Her name precedes her. A whirlwind of energy and stamina, top model and model trainer, Tempest Hennesy takes time out of her very busy schedule to talk about her lifelong love of fashion and entertainment.

Harriet Gausman: Tell me a little more about the person behind Tempest.

Tempest: The person behind Tempest is, pretty much, what you see. There’s really little that I hide, except for the ultra personal. I figure it saves time and energy to just be me from the get go I don’t have to worry about being someone else. To some, I’m tough as nails; subtle as a Mack truck with busted brakes and surrounded by a wall that I let few trust. The softer side is one who is fiercely loyal to friends, company and family; extremely critical of myself, my abilities and successes; and constantly pushing myself to the next level of success.. whatever that may be.

Harriet Gausman: What skills did you bring with you inworld? Were you well-prepared for the job of fashion model in SL™?

 

Tempest: Through the grace of SL, I can be any age I like. In this incarnation, I choose to be in my mid 20’s. In reality, I bring over fifteen years of fashion and entertainment experience to the table, as well as being a techno-geek for well over 17 years. That’s not only given me the ability to use what I’ve learned within the industry but comfortably mix it with being able navigate the metaverse that is SL. It’s also allowed me to pick up, quickly, what I don’t already know. Honestly, I can’t say that anyone is really ‘prepared’ for the short of leap I had decided to take. I knew, from the time my own friend styled me, that I didn’t just want to be a model. I wanted to be the best I could possibly be and make the SL industry stand up and take notice; show that it was possible to be an avatar and a professional. After all, this is well more than a game.

Harriet Gausman: What made you venture into SL™?

Tempest: I had been involved with another online community where we created, pretty much, an ongoing storyline based on characters. The place had closed and I was going through severe withdrawal. I had tried IMVU but I didn’t like some of the non-consensual interactions that went on there. I can be courteous to strangers; say hello when spoken to, or even hold a conversation, but I’m not the sort to become instant best friends with someone or, heaven forbid, suddenly find myself in a liplock I didn’t ask for or want. A long time friend had seen SL on the news and, knowing me well over 10 years, thought it would be something I’d enjoy; even if it were just a glorified chat room. Well, that’s what we thought at the time. That all changed, though, when Asifa Coronet, one of my mentors, found her own footing and restyled me to what I looked like when I did the feature in Players Magazine (with Marilyn Murphy). It’s been a fantastic whirlwind since then, I have to say and I don’t regret that first login one bit.

Harriet Gausman: Tell us a little about what you do in SL™?

Tempest: I like to call myself a career model. This is what I do. This is what I’m good at. I’ve long stopped shying away from the term celebrity because it is what it is. That’s not to say I’ll shout it to whoever will listen or make unreasonable demands. I’ve just accepted the fact that I’ve become known for my work and I take pride and honor in that. Nothing more. All I do is model, style, do consultation on both appearance, carriage and business. All around, the fashion and entertainment industry are my passions and I give it my all. Like that, I really don’t have time to do much else and that’s fine.

Harriet Gausman: Were you productive from the start or did you waste time pimping your avatar and learning the basics first? How quickly did you begin to work within the business?

Tempest: I spent about a month, or so, learning the ropes; I’m a quick study. My friend showed me around, a lot, and having a business of her own, had a lot of influential people help me out as well. A total immersion into that strange creature that was SL. Being a business woman, IRL, of similar mean to myself, my friend sat me down and asked what it was I really wanted to do if I were given the chance to do anything. Shopping with her, to gear me up, I took a good look around and saw girls, people, who were calling themselves model and super model but didn’t seem to have an inkling as to what any of it meant. I’d lived in a little place, in world, called Little Philly; in a rowhouse that didn’t cost more than 80$L/week and 50 prim to spare but I refused to camp (or upload) any money so I’ve been working from jump. First, with my friend’s record label then, after finding my first professional photographer and getting my portfolio done, I entered a contest for Player’s Magazine. The rest is history because I’ve been working, non-stop as a model since then.

Harriet Gausman: What’s the best and worst part of training models in SL™?
Tempest: The best part about training, or those I’ve trained, is watching that which inspired and inspires me in others. To see that passion, drive and dedication shine through from people willing and wanting to learn. It gives me no end of pride to see those I’ve worked with; those I’ve helped, walk some of the most prestigious runways in SL with all the grace and style that I knew they had in them; male and female alike. I’ve held to the statement that what I do, anyone with the drive, dedication and a bit of talent can do. It warms me no end to see those who’ve come to me seekng advise, training or consultation, succeed and do exactly that. The worse part about training, I have to say, is trying to help those who think they know everything; the difference between a Diva earned and a Diva demanded. I am where I am and I know that I don’t have everything; that I don’t know all the answers. Until death by deletion, I will continue to learn and take constructive criticisms. It’s how one continues to grow and develop. It’s how I continue to try to make myself ever better.
Harriet Gausman: You have the reputation of having a no nonsense approach, do you ever come across trainee models who want to butt heads with you and if so, how do you deal with it?

Tempest: Oh, absolutely. It’s a human being’s instinctive reaction to challenge that they perceive as an authoritative figure or any sort of ‘expert’, especially within the realms of Second Life where who we portray in pixel might not be who we are sitting at the keyboard. After all, they can’t see my recommendations, awards, RL references of the years I’ve spent actually putting real, physical, energy into what SL has allowed me to continue to pursue. That, I can grant anyone. They can try to butt heads with me… but I’m an Aries female through and through I will butt back, especially if I have a firm foundation behind me. A foundation, meaning, logic, experience and facts that I can pull up at a moment’s notice. In such an instance, I try to remain as calm as possible… but my name is Tempest for good reason, so the calm is a conscious effort for those really trying to push my buttons. If we can’t, calmly, come to a logical understand, or middle ground, I have no qualms of letting them know that I got where I am by the very things they’ve asked me to teach. If they don’t like the answers to the question they ask, then they’re free to walk. I know where my next step will take me. Do they?

Harriet Gausman: What’s the key to your success?

Tempest: Honestly, this is a venture I couldn’t have done on my own and recognizing that, from jump, is what’s kept me here and still current even after all this time. An adage from an old friend of mine when “The key to longevity in this game is to know what you want, know how to get it and if you haven’t a clue as to either, make others think that you do.” I firmly believe that and advise others to take it to heart, as well. It took me a long time to get from sl-Lil’Philly to a place that’s secure enough to keep the the nosy at bay. I’ve put in hours upon hours of inworld time and dedication. My word is bond, to me, so when I give it I push heaven and earth to keep to my responsibilities and commitments; trying to let no one down. For the most part, I endeavor to remain humble, or as humble as my choice of profession will allow. As good as I am, as renowned or popular as I might become, there will always be someone out there better and more ambitious that I am who will take the spotlight and I will, humbly, bow out… though not without a little fight. After all, I’m not the first career model in SL to get this far, and I won’t be the last. I can’t say it’s without its drawbacks, though. A personal life? Few have the stamina or patience to put up with my schedule or my necessity for a drama-less life. I have to say drama-less because drama free would be asking too much. I may not seek it out, but it sure as anything finds me.

Harriet Gausman: What is your stance on the presence of content theft that is slowly pervading the grid? Do you think it can be controlled? Is there anything the model industry can do to help the situation?

Tempest: Frankly, I think the theft is appalling. So many talented artists put time, energy and money into creating the things we wear, accessorize with, or use in-world. I feel that their intellectual property ought to be protected. Yes, there’s no such thing as a new mouse trap; only a better one, but people have the right to retain credit for their versions of it without someone with no more imagination than the creation of a stick figure taking it and calling it their’s. They, and all designers; be it of skin, clothing, boots, jewelry and accessories, and hair have worked too damned hard for too damned long for it to be taken without so much as a thought. Taken and called someone else’s prim for prim, pixel for pixel, texture for texture. As an industry in SL, we are doing all that we can do. We turn the thieves in when we find them, we go to great lengths to ensure that which we do wear are from the original designers and not rip offs. We boycott those we do find and we refuse to associate with those who would give backing to the criminals (and that’s what they are) by hosting their fashion shows, etc. I will not, for example, sully my hard won reputation by walking in a show for a known thief; paid or not. What more we can do is limited by the PTB’s (powers that be) reluctance, or inability, to act. Until we can get full authority backing, our hands are tied to the limited means we have of standing against it.

Harriet Gausman: What would you do if you came across a seller of stolen goods?

Tempest: Would this be before, or after, I add my 2 cents to their offline; which I’ve done in the past. I really am called the Tempest for a good reason. Of course, first, I would verify my findings. I’ve been wrong about things before, and I’ll be the first to admit my errors. But, if even after verification, I do find that it is a case of theft, I would bring it to the attention of the original designer and proper authorities. As I do consider myself a part of a vast community, I would take whatever steps necessary to ensure that my friends and co-models don’t make the same mistake as I do. I would let them know my findings. Not as in spamming groups; there are some things that I think require tact and decorum. I would go to my friends in the media, or agency heads… or even models with as many connections as I do and encourage them to spread the word. Whether or not this ends up in a boycott is another story. I would just make sure that people don’t remain ignorant of the theft. It shouldn’t be allowed to continue.

Harriet Gausman: What’s lying on your bedroom floor at the moment? Be honest. Harriet grins.

Tempest: IRL, I think I have my phone and an outfit I was wearing earlier, a couple of fashion magazines and my passport reapplication stuff so that I can finally go and see my sister’s RL line in Barbados Fashion Week. Inworld, I would say a nice pair of black lace up dress shoes… that don’t belong to me and a towel. Maybe my clothes from yesterday, too… we just won’t tell the designer who gave them to me. (lol)

Harriet Gausman: Do you have any advice you can give to those new models trying to make a go of it inworld?

Tempest: SL has all the makings of a game and, to some, it could very well be. Within this industry, though, where designers put out real money, real time and real effort to make the clothes we’re hired… yes, hired, to wear and display it is far from a game. Treat it with the respect it’s due while working. If they don’t take it seriously, how can any of the people we serve take them seriously. Know the difference between Diva earned and Diva demanded. It’s a small thing but could make all the difference in the world; the difference between being sought out for work and being tolerated. One very important thing… network, network, network, don’t burn any bridges and don’t take advantage. Remember that as big as you get, or try to get, there will be someone out there bigger and better.

Harriet Gausman: What’s the next step for Tempest?

Tempest: The world is my game plan and I plan to take it by storm. There are catwalks left to walk, shows left to do, consultations that need to be done and I plan to do as much of it as I can. I’ve succeeded in my first goal, to become a little bit of a Someone. Now, I’m aiming a bit higher still. Retiring, though, is far from being in the plans. I’ll retire when I delete and even that won’t be for a good, long, time.

Advertisements