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Seven Questions with Alternative Artist Ben Chenier of Cult Sirens

Seven Questions with Alternative Artist Ben Chenier of Cult Sirens

Posted on Mar 8, 2011 by Goddess Sonya

In my travels across the internet, I get to meet so many fantastic people.

Have you ever had one of those days where one link leads you to another link and that to yet another? Well that's how I became acquainted with Fetish Cult Sirens, an alternative models websites of Vampire and Horror picture influence with a modern-day twist. Fascinated by the array of  models of all colors and shapes and by imagery that was so fresh and engaging, I wanted to know more about this Montreal based vision of female empowerment.

Enter Ben Chenier its creator.

Read on and get to know the man with the plan to diversify the modeling game, empowering women of all stripes...

  
1. What made you decide to create a site called Cult Sirens? Please tell us all about where it started.

Believe it or not, the Cult Sirens brand name will celebrate its 10th anniversary in 2012. Actually, it all started when I was writer/editor of a sci-fi webzine (in French since we?re based in Montreal). I quickly realized that my proposed portraits about cult actresses involved in this genre (and in some others like horror, fantasy, B-movies, erotica, foreign films, etc.) were the most viewed pages. So I began translating my articles in English and decided that Cult Sirens could be an interesting title, a bit like when we read "Scream Queens" or the likes.

So the first version became an unique place to learn more about starlets like Laura Gemser, Edwige Fenech, Chelo Alonso, Meiko Kaji and many other entertainers not than well known to mainstream audiences but enjoying cult followings by many film fans. Forward to a few years after when I decided to create my own visual product. I became an photo event planner, uniting the right models and photographers to the best location possible depending on the theme. I met amazing people and talent but it left me dissatisfied since it was my own concepts/story lines seen through the eyes of others. That?s why I went behind the camera to really create my visions.

2. I really enjoy the variety of models of different colors, shapes, sizes & genres! Why have you opted to be so inclusive unlike most photographers & producers?

It?s top priority here to propose the widest diversity possible. There are some old stereotypes that still bother me? like why can?t a black model be portrayed in a fetish theme instead of your usual urban/hip-hop pictorial? It irks me to see only paper-thin models in alternative work? when I approach someone who?s not usually associated with the genre (mainly for physical or racial reasons), I encounter pure delight as a reaction.

We quickly began to  contact burlesque entertainers, pin-up models, transgendered perfomers, pro dominas? so indeed variety is the key! Right now, we already have a reputation for featuring and working with individuals coming from as many ethnic backgrounds as possible, a fact that pleases me to no end. Expect this trend to continue.

3. What do you look for when selecting models to appear on the site?

I look for sincerity first of all, regardless of the degree of experience. People who are willing to step out of the box a bit, people who really enjoy what they do on a personal level. Oddly enough, not anyone who applies to become a Siren is automatically in? I guess that you have that special aura or you don?t. The nature of that aura still escapes me for now but many swear that there?s something unique that unites all the official Sirens!

I feel a lot of satisfaction in having been the initial creative spirit behind the Sirens sisterhood, as I feel that each girl (local or international) contributes something worthwhile to this whole fantasy Universe. Will I meet each and every one of them in this lifetime? Well? probably not, but I?ll do my best.

4. What kind of reception has your work received among other producers nationally and internationally?

Like mentioned above, many are surprised by the variety of models featured. If what we do can be an inspiration to others, then so be it! Also it?s very flattering to be considered as being kinky without resorting to easy vulgarity or using nudity without a valid point. Reaching out to people from Greece, South Africa or even Hawaii gives a little tingle of satisfaction. I think that everyone really enjoins that all we do is a bit unique.

5. Please tell us about your aesthetic when it comes to art directing your shoots. Is there a particular style or signature you like to convey in your photos & videos?

I try to do my darndest to tell a story, even if it only involves a model sitting on a chair. I come across so many portfolios when it?s clear that the technique is impeccable, the girl is gorgeous, the retouching is exquisite? but she?s just standing there, posing in a very typical way. So mainly it?s all about doing justice to the model?s own unique beauty. Some humour is also frequently present, I guess that?s the kind of relaxed working atmosphere that we prefer.

Even when filming short clips destined for sale (for which I?m of course aware that I don?t need to be a Stanley Kubrick to do so), I still insist on the model(s) to play specific character(s) and give a little logic behind what they do. We work mainly in fetish, pin-up or vampire themes, so everything varies depending on what we?re getting involved on a particular day. Most important for me is to keep a degree of collaboration where everybody on the set can propose their own ideas: these brainstorms give me the most creative satisfaction. Another fact worth mentioning is that I often work alongside my wife as we use two different cameras at the same time for two different perspectives.

For the life of me, I couldn?t even try to get any interest in taking a photo shot of a puppy starring at us with its big reproachful eyes lying in a wicker basket? but from as far back as I can remember, I've loved and now enjoy creating images of women displaying their own power, confidence and beauty still gets me going.

6. What is your goal for Cult Sirens and Fetish Cult Sirens? What do you want the world to know about you?

Firstly, I?d love Cult Sirens to be a major web portal to anyone willing to discover world wide talent in alternative visual photo art.

Secondly, we still want visitors to know that we?re there to give a hand in promoting their product, events, sites, etc. We have helped and collaborated with local people as well as some from outside in starting out portfolios, set up shoots and create web sites. Our objective is to provide a quality service with taste, dignity, respect, integrity, and professionalism. Our goal is to make our models SHINE.

7. Do you have any future projects or collaborations you're working on for 2011?


Big things are coming up in the upcoming months, mainly our fourth annual edition for Vampires Cult Sirens this spring, our trip to FetishCon in late July (shoots are already being booked right this minute- pure craziness!); continue exploring the possibilities regarding our all new video news bulletin, plan my long-delayed visual homage to Eric Stanton involving only black models? will there be time to produce a second live show? or finally shoot the first official Cult Sirens short film? Also wouldn?t mind having our own video label, but only time will tell?
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