Lisa Pinelli: Glamour Girl in an Instagram Age
Equal parts Glamour Girl and Gamer Girl, Playboy model Lisa Pinelli is helping to put another nail in the coffin of the ideal of the remote, unattainable pinup. In an age where celebrities are accessible through Twitter and models document their lives on Instagram, careers are no longer in the hands of booking agents or magazine gatekeepers - they are in the hands of fans. Which is just how Lisa Pinelli prefers it.
On Modeling While Staying "Dorky as All Hell"
As long as I can remember, modeling and acting were something I always wanted to do. As a very young girl, my mother and grandmother would take me to castings and I did modeling and acting in junior high and high school. However, the work I did wasn't what I was hoping for and a lot of the opportunities were scams.
After high school, I lost both my mother and my grandmother. They both lived their lives saying “TOMORROW…” and “I WISH I COULD…” and they never got to do the things they dreamed of doing. I couldn’t live my life like that and I promised myself I would never say “tomorrow…” or “I wish I could…” I made my dreams happen.
Modeling is competitive in California. California is like the main space-shuttle drop-off center for glamorous, beautiful women. A pretty face is great! People say “ooooohhhh” and “ahhhhhh,” but there needs to be more than that!
I personally do not think I stand out more than the woman next to me, and I honestly don’t think I am that “beautiful.” I don't think I look like a troll either - but I don’t try to be something I’m not! I don’t have plastic body parts, perfect teeth, or rock-hard abs. I just have what I know, what I believe in, and a dorky personality that for some reason, people seem to love. That's it.
What makes me stand out is my ability to ignore what people think of me, and just be myself. I try to be a role model but for me that just means being motivated, staying dorky as all hell, and doing what I love because I love it!
I did 17 years of competitive cheerleading, as well as ballet and gymnastics. I was trained in body awareness, flexibility, and plain old faking it. In modeling, you are stuck in some weird, painful positions and I am very thankful I can fake a cheerful smile while a rock is digging up my booty!
Cosplay! Where to get started...
My favorite holiday has always been Halloween. As a kid, I ran around in costumes all the time. I would wrap blankets around my legs, shove a fork in my hair, and reenact the whole Little Mermaid movie. I did a few photoshoots in different costumes, or costumes I would throw together myself.
But it wasn't until the 2012 Long Beach Comic Con that I really fell in love with cosplay. I was hired to be a Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtle GIRL for the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtle Van. There were four girls representing the turtles - we wore costumized bikinis with weapons. It wasn’t very sophisticated cosplay, but I really got into the role of Raphael and got to climb around in the Turtle Van. I walked around the Con as Raphael and I think I might have died a little.
After that, I continued to do more Turtle Girl events, and developed my costume until finally I was in a turtle dress with a hard shell. That is when my fan base went from thinking of me as a “pretty little Italian girl” to “Turtle Girl.” Everyone called me Turtle Girl! I would go to Disneyland and people would recognize me and call out “Turtle Girl!” from across the way!
After that, I started exploring more costume design ideas and brainstorming what characters I really loved or felt I had to do. My love of comics and video games, and love for arts and crafts suddenly had a massive collision and I was drowning in glue, studs, fabric, and foam! Today, I have so many drawers of unfinished cosplays and a whole closet full of costumes.
I absolutely love making things, getting creative, and sharing my love with the world.
In order to be invited to attend cons or expos as a cosplayer or celebrity guest, your fans have to request you to the organizers. I love appearing as a guest because it means my fans suggested me, and those are the events where you get to talk to all of the fans who have been encouraging you the whole way. It’s an amazing feeling. Every cosplay I make, I hope to inspire someone else.
From Turtle Girl to Playboy Bunny
I got my start in Playboy from their Playboy Miss Social branch, which was an internet-based talent search. Hundreds of girls from around the world compete for a monthly title. Throughout the month there were 4 weekly challenges. These challenges were opportunities for each model to show their talent and creativity in a themed photoshoot - for example, National Nurse Week is in May (above). You had to post a photo in the theme and fans voted on it. The three highest-voted models each week were judged by Playboy, and the top 10 monthly finalists were narrowed down to 2 for a final vote.
Fans could “earn” extra votes by logging in every day, but they could also BUY votes (in my opinion, STUPID!!) Getting enough votes is hard unless your fans pool together major money. I was in the final top 10 in both August, September, and October of 2012. In October I even made it to the final two but in the last 5 minutes the other girl dropped 5 MILLION votes from one voter - his votes cost him well over $50,000!
All in all, I lost.
I was so done with PBMS because every time I ran, I did it the way you were supposed to. I thought it was Miss SOCIAL, not Miss MONEY!
But, in April of 2013 my fans all got together on my group-meet page and asked me to run again. I wasn’t ready to put in all of the time and energy. Trust me, you live on that computer! You talk to everyone, coordinate when votes should be dropped, it’s like a war! And when that final week hits, you don't sleep - there’s too much stress!
I put up a fight, but finally gave in - and my fans held up their end! They fought hard!!! And not one penny went into those accounts!
May 2013 is when I won my title!
Hard work, determination, and lots and lots of encouragement: THAT is what got me into Playboy.
I shot with Playboy in a small studio loft in the Art District of Downtown Los Angeles. It was an amazing experience and I do not want to stop there. Since shooting, I am determined to submit for International Playboys as a Playmate or Feature. You got to have dreams/goals or you are not living!
Always Ask Questions!
When a woman decides to pursue a modeling goal, I tell them to ask questions! When I meet or talk to a new potential client/photographer I ask as many questions as I can think of.
Most importantly, always ask if you can bring an escort! If the photographer says no, just don't go. Whether or not you actually were going to bring an escort, or what they say their reasons are, if they are not okay with an escort, don’t go. Ask the photographer for references, and of course do your research!
I research every photographer before I shoot, and some photographers have become my closest friends.
Of course, I have still gotten some weirdos!
BOUNDARIES & CYBER-BULLIES
Regardless of my job, my relationship comes first. I have never had a partner who respected my career until I met my husband. He has been very supportive every step of the way and he loves it. He loves seeing me happy and he helps out during shoots.
Social media can be tricky. You always have the random guy who says "Damn you're hot, let me suck your toes!” But I also have fans who respect *me* - not because I have a boyfriend, a husband, a wife, whatever… They respect *me* and their comments definitely show that.
When I was a kid I was always picked on. Kids said I was weird-looking or I had ugly teeth. I just kind of learned to ignore people, and I don’t have enough time in my life to waste a second on someone who just wants to cyberbully. If I receive something negative, how I respond depends on my mood and how quickly I see it. I will either shut them down with a message or block them; or my fans will let them know that they were wrong.
I do receive a lot of "male crotch shot" pictures. I normally just block them straight away. Nothing said, just GONE! I will not tolerate such rude, disrespectful behavior. I do not believe this comes with the "gamer" community, I started from the model side before I merged modeling with cosplay and I have seen MORE abuse in the traditional modeling world.
From my experiences on social media and at events, comic book-lovers, gamers, nerd and geeks have been the sweetest and most interesting people to talk to. I’m not saying everyone else is boring, but I am saying that the bad rep in the nerd/gamer community is very false.
If someone crosses a line, I normally send a message or simply block them. Haha - there is that BLOCK again! The blocking option is my best friend! But I do not have to use it that often.
I have some pretty awesome fans! I love them!
QUESTIONS FROM FANS
I do not have a specific genre or type of character I like to cosplay. I gender-bend, I like gaming characters, movies, anime, you name it! I did recently really get into armor cosplays. It is a lot more challenging to make and you can put so much more detail in your work.
I make MOST of my cosplay items and props, and I had to teach myself. Luckily, I have always enjoyed arts and crafts, drawing, painting, and building. Most of my props and armor are made from EVA foam, spackle, and different fabrics.
However, I do not always have the time or capability to make some of the more specialized things I need - I turn to other cosplayers or etsy for that perfect touch. Sometimes I will buy a blank corset or shoes and build off of that - add new fabric, wings, etc. That is one thing I have always wanted to learn to make - a corset!
I love fan art!!!! I mostly receive fan art via email or social media, but every now and then someone will mail me their work and I go crazy! I love seeing everyone's talent and I hang all fan art in my cosplay room!
Sadly, I will never be able to meet some of the die-hard international fans I have in Europe or Japan, but if enough fans suggest me as a guest for upcoming shows and con, I will receive an invitation to attend.
I used to sell prints and a lot of international fans would purchase them, but I recently closed my store because it was very hard to keep organized!
But I can try to be there for them on social media!
Diet and Workout
I have been vegetarian since I was 8 and I am now 29 years old. I was never into eating meat - however I would sit in the middle of the living room floor eating a BIG bowl of lettuce while watching cartoons.
I decided to be vegetarian after I really connected the dots that cow=hamburger. I love animals and I never wanted to stick another animal inside my body. I never missed it, and now the smell of meat grosses me out.
I run at least 5 miles a day and train in parkour and free-running as well as the circus Lyra. I always drink an Isolate whey protein after my workouts. I know I probably do not get enough protein, and after I train it is always a good idea to replenish those tired muscles with protein and amino acids.
Diet wise, I used to eat mostly raw fruits and veggies until my husband came along. Now I eat pizza, nachos, and veggie burgers! I have to work out much harder now, but my husband is my trainer!