Art and the Power of Love
By Angela Valente Romeo
Alexis Hunter has been a model, photographer, jewelry designer, artist and author. Mostly she is a person who walks through life, with its happiness and tragedy, with grace and elegance befitting her.
“I am 6 feet tall – when I began modeling in the late 1960’s Twiggy was in and the ‘Glamazons’ had yet to take over the runways,” laughed Alexis. “I was on the cusp of the changes to fashion.”
“As a young model I met a woman who would change my life. I met and fell in love with a blond bombshell, Joi Lansing. Joi was an actress linked to many famous men in the 1950’s and 1960’s. She was beautiful, sexy and in love with me. I stayed with her until her death at age 44 in 1972.”
Alexis’ book, Joi Lansing – A Body to Die For, is their story. The book chronicles the last four years of the talented Joi Lansing’s fascinating life. Her career spanned three decades of TV and movie roles as well as Vegas. When Joi died many of the Hollywood elite attended but the press largely ignored her passing. The woman known as Rachel held Joi as she died and kept the secret of their love. Author Alexis Hunter knew the real Joi and her struggles with a suicide-obsessed self-image and deadly drug problem.
“Joi was a child star at MGM where ‘uppers’ were a common way to keep the kids working 20 hour days,” said Alexis. “Joi was not the only star whose drug problems can be traced to childhood stardom. Her image, however, was present as that of healthy living and perfection. But she was not. She was fragile and caught in a world where, like me, fashion and image was changing.”
“Joi was in the group of Jayne Mansfield, Mamie Van Doren and Marilyn Monroe. Joi was obsessed in maintaining her beauty even though the tide was moving towards, well Twiggy. Her obsession and insecurity caused her to take risks. These risks, coupled with unscrupulous medical personnel and the pressure of society to look a certain way hastened her death. But her biggest secret – she was unable to live her life as she was a woman in love with a woman. It was not even a discussion in Hollywood. The male stars, with the help of the studios, were able to live a life in secret. The women never spoke of being gay. It was not a discussion anywhere.”
“I wrote this book to bring Joi’s story to the world. Her tragic death is not a story of a long-ago world. We are still obsessed with the maintenance of youth and the continued suppression of denial of one’s true self.” The book is available on Amazon.
After Joi’s death Alexis continued her career. “A horse riding accident ended my modeling career. I was depressed but not defeated.” Alexis turned her talents to the arts. “Joi encouraged my painting when she saw a few of my drawings. After her death I stopped painting. I turned to photography. I guess you could say I was one of the first fashion models to move behind the camera.”
“When I returned to painting in the 90’s I went back to my inspirations. I am fascinated by the work of Mexican artist, Leonardo Nierman, and wanted to achieve the fluidity of his magnificent paintings. In searching for a way to achieve this movement of color, I began to work with epoxy resin and acrylic paint.”
“I had a one woman show at the Todd Gallery in Beverly Hills; the Ben Kittay Gallery in Beverly Hills; and the Nancy Lenda Gallery in West Hollywood. I continued working with the same medium. I was fortunate to have my work shown in Athens, Greece; Atlanta, Georgia; and Phoenix, Arizona,” continued Alexis. Most recently she was artist in residence at the former The Lon Michels Gallery in Palm Springs. “I was showing my wearable art jewelry and paintings. It was a wonderful experience.”
Alexis continues to create wonderful works. “Art and painting have always been a great part of my life. They are my home….the place where my heart is alive and content,” noted Alexis.
For more on Alexis visit at www.facebook.com/msalexhunter.