KathTea Katastophy is a tight-lacing, bald to the bone, Corset, Fetish and Cosplay model from Malaysia. She specialises in latex and tight-lacing – can you believe that her waist can get as small as twenty inches? But KathTea is more than just a pretty face. She has come a long way on her modelling journey and has the experience to prove it. To get some awesome advice on tight-lacing and model know-how, read our interview below. Don’t forget to check out the gallery at the bottom for some awe-inspiring photos!
Tell us about your career as model. How did you get started?
Well, initially I wanted to be a singer but after falling into depression, I lost my singing voice but deep down I knew I still wanted to be in the limelight so I got into theatre for a while (where I come from, the theatre scene was small too). I was a fan of ANTM and wanted to model but so many forums and websites had a look at my height of 5’2” and then said to me that I can’t model because I am too short! Some time around the age of 16 or 17, I discovered alternative model Roswell Ivory and discovered that I can model despite my height so I began reading her blogs, articles and even emailed her for advice. Soon after I got started with a few test shoots, I came across Anita De Bauch, whom I am proud to call my model mentor. She happened to be a friend of Roswell and she often travelled to my country to model! I also kept in touch with her via email and such, then they say, the rest is history. (note: Anita has a book called “The Ugly Girl’s Guide to Modelling” coming out soon!)
Apart from having a great look, what else do you think is an important factor in succeeding as a model?
Confidence. You have to love yourself and how you portray your model persona. This takes time and practice but it is well worth it. Investing in lovely outfts is great too but secondary. But you’ve got to love YOU before you can even pull off a tailored latex dress or a couture corset!
What other advice do you have for models just starting out?
Try photographing yourself first. Use the opportunity to experiment with make-up, fashion as well as posing! Back then smartphones weren’t a thing so I used a cheap compact camera and just played around with outfits and editing! These days, some phones are even better than a budget camera, plus with all the fun editing apps, you can really experiment. Get a cheap tripod for your phone and go crazy. I had oh so many photos even before I landed an actual modelling gig. Embarassing in hindsight but hey, they were a fun form of training.
While you’re at it, look for friends who are hobbyists or semi-pros that offer affordable photography package deals. I went with the former because I was lucky that a schoolmate of mine was pursuing photography in uni. One of his earlier portraits was what got me attention on Model Mayhem and helped me land TFP/TFCD shoots.
Do note I said TFP and TFCD. Unless it’s a photographer you’re DYING to work with, it’s better to work on a trade basis with photographers who are starting out as well. Why? You’re still learning, getting an expensive shoot while you’re not experienced may not prove worthwhile. It’s a means to build your portfolio while you’re learning to be a better model with the help of learning photographers.
Also, always ALWAYS check for references! Roswell has a good blog post about that topic [here].
Do you love any one genre of modeling more than another?
Oh wow, that’s a trick question. I LOVE cosplay because it’s an excuse to dress up as various characters. However, I would really REALLY want to explore more high fashion and avant-garde work someday! Perhaps with a dash of fetish!
What do you consider your career highlights so far?
Modelling for a professional workshop in Singapore, most definitely. It’s amazing to work with various talented photographers in just one day.
If you could shoot with or for anyone, who would you choose and why?
In terms of designers, the late Alexander McQueen would be perfect. Lady Gaga, who’s shorter than me, got the opportunity to work with such a great CRAZY design team that can make her insanely tall with high heels and quirky couture. Not a big fan of what his current house is designing these days, they’re too subtle!
As for photographers, I’d have to say Steve Diet Goedde. I love how his monochrome photos have so much character. He has the ability to make shoes looks deliciously sexy and seemingly sexual shots look tasteful and artistic! One time I commented on a photo on his deviantART and he replied, I was absolutely starstruck!
Lastly, for models, I can’t really decide between Roswell and Anita. Probably both! Reasons are pretty obvious. If it wasn’t for them, I won’t be where I am today, in terms of modelling that is.
One of the most striking things about your shaved head, how long have you been shaving it? Is it purely a stylistic choice or is there a further meaning to it?
I have a bad habit of getting my hair cut every 2-3 months. I easily get bored of my various hairdos. So one day, I think a couple of years back now, I got my head shaved and I kinda stuck with it. Plus, it strangely gave me a bit of wisdom. Trust me, once your head is shaved, you CANNOT be judgmental over others anymore because EVERYONE around you is judging you!
What is it like to be the only alternative-fetish model in your region?
It’s good and bad. The bad thing is that there are people who don’t get it. A lot of so-called models here are practically carbon copies and they charge really low because they charge according to how much skin is exposed. While I can replicate their look easily with a wig, those people would rather opt for the cheaper model. My rates are fixed (except for bondage, obviously) as I charge according to my skill and how much I invest into my wardrobe. That’s something I learned from Anita too. Charge for my niche, not skin.
The good thing is that I intrigue people, so much so I was scouted to be a featured extra for the upcoming Netflix series Marco Polo. I got to play two roles, which is fun as one of them has long elaborate hair and the other is bald. Hopefully, I could somehow make a return should there be a second season.
Do you have any tips for staying safe as a fetish model, particularly for those just starting?
As mentioned above, always check for references, even if it appears that they’ve worked with big time models or agencies, it’s still safer to check. Sometimes they were just participating in group shoots but in reality they’re a creep when given an opportunity to be alone. Sometimes they just have friends in high places (Terry Richardson comes to mind). It’s better to be a little paranoid than not!
You can reach a 20” waist when wearing a corset. How long have you been tightlacing?
I’ve been training since late 2011. 19”-20” corseted was my smallest, back when I was working in a gym as a personal trainer. These days I comfortably fluctuate between 22”-24”. I tend to bring myself to 21” when I am in a shoot though. My natural waist was 26” at smallest and today it’s more around 28”.
Could you tell us about your tightlacing regime? Do you have any tips for those just starting out?
I used to train 23/7, only taking the corset off for showers. Even when demonstrating exercises at the gym, I remained corseted too! Nowadays I train less, it’s more like 8 hours at night while I am asleep. Some people find corset training in their sleep uncomfortable but it’s the contrary for myself at least. As I make and design corsets too (under the name Katastrophy Korsets), I have intentions to make a fully functional corset suitable for exercise as well.
My advice for beginners is to read up and educate yourself on corsetry. There are so many resources and writings on corseting properly and safely. E.g Staylace’s Medical section, Lucy’s Corsetry blog and Youtube, Fran’s Writings on Contour Corsets, The Tightlacing Society on Facebook.
I always say this and I will say it again, if you think that all this is TL;DR, then corseting is not for you. Note: TL;DR means “too long; didn’t read” which is an internet slang that indicates that the reader did not actually read the statement due to its undue length.
Before we go, do you have any tips for new models that find you inspiring?
Gosh, I don’t know if there are many! But if there’s something I would say, it may be cliché but don’t judge others before judging yourself. If you intend on saying something negative about someone reverse the roles and imagine someone doing the same to you. You’d probably feel hurt. And you don’t want that, do you?