Model Mavis Usher first graced our pages last August in a special behind-the-scenes feature with photos from her June 2018 shoot with renowned pinup photographer Mike James. After hearing Mike’s praise for Mavis, not only as a model, but also as a singer, I contacted her with an offer to appear at Idol Features in a follow-up, this time in an interview, to which she graciously accepted.
So, here is a closer look at the latest James Girl we featured, along with a few more photos from her aforementioned shoot with Mike. All accompanying photos courtesy of Mavis and Mike James of Azimuth Designs.
MAVIS USHER: Yes. I was born and raised in the lush green rainforests of Belize! I’m a Caribbean girl!
CHRIS: I guess people are always trying to guess your ethnic mix?
MAVIS: I am a Latina. My father is Black and my mother is Hispanic, but I mostly identify with the Hispanic culture since I grew up with my mom in the Latino culture. So I identify as Latina.
CHRIS: When did you first start modeling?
MAVIS: I started modelling in 2011. I really wanted to do pinup, but I wasn’t really sure how to start. Many people were so mean when I started. Modeling may seem easy, but it’s not that simple exposing yourself to the world when there are so many critics.
CHRIS: How did you first get in touch with Mike James?
MAVIS: Funny story actually. I met Mike through Facebook. I had seen photos of pinup model Dahlia Derriere and was really impressed by her. I messaged her asking where she got her outfits and she blocked me (laughs). I contacted Mike through his photography page, apologizing just in case it was rude to ask her that type of question, and to tell her I didn’t mean to be rude, of course. I was obviously hurt because I was blocked by someone I admired and had shared her work on other pages I managed. So after that, he then sent me a friend request and we became really good friends from there. He probably doesn’t remember that part.
MAVIS: Mike is very talented and kind. He is very organized and plans his time. I love that he knows how to work angles and light very well. I love his work! He is a wonderful human being overall. His heart is as big and amazing as his work.
CHRIS: Did you have any particular favorite outfits during your shoot with him?
MAVIS: Yes, a pink sweater (laughs). Kinda odd because it was an ordinary sweater, but we had a bond somehow (laughs).
CHRIS: Are there any pinup models, past or present, you particularly admire?
MAVIS: I absolutely love Kelsey Alexandra. She is an internationally published modern tattooed pinup. Shockingly, she is originally from Belize too, but lives in the USA. My pinup inspiration came from her. I also discovered pinup and burlesque through Dita Von Teese. Facebook was definitely a vehicle that led me to pinup and I fell in love! The iconic Marilyn Monroe, Elizabeth Taylor, and Bettie Page are my three most favorite pinups/Hollywood glamour beauties.
CHRIS: I see you’re the administrator of Delicious Dolls magazine. Are you also the founder?
MAVIS: I only manage their Facebook page. The founder of the magazine is Rene Soliz from Dallas, Texas. The page has over three million followers from all over the world.
CHRIS: Do you have a hand in selecting the models who appear in the magazine?
MAVIS: The ladies who appear in the magazine are selected by Rene Soliz. The Facebook page, however, I do manage and I mostly try to lean on the sexier side. The page is to support pinups/beautiful women from all over the world, so we are very diverse.
MAVIS: Yes, I have done, Velma, Vampirella, and Wonder Woman. My favorite of all being Wonder Woman. I’ve always imagined myself as Wonder Woman as a kid. So it was like a bucket list thing I had to do (laughs). She was strong and beautiful just like my mother, and I wanted to be just that! I grew up in a single parent family so my mom is my Wonder Woman! I loved reading comic books as a kid. My mom would always buy me these books growing up. Every time my birthday came up, she knew what I wanted because I loved reading, especially anything that had to do with Wonder Woman. Move over Barbara! I am the new Wonder Woman! Just kidding! (laughs)
CHRIS: Besides modeling, you’re quite a singer. I’ve heard you sing some Christmas classics. Any particular favorites you like to sing?
MAVIS: Yeah. My favorite Christmas song to sing is “The Christmas Song.” However, one song I have on repeat during the holidays is “Baby it’s Cold Outside” …the Lady Gaga and Joseph Gordon Levitt version. My family is probably sick of hearing it every day (laughs).
CHRIS: Have you had formal vocal training?
MAVIS: I have never had formal vocal training. Singing runs in my family. It’s a natural thing.
CHRIS: Have you ever sung with any bands?
MAVIS: Yes, I have sung with various local bands in my country. One of the most prominent being Legacy. The band no longer exists, but I usually sing at restaurants and private events with Elito Urbina. He is a great musician in my country. Very popular as well.
CHRIS: Do you have any recordings available?
MAVIS: I haven’t done any recordings, but I should.
CHRIS: Any plans to branch out into acting?
CHRIS: Do you have any skills or hobbies most people don’t know about?
MAVIS: I am really good at dancing Salsa. I think (laughs).
CHRIS: Earlier this year, I did a couple of articles on ladies in the modeling and entertainment industries, who don’t have any tattoos. Nowadays, with tattoos so common, ladies without them seem to be in the minority. I notice you are ink-free (GOOD). So, in today’s seemingly tattoo-crazed society, why have you chosen to remain ink-free?
MAVIS: I remember wanting a tattoo so bad throughout my 20’s, but never really had the courage to do so. I was always so scared about how it would affect me in all aspects of life. I was also scared of getting a bad job done. I have seen so many people ruin their beautiful skin with ridiculous and poorly made tattoos and you know they are permanent. It’s not like you could just wipe them off if you didn’t like them. I feel tattoos are somehow not completely accepted by society. I feel there is still a stigma attached to them. And now that I’m 31 I realize I don’t really fancy them that much. I am so glad I never did it. I would probably be getting laser treatments for tattoo removal today if I had done any.
CHRIS: With that, I’ll thank you again for doing this, Mavis. In closing, any shout-outs to anyone?
MAVIS: Shout-outs to my family for always being so supportive in everything I do. Thanks to Mike James for giving me the opportunity to model and be published. And thanks to Sandy. She is such a sweet lady.
From December 2018; Mavis performing the Christmas classic “Do You Hear What
I Hear?” with Elito Urbina at Nahil Mayab Restaurant and Patio in Belize.
See and hear more of Mavis at:
Mavis on Twitter
About the author
Originally from the San Francisco Bay Area, Chris flirted with the music business there and in Nashville before joining the U.S. Army and serving in South Korea. He remained in Asia for several years afterwards, teaching English, traveling, and covering the regional entertainment scenes. Currently in a mindset between Seoul and San Francisco, besides Idol Features, you can also catch his writings in the print edition of the monthly magazine, Effective.
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