sense. The way I look, tall enough and slender but not my personality. A lot of models are boring. I’m a real character. If a client likes very mannequin-like girls, I can be a mannequin but if a client can handle my personality… I’ve got plenty, and I love being able to be myself on set!
You have spoken to me before about the numerous opportunities you have been given such as being a showgirl in Las Vegas and being a dancer at several music festivals. Can you describe some of the dope experiences that your career has led you to?
Absolutely. When I was 17, I met a beautiful mulatto girl with green eyes downtown wearing a glamorous black headdress and showgirl costume. She wasn’t apart of a show but working as a showgirl for an event. I can’t remember her name or story. She inspired me so much. She has no idea and probably never will. I went home and said to my mom, “I’m going to be a showgirl!” It’s funny because showgirls who dance in shows have been doing ballet since being able to walk. I had very limited dance behind me, but I believe hard work and persistence can get you anywhere. When you dedicate your life to a task, even if you fall short of your dream, I bet you’ll still accomplish a lot!
It was about a year later when I was a body paint model for an awards show. I looked like a drag queen! I was wearing giant angel wings and huge platform shoes with zombie-like contact lenses which made my eyes all white. It was very “Party Monster;” I was so blind, I could not see a foot in front of me, let alone who anyone was. I had to walk in front of judges and even go up several steps. I’m still in shock I did not fall on my face!
That’s where I met a showgirl who introduced me to her industry, and I just fell into it. She was very encouraging. I ended up doing a gig for our mayor in Las Vegas, and when I went to cast for it, I walked in and saw photos up to 30 years old of my soon-to-be new showgirl manager as a principle dancer in Jubilee (very famous and longest-running showgirl show). When asked about my dance background, I bluffed and said: “Yeah I do ballet.” That’s what I was told to say by who sent me to the audition, and she quickly realized that I needed more lessons, Ha! It ended up working out because you can be a showgirl who is more atmospheric and was there for pictures and banquets, which is what I ended up doing. The old mayor, Oscar Goodman, always had a showgirl on each arm. Being a showgirl is all about being statuesque, having poise as well as unattainability. You do not have to be a dancer to be a showgirl, but your posture, class, and grace is EVERYTHING!
As far as gogo dancing, I started to tour with a friend who produced about 20 yoga albums. His label was called Soulfood, and I ended up on stage with so many talented people. What was so neat about it, besides it being underground music, was it wasn’t your average EDM. They would take samples of women singing in Sanskrit, trip it out, put a deep bass over it, add instruments like violins and instruments I can’t even name, they’re so unusual. I am so grateful for my friend who took me on tour because he introduced me to so many producers I doubt I would have discovered on my own, which lead to many life altering escapades. I was with a camp called The Buddha Lounge. We had producers, DJ’s and aerialists perform at our stage. We’ve even been a green room backstage for Alex and Allison Grey. One of my favorites will always be Emancipator. Those guys are so talented! They did an acoustic set for us at Lightning In A Bottle and it was incredible.
You recently shared an article on Facebook that was critical of how millennials viewed sex as merely casual encounters. What are your thoughts on the subject given that you work in an industry that is an extremely sexualized one?
I’m glad you asked. I’ve only become even more steadfast in my beliefs since I started to model. The fashion industry is seedy. They might exploit you or publish you w/o your consent. That has happened to me before. I’d say on average, creepy photographers you always hear about are usually amateurs. That being said, you’re not 100% safe from reputable photographers, designers, or founders of magazines. I had a VP at a very famous agency in New York try to have sex with me in exchange for a contract. He wanted to make me “cum on his desk” not cheesy at all, right?! I felt like he was saying my work wasn’t good enough to compete so I’d have to sleep my way in. I’ve wanted to quit on many occasions and even felt suicidal. A lot of models won’t admit it, but it happens a lot… being drugged at a party or whatever. They are all leftists btw. Ironic, right? The rape culture is real, it’s just it’s “feminists” doing it. Ha! To be frank a lot of girls in my industry are just flat out sluts. They sleep with everyone. There are plenty of orgies and degenerate subcultures created by people in fashion industry. That can simply be ignored by not befriending anyone who is into it or making it very clear not to invite you. There are also models who are able to navigate and be successful who do not run into any issues. Those girls are usually very innocent and had an agent who was able to protect and guide her… remember when I talked about being micromanaged earlier? It extends into a mentor for your personal life. If your agent is invested in you and you party too much, you will be dropped.
My whole life was sex, sex, sex. Like I said, I grew up in Vegas. That whole city is about sex. Someone very close to me works undercover for Vice and Metro. Can you imagine? People have no idea what goes on. The news sure won’t tell you. I had a bts look at what goes on. Plus I was an early bloomer, so all I had to do was go out, and I had plenty of anecdotes. You walk on Las Vegas Boulevard and what will you see besides people handing out cards for escorts? Which is illegal, mind you. They drive trucks around with billboards on it with scantily clad women reading “HOT GIRLS CALL 696-9696” That kind of imagery when you’re young or as an adult has to have a subliminal effect on your psyche. The imagery on TV and making it culturally acceptable to be a “slut”. They “turn up” at clubs while degrading women in rap music which is nowadays, simply considered popular music. A lot of millennials ran with it, and feel like sex is merely a game.
Well, I very strongly feel opposite of my peers. I am very in touch with my body and my feelings. I am honest to myself about it. “Casual sex” is frivolous sex. I’ve seen a lot in life, so much a lot of people would have fell into a rabbit hole and never come out, but I managed to use it as a reason not to let myself become jaded, like everyone else. There is a neurological response when a woman has an orgasm with her partner. That is what leads people to feel attachments. Sex is very spiritual to me. I value it immensely. The only people who challenge me on it, are offended by it, or are trying to change my viewpoint are people who I believe have an insecurity about it. They do subconsciously understand what a lifestyle of frivolous sex can bring and being vocal about it, can really hit a chord. As a young woman, I can tell you a lot of women tend to jump into bed with men way too quickly. They may even be his booty call, all while having no commitment whatsoever. They fall in love and feel like “eventually he will fall in love with me” The reality is, he won’t. They’ll even be okay with him sleeping with women because eventually he’ll come around and see it was always her. Once again, he won’t. These are unusual cases when it does happen. I do not wish to change anyone. If a friend asks my opinion or advice I will be very open what my beliefs are but I am mindful not to insult anyone. This is not exclusively advice to women. It is to men too. It does defy biology a bit, but I’m sure women are capable of having frivolous sex. It just seems less likely.
The modeling and entertainment industries depend heavily on appearances to communicate messages about brands, culture, etc. to the masses. With the buzzword of the moment being “fake news,” people are becoming more concerned about the sources of information they are receiving. What are your thoughts about the messages that both mainstream media networks and independent internet commentators are delivering to their audiences? How would you compare the reliability of them?
Lately, fashion is focusing on movements such as “body-posi”. Yes, I’ve actually heard it abbreviated as such. I know. Cringe. They are trying to tell us everyone is equally physically appealing as anyone else, which of course is impossible to prove or disprove since beauty is subjective. However, I would presume a majority of people in the United States would agree obesity is not sexy. Being able to point out obesity is not healthy, is only to make people more self-aware. Men do not care if you’re a 0-12. Gavin sums it up very nicely in his video “Why Women Are Fat”. I feel like trying to sell us on “patriarchal beauty standards” is fake news and people aren’t buying it.
The entertainment and fashion industry is not a place to get any form of morals or set of values. These people are narcissists with an illusion of self-importance. The same women who bully you about not going out with a fat girl are women who would not date a guy under 6 feet. The hypocrisy is stunning. As far as news goes, I would absolutely not rely on mainstream media. I’d even go as far as to say intelligence is intent on feeding us fake news and propagandists are placed in media outlets to subvert us. This is public knowledge, and we have plenty of proof of it. Independent journalism tends to be more reliable but once again imagine you’re traveling as a journalist to a war zone in Syria. Do you really believe they’re going to let you see U.S.A. commit war crimes? Of course not. They’re going to tell you what narrative to bring back to U.S. with you. “We’re trying to defeat ISIS!” Yeah. Right.
What are some of the life lessons you concluded from your experiences and how do you use them as you continue with your career?
I’ve learned my most valuable lessons at a very young age. The universal laws of allowance, and acceptance. This will make your life so much easier. You cannot change any circumstance which is out of your control. Do not try to change anyone, allow people to be who they’re going to be. If you do not like it, respect yourself enough to walk away. I accept you as you are, but I do not have to put up with you. I learned to confront people, yet maintain a certain level of integrity while doing so; To be very blunt, and direct but never rude nor disrespectful. I also pride myself in being able to communicate and mediate. I understand how far a calm tone will take you. When you are calm, cool, and collected, people want to hear what you have to say. The people who shout loudest are not always heard. The people who wait to speak, wait for a reason. Give to give, do not give to receive. Be as honest as you can with yourself and people around you. They may not like what you have to say but it’s respectable. Know your self-worth. If you ever feel like, “I deserve to be treated exactly how I want to be treated”, you probably are. Don’t feel bad about taking when someone’s giving. That person has already decided to give up whatever it is, to you. Take it. You deserve it. Don’t lower your standards because you haven’t found anyone lately who can handle you. That happens to me when I have been single for a while. When you go on dates, and he doesn’t open your door and you make excuses for him. Don’t. It’s tough because I’ve been put on a pedestal by my boyfriends all of my life, so if I’m not a priority in someone’s life, I lose interest. Once you are a priority, you won’t ever want to put up with any less. Chivalry should not end two weeks in… it should be forever. I’m speaking to men here, too. It’s a two-way street. If she doesn’t build you up, encourage you, and convey her love to you on a daily basis, walk away. That’s about it for my life lessons.
What are your aspirations for the near future? Do you plan to further your modeling credentials or extend yourself into other fields?
There are more goals I have with modeling, so I would like to pursue it for a few more years. I will most likely always dabble in fashion. Maybe do makeup or styling. I would love to art direct one day. I’m actually working a brand right now. It’s a startup. We are going to start with lingerie, and work our way up to full wardrobe. I can’t say too much about it yet but I’m going to a trade show in a few days with my co-founder. It’s a big project, and it took a lot of work, but I’m really looking forward to it. We’ve already got our brand name and logo. A future goal of mine is to open up a burlesque show, and a speakeasy in Las Vegas. It’s an extension of my brand, really. Check back in with me and I’ll be able to tell you more about it. We haven’t launched yet so I want to keep it a mystery.
Any last words? Is there anyone you want to call out or shout out?
Sure. Shout-out to my followers who love me for me. The rest of you can go fuck yourselves. Pardon my French. My mom always told me I have a sharp tongue. 😉