A beauty rising from the waves who has managed to turn her insecurities into an explosive force: Riae is a blue-haired Venus who blew us away with her intelligent irony. Read this interview where she tells us about her joys and pain, passions and secrets (one in particular) which, perhaps, she has never revealed to anybody before…
Hi Riae, pleased to meet you. Can I ask you to clear up something for me? Where did you get your name?
Hi, the pleasure’s all mine. Sure! Ten years ago, when I joined the SuicideGirls, I had to come up with a pseudonym to use on the website since everyone advised against using my real name. Seeing how I wasn’t feeling particularly inspired at that moment, I simply decided to add an E – the initial of my middle name (Elisabeth) – to my real name, Ria. I’m glad I did it, because I’m proud of the name my parents gave me: in Gaelic, it means “came from the waves” and I think it’s really romantic.
Indee it is. I’d like to ask you to tell us something about yourself that nobody else has ever given you the chance to tell. You’ve got carte blanche to introduce yourself to the readers of our blog.
I think I’ve said pretty much all there is to say about myself over the years. I’m an alternative-model, SuicideGirl Irish-Italian and I’m 32 years old (maybe that’s something I’ve never told anyone before…). Over the years I’ve posed for many different magazines, taken part in TV shows, worked with lots of photographers and, for the past few years, I’ve been working as a fashion designer for certain brands. One of my new interests, apart from cooking and tv series, is making videos for my YouTube channel where I talk a bit about my life, work and tattoos.
I find it hard to imagine, but I read in an interview that you were the classic “ugly duckling” as a kid. How was that like?
Let’s say that over the years I’ve learned to hide and/or correct what I don’t like about my body. And in photos, thanks to poses, lighting, makeup (and, my haters will add, dear darling Photoshop), your flaws are even less visible. When I was small I didn’t really know how to make the most of myself and I was always the odd one out. I didn’t have what it took to fit in with my peers and I have to admit that it was hard. But I think that all of this made me who I am today. It was a process that helped me grow. If I had been pretty, hadn’t been bullied and laughed at as an outsider, if I’d had a great social life, maybe I wouldn’t have worked on myself, wouldn’t have had the experiences I did and wouldn’t be here now answering your questions. So I’m perfectly okay with it the way it went.
Can you tell me about your experience with the SuicideGirls? When did you realise that you could become a model and make a career out of your looks?
Like I said before, I think a whole series of event brought me to where I wanted to try out to become one of the SuicideGirls. First of all, the fact that I’d learned not to care about other people’s opinions. I filled in the form to apply to be one of the SG in 2006 or 2007 – once I’d moved to Berlin – I did my first shoots … without any expectations whatsoever. I wouldn’t have bet one cent and when I got the email where they said I’d been accepted, I just couldn’t believe it. The site wasn’t that popular yet, and the SuicideGirls hadn’t gone mainstream here in Italy. It was a real niche thing, and I certainly had no idea of what would happen in the years to come. But it took some years from my first shoot to when I was able to live off modelling alone. For years, I travelled around Italy at my own expense, to learn to pose and build up a good portfolio.
I have to say I still get embarrassed when I say I’m a model because it’s the last thing I feel like.
So when did you first get into tattoos?
I got my first tattoo when I was 14: two little wings on my tailbone, when fortunately I got covered up. Just like pretty much all of the terrible tattoos I got before I began to understand and look into the different styles, to choose what I liked best and look for the right artists. I think I must have covered up at least 10 tattoos, including the name of an ex-boyfriend, an awful tribal on my ass and other stuff in pretty dubious taste, and above all, really badly done.
Have you ever had any trouble in your family or your private life about the choices you’ve made in your line of work?
Fortunately my family has always been behind me and even my partner has never had a problem with what I do. I lost a few girlfriends who maybe thought I was up to no good because of the photos, but at the end of the day they weren’t such close friends. As far as work is concerned, I did have some problems the first few years that I was a SuicideGirl and worked as a bartender in my home town. I got fired or turned down at interviews when they found out about my nude photos.
A tattoo artist you particularly like and another you’d love to get a tattoo by?
Obviously I particularly like Skyzzo (One More Tattoo) who has done most of my tattoos and is my boyfriend, so the love is worth double. Others who’ve tattooed me who I adore would include Michela Bottin and Amy MyMouse. As regards tattoos I’d like to get, there are so many artists I admire and would love to have tattoo me (pity there’s not much space left). One great discovery was Sasha unisex. I wasn’t a fan of his style until at the Milan Conventoin I tried one of his temporary tattoos and fell in love with the result on my skin. Now I’m dying to get the real thing!
How would you describe your relationship with social media?
I owe practically everything to social media. I spend hours on Instagram and Facebook; I just can’t seem to get into Twitter, maybe because, as you may have noticed, I do like to go on a bit. I would never have dreamed I would end up with 2 and a half million followers on Facebook and over a million on Instagram, especially because I follow it all myself and have never used any kind of strategy. I just post and that’s it. Obviously I try to interact as much as possible, but I never manage to keep everyone happy and I’m sorry about that. Of course it’s not all roses. There aren’t just fans, there are also marvellous haters who seem to live to insult. That’s the other side of the coin, though I have to say that apart from a couple of rare cases where the haters were particularly persistent, I’ve learned to take what they say with a pinch of salt. As I said before, adolescence was an excellent training ground.
A city, a song, a book and an artist that you particularly like?
I love Mexico in general and Guadalajara is maybe the city closest to my heart. I go there at least once a year as a guest to ConComic and I love it all: the landscape, the food and especially the people who I absolutely adore. I don’t have a favourite book of all time but my top five would have to include Choke and Invisible Monster by Palahniuk, and Me talk pretty one day by David Sedaris. Saturno Buttò would have to be my choice of artist. I had the pleasure of posing for him a few years ago. I love his work.
I know you’re going to be at the London Convention in September. Will it be your first time?
I was at the London Tattoo Convention a few years ago, but as a visitor, to get my neck tattooed by Ryan Mason. I couldn’t believe it when I was asked to take part with my own stand. It’s always been a dream of mine! The models who have inspired me most like Vanessa Lake and Sabina Kelly have been guests at the London Convention.
What plans have you got for the future?
For the moment I’ll keep on posing, though I’m concentrating on quality work to publish on my page Patreon. Obviously I’ll go on doing shoots for the SuicideGirls… I’m starting to feel like the grandmother of the new arrivals… But I still enjoy posing and interacting on the site! I hope I can grow my YouTube channel because it gives me a lot of satisfaction. It helped me get over my shyness and stop hating my voice which is not at all sensual. I would like to finally get my clothing line off the ground. I already started last year with swimwear, and I’d like to try something more serious.
Is there anything you’d like to add before we sign off?
I just want to thank you so much for the chance you’ve given me. See you all at the London Convention!