PART-MALTESE MODEL STARS IN ROCK SUPERGROUP VIDEO
We Maltese get everywhere don’t we? You’re walking down a street in an obscure part of the world and suddenly you hear some words in Maltese, or English delivered in one of our unmistakable sing-song accents. You’re scrolling through a foreign website and there’s a Maltese surname. We simply can’t get away from us, not even in the L.A. rock scene, as Colin Fitz found out when he tracked down ALEXANDRA GUNNOE, a model and photographer with a Maltese connection who will, after this interview goes viral, surely become the local biker and rocker community’s favourite international poster girl. She also, it turns out, has a soft spot for old cars and buses. Definitely Maltese then…
You know how it is. You’re watching some completely random American TV show, based on a way of life entirely different to your own here on this tiny island in the middle of the Mediterranean, when suddenly that magic word: ‘Malta’ is thrown into a conversation. Or an image of something home-grown pops up on the screen, completey out of the blue. Think THAT episode of Marvel, Agents of Shield last year.
Call it a burst of patriotic pride or simply amazement at the fact that something from our tiny corner of the world has registered on that vast radar that is American broadcasting, but it never fails to elicit some sort of reaction.
That’s what happened to me one lunchtime at Hard Rock Café as I casually glanced at the TV screen showing a steady stream of American rock videos, only to be struck by a close up of a Maltese cross tattooed on the neck of a gorgeous California girl as the first chords of a good ol’ rock’n’roll song were starting off.
The song was called Sexy Little Thing, performed by the supergroup Chickenfoot, which is made up of former Van Halen singer and bassist Sammy Hagar and Michael Anthony, legendary guitarist Joe Satriani and Red Hot Chili Peppers drummer Chad Smith. See the video here and watch carefully around the 0.40 mark.
And the girl? One quick Google search is all it took to find that her name was Alexandra Gunnoe. I was hooked, as you will be when you check out her model portfolio here, here and here. You’ll note she also had a bit part in the popular film The Social Network.
I simply had to track her down and ask her about that tattoo. So at the risk of being labelled a stalker I found her on Facebook and sent a very apologetic e-mail.
Not only did she reply, but she turned out to be as warm-hearted and down-to-earth as any girl next door you may happen to know right here on this rock. And yes, she DID have some Maltese in her.
Alexandra happily agreed to answer some questions for SWAG, and the answers are below.
What is your Maltese connection, and which countries have you lived in?
My father is American and my mother is British, but my grandfather on my mother’s side came from Malta: his name was Carmelo Caruana. My mum has always had a great interest in the country. She recently traced her family back to Mdina. I have lived in the United States, Belgium – when I was tiny – and the UK, where I live now.
Tell us a bit about your education and career.
I have a Bachelor’s Degree in Law & Society from the University of California, Santa Barbara. I moved to LA shortly after University and got into modelling by accident. A photographer wanted to take my picture for an advertisement in the magazine Guitar World. I got a bit of publicity from that job and was able to book a steady stream of modelling gigs, mostly print and music videos, over the next few years. Now I’ve transitioned from modelling to photography and am enjoying using what I’ve learned when directing models in my own shoots.
Have you ever been to Malta – and if not, what do you know about it?
I’ve never been to Malta but my parents took a trip a few years ago in the hopes of finding relatives of my mum. They were struck by the honesty and generosity of the people they interacted with. A woman, a complete stranger, opened up her house and let my parents stay there while she went to seek out a translator to help them. That is so impressive to me. You don’t usually see that kind of trust and kindness where I come from. I also know it’s beautiful, rocky, has great scuba diving and that Troy was filmed in there!
Why did you get the Maltese cross tattoo? And do you get asked about its significance?
My sister and I both got the tattoo together. My mother has always had a lot of Maltese pride and it rubbed off on us. I occasionally get asked about it and I’m happy to say where it’s from.
Who has inspired you in your career?
Most of the people who inspire me are photographers as I have taken my modelling experience and have turned it into a photography career. One big inspiration is Lara Jade, a British fashion photographer who initially received a lot of recognition for the self-portraits she would take. She’s beautiful and smart, and she successfully channelled that recognition to further herself and her photography career. Now she’s everywhere. Lindsay Adler is also a huge inspiration. Her style of photography is amazing.
How did you get involved in the Chickenfoot video?
My old manager booked me the job for me. I guess they wanted a model with a few tattoos. They also ended up booking me as one of the girls in another Chickenfoot music video, My Kinda Girl (watch it below - Ed).
We kinda agree with their choice. Whats the latest news from your career?
I now work full-time as a photographer. Check out my work on my website here. I’m releasing a 2015 calendar featuring fashion models and vintage buses, firetrucks and cars from the ’40s, ’50s and ’60s - check it out here. It will be ready in August for purchase through my website and stores in the UK. Recently, three of my vintage auto photos were published on Vogue Italia online.
Why the focus on old cars and buses?
Why the fascination with old cars and trucks… since becoming a photographer, I look at my surroundings in a different way. I’m always seeking out interesting locations or themes that haven’t been done to the point of exhaustion. There’s a ton of photography featuring vintage cars but not as much showcasing buses. I stumbled across the West of England Transportation Collection and couldn’t believe no one had approached them to photograph the vehicles before. And then pairing them with beautiful women seemed like a win-win.
Are there any other particularly memorable incidents from your career that you would like to share with SWAG readers?
There aren’t any particular ones I can recall from modelling, but I was sent out on a few acting auditions in L.A. and failed miserably, as acting is definitely not my calling. I’m sure casting directors had a good laugh at my expense. I remember once being asked to crawl across the floor as if I were being chased by a giant lizard. It was pretty ridiculous and when I was finished no one said anything, they just dismissed me.
Anything else in the pipeline?
I’d like to continue to expand my photography experience. My favourite projects are fashion shoots, so I’d like to grow my business in that direction. I’m also applying to graduate schools and will be working towards my Master’s degree next year. We’ll see how well I do balancing it all.
Do you plan to visit us any time soon?
I would love to visit Malta soon. It has been on my to-do list for the last year and I plan on making a trip in 2015. Maybe your readers can tell me where I should go? What are the best kept secrets only the locals know? I’ve seen some of the vintage cars and buses you have online and would love to explore more of the country.
And now, for the benefit of SWAG men, we have to ask who is your ideal man, and what he must do to woo you…
Is it generic to say he must have a great sense of humour? I think most women like that. I’d also like him to be a hard worker but the kind of man who also knows how to have fun.
What would be your ideal date?
I had a fantastic first date a few years ago… he picked me up on his motorcycle, we took a drive down the Pacific Coast Highway in Malibu, had a nice dinner on the beach and then ended the night with salsa dancing. It was simple but so much fun. The relationship fizzled out but I remember that date was particularly memorable.
Watch some of Alexandra’s appearances in International music videos below:
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