INTERVIEW by PENELOPE DARIO
Jacques Magazine was a cult-classic nudie mag in the late 00's until its final issue dropped in 2013, run by former fashion model and stripper Danielle Hettara and her ex-husband Jonathan Leder. Petit Mort's editor-in-chief, Penelope Dario, caught up with Danielle nearly a decade after the closure of Jacques to reflect on the dissonance between the sex industry and the fashion industry, her thoughts on the Emily Ratajkowski photo scandal, and her career before and after the mag.
"THE BETRAYAL ISSUE" AND DANIELLE SHOT BY DREW MALO JOHNSON FOR SCHON!
PETIT MORT (PENELOPE DARIO)
So let's start from the beginning — you are originally from Florida and prior to starting Jacques, you were a model and a stripper. Which one came first: dancing or modeling?
I always wanted to model but when I first started looking for representation as a teenager, agencies would tell me that my hips were too wide, which was mind blowing, because if you look at younger photos of me… I'm a twig, it was all bone. There was no way for me to even lose them, they are how they are. And then they wanted to send me to Italy and my mom was just like, No, definitely not. No. So I shelved modeling for a while.
My mom has been a raging alcoholic since I was about 12. So the day I turned 18 I left home and at the time I really needed to make money FAST. I had this friend Brian whose father actually did strip club real estate. So I made a few calls and got in touch with him and got a gig at Mons Venus in Tampa, Florida. Which is still a pretty famous strip club.
I'll never forget this guy…
I was doing the rounds at the club, and this guy put his hand out and asked if I was available for a lapdance, which I was, so I started giving him a lapdance. And then he basically just wanted to talk about me being a model. He's a photographer and, blah, blah, blah… We started fucking/dating. Anyway, that guy actually goes on to be a pretty well known photographer named Chadwick Tyler.
It was a whole thing… he didn't wanna say anything to his friends… He’d basically say, “I can't introduce my friends to a stripper” and really put me down. It was a really negative experience. And then, right when we started hooking up, he was actually flying to New York to shoot Supreme Models. And so I guess I got really competitive and jealous and was like, ‘Okay, I'm gonna go to New York. And I'm gonna model.’
I finally found an agency, but then they quickly shipped me to China. I lived in Hong Kong for a bit and did really fucking well. I actually got my first fashion cover while I was in Hong Kong for Oyster Magazine. I was super excited about that. They were huge at the time. This was probably around like 2005/6.
DANIELLE FORMERLY KNOWN AS "DANI LUFT" FOR OYSTER MAG
While working in Asia I got my boobs done in Bangkok, Thailand, because my hips were wider than my breasts and I had always been drawn to this sex-pot aesthetic. My mom is like, super Republican, super old school and yet would constantly put me down in front of the TV to watch old Marilyn Monroe movies and basically subject me to tons of misogyny. So I feel like I kind of really grew up with that identity.
Yeah, we internalize it a lot.
I flew home as soon as I got my stitches out and went back to New York. I started working with a new agency called Click but I wanted to do dance as well. I actually auditioned at The Box and got hired as the burlesque girl. I played up this whole sexpot character as a model and I worked with Bruce Webber, I did a striptease for French Vogue, and a ton of beauty campaigns. I did all of this in three months—just non-stop. I did really well, I wish I didn't quit—that was kind of a mistake.
DANIELLE SHOT BY BRUCE WEBBER FOR FRENCH VOGUE
What made you want to quit modeling?
So I didn’t necessarily quit because I wanted to. I met my now-ex husband Johnathan Leder, while I was a model. And he had just sold his company Apostrophe and wanted to become a photographer. He had booked me on some photo shoots and we started working together. And then we got romantically involved.
JONATHAN LEDER AND DANIELLE HETTARA BY ROBERT WRIGHT FOR THE NEW YORK TIMES