WIHM Special - Jenny Marie

An accomplished model, content creator and writer, Jenny Marie has created a unique brand in the genre with her empowering photoshoots and original horror creations on her site. Now, in honor of Women in Horror Month, I talk with her about her early days as a model, starting her career as a content creator and her upcoming works.

Me: Hello and thank you for taking the time to do this. First off, how did you get into the genre?
Jenny Marie: Thank you for having me! When I was a little girl, Nanny (my great grandmother), would take me to Cappa’s. They had costumes for rent, but even better, they sold everything you needed to sew your own costume. My happiest childhood memories are sitting with Nanny hand sewing that year’s costume, that’s where my love for Halloween, fall, and spooky stuff started. Naturally, I gravitated towards the horror genre.

Me: Were you always into genre films growing up? What films specifically got you into watching horror movies?
JM: Classic horror is everything! Bella Legosi as Dracula? I STILL sleep with the covers over my neck. As a child of the 80s, I’m a sucker for a slasher flick. I remember walking to the video store in the summer with my aunt. It felt so... taboo walking in the horror section and pulling “I Spit on Your Grave” off the shelf. While everyone else was watching summer rom coms I was watching people get sliced and diced. The first movie that scared me to death was “The Exorcist”. I was raised Catholic so the Catholic guilt and fear of the devil was instilled in me at a very early age. That movie scared me so bad that I can’t even watch it now as a grown adult. I do not watch any horror with demonic themes. I try to stick to slasher movies.

Me: You're involved as business partners with TDW Moonlit Imagery once you started modeling professionally. How did that collaboration come about? How do you two work together for your shoots?
JM: When I was little photographers would always take my picture if I was out at events. I was in local newspapers several times. It wasn’t until later in life that I started to do a lot of promo for the bar I was working at. I became close with one of the photographers and convinced her to let me portray a darker side. She did not want to do it at all. So we compromised. I gave her cute glamour shots type pics and in exchange towards the end of the shoots, I was allowed to create a character that I wanted. This lead to being on the cover of a men’s tattoo magazine with a feature article inside. After that, I started to seek out photographers that would allow me to dress up the way I wanted. Now years later I am in full creative control of the shoots artistically. I create most of my content with Zakk Conner.

It is very challenging to find a photographer that will shoot an older woman. I am very lucky to have the photographers that are in my life that do not judge a person on their age.

I also teamed up with my best friend (Wilma Abbott) to do Horror-themed shoots (TDW MOONLIT IMAGERY). I do the styling and creative aspect of the shoots. We came up with the idea after attending horror conventions together and noticing that a lot of women didn’t feel comfortable enough to approach a photographer about doing a shoot. I wanted to create art that showcased the beauty in everyone no matter what size or nationality you are.

This is so important to Wilma and me.

Every single person is beautiful and deserves to do whatever photoshoot they envision.

I will never forget a conversation I had with someone who said: “plus size women can only do horror pin-up style shoots.” Wilma and I were so infuriated at that statement that we decided right then and there that whoever books a shoot with us will be whatever character they want!!!!!

Me: Beyond modeling, what other products do you create involving the genre?
JM: I own an Etsy store where I sell the merch that I created and also some homemade crafts.

Me: As well, you write for The Horror Syndicate. How did you get involved with the site?
JM: 2 years ago I started to attend Horror conventions. I was attending a convention in Cherry Hill, NJ and John Carpenter was doing a question and answer session. During the session, he pointed out that no women were asking any questions. He also pointed out that he didn’t even see a lot of women in the audience. This inspired me to reach out to my friend Brian who writes for The Horror Syndicate. I told Brian he should do a piece on women who attend horror conventions. Brian suggested that I should write it and that started my adventure in writing. I like to write about my experiences. I hope that I can inspire someone to follow their passions.

Me: How did you come upon creating the site for your works, hugsandhisses.com?
JM: After a year I wanted to have creative control over my content so I decided to highlight some of my work on my own site. I teamed up with Cindy O’Neil who created the website for me and Zakk Conner who is my main photographer. I share my experiences, my work and all the amazing people that I meet on this journey.

Me: What else are you working on that you'd like to share with our readers?
JM: I just recently finished a new 2020 look for my merch and a new short story I wrote was featured for WIHM.

Me: Lastly, being that this is Women in Horror Month, what special message do you have for any women out there looking to join in the industry in any capacity as you are one yourself? Thank you again for your time!
JM: My main goal is to empower women to be themselves. Go to the conventions. Dress up however you want. Create your own characters. Use your creativity and voice. Support other women in the genre. Support new artists. Visualize your highest self and start showing up as her.

I can’t wait to see all of you at the next horror convention!
Until next time

This interview ran as part of our month-long Women in Horror Month celebrations. Click the banner below to check out all of our interviews and reviews we've conducted for the event: