interview by damage, EMKE
The Dose loves every form of quality art. We decided to give you art and beauty - because the more people you know and the more diverse things you see, the better you will become. Fetish photography is something we've been following for quite a while. For this issue, we contacted Korean/Irish shibari chameleon, the beautiful Kumimonster. Let's put sizzling hot aside. She's intelligent, travels a lot, studies history and judging by the amount of info she leaves behind on the net, she's a terrific net addict. Judging by her radio interviews we heard, she has a vibrant, experienced personality that's about to explode, 24/7. Ladies and gentlemen, submerge in the ever-vivid world of Kumi!
THE DOSE: Numerous interviews started off by asking how you got into the scene and became the model you are today. Let's twist that a bit - could you talk about the greatest challenges and hardships that turned you into the women that you are?
KUMI: How I got started is much easier to answer. I pretty much starting hanging out in clubs and go-go dancing. I was wearing PVC clothing mostly, then that led into me discovering latex. Soon enough I found myself modeling for a local shop, and then meeting the right people at the right time. As far as challenges and hardships, there's nothing that I've not been able to overcome. It's not that I don't set goals for myself, I just keep them realistic. I know my strengths and weaknesses. And I am pretty realistic when it comes to what I can and cannot do. I pretty much chalk it all up to experience.
THE DOSE: Could you elaborate on your thoughts about and relation to shibari?
KUMI: I enjoy bondage. And I also enjoy Japanese styled bondage as well. I love the scent of natural fiber rope and the layering of it on my body. Each length with a purpose. It's what I enjoy, and lucky for me, it's also a part of my job. I get to travel around the US and EU performing in suspension and installation shows. It's great!
THE DOSE: Could you tell me about how you discovered shibari/kinbaku and your first experience?
KUMI: Hmmm trying to remember... this is hard. But I do remember Lou Duff in San Francisco who was always walking around with rope hanging from either a shoulder or a belt. I saw people getting tied up at clubs or attached to those large rope webs. That stuff didn't really interest me though. Then some other San Francisco people that I knew were getting together and tying people up. But it was different. I liked it more. It seemed a bit ‘harder'.
THE DOSE: What is your favourite tying?
KUMI: I love suspensions :-)
THE DOSE: Besides shibari, do you like other bondage styles?
KUMI: Some, it's not necessarily a bad thing, but I prefer hemp and jute. Nylon rope just isn't my thing, but I do work with people that rig with it and they're just as good. I am not a fan of that Celtic knot macramé styled stuff. It's not at all my thing.
THE DOSE: How much of your work is centered on the web versus doing photo and video shoots for other people?
KUMI: It depends. I run a content driven site, so I have to produce content for it. But a lot of the people I work with (photographers) don't shoot in that way. Some may be using digital, but my favorites still use film. I not only work to get content for my site, but I also work as my own manager to book performances (bondage and otherwise), shoots with other producers, and shoots for latex designers as well. The work load changes from month to month, and it also depends on the market at the time (for latex) as well as where I happen to be (some places I travel to more frequently. If a visit is rare, then I might be more in demand at that time. or not).
THE DOSE: Have you ever thought about taking a camera and getting on the other side to show how the world looks like through your eyes?
KUMI: I keep a mob log though it needs to be updated. (I have a ton of images to upload on my phone still). These are just my camera phone pix without a lot of text. Simply the date and location is usually posted.
THE DOSE: What is your idea of beauty?
KUMI: This changes all the time. It depends on my moods and what happens to thrill me at the time. It's really hard to pinpoint. I love various fetish imagery, with glamorous make up and extravagant styling. It's just so easy to think I remember taking the Stansted Express on the way to the airport from London and looking out the window and for some reason, the view made me really happy. I kept staring at it. When I took the same trip again the following week, the same view made me happy again. Speaking of which, the night sky I saw when I first arrived in Stockholm. That was beautiful! Red and fushia fire! Wow. Sweden left a great impression on me.
THE DOSE: Is it possible to select one of your images that you think would represent you to the fullest if no one had seen your work before?
KUMI: No, it's not. I change my look with wigs and makeup so often. I also do bondage work, latex work, and simple stark nudes. But there are images of me that have had widespread distribution and these could represent me, albeit they would be missing a part of the whole. Most people familiar with such images might also be familiar with the whole fetish scene, so in viewing a well-known image, they might also think of the history related to that photo (the location, the photographer, the latex).
THE DOSE: Amidst all the photographers that you worked with, whose oeuvre do you respect the most?
KUMI: Steve Diet Goedde (I've worked with longest) & Gilles Berquet (I've appreciated the longest) who both work with film.
THE DOSE: Your tattoos were designed by the Patrick Conlon who also had a hand in Manning's Transceptor. How do you like Manning's work and what's your favourite album/artwork collection by him?
KUMI: I looooooovee Patrick!! I looooooooveeee Michael! My favorite piece will be the one of this bald scientist in the garden who... oh wait, he's working on that one! It's me!!!!
THE DOSE: What would your career choice be if you had to discard modeling and being a history teacher/professor?
KUMI: Pornographer, madam. Something like that.
THE DOSE: What traditions do you follow, if any?
KUMI: I'm not quite sure I understand this question, but if you mean religious beliefs: none. If you're referring to my cultural background then Asian-American. My mother is Korean and I'm used to things done in that mixed Asian household kind of way. Some of the things I do (like eating with chopsticks or taking my shoes off before entering a house) are just normal things. Also, I travel a lot, so I try to ‘forget' my usual (the ruder American stereotypical) practices in order to more easily adapt to those of the various cultures I run into during my trips.
THE DOSE: You blast off into space on an interplanetary mega-trip - and you carry three CDs and three books with you - what would those be?
KUMI: Um... hello! iPod!! More CDs and books can be stored! Haha. But hmm let me try...Ryuichi Sakamoto (he should have a greatest hits, and if he doesn't I'd burn it myself), Vivaldi violin concertos. I dig that shit. Last one? gah! Blondie perhaps? Or Queen. Not sure. Books. The biggest book of sudoku puzzles ever. Hmm maybe a history book (I have this one I really like (history of warfare). and the last one, I am thinking something along the lines of Grimm's Fairytales. um, if I'm on this interplanetary megatrip, isn't there the intraweb where I can just read everything anyways?
THE DOSE: At this point of your life, what is the thing that makes you the happiest?
KUMI: Being able to travel around the world to see new cities and people. Being able to return home to my family after really long trips.
THE DOSE: Please describe your average day - an average day without shooting.
KUMI: Start up computer. Wake up. Check email. Awake now. Eat. Watch TV. More puter work. Eat... I pretty much nosh throughout the day and the puter is always on. The thing is, I am also traveling. So just because I'm not shooting on a particular day, doesn't necessarily mean I'm not working.
During the months of January, April, May, & most of June, I've been on the road. The month of February, I was home for 5 days, 11 days in March. I just returned home only to leave immediately for a few days. It's the end of June now, and I've only been home for a couple of days really. I leave for Atlanta on July 3. So, that means, for this year, I've only been around less than a month! After Atlanta I head over to Los Angeles until the month is over. Then I return home to prepare for my trip to Tampa, which will be followed by a journey northwards to MD, PA, & NY. Maybe Chicago if I can find the time. Mid September I head off to Europe again and I don't plan on returning home until the end of November.
Hmm, so after all this, I guess my average non photo shooting day, is spent traveling from city to airport and from airport to city :)
THE DOSE: How does your modeling career/work affect your normal life and relations? (How much does your media-Kumi and personal-Kumi persona differ?)
KUMI: My modeling and performing work is a part of what I do. I don't change my persona for either work or play. There's no real difference that I notice.
THE DOSE: One question we couldn't leave out even if we wanted to. What everyday womanish perversions do you have? (We know you LOVE shoes!)
KUMI: Shoes? Yes. High heels. Also DC shoes. flipflops too. Latex of course, and stockings.
THE DOSE: How much does the fetish scene permeate your private life?
KUMI: Is my life really all that private? Hah!
THE DOSE: What do you think is more sensual, sight, sound or scent?
KUMI: Oh that depends on the scene and situation!
THE DOSE: If there would be one thing you could teach the future generation, what would that be?
KUMI: Geography. People really have no clue. And a desire to learn history.
THE DOSE: Your photos have appeared in several albums and magazines - when can we expect a Kumionly album, biography or DVD?
KUMI: When someone decides that it would be a profitable venture.
THE DOSE: What's ahead for Autumn/Winter 2006?
KUMI: I already mentioned above: more travel! Well, in a little more detail, around September 17 I will head back to London. Hopefully I can get a week to spend in Athens too. I am booked on 30 Sept for a performance in Torino, IT, then back to London for the SkinTwo RubberBall weekend (first weekend Oct). After that, heading over to work with HWdesign in Vienna as well as doing some work near Bremen. End of October back to London. For November I am performing in Amsterdam at Wasteland (www.wasteland.nl) and after that I'd like to hit Copenhagen. Somehow I want to get to Marseilles and Sweden again!
THE DOSE: Thank you so much for this interview once again. Do you have any final message to the DOSE readers?
KUMI: Thanks to you too! Go visit my site! And if you're on LiveJournal, I keep a blog where I post too much! Hopefully I can visit there someday...