She may not have always known she’d be modeling, but after 6 years, and appearances on Ink Master, a Funny or Die skit, movie sets and music videos, Cypress Bates loves where it’s taken her. This horror-loving, gothic Jersey girl is a tattooed model to die for. While she doesn’t always know where life will take her, she loves trying new things and is excited for what the future holds – and we couldn’t agree more. We spoke with Cypress to learn all about her, and why she loves being a spooky babe.
Hi Cypress! To begin, could you tell us a little about yourself? Where you’re from, are you married, any kids?
I moved back to my Jersey hometown a few years ago. Lodi’s mostly known for 3 things; that it’s the hometown of The Misfits and of serial killer Mark Cottingham, and that The Sopranos was usually filmed there, which actually sums up my personality now that I think about it, haha. It’s definitely an interesting little place. Even my neighbor is awesome. He is an Alice Cooper impersonator and is the sweetest guy you’ll ever meet. I don’t have kids or a spouse, but I do have an amazing partner and a few pets I’d do anything for.
How would you describe yourself? What is unique about you and your personality?
I’m truly a goofball. My humor is usually pretty dark, but I’m quick witted and want to make everyone around me laugh. Movie quotes and Vine references are constantly flooding out of my mouth. I’m also quite honest and will stand up to anybody for anybody. Not sure if it’s from years of childhood bullying or just being a Jersey girl, but I’ll fight you if I have to. Other than that, I’m just your average ghoul next door. I love all spooky things, collect dead animals and curiosities, and veer away from pop culture…almost to a fault. I’ve done an immaculate job of living under a rock, call me Patrick Star.
Could you tell us about your current modeling work as a tattooed model?
I currently freelance as a model, so it’s a mix of working for myself and different people/brands. I also work at events like tattoo conventions or local goth/fetish events, which is awesome because I’m constantly surrounded by friends. In between, I usually also have a part-time job, usually at some warehouse. The thought of sitting in an office or working in a store absolutely kills me, so I prefer working with my hands as much as I can.
You and your tattoos are absolutely stunning! Could you tell us about how you first got into modeling, and what that experience has been like for you?
Thank you so much! I started modeling about 6 years ago, after a friend asked me if I wanted to take pictures with her. Modeling was never something that crossed my mind before that, but I’m always down to try new things. After we got the pictures back, they were posted and to my surprise another photographer reached out to me for a shoot. Never did I think that I would be doing this 6 years later as a profession. It’s been one hell of an exciting journey. I’ve worked on movie sets, been in music videos, judged pinup contests, was in a skit for Funny or Die, got tattooed on live TV for Ink Master, traveled to music festivals to interview bands, have been hired a stylist/hair/makeup artist, and have met so many interesting and amazing people over the years.
How do you emulate your personality through being a tattooed model?
Being an alternative person, I’m definitely a type-cast. You don’t hire me if you need a standard pretty model – I’m hired to be a spooky babe. But that’s what I love. I don’t have any interest in being the type of model you see in fashion week or Victoria’s Secret. I always wanted to be on the fetish end of fashion or in horror.
Take us back to one or some of your favorite modeling shoots. What made it so memorable?
It wasn’t so much a modeling shoot, but my absolute favorite gig was being transformed into a full FX makeup bimbo zombie for a zombie contest. We called it Zombimbofication, haha. We were getting makeup put on while the crowd was walking around and I went into full zombie headspace (thank you Walking Dead and 28 Days Later), where I was snarling at people walking by, giving uncomfortable eye contact, and when I could, I’d reach out at people. On stage, I pulled my wig cap off and ferally shoved the hair in my mouth to “snack” while waiting for the judges to finish scoring. We ended up winning and I got to live out my longest dream of being a zombie.
I love your spooky, sexy style. Being a tattooed model, what are some of your modeling goals for the future, big or small?
Definitely to work with more clothing brands and make my way into more film work. I’d also love to start traveling internationally to shoot. I’ll be honest, modeling was never a set plan for me and I’ve been rolling with it. It’s exciting to me that I don’t know where I’ll be in the next few years, it’s the journey that I’m always looking forward to.
Could you tell me about your first tattoo? What was the motivation and meaning behind it, if any?
My first tattoos were the nautical stars on my hips. I got them when I was 17 as an 18th birthday gift from my mom. There was absolutely no meaning behind them, my mom asked if I wanted to get a tattoo for my birthday and I don’t even think she had time to finish the question before I was in the car waiting to go to a shop.
Take us through your thought process when you decide to get a new tattoo. How do you decide where to put it, what to get, when to get it?
Usually, I just wait until I feel like getting tattooed again. Sometimes, I know specifically what I want or I ask my artist to show me available flash pieces that he has. As for where I put it, that usually comes down to what I think will fill blank spaces up nicely. The only part of my body that is entirely untouched is my back. I know I want a full back piece, I’m just not sure what I want yet.
What is the culture like surrounding the tattooed community where you live? Do you feel like you thrive in that environment, or is it difficult to find your place as a tattooed model?
The tattoo community in my area is pretty large. There’s tons of tattooed and modified people. My town is 15 minutes away from Manhattan, so the area around here is pretty progressive in general. It’s common to see cops with full arm sleeves, teachers, doctors, etc. who are decently tattooed. I don’t think I could see myself living in an area where body modification was frowned upon. At first, it was a little intimidating going into an industry I was new to, but the community around here is extremely welcoming – feeling like part of the community was almost instant.
Tell us about something you’re really passionate about, outside of tattoos and modeling?
One thing I love to nerd out about is horror movies, more specifically how they make the horror creatures behind the scenes. I just think it’s so interesting. Horror is something I’ve always loved, even as a little kid. Leprechaun made me laugh, and I cried during Cujo because I didn’t want the dog to get hurt. I used to beg my mom all the time to let me watch Dead Alive, even though the dog scene made me sad. Another passion of mine is art – painting, drawing, anything creative. It’s something I’ve always loved, but don’t get to do nearly enough.
Thank you so much for sharing with us! Could you leave us with a message that you want to share with the world?
“The place where you made your stand never mattered. Only that you were there…and still on your feet.” – Stephen King
Thank you Cypress!
Read about some of our other featured women here:
- Rami Kintsugi Channels Her Individuality and Healing Nature Through Tattooing
- Australian Model Samii La’ Morte Gets Real About Tattoos and Mental Health
- Sarah Fulford Talks Tattoos and Embracing Being Different