Interview & Photography by Jo Blackened
Darren Powell is a well-known model in the London gothic scene and if you’ve not met him, then you probably know him as ‘Demondaz ‘ or ‘The vampire guy’!
Hey, thanks for your time today. Let’s start with the obvious and that’s your modelling career. What first got you into modelling and do you remember your first model booking?
It was a little while back and my girlfriend of the time was studying a photography course and told me I could get some great images as a model. So she shot my first portfolio and it lead on to a number of bookings with a few key alternative photographers and subsequently to some paid bookings for publications or camera clubs/shooting workshops. It’s been an interesting ride as I never thought it would lead anywhere much.
What do you love/hate about being in London?
London is amazing. You are practically surrounded by gothic architecture wherever you go and we are so spoilt with things that may be done and are there to enjoy, very often for free – like the museums and galleries of London. There is a lively subculture of goths in London, and many good friends, that I think that anyone that declares they are bored in London should be deported up north somewhere until they start to appreciate what they have.
How do you prepare for shoots?
I should like to say I have an early night and give my skin a bit of TLC but I don’t really. I just make sure I have all the clothes, props and makeup that I need.
With the Victorian gothic image, do you have a favourite clothing company?
I don’t really and I’m not dropping names unless I get something free for it. I mostly pick up clothes at festivals, but I do keep an eye out in charity shops and odd bits I do see online always look better on me than they do on the models in the photo.
Is there anyone you’d like to shoot with, model or photographer and haven’t yet?
I’ve shot lots, really lots. I’ve met and been photographed by David Bailey for a Nokia campaign and shot in many studios, clubs and socials. So I don’t have a wishlist or people I want to work with, I just see what happens next and in general, things surprise me.
What are your favourite kinds of shoots? Any favourite theme?
I do like if I can get an MUA to work with. I have more than enough photos of myself as I am (or even as my vampire persona) so if someone can transform me into something else then that is something interesting for my portfolios and social media.
Do you prefer to shoot alone or in groups?
It depends on the purpose of the shoot. If you are looking to nail some images for publication then you don’t need too many distractions and other people are excess to requirements. But I do like to attend group shoots as they are lively socials and provide networking opportunities. I seem to know a lot of people so I often in the company of friends at these and we have fun.
What has been your worst/best shoot to date?
Not so many worst things to mention really and if a shoot is productive then they are all best. If there’s one thing I can’t stand its bullshitters. I have met photographers who don’t really acknowledge that a male of the model species exists and think you are one of them despite not having a camera to hand and wearing an outfit and a face full of makeup. I’ve also met photographers who will make the mistake of thinking I am some noob and who don’t guess at the fact that I am very experienced and well-published.
If there is one thing that annoys me it’s having someone talk to me about ISO or aperture speed settings and all the other buttons and twiddly-knobs on your camera. I don’t care and its very boring. So much big talk is just hot air whereas getting a truly big and memorial photo will speak volumes. I have been on group shoots, in some quite inclement weather, and watched models stand around shivering in the early stages of hypothermia while a photographer who is nice and warm in a big coat talks shit about their camera. Time is ticking away as that model only has so long before they can become ill and people are talking bullshit about cameras. I would just bloody well shoot the models!
With you modelling with so many beautiful models, have you found this affecting your personal life when it comes to dating?
No, I just date beautiful models and keep things in perspective. Talk is key, sometimes shoots can appear to be all very sexy but that is just the end result.
What has been your most impressive place to be published to date? And have you been featured in any exhibitions?
Recently I am on 2 science fiction novels, I am also the cover model of Vampire Culture (non-fiction from Bloomsbury publications), I could go on. Let’s just say I have 1 shelf of books where I am on them all. I’ve also been in calendars, tarot cards, magazines and I’ve yet to find a gothic art group on facebook where some thieving scumbag hasn’t added one of my photos! I have been in numerous exhibits too as I have shot lots and works get displayed.
Should all models be paid? What is your take on ‘TFP’ where the models and photographers shoot together and neither one gets paid?
This is very simple; it’s all about who has what you need. A photographer looking for a specific look and style that the model has should pay the model for their time etc. Vice versa is when a photographer has a particular level of skill and style that maybe the model should pay for.
Personally, I wouldn’t know about paying for shoots. I never have and generally, expect payment in some manner – but that may just be the images from the shoot.
What advice would you give someone starting out in the gothic modelling scene?
Just shoot. Shoot lots and then shoot some more. See what works for you and if this is working for you. Most importantly be safe always.
Given all the photography apps now and filters, do you think this has affected photographers?
Not really, these things are fine for adding a little magic to social media posts but they do not stand up against well-crafted images.
What is your opinion of ‘internet/Instagram models’, should a ‘selfie’ still be classed as modelling?
Not really but if these things make people happy I wouldn’t want to take it away from them. Some models have a very excellent self-crafted looks and are more comfortable with their selfies, but I don’t think these are models that are going to be on publications anyway.
Aside from modelling you also run your own gothic events and club nights. How did this first come about and what made you decide to do this?
I started running events as part of a committee with the London Vampyre Group and quickly realised that the last thing anyone that runs events needs is a committee! So I went it alone with a few ideas over the years with Vampyre Villains vs Steampunk Slayers (for which I apologise) and Grimm Events (for which I don’t). Nowadays, I am co-founder, promoter and resident DJ at Yesterday’s Shadow – London’s Most Unpretentious Goth Nightclub and I get to Guest DJ here and there.
I guess I started doing this for the best reason ever. It’s fun – at least it is fun if everything goes according to plan and sometimes that does happen and things are fantastic.
Being a ‘Goth elder’ how do you find the gothic culture today and how has it changed over the years?
It has expanded exponentially in the last 10 years. It used to be all about Full Tilt at the Electric Ballroom Friday and Slimes on Saturday. Now it seems there are club nights from Thursday to Sunday, lots of lovely little clubs in bars and interesting venues. Now it appears we have several choices where to go out of a weekend and it’s all good. Long may this continue.
Do you have any interesting projects coming up this year?
Yeah, probably, something always seems to crop up. I can’t name anything as I write this but I am generally surprised as some of the things I end up doing.
Is there anything you’d like to say to our readers?
Demondaz is an amazing guy to meet and know. He will admit he is generally quiet mad, bad and dangerous to know and should probably carry a health warning. But, there’s more to him than just the average, shallow narcissistic guys out there. Despite his vampire nature, Darren does indeed carry a soul.