1. Thank you for taking your time to have this interview with us! All of our readers love "Fan-Pei Koung Comics" and we're honored to have someone of your talent contribute to our magazine. How long have you been drawing comics, and what inspired you to do so?
Thank you so much! I'm really happy to hear that you all enjoy them! I've drawn comics ever since I was small. First I made fun of my dad, who was a grumpy turtle with a backscratcher who shouted his weird wisdom at his unappreciative kids. In elementary school I would bring booklets of my comics to school and my friends would borrow them like library books. Then they were middle school hijinks. Our comics got so popular that the school blocked it from its networks and we went to the principal. Then they were about my teachers, then my bosses, and now RHK. Congratulations on continuing the infamy.
2. You describe yourself as a "closet redneck" [laughs]. Why is that?
[laughs] I call myself that because I grew up next to prisons and ranches, and didn't realize until I moved away that I've retained some redneck qualities. My clothes are from Wal-Mart, I think it's pretty normal to be morbidly obese. Sometimes I eat dinner in gas stations. I lived in a trailer home, love above-ground jacuzzis, and dream of getting a nice RV for my modeling adventures. The first thing I did when I came back to Texas was eat a 24oz steak. I was offered a job as a Sushi Girl, and I wanted to become a Redneck Sushi Girl instead. You know, like, nude with Doritos, pizza, and fried chicken on top of me.
3. Aside from being a talented artist, you are accomplished in many areas: Rice University graduate, NASA hackathon first-place winner, former medical research assistant, and eBay consultant... things you refer to as "oddball sexy nerd stuff" [laughs]. Any other accomplishments you'd like to share with us?
Yeah, sure! I've had many accomplishments since I became a full-time model in November 2015. I represent Shenova, a STEM fashion line. I've had a baby chick named after me, milk thrown at me by Canadians for eight hours, met several millionaires and CEO's, acted in several short films, worked a few runway, hair, and bridal shows, volunteered at the Global Sex Trafficking Conference, got paid to kick a guy in the balls for a comedy series, and convinced many skeptics that this modeling thing is a real job.
4. The thing that really fascinates me is your title of Miss Taiwanese American Princess 2015. Can you please tell me about that experience?
Yes! That was a formative experience for me... in my mid-twenties! I grew up in Texas back when there were very few Asians. I was often considered a fob or a chink and didn't feel like I could be a real American. At the same time, I was even more alien to the Asian community because I was a fat girl, completely whitewashed, and didn't speak any Mandarin. I never thought I could belong, and I never thought in a million years that I could be beautiful. The Miss Taiwanese American Pageant was my trial by fire to understand my culture and heritage. I had to learn Mandarin, the history and politics of a country I hadn't visited since I was two, how to walk and act gracefully while getting yelled at by a middle-aged woman in a language I didn't understand. All while homeless -I had just lost my spot in a two bedroom house with ten roommates- and driving between San Francisco and Los Angeles every week. One of the hardest parts was losing weight in record time. I was told that there was a BMI for American girls and another for Asian girls, so I had to get skinny. Do you know what's harder than getting into several Ivy League schools? Losing weight! Anyone who loses weight healthily for good is a minor hero to me.
But the rewards were tremendous. I cried during or after almost every training because I was so homesick and felt like I found new family who were strangers but bizarrely so familiar to me. The things about me that made me feel so deeply ashamed in Texas, my family's practices, values, and beliefs, were actually logical inheritances from a proud and strong country with a long and rich heritage. I got so much support from relatives I almost never knew, and the pageant actually reunited my family who hadn't seen or spoken to each other in fifteen years. Fifteen years! And when I stood on stage, I felt scared, ugly, haggard, misfit, but I spoke clearly about my dreams and ambitions and got a roaring ovation. The pageant is still something that's hard for me to talk about, and I haven't properly thanked everyone who helped me yet, but I will soon.
5. You are also a very beautiful and accomplished model... what are some of the challenges you have faced as a model?
Thank you so much! Kind of abstract, but the most honest answer for me is the intimate, constant confrontation with my strengths and weaknesses. All models have this. We're too fat then too skinny, our backs and limbs can't pull off crazy angles, our eyes aren't exactly the same size. For me, it comes down to the fact that I'm not struggling to be human, I'm struggling to become art. When a photographer shows me years of drawings of his perfect goddess woman and drops a whole month of rent to cast me as his vision made flesh, I feel a huge responsibility to deliver. My whole life I drew princesses and mermaids and maidens, and now for the first time, I can become the art. I know what that means to artists and I want to help them make their dreams a reality.
6. What advice would you give any model who is new to the industry?
Follow your gut but also be kind and collaborative. It helps to have a thick skin in this industry, and that goes for agency or independent. I've always followed the, "lady in the street but a freak in the sheets" philosophy towards modeling. So I'm ultra professional all the time until the cameras flash, then I pour out my inner sex animal, and then wrap it up again right after. Oh, and don't flake or half-ass. Every shoot is an opportunity and a gift, and if you treat each one as such, you'll be in good shape.
7. What are your goals? Where do you see yourself 5 years from now?
Haha, I think that's the kind of question that terrifies models, like asking PhD students when they're going to graduate. I just quit my high roller consultant job at eBay in the office of the CIO to pursue my passions, and was terrified of not being able to support myself by modeling. But after plain old hustling augmented by some automation, outsourcing, and data mining techniques, I now make almost as much as I did at my last job! And that's absolutely, terrifyingly wonderful. So I hope that every day I wake up with this crazy, wild, dream life come true, I'll dedicate myself fully to revealing my most vibrant, authentic self, hone my skills, discover new passions, and surprise myself with new life purpose in the service of others. Which is a sexy way of saying that I have no idea! Near term though, I would LOVE to get into acting or motivate kids into STEM.
8. Okay, before I let you go, I have to turn up the heat a bit... what are your turn-ons and turn-offs when you date someone?
Ooh, fun question! Turn offs: closed-mindedness and predatory tendencies. Big turn on is passion, that light and hunger in someone's eyes when they envision a beautiful world and take nothing for granted. Nothing turns me on more than seeing someone lit up by their passion, purpose, and skill. That goes for everyone -academics, drop-outs, housewives, etc. I read science biographies as erotica. There's a tiny part of a super sexy quote by Thoreau, back when I had to learn that stuff, "I want to live deep and suck all the marrow from life." That gets me hot every time, and Thoreau was a gnarly-looking bearded guy.
9. If you could spend one night with any celebrity, who would it be?
Hm, let me pretend to think about that for a second. ELON MUSK. I passed by him and sat right behind his six babies and two au pairs at an Effective Altruism conference at Googleplex. It's a good thing I wasn't wearing a skirt, otherwise I'd slip in a puddle of my own excitement. I don't know what I need to do to get his attention, but it's one of my top modeling goals. I thought about import modeling only with Tesla Motors, SpaceX body art, impersonating a sexy Martian and shouting, "ELON SHOW ME YOUR ROCKETS. COLONIZE ME." Sorry Talulah!
10. If you were left stranded on an island for 30 days with either Donald Trump or Hillary Clinton, who would you choose... and why?
Donald Trump would be boorish. He would make me gather food, make the fire, build the hut, then name the island after himself. And he'd keep hitting on me and probably call me a whore for not jumping on the D. Hillary Clinton... we'd probably commiserate, then celebrate our very first island society of solely powerful women, then let the sexual tension build to a head until we try to seal the deal, then get spooked, then we'll live on opposite sides of the island.
11. Boy shorts or thongs?
Haha, well, in this series, I'm wearing a thong strapped under some boy shorts! Superfluous but sexy. I believe the booty should be wrapped like a turducken or a clown show of scarves and whistles.
12. [laughs] This has been a great interview! Where can your fans see more of your work?
Thanks! You can check out modeltechie.com, and please connect on Facebook and Instagram @modeltechie
13. Any last words?
Let me know if Redneck Sushi Girl, Thirsty Martian Elon Groupie, or Turducken booty sound like publishable shoot concepts to you. And my RHK shirt size is small :)