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PORTFOLIOS|Photography|Elegy Ellem

FREE STYLE: Elegy in new American War of Independence cheerleader look by Lady Lucie (Justine-Louise)

Elegy Ellem: more than just the latest Swedish model

She may be fetish’s new Swedish high-flyer, but behind Elegy Ellem’s apparent fast-track success as a model and burlesque artist has been a lot of hard work and business planning as well as genuine talent and distinctive looks. Interview by Tony Mitchell

Ask me who Elegy Ellem is, and the simplest answer I can give is that she’s the latest Swedish fetish model to make a big mark on the international fetish scene.

The question of why there are some many Swedes brightening up the scene right now is interesting in itself. But what is even more interesting about this particular Swedish model and performer is how quickly she got to where she is today, once she set her mind to it.

It’s not much more than a year since she made her international fetish party debut at Torture Garden’s 2010 Birthday Ball. But since then she has toured America, shooting with enough top US fetish and glamour photographers to make established names envious, let alone aspiring models.

She has also pulled off the double whammy of acclaimed appearances at both of this year’s big German fetish weekends — FetishEvolution and the German Fetish Ball. That’s no mean achievement given that rivalry between these two events usually precludes anyone from appearing on both bills in the same season.  

When I first met her at TG’s Birthday Ball some 15 months ago, Elegy was still using the professional name Chesty von Ellem. It was pretty obvious why she might have chosen such a monicker: her particular combination of curves and height is extremely distinctive, especially when wrapped in skintight latex and fishnet.

But I did wonder whether such a stripper-ish name was a wise choice for a model who evidently wanted to be taken seriously in the fetish world. So I was relieved when I discovered that “Chesty” was, in fact, a legacy from earlier days that she was in the process of ditching.

“When I started modelling, my name was just Ellem,” she explains. “But my agent wanted to put on a burlesque show, so I had to come up with a new name for that. Then I got stuck with Chesty von Ellem as my model name. I felt it was too burlesquey and pin-uppy for fetish, but the name got used in the States and I had to carry on with it for a while.”

We’re chatting in her hotel in Hamburg, the evening after her big appearance at this year’s German Fetish Ball, where she not only performed her acclaimed honeybee latex burlesque routine (see our GFB report for pictures) but also modelled in the Blacklickorish Latex fashion show.

It’s the first time I’ve seen her out of latex — she’s wearing a ’50s beatnick/rockabilly-style white cotton top and black Capri pants — and I’m struck by how much that look suits her too.

“I’m influenced by a lot of stuff,” she tells me, “but I do have a leaning towards the ’50s pin-up era —that flirtatious style. I like the older music and the rockabilly look. My look made it easy to do that — following that idea of ‘being the best version of yourself’.”

Ellem is possessed of a distinctive, quirky beauty that cries out to be exploited by imaginative make-up artists, hair stylists, photographers 

The key part of Elegy’s “look” I’ve not yet mentioned is her amazing face. She is not so much conventionally glamorous as possessed of a distinctive, quirky beauty that cries out to be exploited by imaginative make-up artists, hair stylists and photographers.

Take a look at the 60 images on this page and I defy you not to marvel at how many completely different Elegy Ellems have been created and captured in her various photo shoots.

This must surely be one of the reasons she has been photographed so much in the last year. That combination of a body purpose-built for latex with a face that can seemingly be anything you want it to be must have been irresistible!

Her modelling began less than four years ago, in September 2007. Some of her early jobs — corsets, pvc outfits and the like — were “slightly fetish”, even though she apparently didn’t realise it at the time.

“I’ve always been a kinky person,” she admits. “But I grew up in a conservative town in Sweden where you can’t talk about it or go to any clubs and see it. So I didn’t put a word on what I was — I just knew I was different.

“Then I moved to Stockholm, where it’s more open. But I gave up for a while because I had a husband who didn’t like it. I thought it was fine, but felt it was not worth risking a marriage over a hobby. So I stopped. But I found later that I wanted to continue.”

And since deciding to hit the international party scene in Spring 2010, her rise has been nigh-on meteoric.

“I wanted to catch up,” she explains, “so I’ve worked hard — and it is hard work to organise all these different things! I know because of this that people might say I’m fast- tracking, but really, it’s just a combination of different aspects of me.

“I have skills. I know how to create the right faces and the right shapes for photographers. Also, whereas lots of girls are waiting for something to happen, I reach out. For example I asked TG if I could perform and I just got the show that way.”

But why does she think a small Scandinavian country whose entire population is only about the same size as that of Greater London has become such a hotbed of new fetish talent?

“I am blessed with having hot friends!” she laughs. “Swedish people are known for being healthy and professional, and Swedish people are like that. But of course you need the talent and the beauty too. Sweden is very conservative yet we’re not religious or close-minded.

“People in Sweden don’t like you to stand out. So if you do stand out, there’s a better chance to be noticed because there are not many people like you. Being different gets you noticed in a smaller country.”

‘People in Sweden don’t like you to stand out. So if you do, there’s a better chance to be noticed because there are not many people like you’ 

Elegy recalls that her first encounter with latex was on her first or second photo shoot, where the photographer supplied garments to wear. Shortly after that, her agency organised a workshop for new models to try out with different photographers and she modelled two Lady Lucie styles.

“Then,” she says, “me and Lucie talked and I’ve modelled for her ever since.”

Was latex a revelation for her? “I felt totally at home in it, like I was meant to wear it forever! The first latex things I wore were leggings and a corset, and I Ioved it from the very beginning. It makes you feel special — you just have to wear it to know.”

However, she’s a totally modern rubber perv. “I am a fetishist, and I do find latex very sexy to wear when I’m out, but I don’t wear it in the privacy of my home. It’s more of a ‘be seen in’ fetish for me. I think a lot of the girls on the scene are exhibitionists — and that’s a fetish too!”

What about that US photography trip? It was a chance many aspiring fetish models would have given their eye-teeth for, and seems to have been an incredibly successful venture.

“I always wanted to go to the States,” explains Ms Ellem. “Then, when I started modelling, I realised there was a chance to go there not just as a visitor. Once I had a good enough portfolio, I felt comfortable about contacting people and asking to shoot with them.”

Photographers on her hit-list included Viva Van Story, Allan Amato (Venuswept), 666 Photography, Steve Prue (Team Rockstar) and J Isobel de Lisle (whose ‘syrup and chocolate’ shoot inspired the performer’s honeybee show).

The three-month tour took a lot of planning. “I took wardrobe with me but I also worked with US designers such as Antiseptic Fashion, Eric Aswang and Venus Prototype.

“People were sending stuff from one place to another. I didn’t expect all these people to agree to work with me. I just reached out to them. I sent my pictures and obviously they did see something they wanted to work with.”

Looks like people weren’t disappointed with her in the flesh either, I observe. “People do say I’m nice to work with, and they want to work with me again,” she responds. “I shot with most of them twice.”

But, she warns, if you’re thinking about trying to organise that kind of trip for yourself, you have to pick the right time and know your own potential.

“You need to have the talent. They could see I was putting a lot of work into it and had clothes from designers to bring to the shoots. I’m a business-minded person and with any business you have to invest.

“The trip cost me some money but I was staying with the photographers — I was working with well known people and I stayed with them.”

After a recent shoot with Justine-Louise (see first gallery), London is in Elegy’s sights for more shoots, and also for a major date in late September, when she is booked to perform at the International Tattoo Convention (see preview article, coming soon).

Any hints about the show? She smiles. Her performances, she says, will include “a ‘fandance with a difference’ and a Clockwork Orange inspired routine”. In that case, I tell her, expect me to be in the front row.

‘I didn’t expect all these people to agree to work with me. I sent my pictures and obviously they saw something they wanted to work with’

Sunday, 31 July 2011


Elegy Ellem portfolio:
Principal Links
You can find out more about Elegy Ellem (photographed above by Justine-Louise in latex by Lady Lucie) from her website, Facebook and Model Mayhem pages.

To see more photography by Justine-Louise and more latex by Lady Lucie, visit their websites below.

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