Monday, November 21, 2011

An interview with Melanie Spencer

I met Melanie Spencer this year at Baltimore Comic Con. I have been a fan for some time and was finally able to see her in person. She was at the PLB comics table as Cassandra, the character they based on her. Her website is You should ask her what happened when we met. It is hilarious. I was able to catch up with her online for this interview. All the photos (except for her as Cassandra) are courtesy of her.

Me: How are you doing?

photo by Domenic Cicala
M.S.: I'm peachy keen.

Me: You have lived in many different places. Where did you grow up?

M.S.: I grew up in Johannesburg, South Africa... That's where I call home. :):)

Me: What was it like growing up in Johannesburg?

M.S.: Awesome,,,Some of the best times of my life! I was a crazy teen with the best friends a girl could ask for.

Me: What do you mean by crazy?

M.S.: Lol...I lived like I was invincible. I'll leave it at that. ;);)
I don't kiss and tell... lol
Me: What made you decide to leave Johannesburg?

M.S.: Well, I came over here to go to college. After college, I was thinking about either moving back home or to NYC and my boyfriend at that time proposed to me... so I stayed in MD.

Me: So you came for the schools and stayed for love?

M.S.: Lol...Something like that. When you say it like that way it reads like a sappy movie.
Me: When did you become a model?

M.S.: I started modeling when I was 13 or 14... It was a really long time ago so I don't remember my exact age. 

photo by Domenic Cicala
Me: What got you started in modelling? Is there a particular moment you remember?

M.S.: Well I had always wanted to be an actress and modeling was easier to break in to. I remember bothering my mom about it (my parents were heavy Christians and not too keen on the idea), but finally she gave in and took me to a modeling school behind my father's back. The modeling school sucked because it was mostly for fashion models (which I am not), but I did get to learn how to do my own make up and that has helped me a lot throughout the years. Then I started to freelance with an agency and started getting work. I got my first national campaign when I was barely 17. It was awesome!
Me: What was the national campaign?

M.S.: It was an Oxy Facial Wash ad, the first one ever shot in Africa.

Me: So you came to America for the schools. What did you go to school for?

M.S.: I got scholarships to study Fashion Design in South Africa, but blew it joyriding in Europe (I missed too much time and almost got kicked out of the program)... So I came to the USA where I studied Fashion Merchandising and minored in Fine Art in Maryland. I studied the same thing at the Fashion Institute of Technology in NYC.

Me: Were you able to start a career in fashion?

M.S.:Not really. The place I live is not conducive to fashion. I was a department manager at a retail chain until the economy went under and I decided I needed to do something else.

Me: You posted that one of your current classes is extremely hard. What degree are you pursuing now?

M.S.: I'm studying counseling. I want to be able to use alternative means of therapy with recovering addicts and the at risk population.

Me: How much time do you model?

M.S.: I've modelled for 18 years. Wow, that makes me sound so old!

Me: What inspires you to say yes to an offer to model?

M.S.: It has to be something that interests, inspires or challenges me. Or I can be bought for the right amount of money. :)
Me: What inspires or interests you?

M.S.: Oh man... so much... a plethora... enough to fill an ocean: controversy, sexuality, the rugged outdoors, music, the ocean, beauty, being able to become someone else.

Me: What is modelling to you besides a paycheck? Is it a way to express yourself that you normally cannot. Is it an escape from the ordinary?

M.S.: Yes, it is all that. I love it. Being able to become someone else, discover and invent new parts of  yourself. It is fun and I have met some of the coolest people, made some amazing friends.

photo by Domenic Cicala
Me: You have a profile on Model Mayhem under Lady Dark Dragon( How did you choose that name?

M.S.: Lady Dark Dragon is my alter ego. She is the bad girl, lol. I've always loved dragons. They are a mythical creature representing power and mystery. If I were any type of animal that is what I would want to be. I have two dragons tattooed on my back.

Me: You are also listed as a mentor on Model Mayhem. Have you mentored many people on MM?

M.S.: Well, I have been on there for a while. As for mentoring, I have not, per say, met with many people face to face and walked hand in hand through the park to talk about modeling, but I have had many newcomers contact me (both photographers and models), asking questions and bouncing ideas off me.
Me: So I was a fan of your work when I saw you were going to appear at Baltimore Comic Con as Cassandra for PLB comics ( ). Cassandra was based on you. How did that come about?

M.S.: Cassandra is the villain from the Gideon and Sebastian book by PLB Comics, which is the brain child of my better half, his brother, and some friends. She is the ultimate bad ass, evil sexy, whatever - half demon half vampire who is the good guy's nemesis. I do a lot of modeling for them (PLB) if they need a certain look for a character or whatever, but Cassandra is so much fun. I think they were just looking for a female to add in the story because sex sells.
To be perfectly honest, I don't really know. I don't think that originally she was supposed to be me. It just happened. They were doing a con, and I said I would come help them sell, and then someone thought I should dress up, and it morphed from there.

Me: Your husband, his brother and  your friends made you into the ultimate bad ass. Is that how they see you--a kick butt chick, a take no prisoners kind of woman?

M.S.: Lol. I doubt that... I'm a pussycat. ;);)
I won't admit to anything. Lol. You would have to ask them what they think,

Me: Have you done many cons as a booth babe?
M.S.: I have done a couple. We started doing cons in 2005 (I think). I have been promoting with them at quite a few. We only do Philly and Baltimore though. We'd like to branch out but between cost and sales, it is not economical to do more.
Me: Have you portrayed any other characters besides Cassandra?
M.S.: Nope, just her.

Me: Are t here other characters you would like to portray?

M.S.: I've told Peter Stiegerwald from Aspen ( that if they need someone to dress up like Grace from Soulfire, I would do it. Billy Tucci ( said he wants to draw me as Catwoman and I have said yes to that. I have been Vampirella for the digital artist Timothy Lantz ( ).

Me: What have been some of your favorite model jobs?
M.S.: Oh, man, there have been so many. My best friend, Kira Bucca (, is a fashion photographer in NYC, but before that she was really into abandonment... I always loved shooting with her in some run down place where you might get tetanus just from looking at the floorboards.
Of course, the ones that pay well rock too!

Me: I have seen your IMDB profile and it says you won Best Lead Actress for "Even Steven". Tell us about the movies you have been in.

photo by Domenic Cicala
M.S.: Ah yes... the IMDB profile ( I forgot about it. I'm sure it needs some serious updating.
Nothing huge. I did some TV commercials in South Africa then I came here and most of what I have done has been independent film. I did the "LumberJack of all Trades" (I was barely in it) that got picked up by Troma.

Then I did "Even Steven"... that was fun - I played a psychopath that seduces this wealthy man and keeps him hostage in his home.

Then I did a film called "Scarred" where I die.

Me: So "Even Steven" prepared you to play Cassandra?

M.S.: Lol... I guess you could say that.

Me: Are there any more acting jobs coming up?

M.S.: Not right now. School is hectic but I graduate in May and then we'll see. :):)

Me: Is there anything else coming up in the future we should look out for?

M.S.: Unfortunately, it's quiet right now. "Gideon and Sebastian" 2 will be out this Spring. I'll be there as Cassandra.

Me: Which cons do you plan to attend next year?

M.S.: I'll be out in full force next May after I graduate so watch out world... Here I come!
Next year we will do Philly and Baltimore, Maybe NY but that one is really tough to get in to...
The PLB boys are putting on a con called FanCon ( ). It will be at the University of Maryland Eastern Shore in Princess Anne, MD.
Me: What is the focus of Fan Con going to be?

M.S.: It is mostly indie companies and comic book sellers.

Me: What do you do for fun?

photo by Domenic Cicala
M.S.: I like to model and act... that is my release. I also like to ride horses, shoot guns, drink whiskey and watch movies and I love my friends. I like hanging out with them... talking crap and serious stuffs too

Me: You can take the woman out of the wild but you cannot take the wild out of the woman.

M.S.: Lol. This is true, I concur.

Me: Thank you for talking with me today,

M.S.: Thank you.


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