BNTM 05-05: Dovima- "Outside, I looked like your average Jersey kid. But inside, I was…different. I felt different. "
PB here with the striking Dovima Divina, the latest model to get the boot on Next Top Model. Thank you so much for taking the time to talk to us, Dovima.
Dovima: Oh you’re welcome! It’s my pleasure entirely.
PB: Now lets start off with your name. How on earth did you get such a unique name?
D: It’s something, isn’t it? Of course it’s not the name I was given at birth. I was born Danny Lombardi, but I became “Dovima Divina” at the age of fifteen when I first got into drag. “Dovima” was actually a nickname that my drag mother, the fantabulous Crème BruLay, gave to me, primarily because I knew how to deliver some serious couture with my body and energy during shows.
“Dovima” was actually a very famous model during the 1950’s, at the height of haute couture. I’ve studied her work ever since then, and I’m honored to share her name. As “Divina,” well, that was my own conception. I do look divine after all.
PB: That’s such an amazing story. Could you tell us a bit about your journey into becoming the woman that you are today?
D: I grew up in Belleville, New Jersey, in a very conservative Italian-Catholic household. The youngest of six boys, I was raised like any other boy in my town. I played baseball endlessly with the neighborhood kids and my brothers. Outside, I looked like your average Jersey kid. But inside, I was…different. I felt different. From an early age I felt like I didn’t belong as Danny. I would look in the mirror and imagine myself with long brown hair, like my ma, and I would draw myself on my drawing pad with dresses and skirts. That felt right. And when my ma and brothers were away I would sneak into her room and put on her heels and dresses, and just parade up and down the hallway. That was always fun.
Still, I never voiced any of my feelings to my parents. I knew early on that they could never understand. And my worst fears were realized when, at fourteen, I came out to them and was literally thrown out of their house with nothing except my wallet in my pocket. I was basically homeless for a few weeks, and found myself in New York somehow where I came across my second mother, my drag mother, who took me in and cared for me. She showed me the ropes as far as drag and all, and that’s when I started doing lots of underground drag shows. I felt liberated then. At 19, I decided that I wanted to become what I always felt I was: a woman. Now at 23 and truly that: a complete woman. And I couldn’t be happier.
PB: That’s certainly an inspiring story, Dovima. Thank you for sharing that with us. Were you able to reconnect with your parents later on?
D: Unfortunately, no. My ma passed away a few years ago from cancer, and when I tried to reach out to my brothers and dad afterward they basically told me that I was dead to them.
PB: That’s very unfortunate, Dovima. So very sorry.
D: It is sad. But I have a whole life to live that is my own and on my own terms. I could care less about having people who will only hold me back emotionally. I don’t need that. I’m blessed to have a wonderful family that loves and supports me.
PB: That is great to hear. Were you at all apprehensive about coming on to this show, considering your background and all?
D: Not really. I knew what I was getting myself into as far as exposure from the show. My main focus coming into this competition was to put my community out there on this pedestal. This is the best exposure you could ask for, and all I ever hoped for was to inspire others through my story. And I think I’ve succeeded despite my being eliminated.
Modeling was, of course, my second prerogative. I’ve always been interested in fashion, in designing since in the drag community we create our own costumes and all.
PB: Did any of the girls have any issues with you being in the competition?
D: Only Pandora. But I can’t be mad at her; she’s just ignorant. She’s obviously never been around a transgender individual before, and didn’t know how to take me at all. I tried my best to warm up to her, but it never clicked. Not a huge loss on my part, though.
PB: You were one of the strongest girls in the competition early on. But as the weeks passed, you began to wane a bit. Why do you think that was so?
D: Stress definitely plays a huge role in your performance in this competition. It’s hard being fierce when you have this looming pressure to perform over other girls. That’s always tough to manage.
PB: Were you surprised at your elimination this week?
D: Completely. I honestly felt like I delivered great shots during the shoot. I really didn’t want to be back at the bottom like the week before, so I tried my best to give them what they wanted. But once I saw that I was at the bottom with Rosa, who had never been there before, I knew I was a goner.
PB: The judges said you lost your spark. Do you think that’s true?
D: That couldn’t be furthest from the truth, actually. I still have my spark, both in and out of shoot. It’s just that it’s sometimes misdirected for whatever reason. But it’s still there, rest assured.
PB: What was your favorite and least favorite photo shoot this season?
D: I really loved my “Backstage Beauties” shot and the “Fashion Fever” ad. Thanks to my girl, Kana, I’m lucky to be part of a worldwide campaign! How awesome is that?
Worst for me was the Mod Lingerie shoot. I loved everything except my hair. It did nothing for me and for the concept. It just looked so odd. Not very happy about that one at all.
PB: Who are you rooting for to win this cycle?
D: I would love to see Kana or Tamizin take it. Both are beautiful and strong girls. Ideal role models, and they fit the Top Model image perfectly.
PB: Who do you think least deserves the title?
D: Hate to say it, but….Caroline. I know that the judges and viewers are crazy about her and all, but her heart isn’t in this at all. She’s not here to become a model; she’s here to be on reality tv. I just think other girls deserve and want it more than her. In our down time she would flat out tell us that all she wanted to get out of this competition is the ability to get into any club she wanted for free. I mean, girl, really?
This is not to say that Caroline is a bad person and all. She’s actually fun to be around with and we got along great. But I’m just being honest here: the girl doesn’t really want this.
PB: What are your plans from hereon now?
D: I definitely want to pursue modeling, but I’d also like to be a spokesperson and live to inspire others.
PB: Well, we hope to see more of you in the future Dovima. Thank You for sitting with us.
D: You’re welcome, and thank you!