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The following is the first of a series of interviews launched for Fetish Portraiture photography week in Project Educate 2008.

kumimonster is huge in the fetish modeling world. This is in part due to her unique look, but especially due to her talent in collaborative creative work between her and the photographers with whom she is working. The results are always stunning, tasteful, and artistic, and often sensual and powerful at the same time. You can see much of her work in the galleries of photographers here on deviantART as well as in her gallery. For example, 5yearcheddar's interview posted tonight contains multiple images in which Kumi is one of the models.

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transred 25 by kumimonster

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hard rock by kumimonster

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tub by kumimonster

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blond kick by kumimonster

Basics and Background

Name and location?
Kumi. hmm... well legally San Francisco Bay Area, but more often in London, Vienna, wherever I happen to be. Right now as I type this, I'm in Paris, but by the time I send it in, I know I'll be somewhere else!

How did you get involved in fine art modeling, and what inspired you to then take up fetish modeling?
I don't necessarily call what I do 'fine art modeling.' I attempted normal commercial stuff when i was younger but it wasn't for me. Several years ago (1996), I happened to meet a girl that were involved in leather clothing manufacturing. She needed some money to start her latex clothing business and so I happened to have a decent chunk of it to hand over to her. I had some pieces made for me and she introduced me to a friend of hers and we set up a couple of shoots. (stevedietgoedde on dA). The rest all just kind of snowballed after that.

What made you choose art modeling over commercial modeling? Or do you do both?
I do fetish work. Some of it might be considered artistic as well. As far as mainstream commercial modeling, it's not my thing. On the other hand, the fetish work I do, could all be considered commercial to a certain extent. Unlike most fetish models, I also work for certain clothing lines and so I shoot only in their latex (or the latex I design/make for them). I also happen to run a commercial (pay) website so i get content for my website while promoting the latex labels I work for. When I submit images to magazines or other forms of media, it's not simply because I want to promote myself or the photographer involved, it's because we want to get paid. Again, the endeavors might be thought of as art, but in the end, it's primarily the way I make my living.

Is nudity essential to fetish modeling? Is it essential to a fine art model's portfolio?
Fetishism is about sexuality, it's not about being naked unless the particular fetish being showcased has to do with a certain part of the body. This could be the nape of the neck discreetly displayed or the forced arch of the foot in a high heeled shoe. Or it could also be something more graphic involving the use of particular objects placed, inserted, and featured in a variety of ways. In the end, it should be about shooting the fetish, not necessarily the model

What role do you play in creating the final image? That is to say, is it a collaborative process with the photographer to execute a concept? How so?
In the final image, I usually don't play much of a role at all, especially if there's a lot of post-processing. I don't particularly enjoy using photoshop and what i use it for is mostly to simply watermark images. Otherwise, I do participate in the creation of the images in varying degrees. Quite often, the outfits i bring to a shoot have been supplied, designed and/or created by myself. When I'm given a space to shoot in or props to use, I try not to pose or position myself in mundane or trite ways. If I am doing a bondage suspension shoot for example, I try to figure out unconventional methods of where the actual rigging might happen. Instead of a traditional single point, perhaps the location might offer an interesting stairwell or a space with different fixture points at changing heights and distances to create dramatic lines with the ropes. I also direct the rigger in how to tie me because I'm the one who's familiar with my physical capabilities and limitations. I also prefer to be able to move (and endure) the poses rather than stay in one static position for the duration of the shoot.
It's necessary to try and push things sometimes - if everybody else could do it, then I'd be out of work! It's about thinking outside the box. When I work with a team of people that can do the same, then the images reflect that.  

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nawa wax hang 1 by kumimonster

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gr 93 by kumimonster

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waxed n tied by kumimonster

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reflect by kumimonster

Do you have a fetish of your own? If so, what?
First and foremost, I am a latex fetishist. It's not just about the look of shiny rubber; for me it's also the feeling of being totally encased in the restrictive material yet having a sense of liberation - sexual freedom, self-awareness, exhibitionism, etc. It's about having an effect on all of the senses, the way it smells, the noise it makes, etc.
I also enjoy wearing zentai suits, corsets, leather, and stockings. There's also the dichotomy of stiletto heels (no platforms) where one teeters vulnerably on the edge of falling over, and yet the added physical height and change in stature imbues the wearer with a feeling of dominating power which manifests itself visibly in regards to poise and attitude. There are other things that I also appreciate but those listed above are things i wear on a regular basis for my own personal enjoyment.

Do you consider yourself a confident woman? How do you keep yourself feeling sexy so that you are fearless in your photo shoots?
I guess one would assume that it's necessary to have confidence to do this kind of work but it's not always the case for everyone. Everyone likes to receive praise and compliments but not everyone is good at taking criticism (constructive or otherwise). As models, our bodies and faces are the products being presented, and if that product isn't wanted or needed, it's easy to take things personally. I think after almost 15 years of doing this, I've been able to learn how to hear what's being said, and yet not really let anything effect me negatively. (i.e. i just dont give a shit anymore :-p).

Keeping that sexy feeling is sometimes difficult. I need a lot of downtime. When I'm not dressing for myself or at a shoot, I'm sitting on my ass and being quite anti-social. Half of my work is based on creating images for the internet, the other half is based attending events around the world and being 'on'. The more time i spend being 'on', the more i need to shut down!
During my last photo sessions in Vienna, my friend and I had to start chanting before our shoot sessions, "we love latex, oooooooommm."

Who is your favorite photographer to work with, so far? Does he/she have a dA page?
Oh, well I love working with SteveDietGoedde (dA stevedietgoedde). And also Gilles Berquet. He's not on dA but many of his photos are in my gallery.
There are others I enjoy working with too that ARE on dA, like Kelly Lind (dA kellylind) and soon i will be bugging Doug once more during my trip to Australia in November! (dA dougfdoug).

Out of the shoots you have posted on dA, what is your favorite picture you have modeled in and why?
The first one I posted on dA shot by Gilles Berquet (canap_bas_latex).

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canap_bas_latex by kumimonster

That position was a pain in the ass to hold (my back actually) and Gilles wasn't sure what i was doing but i told him to just wait for me to try something.

What would you say to people who insist that fetish photography is "just porn" or has no artistic value?
Well I'm one of those people who consider fetish photography to be porn - or at least 'adult' in nature. Fetish photography doesn't necessarily have to depict hard core situations (nor fall under the definition of forbidden content listed and described in the dA FAQ as 'pornographic material';). But it *is* about fetishism and that involves themes that are sexual by definition. Regardless of whether or not a model is nude, the image should be able to evoke some sort of feeling - violent lust or the earliest tinge of excitement. Sure, many say that 'anything and everything can be considered fetish' but that also depends on the intent of the creating parties. Not all images can simply be labeled 'fetish' just by throwing a latex dress on a model. If a fetish image doesn't turn the intended viewer on, then it's failed.

A fetish image should be able to entice and impact the viewer by not only indulging the obvious. The visual facet is unmistakable, but I would want my other senses roused as well. If latex were the subject, I would want to imagine myself actually feeling it tight against my skin. The scent of the rubber mixed with the products used to put it on and shine it up would come to mind. The image would make me think of the sound of the latex being put on as it rubs or snaps itself against my skin.

There's no reason why pornography can't be considered artistic, just slap those images between a couple of fancy book covers and call it erotica.

What's the hardest part about modeling?
trying to appear fit while eating everything in sight but avoiding the gym at all costs. hmm. also, having to leave gorgeous locations - like the time i had to jump on a flight to snowy, cold shanghai after spending over a week SCUBA diving in the philippine islands. that sucked. but there are always new place to go to!

Anything else you'd like to say?
I keep forgetting to capitalize my "i"s. isn't this long enough? i'm at the end. my punctuation is slipping and i'm tired because the weather in los angeles is insanely hot! i dunno. join my site? I'll have a new one up in a few weeks. maybe visit my dA page. come see me perform! i'll be in montreal soon! buy me jack daniels in tampa at fetishcon or in New Zealand and Oz in November. oh hey, and if you wanna shoot too, hit me up. i'm always posting my travel schedule in a variety of places (including dA)!

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claire pulling by kumimonster

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double face by kumimonster

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sitting by kumimonster

#thevaginamafia is the dAmn headquarters for fetish portraiture week. Be sure to drop by this week to meet the artists interviewed in this series, myself, and many other photographers of varied types here on deviantART!
Add a Comment:
Kitkatcha Featured By Owner Jul 15, 2008  Hobbyist Photographer
I love your comments, especially insightful is that it is about shooting the fetish not shooting the model.
As a photographer that really helps me put the focus on the right aspect of the image.
I love your sophisticated appreciation of what you do, who you do it with and its' relationship to the rest of life. I wish I spent more time talking to you in the heat of the desert. You have some very interesting ideas. I am not typically a fetish photographer - which is why we did not spend more time together - I'm more into moody fine art, but I will be watching you closely, and looking forward to more posts.

branflakes64 Featured By Owner Jul 5, 2008
wow that is cool
NicotineDesire Featured By Owner Jun 29, 2008  Professional Artist
I absolutely loved this interview. Kumi is an amazing model and a great inspiration to me, as well. She rocks.
VampireProdigy Featured By Owner Jun 29, 2008  Hobbyist Artist
My very favorite. <3
Mollinda Featured By Owner Jun 29, 2008   Traditional Artist
I admire Kumi for saying it how it is. :heart: Thankyo for doing this interview Kumi and of course you too ^opioid :aww:
Catwoman69y2k Featured By Owner Jun 27, 2008  Hobbyist General Artist
Like to see her real self behind all of the photos. Makes me realize that being a fetish model can become something seen as work so it can be even more daunting.
drackar Featured By Owner Jun 25, 2008  Hobbyist Photographer
It's refreshing to see someone who doesn't beet around the bush on the subject.
kellylind Featured By Owner Jun 24, 2008   Photographer
kumi rules.
Andre-M-photography Featured By Owner Jun 23, 2008   Photographer
I've had the pleasure of working with Kumi, check out my portfolio

She's a wonderfull woman to work with, very professional!

Andre M - photography
Comrade-Kelly Featured By Owner Jun 22, 2008
This was so charming. I really enjoyed that she was all over the place (location, wise) and at the end, she really was someone else. She's a beautiful model, and this was such a thorough interview. Thanks, ^opioid and ~kumimonster, you ladies rock!
stigmatattoo Featured By Owner Jun 22, 2008  Professional Traditional Artist
+i love kumi's work and i'm really happy she's here on dA. her shots by Gilles Berquet are some of my fav!
this is an excellent interview, well done :clap:+
ClickClickBangUK Featured By Owner Jun 22, 2008  Professional Photographer
wonderful! i have admired kumi for years so its lovely to read this interview, nice one! :heart:
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June 21, 2008


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