Razor Candi (a.k.a. Kym) is an Internet veteran, beginning in 1999 when she started to post her images and artwork. In 2003, with the rise of social networking sites like MySpace, her work began to receive recognition. Razor Candi was creating a life/persona as a self-realized social media model long before the glamorous Instagram vixens of today. She now has a successful website with a members section where you can access erotic content featuring the model in a variety of gothic outfits and scenarios. Razor Candi is best known for creating all aspects of her “alternative,” dark, heavily tattooed pinup looks, including makeup, scenery, and clothing. Most recently she has launched a Kickstarter campaign to fund her newest project, a coffee table book to be published by Blue Blood Press featuring gorgeous, high quality images of Razor Candi spanning her decade long modeling career. Dirge had the opportunity to discuss this new project with Razor Candi along with some of her thoughts on mainstream beauty, censorship, Internet persona, and erotic web content.

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Dirge: You often say that you don’t fit into mainstream beauty standards. Was your desire to create your own images a way to rebel against mainstream beauty? 

Razor Candi: I can’t say I really set off to be a rebel or specifically be anti-mainstream. I’m not really against anything; I’m only for being you. The alternative and Goth lifestyle just drew me in, I can’t really describe why but I almost immediately felt like I was more understood and belonged in the community more so than in mainstream groups. I didn’t really understand why at the time, but as I’ve matured I’ve realized that it is because I never met social regulations and beauty standards that the mainstream sets. In a way, alternative modeling is a form of going against the grain because it allows me to express myself without boundaries. Part of what I do is meant to piss people off, but another part of me feels very strongly that part of what I do is for freedom and self-liberation.

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You are well-known for creating all your own concepts and looks for your photo shoots. Self-portraiture has long been a method that female artists utilize to explore issues of identity. Can you speak to the importance of fashioning your own image as a woman existing in opposition to mainstream beauty standards?

I feel having a sense of your own self and style, or at least having something that you can identify with, as being the first step of understanding yourself and becoming free. It makes me sad to see people struggle so much to fit in when it’s as simple as just not playing the game. Once you’ve made the conscious decision to not play anymore, you’ve freed yourself, which means you’ve passed restrictions and cookie-cutter ideals.

You are no longer limited when it comes to being yourself whether that involves personality, sexuality, looks, etc. I’m not saying that everything I do doesn’t fit into this or that; a lot of the elements in my looks may fall into mainstream standards or other subcultural ideals, but as long as you’re doing what you want for yourself, that’s really all that matters.

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When did you start creating more erotic/pornographic content? What inspired you to start offering erotic/fetish content as part of your site?

I started shooting erotic content in 2010. My first erotic photo shoot ever was shot for Blue Blood’s site and I really loved it! I felt like for the first time I was shooting with a purpose. I launched RazorCandi.com specifically for my adult work. As soon as I started shooting adult content, my workload intensified and it made sense to launch a site where I could host all of my sets and videos.

Of course one may say I could have pursued fashion modeling as a means of income, but not only am I well past the age limit for fashion models, which would affect work offers, but I’m living in Romania which very much limits me with opportunities when it comes to alternative fashion. Nude work on the other hand is universal. There are people all over the planet who will support erotic art and sexually stimulating imagery.

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In your view, what is the relationship between art and erotica? Can erotic content/porn be art?

I believe that anything can be turned into an art form. It all depends on how you and the viewer want to see it. In a way, I can see how erotic art might just be seen as porn because the purpose behind it is usually to get one’s rocks off, so no matter how artistic you make porn it’s still typically meant to reach a climax.

I’ve always been a firm believer that just because it’s porn doesn’t mean it can’t be art too. I’m not going to deny the intent of erotic work but I don’t think it should be ostracized so bluntly either.

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What do you think is the most important issue facing erotic web content creators?

I believe everyone has a right to an opinion, however, I feel some people take criticism to a whole new level online. I really dislike how aggressive bullies and trolls can be just because they are protected behind a computer. I think it can become a serious issue because it can lead to obsession.

I don’t need to state the obvious about adult models being even more of a high risk because of the controversial subject matter. Not only do we face issues with our online life being possibly destroyed but the fear that these people can always track you down off the internet always lingers.

A more trivial issue is censorship. I’ve learned how impossible it is these days to promote work that is sexy. I am well aware of the differences between nude and sexy and where and where not to post this subject matter but there are people on the Internet who will report a girl in a bikini.

The largest issue here is that anyone can hit a report button and maybe in some cases it is because the reporter is offended, but I think for the most part it gives huge leverage to girls trying to wipe out competition or other jealous people who report just for the sake of it. It’s upsetting because one’s whole career that they worked towards for years can be wiped out all because of too much cleavage or skin showing, hence was the case with my Facebook Page which was removed a year ago for exactly this reason.

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What do you think about the Internet as a vehicle for exploring personal identity? How has using the Internet to get your image out there shaped your persona/career? 

In the 21st century the Internet is an integral part of our existence, it’s definitely no longer something separate or optional in our lives so “resistance is futile,” but I think using the Internet to explore personal identity has its ups and downs. I can see it as being a positive in the way that the Internet exposes you to so much stuff. You have the opportunity to discover subcultures you may have never known about.

On the other hand, I see the negative where people feel pressured to be a certain way or feel that they aren’t adequate because people tend to over-exaggerate things on the Internet. I think this leads to insecurities and confusion.

I can say the same about using the Internet for my persona; it has its ups and downs. Almost two decades ago when I was just a young teen on the Internet, it was actually a great experience for me. Because the Internet was pretty new in 1998 it was very easy for my photos to get attention and for me to be recognized as an alternative model.

I feel that people who are pursuing a career in modeling now are at somewhat of a disadvantage with the over-saturation on the Internet, but then again, competition leads to evolution and better and better work much like in any field.

I question my status a lot because I don’t know if what I was doing 15 years ago was actually worthy of the status it gave me or if it was just because I was one of the few alternative models on the Internet that people were being exposed to. I see a lot of really great models and photography these days that I personally feel are far better than me, and although it does feed some insecurities in me, it’s also natural for things to evolve and others to take their rightful place in the spotlight.

Of course, I understand that we’re all our own hardest critics. The positive to this is because of the huge competition online I’ve always challenged myself and pushed myself to be forever changing and always willing to do anything when it comes to my looks, which I think is important in modeling.

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You currently have a Kickstarter in place to raise funds for a coffee table book showcasing the last decade of your self-made modeling career. It looks like it’s going to be beautiful. Have you always wanted to publish this book and what was the inspiration for it? How are you going to choose which photos to use from your decade-long career?

Publishing a beautiful hardcover coffee table book has always been part of my goal. About 8 years ago I sold a 3-volume set of books with work from 2004 to 2008 but because I had relocated to a small town in Romania during that time I did not have the means to make such a high quality book. Now I’m in the process of trying to raise funds for the project via Kickstarter, you can search RazorCandi for more details.

I’m in collaboration with Blue Blood and they will be helping me choose the images. I always think it’s best to have a second opinion anyway, it’s hard to be the judge of your own work and I think they have a good eye and will choose well.

What will be some challenges you anticipate in publishing erotic content in print versus on the web? Do you have any thoughts about publishing as an aspect of the sex industry? 

I don’t really see print as being that different than having nude images public on the web. Most of the nude images in the book will be very tasteful. If anything it’s better because people can’t comment or report the images. I kind of like that my nude work will be part of the book because I feel that it’s been a huge part of my modeling career and it’s time people accept it, or at least the ones who haven’t should consider accepting it because it’s going to be here to stay.

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Donate to Razor Candi’s Kickstarter and be the first to receive her pinup book! All images courtesy of Razorcandi.com.

Annie Rose

Annie Rose

Annie Rose is a visual artist and writer living and working in Brooklyn. She holds an MFA in Photography, Video, and Related Media from SVA. Annie’s pursuits include Special Projects Manager of the poetry collective Gemstone Readings and writing art critique/reviews for various online publications. Her current interests include individual isolation and the gothic net art, digital trauma, anonymity, and sex work.