On the second Saturday of every month, Florida Modeling Network (FMN) hosts a themed modeling event that draws out several models and photographers from the Tampa Bay area.
Before each event, artists and volunteers help create the props and scenes hosted inside the studio at The Natural Meeting Place-Riverboat Nudist Resort. Thirty-one-year-old XZanthia co-owns the Land O' Lakes resort with her father, Richard LaRiviere.
XZanthia is a woman of many talents and ambitions. In addition to founding and running FMN and Inner Flame Studios, XZanthia has been featured as a model on the covers of several magazines, including Tattoo and Skin&Ink. She is also a photographer, actress and film maker.
April’s theme was “steampunk,” a genre of science fiction inspired by writers like Jules Verne that looks to a future of steam-powered technology and gadgets from a Victorian perspective.
The “punk” in “steampunk” stems from the “do it yourself” attitude towards clothing and accessories that most steampunks have about the subculture that has bloomed from the literature.
The phrase was coined in 1987 to describe the rising popularity of Victorian fantasies. W.K. Jeter applied it to his writings Morlock Night and Infernal Devices as a tongue-in-cheek play off the “cyberpunk” genre.
The steampunk dress style is highly debated but often includes cogs and gears, pocket watches, top hats, corsets and cameos, as well as guns retrofitted to look like they were created in the 1800s.
“I thought [steampunk] looked really interesting and my father had a lot of interesting stuff that could be utilized for steampunk,” XZanthia said. “I really appreciate the Victorian era and steam power.”
XZanthia said that as an artist, she is appreciative of the different kinds of artistic expression FMN brings out in people. The modeling events include not only models and photographers, but individuals with set design and prop-making skills.
Models from all over the Tampa Bay came out Saturday, April 9, to pose for the cameras of several photographers. Port Richey resident Jennifer Cinelli works for Pasco Learning and Activity Centers of Enrichment (PLACE) but models as a hobby.
“I had no idea what steampunk was so I looked it up,” Cinelli said. “I’m interested in the clothing and accessories.”
Married couple Julia and Jeremy Lovato drive regularly from Daytona Beach with their niece, Stephanie Mathis, to model for select themed FMN events.
“I love [steampunk]” Julia said. “It seems to be really popular right now. I love the funkiness of it.”
“It puts a new edge on old-age goth,” Jeremy said.
The studio includes artistic sets inside a warehouse-style building, outside sets and a dressing room off to the side for models to switch outfits and fix makeup marred by the Florida heat.
For the steampunk shoot, sets included old movie projectors and cameras, a typewriter and Victorian-era couch
XZanthia also brings out body painters like Bobby Ebie and Oscar Soriano, both from Tampa, to do fantasy makeup.
“It takes anywhere from 20 minutes to an hour to paint a piece,” Ebie said.
He also helps create the sets and design props like the steampunk gun he had displayed on the dressing room table. It was originally a fluorescent yellow and orange Nerf gun, but Ebie painted it bronze and silver and outfitted it with coils.
This is the sort of artistic variety XZanthia loves in the people she brings together through FMN.
“I’m an artist so I appreciate artwork in general,” XZanthia said. “This brings people together who may not have previously gotten together to create art.”
To participate as a model or photographer or to volunteer your time and artistic talents for set and prop design, make a profile on Florida Modeling Network and RVSP to the events you’d like to attend.