About Dani Thompson

Model/Actress/Presenter/Burlesque Dancer/Writer/Producer/Unicorn/Vegan and now lifestyle blogger!

Modern Pin Up

The thing I love about modelling is the versatility, some models identify in to a set category be it fashion, glamour, fitness, pin up, alternative or one of the many other divisions and to start out with, I very much fell in to the glamour classification but during my time at drama school, I took a break from modelling and after I graduated, I found that with the meteoric rise in social media and girls posting all kind of images for free, the glamour industry had almost died out with the end of the ‘lads mags’.

After a couple of years concentrating on trying to be a ‘serious’ actress, I missed being in front of a stills camera so I got back in to shooting lingerie and swimwear, I shot a lot of horror to coincide with the fact that I’d somehow fallen in to being predominantly a horror actress (scream princess) and although I still shoot all of these things, I’ve over the past year or so found myself shooting more and more pin up.

I’ve always loved vintage styling and it’s no secret that I feel like I’ve been born in to completely the wrong era, I love old fashions, mainly from 1940’s and 1950’s (but also have a soft spot for 1970’s), vintage and retro decor and generally the way of life (it’s also not a secret that I’m no feminist).

I love the way so much effort was put in, from housewives to pin up girls and the measures that were taken by all in getting ready each day, the hair, the make up, the lingerie, stockings, suspenders and petticoats, the dresses and of course no ensemble was compete without a matching hat and gloves and a coat of red lipstick.

As much as I’d love to live the vintage lifestyle the whole time, I have no idea how these women did it, or the women who embrace the vintage way of life fully today. 

Firstly, I’m still trying to master the art of putting in rollers, I really should have paid more attention to my Nana who put them in every night and wrapped her hair up in a headscarf without fail before she went to bed every night, and how is it even comfortable sleeping in rollers?

You’d literally have to get up at the crack of dawn everyday just top perfect your brush out or your victory rolls and that’s before you’ve even painted on your face or fiddled about trying to fasten your suspenders.

These women not only had to go through these rituals every day, they were also expected to run a perfect house, make sure their kids were fed and their husbands were kept happy! It must have been exhausting.

I have to admit, there’s no way I could do it every day, I love lounging around in jeggings and a t shirt too much.

Instead I’ve adopted a more modern pin up style but I have got the red lipstick bit down, it totally makes any outfit look that little bit more glam!

Photography by Portrait’s & Pin ups.

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2018 Films

2018 was a busy year for me film wise and I admit, I was rubbish at keeping you all updated so here’s a little recap of my year in film.

I started the year by going down to Southampton to finish off my scenes for Darren Ward’s Beyond Fury, not technically a horror, more of a crime/thriller although my character certainly has some horrific things happen to her.

This film had been a long time in the making, partly held up by me as my hair colour changed from dark brown to red about mid way through and I was red for around a year before going back to dark brown again, then the peroxide and red dye mixed with the heat of hair straighteners left my ends frazzled so I had to have a lot cut off and had to wait for it to grow before I could finish shooting.

These are the problems with shooting a film over a long period of time though rather than in a block, there’s bound to be problems with continuity.

I’m looking forward to seeing how this one turns out, if the directors previous films are anything to go by, it won’t be for the faint hearted!

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I had a bit of a gap after finishing Beyond Fury, I was busy working all the hours in my online casino presenting job but I left that in June and in the second half of the year my schedule was packed.

I went down to Poole in Dorset to film Harvest Of The Dead – Halloween Night, as the title suggests, it’s set on Halloween and is a true, unapologetic horror genre film.

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I’d never worked with the director, Peter Goddard before and I have to say the whole experience was a joy (well, apart from having to get the train back to London a couple of times with  hoards of drunken football fans).

A really relaxed set and a fantastic, efficient skeleton crew, I was always amazed by how many scenes we managed to fire through on each filming day.

I had a lot of fun on this one.

Then I was off to Birmingham for a little cameo in Alex Bourne’s Clownface, I met Alex on the Banjo set and was delighted when he wrote something in Clownface especially for me, a role that plays a loose homage to Courtney Cox’s character, Gail Weathers in one of my favourite films of all time, Scream.

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Next up was a road trip to Snowdonia for Maria Lee Metheringham’s Party Of Valice.

Maria cast me against my usual type for this one and I loved the character.

We shot and lived on location in a 18th century mansion, I loved it, I really felt quite at home there, I think there’s a  definite chance that I lived somewhere like that in a past life . . . The only thing I couldn’t get to grips with though was the lack of phone signal or Wifi, anybody who knows me, knows that I’d probably rather lose a limb than be cut off from the world without my phone.

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On one of the mornings, myself and another of the actresses decided to go for a run to the nearest village, we figured we could get our exercise done for the day and find signal, two birds, one stone, well, who knew that it’s much harder trying to run at a high altitude? It was not only up in the mountains, it was also blowing a gale and right by the sea. We must have looked so comical and out of place that an old man who was out walking his dog offered us a lift, we gratefully accepted, only later did we think it probably wasn’t the cleverest idea getting in to a car with a stranger and his dog, whilst being away making a horror film, I mean, that’s totally a cliche plot for a horror film in itself right?

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It was great being reunited with some of the cast and crew from Pumpkins, I love working with them all and Maria is a force to be reckoned with, she gets an idea, she shoots it, edits it and then on to the next! I do find myself feeling inspired when I work with her.

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Finally it was down to The Newforest for Terrence Elliot’s, Devil In The Woods, I’d met Tezz on Harvest Of The Dead and he and Peter Goddard reversed roles on this one, and it was great working with them both again.

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I moved to London over 11 years ago for work and I love it here but none of the films I’ve shot this year have been in London, they’ve been up and down the country, and well, actually, Wales is a different country.

I can only hope that 2019 will be as exciting, I already have a couple of things in the pipeline so I’m hopeful.

I also have some script ideas that I’ve been sitting on so in my down time, I want to crack on and get them written up and of course I haven’t forgotten about Bad Moon Rising still being in edit, it is also totally my fault but I’m on it!

New Years Fitness Resolutions

Some people think they’re pointless but I think the New Year is a great time for setting goals.

The New year is a great time to think about all the things you really want to achieve and then set yourself realistic timelines to achieve them.

You could set your goals in your head but I feel like by writing them down, you’re making an official contract with yourself and you don’t want to let yourself down, do you?

Not just fitness goals however, career goals, financial goals, personal development goals, relationship goals, wellbeing, you name it, you can set goals for it but as this is in the ‘sweat’ section, I’ll stick to fitness goals here.

I have to admit that before I went off to Mexico, I had every intention of smashing the gym but that didn’t really happen and as a result and much to my horror, when I got to Mexico, I didn’t quite fit in to some of the shorts I’d been wearing comfortably all Summer! It makes sense though, I tend to find myself a lot more motivated towards fitness in the Summer months when it’s warm, I definitely think I suffer from a touch of SAD, that’s seasonal affective disorder and generally pretty much wish I could hibernate during the Winter but whilst in Mexico, I stepped up my game and went to the hotel gym as it opened at 6am most mornings. Unfortunately both the treadmills were out of order so I didn’t get to run but I did my cardio on the X trainer and worked on my core and I fully intend to keep it up now that I’m home.

I even managed to wake up hangover free on New Years Day and started the year with some cardio and Yoga! 

We also did a LOT of walking in Mexico, I didn’t take my Fitbit as I didn’t want a Fitbit tan line but I wish I had just to see how far we actually walked!

 

So what fitness goals do I have?  

Weights – Minimum of 3 sessions a week

This will include short workouts dedicated to either core, arms or legs.

Different things work for different people and for me I like to do some weights just to tone, I don’t have the dedication of the inclination of turning in to a Muscle Mary, it’s just not for me, I’m more of a cardio girl as it’s proven to burn my fat quickly.

Running – Minimum of 5 times a week

I started running last year when I was training for Tough Mudder and have managed to keep it up. Distance running has never been easy for me but I try to do between 3-5K each time I run. 

In the Winter, it’s mainly in the gym but in the Summer I want to get out more and run in the parks, it makes for more interesting scenery and I find you actually run further than you think you have. I use Strava to track my distance. 

Yoga – Minimum of 3 hours a week. 

This should be easily achievable, there are two evening classes a week at my gym so  I can book in to both of those then do an hour myself using the Down Dog app which I highly recommend, it’s free to download and I find the free version is more than enough for me, it tailors a different workout each time you use it so that you’re not repeating exactly the same sequences over and over again, there are different levels available to suit all abilities and you can choose how long you want your workout to be so you can decide if you want a quick stretch in your lunch hour or a full practice.

If you do want more from the app though, you can pay a subscription to access more features like boosts.

Swim – 3 times a week 

I’ve never been a huge one for going swimming, mainly due to time management. I have a gym and pool in my apartment complex, it literally takes me less that a minute to get out of my door and in to the gym but by the time I’ve gotten up, walked the dog and spent an hour in the gym, it’s usually around 10am, if I go for a swim too then it would be rude not to use the sauna, steam room and jacuzzi being as I’m already wet, that then adds another hour and takes me to 11am so by the time I’m showered, dressed, hair and make up perfected, that’s half the day gone.

What am I going to do about it? I’m going to get up earlier! There really is no excuse It’s not like I don’t wake up early anyway, but then I’m guilty of lazing about in bed pressing snooze for far too long and then checking emails and social media.

This stops now, no more snooze, well maybe just one snooze but no more than that, I want to be in the gym by 7am latest and then the longest I’ll be there is 2hrs until 9am and I’ll be ready to rock n roll by 10am!

Swing Dance 

I’ve gone to classes sporadically before but I want to take it up properly and attend classes on a weekly basis with a goal of being good enough to attend socials by the Summer. 

I go to classes by Swing Patrol , they do classes all over London and Brighton, check the website for class timetables and they’re drop in classes so you don’t need to turn up with a partner as you swap who you’re dancing with after learning each step anyway.

They also offer a range of different level classes, depending which venue you go to, there are levels, at most venues 1 and 1.5 but some offer a level 2, it’s £10 for the first class but if you find the first class easy and want to stay for more then further classes are £5 

Getting fit and having fun at the same time, win win!

Making a timetable is a good idea to remind you of the targets you’ve set yourself.

I’ve made one, I’ve given myself the weekends off but this also leaves me the option of taking a day off during the week and moving it to the weekend. It’s unlikely that I’ll be able to stick to the timetable perfectly but I can swap things around if I need to, it’s only the core class, yoga classes and swing class that are set so the rest can be managed, I just have to work out the logistics.

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Cancun

I’ve never understood people who go on holiday during the Summer, I mean, I get it if they have kids and can only holiday when the schools are out but otherwise it just makes no sense to me that people leave England when it’s actually warm, it baffles me, it surely makes much more sense to stay put and enjoy the British Summer and then when it gets cold again in the Autumn and Winter, escape for some Winter Sun doesn’t it?

Well, I have to admit, Mexico had never been top of my list of places I wanted to visit, I’m a big fan of Margaritas and Chihuahuas and I like the odd fajita but when it was decided that we’d be going to Cancun for Xmas, I went along with the flow.

We finally arrived, no thanks to the ridiculously long and inefficient passport control and security at Houston as we had to change, note to self, always pay the extra and take a direct flight where possible and NEVER EVER go to Houston airport again, we could also have avoided having to get last minute ESTA’s if we hadn’t transited through the US.

Cancun’s ‘hotel zone’ is perfect if you want an all inclusive, resort style holiday but if you’re just heading out to Coco Bongo Island then it’s pretty much a tourist trap, drinks prices are inflated to the equivalent of that if you were drinking cocktails in London’s West end and you don’t get the feel of Mexico, you could just as well be in Vegas and trying to browse peacefully in the markets there isn’t going to happen, you have vendors constantly harassing you making it a painful experience.

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We stayed in Downtown Cancun, only about a 10 minute bus ride to the Hotel Zone and the beaches, buses run every few minutes and you can get from one end of the strip to the other for 12 pesos.

I was impressed with the majority of Cancun bars having gotten rid of single use plastic straws in a bid to keep the oceans plastic free and protect the wildlife but disappointed and saddened by the amount of ‘captive dolphin experience’ parks advertised.

To visit Mayan ruins and Cenotes, you can either book guided tours or to save money brave the public transport and go it alone. One of the best ways to travel from Cancun to the surrounding areas is by Collectivo, or shuttle bus, they run 24/7 and are much cheaper than the ADO.

We decided to go it alone on our first trip to the Mayan ruins at Tulum, a Collectivo from Cancun to Playa Del Carmen and then another from Playa Del Carmen to Tulum worked out around 85 pesos per person each way, there are boards to read as you walk around to learn about how the Mayans built their villages so it was quite nice for this one walking around alone, we spotted lots of iguanas basking in the sun and a family of coati’s.

We then used google maps to walk about 2km to Cenote Calavera for our first Cenote experience which is the closest one to the ruins.

Only a small sink hole but an amazing experience, you can jump from the edge in to the water or like me, use the wooden ladder to get down to the water, the water is crystal clear and at first it’s a little weird and tickles when the little fist start to nibble at you but once you get use to them, it’s fine and once you swim in to the cave, you have bats roosting and flying about above you, if like me you’re a big fan of bats, it really is a magical experience.

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Our second trip to Coba was an extra bus ride away, we were told there wasn’t a Collectivo from Tulum to Coba so we got an ADO for that part of the journey, at the ADO stn, we were also told by the ADO ticket seller at Coba that there was only one pick up time coming back so we didn’t get time to visit a Cenote along with Coba and then he sent us to the wrong place to get the bus so missed it and wouldn’t refund our tickets, I think he knew what he was doing and wanted us to pay again but as it turns out there is a Collectivo so my advice would be to steer well clear of the ADO rip off merchants and stick with the shuttle bus and reasonably priced cabs if you want to visit a Cenote after your Coba trip, just negotiate your fair before you get in your cab.

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Coba itself was incredible, being more difficult to get to and therefore less popular with tourists, it was one of the last Mayan ruins that you cold actually walk up and we were lucky enough to be amongst the last people to able to climb to the very top as from the beginning of 2019, climbing the ruin has been stopped. The views from the top were absolutely breathtaking though, jungle as far as you could see with vultures soaring high above.

Being vegan in Mexico is tough, it’s like being vegetarian was in the UK 10 years ago, very little, if any options on what you can eat on the menus, if we’d have gone with one of the all inclusive resorts then I dare say that eating would have been easier but we wanted to experience the real culture and cuisine of Mexico so I pretty much survived solely on mushroom tacos, mushroom quesadilla and mushroom tortillas for the first week and a half by which time, Montezuma was taking his revenge on my stomach and I was all tacoed out.

We did however find a hidden gem in La Dolce Vita in Downtown cancun, an authentic Italian restaurant, with a few vegan options for me and then a nice surprise when you get the bill and it’s nowhere near as expensive as you’d expect, amazing service, great food and definitely one to seek out if you need a break from Mexican cuisine.

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We took a day trip to Isla Mujares on a catamaran with drinks, snorkeling and parasailing included and a buffet lunch at a beach club but we weren’t left with much time to explore the island or sunbathe at the beach club and the buffet wasn’t up to scratch, neither of us fancied the snorkeling and unfortunately we couldn’t parasail from the catamaran on the day we went as apparently it was too nippy – although it certainly didn’t feel nippy so I don’t think you really get your dinero’s worth with the tour and my recommendation would be to take a speed boat over to the island from the marina first thing and another back in the evening so that you can explore at your own leisure rather than booking a tour for this one.

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I did manage to get some footage at the beach though of a group of brown pelicans diving for fish.

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We decided to save the best for last and visit Chichen Itza, one of the new seven wonders of the world on our last day and for this one we decided to book as a tour as  with travel along with a stop at a Mayan shopping village, entrance to Cenote X’Cajum and lunch thrown in it worked out more cost effective and we’re glad we did.

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We went with Amigo tours and our guide Rodrigo Cat was just brilliant, a very knowledgeable archaeologist of Mayan decent, he was so informative, we definitely came out feeling like we’d learnt a lot  – including how to say hello in Mayan (ma’lob kiin) and have a new found fascination with Mayan history.

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Centoe X-Cajum was much, much bigger than Cenote Calavera, open to the sky and 35 metres deep, you can hire life jackets if you want to but the water is still and we were comfortable swimming without despite the depth, no bats but some slightly bigger fish swimming about and I’m sure even bigger ones to be seen by those wanting to scuba dive.

There are an estimated over 6000 Cenotes in the Yucatan but only 2400 of those actually studied and registered, swimming in the Cenotes was one of the highlights of the trip and if I were to go back, I’d definitely seek out some more, places so tranquil yet were once along with the temples, places of sacrifice – eek.

I loved Mexico, learning about the history and culture, the colour, the wildlife, (I have a particular soft spot from the great tailed grackle, as common as a blackbird is here and only a little bigger but with a longer tail, feathers a deep shade of blue and a peculiar melody to their call) and up until a certain point, the food.

It helps to know a little basic Spanish as in a lot of the street food vendors and waiters in the more authentic restaurants don’t always speak much English. I learned the word for ‘mushrooms’ on my first day so that was pretty helpful for me and I started learning Spanish on Duolingo (I don’t know why I didn’t think of that before I went) from then on and by the end of the trip I was happily booking tables and ordering my food and drink in Spanish.

It surprised me how quickly I was picking up the language and as a result, one of my new years resolutions is to stick with Duolingo and be fluent in Spanish by the end of 2019. 

I can definitely see myself visiting again one day, maybe staying further towards the Riviera Maya rather than Cancun.

A perfect Christmas in the sun.

Fitbit

So for my birthday back in the Summer, my darling boyfriend bought me a Fitbit flex 2.

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The first thought that ran through my mind was,”Is he trying to tell me something? Do I look like I’ve put on weight?” Well, actually I have, 5kg to be precise, oops, it’s true what they say, this whole being in a relationship thing and being ‘comfortable’ definitely makes you put on weight!  

He assured me however that this wasn’t the case and that it was because he know’s I like going to the gym and going on long dog walks and thought I’d like to track my activity.

Well, it’s since become an obsession, nothing beats that feeling when your wrist starts buzzing and the disco lights start flashing, letting you know that you’ve smashed your 10,000 steps target.

I tend to feel particularly smug if I’ve gotten up early, been to the gym in the morning and smashed the target before noon.

And then there’s the flip side, when you’ve been to the gym in the morning and you’re on track and then you go out with the dog and half way round your walk, you realise that you forgot to put your Fitbit back on when you got out of the shower! Nightmare!

I’m pretty active anyway so on a day when I’ve been to the gym, it’s not unusual for me more than double the target.

Fitbit Flex 2 had been great for tracking my morning runs which are usually done on the treadmill in the gym and my dog walks with Dolly, it’s even counted some of my erm ‘bedroom activities’ as ‘steps’ . . . Oh well, I guess sexercise is a real thing, Queen Kylie did sing a song about it after all!

Now I just need to lose that 5kg before my Christmas holiday!

Hammer Glamour

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Yesterday I was lucky enough to be booked by a photographer who is fast becoming one of my favourites to work with for a Hammer Glamour style shoot at the iconic Bray Studios in Windsor.

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What an amazing experience shooting in a location so rich in horror movie history. 

Hammer Horror occupied Bray Studios from 1952 to 1966 unleashing a whole new era of horror and pumping out numerous titles such as The Curse Of Frankenstein, The Horror Of Dracula and  The Reptile.

Hammer launched the careers of both Peter Cushing and Sir Christopher Lee but their films also featured an array of scantily dress, glamorous young women many of whom went on to become stars such as Joanna Lumley, Caroline Munro, Ingrid Pitt, Valerie Leon, Ursula Andress, Stephanie Beacham and Kate O,Mara, the list goes on and it’s these women who were the inspiration behind the theme of my shoot.

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My shoots precise location was ‘sound stage 3’ (which was originally stage 2 back in the 50’s) where I believe Frankenstein’s lab was filmed in 1957’s The Curse Of Frankenstein. The big door at the front is even the same although the sliding mechanism could do with a dash of WD40 these days!

I made a trip to Beyond Retro especially to purchase some vintage Hammer style, sheer night gowns (as if I need an excuse to shop) for the shoot and I finally managed to find a reason to wear a 1960’s wedding dress I bought from Judy’s Vintage Fair earlier this year. I have to say I’ve come back feeling very inspired after spending the day on hallowed Hammer ground.

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In 15+ years of modelling, this has got to be my favourite location to have shot in.

Unfortunately, the old house, Down Place which was built in 1750 is now pretty derelict even though the sound stages on site are still used by the film industry. 

I often feel like I was born in the wrong era, film wise, fashion wise, music wise and just general lifestyle and I’d love to have been around doing what I do now way back when Hammer was in its hey day, somebody bring me a time machine!!!

Seriously though, I’d love to see horror movies being made again with that old classic Hammer style. 

I was also spoiled after the shoot with a tour of the WHOLE studio lot and an amazing vegan vampire lunch at Oakley Court which was also used for many a Hammer film and might also be recognised by fans of The Rocky Horror Picture Show.

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Tough Mudder In The City 5K

We did it!!!

Not only did we do it, we also had a surprising amount of fun!

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Obviously I packed sensibly for going in to battle . . .

Last year when we signed up for this, I’d never even attempted to go for a run before let alone a 5K run with crazy obstacles but a few months of running 3 – 5 times a week in the gym, I quickly worked up to running 5K so on the day, I at least wasn’t worried about the running, the obstacles however . . .

Well I needn’t have worried, the girls were all absolute superstars, we all helped each other, worked as a team and completed the course in around an hour and raised money for Help for Heroes .

We’d set a £250 target but smashed it and there’s still time to donate to our Just Giving page.

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This was Tough Mudder’s first ever mudless race, we actually didn’t know that when we signed up, we were prepared to take on the mud but when we found out there wasn’t going to be any, I wasn’t complaining, having said that, the ground was wet and muddy through wear and tear from the previous night’s Mudder’s so we still got a little muddy.

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I never thought I’d say that I actually enjoy running but I think I’ve got the bug! I gave myself Sunday as a rest day but this morning, I downloaded Strava and went for my first ever outdoor solo run in Victoria Park.

What’s next? The Goldenball Girls and I have another 5K obstacle race in May, more of a fun one with colour bombs but we are looking in to pushing ourselves with a possible Half Mudder which is 10K and if we do, there WILL be mud!