Susannah Liguori grew up among goats and chickens, on a “hippie mountain,” near Santa Monica, California. She gained acclaim when fashion designer Hedi Slimane photographed her for T magazine in 2011. Her androgynous look and captivating stare helped define a new female sensibility: polymorphous, fearless yet delicate. She now lives in New York, where she works as a model and artist. We talk to Susannah about laws of seduction, the gaze of male photographers and her take on the “Playboy’s Progress.”
As a model, how do you perceive the gaze of male photographers?
The fashion industry certainly is dominated by male photographers however recently there have been wave of bad ass hustling ladies in the house which makes me very, very happy! When I first started working I hadn’t even had my first kiss (late bloomer). It actually helped me a lot to be pushed up against such a concrete example of what men or woman visually want out of you. The power to use your body like it or not to satisfy an idea in someone’s head is extremely empowering while also being completely temporary. Part of the job whether the photographer is male or female is to have chemistry with the person behind the lens. The other part is allowing the lens to be the wall between what you are giving the person behind it and the person you actually are. Sometimes that wall is blurred and I think that’s when things get sticky.
Do you feel often objectified or do you feel you have full latitude?
I work very hard to voice my line with all of that. Everyone has a different line. The line needs to be danced around in order make an image come to life. Creativity happens when everyone is on the same page seeking the same outcome. I think a lot of girls feel objectified when they aren’t in control. I work hard to have the full story and speak my mind for not only my benefit but also the benefit of the image.
“Animal energy is the fuel to seduction but definitely cannot stand on its own to build the fire.”
Let’s forget work and talk about seduction. Do you think seduction is only a matter of animal energy?
I think animal energy is the fuel to seduction but definitely cannot stand on its own to build the fire. Animal energy needs other components to build the burn so to speak. Every fire is different, every seduction is circumstantial and requires different tending to. Slow burn long burn explosion or spark kind of thing.
Do you do something to your place when you receive an interesting guest?
I try and lint roll my cats hair as a courtesy. I prefer incense to candles and think snacks are always a good idea.
Have you ever walked into a man’s (or woman’s) apartment prepped to attract babes, and could you tell?
I think someone’s space says a lot about the person so if it’s altered to circumstantially attract or seduce someone it doesn’t feel like a trap necessarily but it doesn’t feel authentic which is a turn off for me. I would much rather sit on the floor with a few dust bunnies and shitty lighting than on a bed of rose petals and lit candles any day. If you are confident in your space without all the bells and whistles of the prep that’s sexy to me because it mirrors how you see yourself.
How would you define your seductive mood?
Well fed, well read.
How do you know seduction is working for you, what type of signals do you read?
I think I hide behind humor and sarcasm. Getting to know someone’s humor and boundaries in that way is like a form of mild foreplay. I like to laugh and I like to make other people too but once humor is diffused and the wall of sarcasm is pushed down it’s like a scab rip the juicy raw bits come out and hurt but hurt in a nice exciting good kind of way. I like the scab rip feeling that’s how I think I feel like it’s working.
What do you think of the “Playboy's Progress” map?
If I were to enter a playboy’s cave I probably already like him so the charade outlined in the map doesn’t really apply.
Does it make sense for a woman to have a bachelor pad or is it a solely masculine attribute?
Having confidence and comfort in your living space is genderless!
What would be your “map of seduction”?
My father’s side of the family is 100% Italian. Food is the answer to all. I had a habit of making bolognese for my crushes the first time they saw my place. It was a weird kind of ritual all day simmering situation that I got into. Something about making sauce! Makes the house smell loved and lived.
What do you think of the traditional vision of sexiness brands are trying to sell?
I think it’s a really confusing time. I struggle to put words to it. I think it is evolving but there is so much more that can be done. It’s all so temporary I try not to get hung up on it because it just makes me go crazy! Sexiness is complicated and diverse and has curves and edges and spots and dots and a million colors. That gets lost when brands are trying to sell it.