Most weekdays you’ll find Victor Loo at his office at Seattle’s Asian Counseling and Referral Services, where he’s the Director of Recovery Services. Loo’s been with the agency for more than a decade, but he has a thriving second career as an internationally-known high fashion model. You’ll find this Singapore-native strutting the runway as Victoria Victor, Seattle’s only genderless Asian model.
Here's Victor's story, as told to KUOW's Marcie Sillman.
“Modeling is nothing new to me. I have modeled in Southeast Asia. Not androgynous modeling, but as a teenage boy.
“The way I became a model was accidental. I was shopping in a mall and this casting agent saw me, took out a business card and said ‘We’d like to cultivate you.’ I thought, this has to be a joke.
“For an Asian family, you had to be an engineer, or a doctor. Very clichéd! Modeling wasn’t the norm for my family, so my parents were very worried. ‘Is this sustainable? How will you support yourself?’
“I started modeling when I was 15, and I didn’t think I would ever model again after I decided to go into social work.
“I was given a second chance to reinvent myself. I was mistaken as female — that’s how it started. I’m very open that I’m not female. I’m male biologically. Sometimes people are mistaken that I’m transgender, and I always clarify. I’m not transgender, it’s just that I have very feminine features.
“Before I started modeling I also performed live, singing and dancing. I was asked to perform at an LGBTQ fundraiser. I decided, for fun, to dress as female. They asked, what was my stage name? I knew the movie 'Victor/Victoria' of course, but I didn’t want to be sued, so I decided to reverse it. Victoria Victor. And I maintained that stage name even after I started modeling.
I developed a passion for modeling. To me, fashion is a different platform to do so many things. I figured out a way to integrate it with social services. When I model, I ask permission to endorse for domestic violence prevention, or different things like that. Now they say, ‘Oh, that’s the model [who] will ask if you’re willing to donate to social services.'
“I’m not afraid to try new things. I grew up very poor. I gradually got to a stage in life where I am very comfortable, and I don’t take it for granted. But I also tell myself if I wake up one day with nothing, I’ll be fine.”