These queer models show just how fierce lesbians can be on the catwalk.
From magazine covers to commercials, product packaging to catalogs, lesbian models have a definite presence in what is commonly considered a strictly straight girl industry. These models are not only drool-worthy, they are redefining beauty—from femme to butch—in the fashion industy.
Samantha Laurito doesn’t like being the good girl. Laurito affirms, “Definitely not.” Her average day entails “waking up, getting ready, going to a photo shoot or a fashion show, then getting wasted with my girlfriend.” Her girlfriend, Alexis, is a personal trainer, a big bonus for Laurito, who admits, “I’m so bad at the gym—I hate going.” When asked how the 5-foot 10-inch, 120-pound brunette keeps her figure, she replies, “I have no idea.” To my surprise (or naivety) Laurito explains, “I can’t do high fashion because I’m not thin enough. You have to be a double zero and I’m like, a four.” Instead, the Italian Colombian beauty gets plenty of work modeling urban wear, contemporary rock wear and sportswear (she was on the cover of Paint Ball magazine) and enjoys modeling clothing for companies like Love Letters, Rocawear, Kenneth Cole, Whiteboy and Gap. “I do some business-edgy stuff, but mostly do photo shoots with photographers that work with Vellum magazine. It’s very artsy and dark.”
Laurito has a sultry, sexy, exotic look that’s very versatile. She went to a creative and performing arts school where she took drama and dance, but works primarily in modeling. “I’m freelance, so I’m signed all over with different agencies in different states.” As a side project of her own, Laurito is putting together a lesbian photography book that will feature butch and femme looks. Laurito is openly gay, but often has a hard time convincing others. “It gets annoying when nobody believes me. I may be feminine in the way I dress, but not by the way I act.”
\t\t\t\tPhoto: Nation Wong
Musician, model, actor and stuntwoman: How does Gevin Fax do it all? “I start the morning with 200 crunches, 35 military push-ups and chin-ups,” Fax admits, hinting at the drive that sustains all her careers.
A motorcycle documentary called Biker Women, which aired on the Discovery Channel, first put Fax on the map. “It was a really wonderful moment,” she says. “We got incredible reviews. It really catapulted me into the limelight.”
Now known as a skilled motorcycle rider, Fax can tackle the most difficult moves on a bike. She was called on to save the day in Rat Race, a movie starring Whoopi Goldberg and Cuba Gooding Jr. “The girls they initially hired were unable to do it—one girl lost control of the bike and broke her leg and her ankle. It’s a very difficult move and one of the most dangerous stunts I’ve ever done,” explains Fax. “I told them I could do it, but they had to bump my salary up two levels.”
Fax has appeared in Rolling Stone, People and various magazines across Europe. Her edgy rock-‘n’-roll look oozes style and turns heads. But while she still gets occasional calls, Fax has been modeling less and less. “I worked really hard to keep my body and my health in great shape, but I’m 50 now, so modeling is not coming after me. I’d like to say I’m aging gracefully.”
Instead, Fax focuses on her musical career. She excels as a vocalist, guitarist and bass player. A vocalist since age 13, she learned to play the guitar in Catholic school and went on to front her own band, Galadriel, in the ’80s. Eventually, luck struck and she was asked to join MCA recording artists Klymaxx as their bassist, and she stayed on for several years. She appeared on national television, played in videos for MTV and VH-1, Soul Train, and performed on and produced the band’s latest album, The Maxx Is Back, which hit No. 13 on the Billboard charts.
Fax is as realistic about the music business as she is about modeling, a pragmatism that shines through as she describes her 15 minutes of rock star fame. The Maxx Is Back, she says, “was a hit for two weeks. They were wining and dining us and we were going everywhere in limos. But the universe plays really interesting games on you. We’re hanging out with LL Cool J and Quincy Jones, and [then] we’re the shit—it gets to the Top 100, Top 80, Top 50, all the way to number 13 before it plateaus and drops out like that. Everything was called off.”
That’s OK with Fax, who continues to perform regularly, sitting in with various bands as well as working on her own solo project. “I’m not going to say it’s easy to become rich and famous, but as an artist you can certainly find ways to make your money. I’ve had a great life!”
\t\t\t\tPhoto: Neale Stewart
California native Jenice Armstead models all types of fashion, from military uniforms to bathing suits, and looks great doing it. Armstead lives in Sacramento with her partner of seven years and is pursuing a modeling career in between trips to Washington, D.C., where she travels as an HR analyst.
Armstead started modeling for catalogs when she was 18 and has since done a myriad of modeling jobs. “I’ve modeled uniforms,” she explains, “because they wanted a military-type physique.” Armstead is indeed sculpted to perfection and she has no trouble finding work. She also does a lot of runway modeling. “I pride myself on my Tyra Banks runway walk and my Tyra Banks forehead,” she laughs. Armstong’s personality is obviously another selling point in getting her on stage and in front of the camera. “You have to be very flexible and be able to engage in any type of conversation at any time. I can talk about politics one minute and then have an all-out-fun bar discussion the next!” Armstead credits her upbringing in a military family for making her so personable. “Being a military brat made me very cultured, because I was around so many different types of people. I had to adapt and be a chameleon.”
Armstead has worked different jobs, aside from modeling. In Key West, Fla., she worked as a desk clerk at the famous lesbian resort Pearl’s Patio, a job she really enjoyed. “I discovered Pearl’s and just loved it,” she says. “I asked them for a job and they started me the next day.” She met her partner, Dee, in Key West and lived there for four years. She recently moved back to Sacramento with Dee, where they took advantage of California’s recognition of same-sex relationships and immediately filed for domestic partnership. “That was part of the reason we came back—to get some legal-ship.” Armstead is also writing a lesbian cookbook on the side. “It’s called Lesbians Have to Eat Too. Not only is it a cookbook, it also has memories and stories. I go through each recipe and tell how it came about.” Many of the stories involve her friends and family, who have turned out to be very supportive of her lesbian lifestyle. “I’m very out to my family. My mother is getting used to it and my father loves it. I wasn’t raised with him, but now that I’m older, he’s very supportive and we talk every day.” The strangest recipe in the cookbook? “Well, the fact that I am a lesbian and I talk a lot about sausage in my book…I’ve been told that’s kind of weird,” she laughs.