Interview with Casey Engel Deckey

Interview by Jessica Plumb
Photos by Altercarnated Photography

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Firstly, thank you so much for this interview today and hope all is well especially with what’s going on at the moment with COVID-19. Can you please introduce yourself with a little introduction? 

Sure, I was born in Hillingdon in 1998. I was a dancer for 10 years and now I’ve been training in hairdressing for over 3 years now and work at Sassoon’s in central London. I do gothic modelling and was featured on the Channel 5 programme ‘100% Hotter. I am also going to start my transitioning journey soon.

Let’s start at the beginning; when did you start dancing and was there a type of dance did you specialised in? Also, is this something you’d ever go back to?

I started roughly around the age of 8. I’m a street dancer but over the years included ballet, tap, contemporary and jazz. Sadly I don’t think I will return to dancing, I did it for over 10 years and that’s enough for me.

If anybody wanted to do get into dancing professionally, what advice would you give them? 

Lookup a good dance school locally and start there, do a few stage shows with the school and enter competitions which you can either enter with the school or alone. I think my number 1 rule when I danced was when I’m on stage; I dance for me not anyone else. As long as I have fun, the audience will.

What made you decide to change your career and do hairdressing?

I had finished college and I was working in a horrible job in London in retail and one day I had enough so I walked out. The next day I handed out 20 cv’s locally and the last one I gave out happened to be a hair salon; I thought hairdressing would be the easiest job in the world. They were the only place to get back to me and at my interview, they told me how hard it actually is being a hairdresser, but knowing it wasn’t easily made me want to do it even more. So it was an amazing accident that got me into hairdressing. Now I work in central London in the best salon I could dream of!

What do you enjoy most being a hairdresser in central London?

I love the quality of hairdressing I learn, I love all of the stylists who have travelled the world and some are incredibly iconic writhing the industry worldwide. I love the clients because all of them are different; when washing hair I’ve washed Rod Stewart’s drummer who used to be the drummer of the ABC’s, an actress from the new Downton Abbey film as well as some high up business people.

You’re quite well known in London for your gothic style and looks. When did you first get into the gothic scene?

I would say I first got into it at 14 and I was extremely experimental with my style and at 17 I worked in Camden part-time and that was when I first met a few other alternative people. I didn’t get into the actual scene until I was almost 19 when I first went to Slimelight.

What are your favourite bands you like to listen to and which ones first drew you to the scene?

I have a weird taste in music that isn’t very goth so the band which made it all happen at the beginning I still listen to and know the song. It was ‘Mark my words’ by ‘For All Those Sleeping’.
Other than that I listen to Kerbera, Motionless In White, Placebo, Paylaye Royale and She Wants Revenge.

What is the gothic London scene like in London and what does ‘Goth’ mean to you personally?

I would say with the gothic scene in London, it has some amazing things about it and things not so amazing about it, like everywhere else does I suppose. The positives are that it’s a close community and is very accepting to everyone and it’s fun to dress up and see how other people dress up. The word ‘Goth’ to me means to break away from commercialism and this idea of what “perfect” is.

In society, people think you need to dress to blend in like sheep to be cool, be noticed and to make friends in my experience, but I have made more friends which are much truer friends by being ‘different’ for they love me for who I am and not for how I look. Some people try to offend me for how I dress and I have to ask if the people offending me are perfect?
I have never smoked, I barely drink, I have never done drugs, I work incredibly hard at the job I love and very soon I’m going to be living on my own independently, but some people would rather judge me for what clothes I wear instead of the things I have achieved. So Goth to me means I can still have a wonderful and happy life without having to fit into a puzzle of other peoples opinions.

You said you have been featured on channel 5 star program ‘100% Hotter, what was that experience like? I take it they didn’t manage to ‘convert’ you?! :p

It was an amazing experience, to be honest, I had lots of fun and it was exciting to see what they were going to do to me. They did my hair and my makeup which was amazing because I just sat there waiting because there were no mirrors at that time. Roughly 3/4 weeks later I was in Waterloo having a wander with some friends and I actually bumped into the crew who filmed my episode doing some more filming and we had a chat and they could see that I hadn’t changed my style at all [Laughs]

Altercarnated Photography has taken some amazing photos of you! When you’re in front of the camera, what helps you create the poses? Is there anything, in particular, you think about or does it come naturally?

I do think I am blessed with a photogenic face but that’s only half of the work I reckon. From previous shoots and listening to photographers I’ve learnt how my face works and what angles are best, so if I keep my chin down slightly and the camera is above me, my eyes look lovely and big, and if I look straight at the camera my nose looks much straighter and feminine other than when I turn diagonally.

I also think that one of the main things that helps is I listen to the photographer and I’m not afraid to make mistakes or fall over or look silly for a moment while modelling, I just have fun.

What first drew you to modelling? And what advice would you give anyone wanting to start out?

When I was on ‘100% Hotter’ and the crew were taking pictures of me they said I should try modelling. Another time I was walking to work in Camden and a guy stopped me asking if I wanted to be in a photoshoot for ‘Pilot magazine’, I did it just for fun and because I have never done it before. Since then I have done a little bit of a range of modelling from Goth to Lingerie even.

Is there anywhere you’d love to travel to, do a model shoot or a photographer you’d like to work with in the future? 

I would love to go to WGT and take a few pictures there just for the atmosphere. In terms of photographers, I think I am very happy with who I have shot with before and would gladly shoot with all of them again.

Which has been your favourite collaborator to date? And do you have any upcoming shoots in the future?

I would have to say my favourite picture I’ve modelled (it’s my wallpaper even) is the collaborated project between Altercarnated Photography and Catherine Beltramini. Other than that I did do a lingerie shoot which I loved doing and am talking about doing it again soon. I am talking to a couple of photographers but my days off work change every week so it’s challenging trying to plan far ahead.

What’s your favourite makeup/brand you use for shoots and do you apply the makeup yourself?

I do apply my makeup myself 99% of the time as my makeup is all random bits and bobs that I give it a try. Only recently I’m discovering Anastasia, YSL and Morphe and I’m now using a combination of them mostly.

Which is your favourite collaborator? Is there a brand or model you’d like to shoot with and haven’t yet? 

Not any model in particular, but I have been trying to plan a 2 model lingerie shoot for maybe a year but trying to make 3 people plan a 1-day event for some reason is really difficult.

Do you have anyone you admire or draw inspiration from when it comes to your image?

Seike Clowniac, the lead singer of ‘Kerbera’ I take a lot of inspiration from, music and fashion-wise. Other than that if I see something cool online somewhere I’ll try to experiment and see if I can replicate and twist around a few things.

If you had an opportunity to model for any clothing company, who would they be?

Modelling for Rick Owens would be a dream come true for me! I have modelled for Dilara Findikoglu on ‘London Fashion Week’ a few years ago and that was so much fun!

Firstly, well done for starting your transitioning journey, this step should be celebrated! Is there any advice you can give someone who is thinking of going through the same journey?

My advice would be to do your research and make sure you know it’s what you want to do, and be patient because it’s a long process but it will happen if you want it to.

What’s your favourite thing about the LGBTQ+ community?

For me, it’s that everyone is different and being themselves. And people see me for who I truly am too

Have you received support and understanding from your friends and family?

I think all of my friends have known I’m ‘trans’ from before I even knew, they all support me which is amazing and a few people at work know and they’re so supportive. I haven’t told my family yet though.

Have you ever entered the AMOTY (Alternative Model Of The Year)? If yes, what was the experience like and if no, would you do so in the future? 

I haven’t but I know many people who have. I think for me, I’m happy just doing a few shots here and there and having fun. I’ve done too many dance competitions to count so I think I’ve had my fill of competing.

Do you have any exciting projects coming up after lockdown is over?

I have learned how to DJ so when clubs start opening again I’m hoping to start djing straight away! And I  have a few minor projects in the background that are music and fashion related.

Are there any other hobbies and interests you like doing?

I have very odd hobbies which I love doing; I brew my own wine and mead, making very unique and unheard-of flavours. My next wine will be a rose petal and lavender wine! And I can crochet. I’ve already crocheted a little demon teddy bear and am hoping to make another one when I get the time!

Thank you for your time today Casey, is there anything else you would like to say to our readers? 

Thank you for letting me be a part of this! And one thing I will say is just by yourself through and through…