Male, female, whatever. Meet the underwear model / activist revolutionizing the gender binary, one pair of skivvies (and otherwise) at a time.
Growing up on a rural farm in Vermont often feeling like an “ugly woman,” modeling lingerie & underwear couldn’t have been farther from Rain Dove’s mind. After spending time as a firefighter in Colorado (under a male pseudonym no less after realizing being a “man” earned her more respect), landscaper and a student of genetic engineering and civil law at the University of California, a lost bet on a Cleveland Browns football game sent the 6’2” supermodel-in-the-making to her first casting call.
Now 26 and a self-described “gender capitalist representing human through fashion, film and activism,” Rain has unintentionally become the face of androgynous modeling. Currently signed with Major Models on both their mens and womens boards, Rain has built a successful career as a gender-fluid model representing male, female and everything in between.
Not that it’s been easy. She once was paid $200.00 not to attend a brand’s after-party once show organizers realized she was female – not the male they had casted, and one week prior to walking at New York Fashion Week in 2014 she was sleeping in a Planet Fitness shower stall.
We caught up with the busy model, actor and activist on breaking binary laws, what she wishes everyone knew about agender individuals, and top 3 memorable career moments (as in good, bad and WTF). And in case you wondering – yes, Rain Dove is her real name.
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1. Growing up on a rural farm in Vermont, is modeling ever something that crossed your radar? What did you originally think you’d be when “you grew up?”
Modeling never seemed like something I could obtain. Or really wanted to. It always seemed like something for the popular kids. I felt that clothing was frivolous if not purely for practical usage. I always felt like I’d just be a survivor of the apocalypse like in “Resident Evil”, or a humanitarian aide worker helping to dig wells in arid nations, tying myself to trees in the rainforest to prevent deforestation efforts, writing proposals for the UN. The only reason modeling even found a place in my life was because I realized that if people could afford what i was wearing they could afford to make a difference.
2. So, is the friend to whom you lost the Cleveland-Browns bet now saying “I told you so?” Are you still in touch?
Their name is Carolyn and we most certainly stay in touch. They were in a DKNY campaign at the time and drove a Porsche everywhere. Definitely the polar opposite of who I was. I was landscaping and driving a 1979 VW rabbit diesel. Magic was bound to happen.
3. Was there a defining moment in your modeling career when you thought “Well damn, I really can do this?”
Yes! I was not taking modeling seriously at the time. Yet the people who found me through my work kept asking what was next. When I started posting humanitarian work like volunteering with the homeless or for the environment suddenly these people showed up. The big defining moment for me was when about 300 people showed up for a volunteer event based simply on a Facebook post I’d made. I realized how much more of an audience I had with this platform and decided this is what I’m meant to do. And this was how I was meant to use it.
4. Did you have any idea at the start of your career that you’d end up, literally and figuratively, the face of androgynous modeling?
I had no idea. Fashion in films is always portrayed as being represented by flamboyant gay men, wealthy blond women, and shrewd harsh tongued androgynous women with slicked haircuts. I had no idea gender was even an issue in fashion.
5. What would you say has been your greatest career success thus far, and what has been your greatest challenge?
My greatest success so far was the Ace Rivington campaign. It syndicated worldwide and went everywhere. It was completely accidental and captured an honest moment of inequality and self exploration. There’s nothing I love more than when honesty becomes popular! My greatest challenge has been two things equally. My face/tits and my socioeconomic background. People get confused about the correlation of my DDs to my “male visage”. My face is so strong that brands looking for an LGBT angle have decided not to cast me because the test shoot looked heterosexual if I wasn’t flashing my breasts. Whatever that means. My socioeconomic background gets in the way because I have to work for every single shoot I get. Every audition. Every opportunity. I have a side job doing construction and that has cut into my ability to focus on this career. It has also kept me honest and grounded. Blessing in disguise?
6. Wish list: any dream designers you’d love to work with?
Jean Paul Gaultier in drag. Specifically a bit of facial hair since they’ve never featured a woman in drag before.
7. We love your passion for volunteer work and activism – what non-profits are speaking to you right now?
Right now there are a few great organizations. I work a lot to support GLAAD as well as the Back to Nature Wildlife Refuge. There are a few new ones I’m getting involved with this Holiday season. One is called Socks for Seniors which makes socks for people in nursing homes. The goal is to show people that there are so many ways to help people in this world and we are capable of so much!
8. Top 3 memorable moments (good, bad or WTF) at a show or campaign gig:
a. My first runway show they put a dildo around my neck and had me stand on a box in what appeared to be a bathrobe. I had just given up everything to pursue this. Had I made a mistake???
b. When Buzzfeed published my story, it changed my life. I had always thought it would be VOGUE or ELLE that would kick off my career but it ended up being Buzzfeed. They jumped my social media numbers up over 10,000 in one night and suddenly designers who had previously turned me down were asking to work with me. I can truly say it’s not the fashion industry that has gotten me this far. It’s every single person who has supported me this far. Every voice and number showed the industry that even if they don’t want me there, some people in the world do. And that was influential enough.
c. I walked out on a job that put my career on hold for three months. No one would hire me because I had just turned down a MAJOR designer. They asked me to say I was trans just to get into the dressing room at their show. I found that offensive to trans individuals and turned them down. No regrets – it was perfect.
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9. Top 3 favorite lingerie/underwear brands:
b. Play Out
c. Victoria’s Secret, surprisingly.
10. What are the top 3 things you wish everyone knew about agender individuals?
a. That we are all agender.
b. They aren’t a threat.
c. All humans can wear whatever they want. It’s just cloth. It shouldn’t be political. It’s just fabric in a shape. PFT.
11. What’s next for Rain Dove?
My own content creation featuring other people besides me. There are a lot of issues on human representation. Ageism, sexism, racism and more. I’m not going to wait to be discovered anymore to create art. It’s not about the paycheck. It’s about the impact. So this war is all about making content that makes a difference.
12. If I weren’t modeling, I would be:
Working for the UN OR landscaping and living in the woods with a medium sized dog and two cats. Clearly.
13. If I could invite any 3 people in the world (past or present) to a dinner party, the guest list would read:
Jesus, Buddha and Muhammad just so I could share their thoughts on religion to the world. A lot of violence happens over or in the name of religion. Yet those religions are often preachers of peace. I think people hearing it from those that they worship would be extremely valuable. Plus … Bottomless wine!
14. If I could live in any past decade, it would be:
The 1920s for the clothing and the swing dancing of course!
15. If I could be any 1 superhero, I would be:
Superman and Ironman’s love child.
16. On a typical night, I can be found sleeping in:
17. If I could pack up and go anywhere in the world tomorrow, I’d go to:
Tanzania to climb Mount Kilimanjaro
18. If we were to find you at a bar, you would be drinking:
A Dark ‘N Stormy. Unless it’s a football game – then I pace myself and drink hard cider.
19. Brief, Boxer Short or Thong?
I like briefs with the front access or lacy panties because they feel so right.
20. New York or LA?
This is a hard one because both are filled with such creative people. But for convenience sake… New York. I love LA and enjoy visiting – but I’m not fond of the public transit system.
21. Early Riser or Night Owl?
Both! I stay up late because the night time inspires my writing side. I wake up early because the rising sun inspires the possibilities of what the day could bring. It’s the best time to meditate or run.
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