Actor and model Ava Capri has been dating actor-writer-director Alexis G. Zall for five years. In this disarmingly sweet FRONTPAGE story, we ask Zall to interview her longtime friend and partner.
I meet Ava in the living room we share. She wears butter-yellow Vans shorts I got her as a summertime gift so she could bring her noteworthy brand of androgyny poolside, a cream T-shirt with two cats that says “A love worth having is worth sharing,” and a trucker hat with an image of a deer that says “Buck Fever.”
Two nights ago, there was a sharp CRACK as our friend’s head slammed into Ava’s nose whilst bobbing for apples. Luckily, she walked away with nothing but a perfectly centered, albeit tender, vertical cut down her nose. Aside from going to two different doctors the next day to ensure the safety of one of her greatest assets — her face — we also made a trip to the drug store to buy three different types of stylish Band-Aids, ranging from tie-dye to panda print, to ensure that this injury would not deter, but enhance, her signature style of boyish good looks meeting the classic beauty of a ’40s movie star.
ALEXIS G. ZALL: So we’re sitting here in our living room on our overly-sized couch.
AVA CAPRI: Massive.
ZALL: Do you like the couch? Are you over it?
CAPRI: I love the couch, and I hate the couch. You know how I feel about the couch. We have the most comfy couch in the world, but it’s also too wide and deep, so you can’t really sit on it like a normal person. It swallows you whole.
ZALL: You have to surrender to it.
CAPRI: It can be a little too seductive. If we had a normy couch, maybe my life would be easier. But it’s nice when we have people over.
ZALL: In what ways do you think it would make your life easier?
CAPRI: It’d be easier to get on and off, just physically. [Laughs]
ZALL: We spend a lot of time sitting and talking on this couch. But there’s a different energy right now because we have a third in the room.
CAPRI: Which is —
ZALL: The fact that I’m interviewing you.
CAPRI: Oh, yeah. There is a third. We love a third.
ZALL: What do you think is the difference between our energy normally as a couple, and with another presence in the room?
CAPRI: With a camera? Or the concept of the public?
ZALL: The public.
CAPRI: That’s very interesting, and that’s something we’ve talked about since we first started dating. Before, I never thought about it, because I didn’t have to. When we first started dating, you were a little weird about not wanting to share our relationship with the public at large. And at first, I was like, “Is she embarrassed of me? What’s going on?”
I expressed that, and you were really honest, and I remember you cried, and you explained how, especially in your industry at that time when you were doing YouTube, strangers would attach themselves to these couples, and you knew so many couples that were together and then broke up and got kind of tortured by their past.
CAPRI: So for years we were very, not secretive, but cautious in protecting our relationship. Now, as stable as our relationship has become, we’re not afraid of that anymore. You’re also not a YouTuber anymore, and that is an interesting evolution itself.
ZALL: We’re five years into our relationship. How much are you conscious of what to keep private and what to keep public? Or is it not something that you think about very much?
CAPRI: I don’t think about it very hard. I have a historical instinct to not flaunt our relationship, not to signal that it belongs to anyone but us. But I’ve grown to appreciate the honesty of not hiding it and the sweetness that comes with letting people enjoy and witness a really sweet queer love. I am proud of that.
ZALL: Me too. So why are you in Highsnobiety?
CAPRI: That’s a great question. [Laughs] I was just involved in a film that did quite well, Do Revenge. I guess Willa [Bennett, Highsnobiety’s Editor-in-Chief] asked me to do it and I was incredibly down is also the honest answer. Do you know why?
ZALL: You’re a successful actress, up-and-coming as they say, and an incredibly hot model, which we’ll get into later.
CAPRI: Thank you.
ZALL: I think that combination is very exciting.
CAPRI: Thank you.
ZALL: We’ve obviously talked a lot about the making of Do Revenge. But now it’s out, and that’s a totally different beast. If you watched Do Revenge having not been involved, what do you think would grab you most about the film?
CAPRI: My initial thoughts were that I really just liked the movie when I saw it. Obviously I liked the major queer storylines, and how funny and big and campy it is.
ZALL: So when you think about queer representation in film… do you see it as something with an end goal, or is it something you just enjoy as a consumer because you connect with it?
CAPRI: Oh, shit. I think I enjoy it as a consumer. I really enjoy it as an artist and someone who wants to be involved in storytelling, and am so grateful and relieved that I live in a point in history where I get to be involved in that.
I know when I watch something and there’s queer representation that feels real and fun, I enjoy it so much. I love when girls kiss. I’m simple, I love that. I love when they’re given three-dimensional characters in scripts and not used as sidekicks only. I seek media that involves it. It’s the same way that anyone of any particular group enjoys and seeks out representation that makes them feel seen and understood.
ZALL: I ask that question because as an out queer person, especially during press, I get asked a lot and I feel like you got asked a lot what queer representation means to you.
CAPRI: Constantly. Very generic question.
ZALL: Exactly. Does it have to be...
CAPRI: No, it doesn’t have to mean anything.
ZALL: Does it have to be so deep in order to be worthwhile?
CAPRI: You know what I love also? Can it just be hot sometimes? And I love it being deep when it feels purposeful.
I think, obviously, in the past a lot of queer representation has been objectifying in a way just to be sexual. But we’re past a point where our queer characters can now be evil, they can be mean, they can be imperfect, they can be all these things. They can just be hot. So much is being made right now where I feel like we’re not like, “Oh, we need this one type of representation.” The more the merrier.
ZALL: In 2022, we are reckoning with a lot of things in terms of queer media. There’s a lot of conversations happening about who can play queer characters and whether it should be cast authentically, how much that matters? There’s also conversations about if actors owe us coming out if they’re playing queer roles, how much is owed to the public, and how much is owed to queer people as almost reparative measures. What is it like to be an out actor in 2022?
CAPRI: Interesting. I don’t think about it very often like that. But if I were forced to in an interview… [Laughs] It’s a relief. I’m so glad that if I take on a role that is queer, or bi, or whatever it is, that I don’t have to then reckon with what do I owe people. You know what I mean?
CAPRI: And if I play a straight role, I’m not afraid of that. I’m just in my truth. And also, I don’t believe that anyone owes coming out. For me it’s like… it’s actually easy to be out. It’s so obvious, because I’m, well, in love, and that’s not something that I want to hide. That’s my reality and it’s visible. I’m so grateful that it’s always been obvious to me that, “Oh, this is the truth. Let’s just go with the truth.”
ZALL: I feel like coming out is one of the greatest gifts I’ve ever given myself. When I started my career, I was an actor as well, but I was also a personality. I felt like I couldn’t proceed honestly with my work without coming out. I’m, in a way, incredibly grateful for that, because there is a huge difference for public-facing people of it not being a secret versus being out and standing in that.
CAPRI: Yes, there is. It’s everyone’s right to do as they please in that space. I love that I don’t have to think about it. I’m grateful that in the queer roles that I’ve done, when people look up my online presence, people can see that I’m visibly queer and I’m proud of that.
ZALL: Gay pride, as they say. You have it. What role does your queerness play in your personal style?
CAPRI: A ton. When I came out, even when I first started hooking up with girls right before I came out, I immediately had a vibe shift in clothes. It felt like I was allowed to do whatever I wanted. It’s like how we talk about relationships and queerness; it’s unsubscribing from the things that you have to do or how things should be. Once I freed myself in that way, I was like, “Oh, I can truly do whatever I want.”
ZALL: My relationship with my body and with the way that I looked got significantly better when I realized I didn’t like men in that way. We’re taught as teen girls, as women in general, to gear ourselves towards what men find attractive. And when I realized I didn’t have to, and also that the things I found attractive in women were not necessarily what I was taught was hot, it was very freeing. Would you define freedom as what makes style queer?
CAPRI: I think queer vibes exist beyond clothes. It’s an energy thing. And when people allow their clothes and their energies to align, we can call that queer fashion. It’s not foolproof, but there’s a little something that you can pick up on.
ZALL: Queer people have an extra touch of magic.
CAPRI: I think so, too.
ZALL: A photographer recently called you handsome.
CAPRI: It was Paris Mumpower. I’ve recently done press shoots for Do Revenge, and there have been a few women that I’ve shot with who I feel like they really get it. Right away Paris got it. We were shooting the first look, and she puts the camera down for a second and says, “Don’t take this the wrong way, but you’re so handsome.” And I was like, “I love that.” She just gets it. I felt very seen and understood.
Photography is so intimate, and obviously it isn’t sex, but there can be a charge in that connection. You’re making something together. If there’s a photographer that is like, “Oh, I don’t get you,” then it’s going to be hard to find that synergy.
ZALL: What do you think are the similarities and the differences between acting and modeling?
CAPRI: They’re deeply different. We were talking to a photographer who lives in Berlin recently about how she used to do more high fashion, and now she’s been shooting actors, and she’s noticed that they model differently.
ZALL: She was saying that sometimes actors are uncomfortable being seen as themselves. I would say one of your biggest strengths is how much of yourself shines through in your work.
CAPRI: Thank you. The modeling I’ve done recently has been amazing because it’s as myself. I realize that I just really like it. It’s a fun way to feel hot.
ZALL: What does hot mean to you?
CAPRI: It’s so subjective. In the last five years, the types of people we are “allowed” to find hot has expanded so much and it is much more honest. That’s always existed. Being attracted to people of the same gender, people of no gender. You know what I mean?
ZALL: When do you feel hot?
CAPRI: It’s pretty indescribable, but just feeling in my body. The few times I’ve modeled recently, I’m in beautiful designer clothing. Like a Thom Browne suit or a Gucci trench coat. Clothes that I don’t wear every day. I usually wear thrifted clothes and trucker hats. So it is very different than me.
But they are clothes that make me feel alive. I never understood why people spent so much money on clothes, and now I’m starting to get an appreciation for certain designers or brands. I’ve been able to wear so many really interesting pieces, and it is this tangible art, like tangible pop culture almost.
I’ve always felt like I’ve had style, but I think my interest in the fashion world at large and appreciation for it is just getting started. I’m probably late to the party, but something I’m appreciating about fashion is the underlying queer tastemaker-ness of it all. Gay people are the pioneers in fashion because gay people liberated themselves from this idea of gendered interests.
ZALL: Well, I was going to ask what you see next for style and fashion, but it sounds like if gay people are the tastemakers of the future, the future is what you’re doing now.
CAPRI: Whoa. I like that. Maybe the rest of society’s next thing is what queer people are fucking innovating right now. It’s the present for us. And then it drips down. Queer people are daring and fashion is daring. Those two things go together — the disregard of tradition and about going one’s own way and following one’s own instinct.
ZALL: How was being interviewed by your partner?
CAPRI: I loved it. There’s not a lot we talked about that we probably haven’t touched on before. But in general, it’s so nice to talk to someone who I respect so much as an artist, a writer, a fashionable hot person, and a queer icon.
ZALL: Thank you, Ava. I love you.
CAPRI: I love you, too.
ZALL: All right. Bye to you, third.