Layne and Demri loved to watch movies. What do you guys think was a favorite movie of theirs?
They absolutely loved to watch the oldies and goodies in black and white! All the classics….
It’s a one word name and they would have named their daughter it.
They loved ALL movies….”Willow” was one of my fondest memory of them and watching it with them, and their love and reaction to it.
"I am what I am." Laynes’ best Popeye the Sailor man impersonation…toot, toot. Ahh yes, how he made us laugh.
Demri and Layne They dreamed of a home with a white picket fence, love and laughter, surrounded by flowers, fairies and butterflies, a swing chair on the porch and little ones with golden locks running around
We can’t help but be charmed by Ali Michael and Marcel Castenmiller, modeling veterans and real-life couple who are way more than just blank slates for someone else’s vision. Between Marcel’s analog photography, Ali’s catalogue of amazingly bizarre images and videos, and the hilarious, candid, and weird snippets of their lives they share on each of their huge social media followings, Ali and Marcel have created a new digital dialogue about themselves that makes us all want to hang out with them. And after spending the day with the pair on set of UO’s new “Moving In” video, it’s easy to see why.
Behind the scenes, we talked with Ali and Marcel about digital self-awareness, how they met, and some things they will never take seriously.
Photography by Bobby Whigham
Let’s talk about the Internet: These are a bunch of obvious statements, but you both share a lot on Instagram and Twitter, and have big followings, but also share a very openly candid, transparent, and un-glamorized version of yourselves. Has this been a choice?
Ali: My relationship with the Internet and especially Instagram has been really interesting. I think typically as a model you are not seen as an individual. You are seen as a blank slate for someone else’s vision. So even though you are visible in ads or magazines or whatever you are not portraying yourself so people don’t get a sense of who you are.
And it’s been cool because Instagram and social media has been a way for both of us to present a more accessible portrayal of ourselves as opposed to going through some third party. I don’t like feeling like I can’t be myself.
Do you ever think about people not responding to it?
Ali: I’m sure that some people aren’t into it. That’s fine though, because some people are into it and that’s enough.
Marcel: I agree. I haven’t changed the way I do it when I started and when no one was looking. At first I thought,’Do I want all these people to see my real life?’ But then I realized, yeah of course I do. It’s like when you think about actors and how you can relate them to certain roles because they are able to talk about them. Like when Bill Murray says, ‘I’m playing this role and here’s how it was like me and here’s how it wasn’t.’ Whereas with modeling you want to be like, ‘Hey actually I’m not that guy — I’m this guy’ but that typically never happens.
Ali: It’s just nice to have control of your image. The Internet has provided a voice that we wouldn’t otherwise have had.
And it comes down to you both having a self-awareness of the fact that people are forming opinions about the people they follow and especially ones they don’t know.
Ali: Completely. And it’s also cool because everything is so accessible. I know I’ve found people or things I wouldn’t ever have found otherwise but you see them everyday. They are right in front of you.
Do any specific stories come to mind?
Marcel: Well, we met on Instagram.
Ali: Ok, only kind of! I had an Instagram crush on him.
Whoa. This is modern romance.
Ali: Yes, well so I had a fake account, the name of which I cannot reveal. My friend and I had started this fake account so we could secretly follow people, or people where it would be creepy if they knew we were following them.
Marcel: I don’t understand that.
Ali: You should!
Marcel: I feel like everyone should know when you follow them.
Ali: What! I definitely don’t. Anyway, I was just being a creepy stalker and following him and had a crush on him.
Marcel: And I asked my friend, who posted a picture of Ali, ‘Who’s this girl, what’s she all about?’
Ali: This is such a dumb story.
Marcel: No it’s not! It was great because we didn’t have any expectations.
Ali: So then there was this event at the Bowery and my friend invited me and I went because I heard his friend — and probably he — was going to be there. So of course I went.
Marcel: And I bought tickets because I thought she would be there.
YOU GUYS! This is real blog fodder right here. It’s great you’ve been able to work together so much.
Marcel: We didn’t see that happening.
Ali: No, not at all! But it’s been so cool. We’ve done some awesome stuff together and, with working together, it’s like: we want to hang out anyway.
Ali, you are from Texas and Marcel you are from Toronto. Now you are in New York. Do you think you will stay there?
Marcel: We talk about LA and we talk about Tokyo all the time. But maybe they are pipe dreams.
Ali: I lived in LA for a year and afterward was antsy to get back to New York. I have a love - hate relationship with New York, because I grew up in Texas riding horses every day in a field…I love that kind of environment so it feels exhausting to not have nature around. At the same time, the moment I leave I want to go back immediately. I don’t know, sometimes I feel like I want to get out.
Here are some more quick-fire questions for you:
What do you take seriously?
Ali: Being responsible
Marcel: Airport Security
What will you never take seriously?
Marcel: Gummy bears
Please share some items in a recent Notes App draft
Ali: One note of dreams I have starts out with:
cross your arms
"Are you a human being?"
nails outside glitter
Marcel: In my notes app: “I’m on a trip and Matt is singing a song for some of us on his road trip. He starts joking about the dead body downstairs. Somehow it appears in the room from where it was. He has to carry it back downstairs.”
Offer three pieces of advice to your younger self.
1. Not everyone is going to like you and that’s fine.
2. Feeling uncomfortable is often a good thing that you’ll appreciate later.
3. Mom is probably right.
1. Manage your sweet tooth.
2. Swim once a day.
3. Get a cat.
Walk us through a typical day for you — what’s your routine like at home?
Ali: I typically don’t stay out late because I like to work out in the morning- it makes me feel like it’s out of the way early. After that my schedule is kind of up in the air. As a model you’re always kind of on-call for castings so sometimes those come up. Other than that I don’t have too many rituals and just go wherever I find something I want or need to do.
Marcel: I usually will spend the night before at Ali’s then bike home in the morning. I’ll feed the cats and do some work on the computer. Otherwise, I will go out for a walk and take some photographs.
What is something you are good at?
Ali: Watching and listening
Marcel: I’d like to think I’m good at directions.
What is something you are bad at?
Ali: Being organized
Marcel: I get stage fright very easily so anything with a crowd makes me nervous.
Please recommend something…
To wear —
Marcel: a long black coat
To read —
Ali: Anything you can hold in your hands
Marcel: Ender’s Game
To watch —
Ali: VICE on HBO, Bruce Jenner’s ponytail on “Keeping Up with the Kardashians”
Marcel: “Possession” by Andrzej Żuławski
To hear —
Ali: The Spotify radio station for “Everything You Want” by Vertical Horizon
Marcel: Philip Glass
To drink —
Ali: Matcha or black coffee
Marcel: Sake masu
To eat —
Ali: Yosenabe at Inaka in Los Angeles or a peanut butter and jelly sandwich
Marcel: A tuna sandwich.
Ali, please tell us some things we don’t know about Marcel.
Ali: He is incredibly considerate and has a perspective unlike anyone else I’ve ever met and also has a pair of toe socks that he likes to wear sometimes and looks way better in my clothes than I do.
Marcel, please tell us something we do not know about Ali.
Marcel: Ali admires her own bruises.
Dem said she loved our smiles, I loved hers too and how her eyes got big. Demri is such a blessed soul that we all learned so much from….still trying to wrap our souls around…..mindlessly….Lol! She “got it” way before all of us! Layne agrees, even before him…that’s why he was so attracted to her…no matter what!!
I think I said this before but will say it again. Before Alice was “Signed”, everyone referred to Layne as Demri’s boyfriend she was the one that knew every body and I mean EVERY BODY. You could not go anywhere from Vancouver Canada to LA that she did not run into someone she knew. It bugged Layne a little he said because he wanted to be successful but he was also proud of it too because he loved Demri.
When Alice was “Signed”, it was flipped. Demri would not have minded so much except it happened by people close to them that new them prior intentional or not. She was her own person but it seemed to be said in a derogatory way as if she had latched on to him when she was there supporting him and helping him realize his dream. That was back in what was called The Butt Rock Days. Labels were not coming to Seattle to sign bands so it was not even a reality that he would ever realize that dream. There was no one prouder of him. Demri would always say, “Look what Layne drew”. “Listen to what Layne did” as she did with all her friends and family she bragged about you to other friends. She would support you in your dreams and give you fuel to believe in them and go after them.
One of the reasons for their “Forever Love” is that he could go out in the world and play Rockstar and date models or actresses but he knew that no one would love him unconditionally Rockstar or dirt poor like Demri did.
Demri needed money desperately for rehab or a roof over her head and would never ask Layne for a penny. She was proud that way. She wanted to be the moneymaker and support him, her friends, her family and strangers. She would give someone she did not know the last penny she had because she knew she could finagle it easier than they could or could find a bed or a meal that someone living on the streets could not. Sometimes things were not pretty but when you are young, you do dumb things.
The worst thing for her was when Layne would go out of town she would rarely hear from anyone and as it was approaching time for him to come home from tour the phone would start ringing. It was very hurtful.
Once when she was in the hospital (she had a zero percent chance to live and I believe the 13th time in), all these people showed up at the hospital. She was so happy and excited until she did not understand why they were not coming in the room to see her. They were waiting out in the waiting room. Then she realized they were waiting for Layne to arrive. She was so broken by that. Once Layne came home from New York and they all saw him she was back to being alone in the hospital. It was not until later that she found out she was not expected to make it and then it was like putting salt in the wound that those “friends” did not care about her. There were always a handful of people there for her good times and bad but to show up at the hospital and ignore her was not cool. It is different from those that stayed away for sobriety reasons or because it was too much to deal with.
More than anything, I am so sad that Layne and Demri were good people and had to go through such sorrow; life could be so different and wonderful for them now.
I remember when Demri died people were using the phrase, “What a waste”. Kathleen was hurt by that and would say, “My daughter’s life wasn’t a waste”. I felt “It was a “waste” in that Demri did not get all the great things she deserved back in life. I think we all would have loved to see that happen for her. People think of a drug addict wasting their life away, but Demri kept up with me and I do not think she wasted a minute let alone a second she just got derailed.
Demri lived in an environment of theft/borrowing/selling/giving away. I don’t recall much other than her pictures/photo album she had on her consistently. Tom kept all but Demri’s shoes when she died, Juliet dropped pictures off at Layne’s left at her house and Kathleen divvied the rest out amongst family and friends.
Demri would find something she liked, say a pin and take a piece of ribbon and make a necklace out of it. If someone said they liked something she had on, she was likely to hand it over. She might see something you had and trade you right on the spot could be a necklace or an undergarment, she was not predictable. I think this was with the things her mom has. I know there was some jewelry when we went through her stuff with Kathleen at Juliet and Larry’s, Sonja may have it. Kathleen wanted to be sure we all received what had value to us, I wanted things I gave her and having not given this too her I don’t have a clear memory. I think Mara, Ro, Seth and Layne were the only no shows, but things were put aside for them.
Also, all the times in the hospital, if things were not lost she would have given things away to a nurse that was nice, a roommate that was sad, or someone that brought her Taco Bell. That happened throughout a day in Demri’s life.I have heard several stories about how they met, but the most definitive one came from a source that knew her well and I can’t remember the name. Apparently, Demri worked in a shop at the mall and a friend of hers came in with Layne. Layne and Demri took one look at each other and that was that. Seriously! The other story I heard was that they were at a party or bar and took a look at each other and Layne proposed to her right then.
Dem’s mom :
I was saddened to see so much misinformation still out there…I am responding to the post of 10/29 Remembering etc. Demri DID die of an overdose after not using for a short while„„She battled endocarditis for over 2 years which the doctors informed my family they were unable to kill (I’ve often wondered if it was MRSA before it had a name,) She had a heart valve repaired and another replaced and the pacemaker implanted age 26.
Demri HATED being known as Layne’s girlfriend….If I had a quarter for all the times she and I were approached with “I know you…you’re Layne’s girlfriend and she would step back and reply No, I am Demri” I would take all of us to Vegas. Dem had gifts, she was not tortured she was a very old soul. She did not come here to learn any lessons she came to teach…she taught unconditional LOVE and from what I can tell she continues to do so…………..Do not place any attachment or story to my mother’s headstone for Dem that story will come out after my mom is no longer around….. that is another story Thanks for the oppurtinity to set a few things straight…I know the misinformation did not come from you sorry if I appeared to be venting perhaps I was a little.
Your site is beautiful if I were computer literate I would’ve corrected the writer it is nice to set the record straight .
do you recognize my shirt…it’s Layne’s. He wore it in your photo shoot…the one w/ Dem and he’s wearing a skirt with it.
Dem always carried this picture with her.
Arlington, WA 1992.
April 1993 This was outside the hospital in Las Vegas for a severe Pancreatic Attack she got while kicking. (She probably asked for a smoke break to get outside.) This is about a week off drugs and look how fast one starts looking better. I usually don’t do pix lucky I have one of her and I thanks to my friend Jamie who was in love with her (who wasn’t) and wanted a pix. Of course Layne flew in to town and whisked her away.
I shared this I thought with Natalia on “our” FB FRIEND PAGE and Fab saw it just as I did it and commented on it and now everyone has it I guess. (I don’t know how all this stuff works). I just took a quick pix from a friendship frame it was in that Dem gave me. If I knew it was going “out there” I would have waited and uploaded a good version of the pix. This is from Demri living with me in Las Vegas. She came down to kick and had a Pancreatic Attack that almost killed her and ended up in the hospital. She told me she HAD kicked and wanted to come down and be with me so we could finally have some fun because she could stay health around me. She had a pool, her own room, her own car (good for her but not the other people on the road), musicians to be around and be spoiled, but Layne came and got her in May. They were supposed to get married on stage at Lola that year. (There’s more to the story but that’s the jest of it). Maybe we should have a where’s Waldo Demri Page to track where she was when with the coinciding pix.
I love you Amber and Demri always and forever…I still have the beaded head piece I was making Dem for their wedding…never finished. I remember talking with them about their wedding plans…him in a top hat and tailed tuxedo and her in a vintage dress…the head piece with draping pearls and pastel beads to accent her beautiful crown of curls and face…Xx
Demri got her first dress at my mom’s shop. It was so not her. My mom and Dem had talked over the phone about it and my mom sent me down to Seattle with it to Demri’s (she was at Layne’s by the time I got there). I remember her trying it on for Layne, Damon, Howard and I (Layne’s face was classic). She immediately had the idea to deconstructing it. Once she had it, all a part it became too big of a job and probably no way to style it into a Demri kind of thing. (I remember her carrying it around with her sewing kit everywhere for a while in 2 big black garbage bags.) She got as far as using the appliqués from it on jeans or a jean jacket, but no dress. Kathleen should still have it, was the Vintage gown there too Fab? It was there when we went through the things at Juliet’s. When you two were talking about the vintage dress you found and all excited I remember Dem getting this look on her face like the cat was out of the bag and I would be disappointed. I knew that dress wasn’t her and the one you two found was more of a Demri thing. Besides that’s the way you’re supposed to find a dress with your best friend, not over the phone. Later when my mom asked her about it, Demri thought she’d be upset that she wasn’t going to use it and because she cut up a $2000 dress. My mom pulled out this big sketchbook (I hadn’t seen it since I was little) of clothes she hoped to make one day, (she wanted to be a clothing designer) going back to the 50’s and Dem was in heaven; well they both were going through all the pages and designs. My mom was fine with it as long as Demri still had the wedding at the house (not the Lolla but the one for family and friends). That’s where the idea came up for the Demri Garden on the property. Out of 52 gardens, only 2 were named after people and not one after her or I who had spent thousands of hours making them. I still have that image in my head of Demri walking from the trail and old growth forest past the Demri garden with ferns taller than she in a Vintage wedding gown to the upper grotto. She used to carry a picture of that garden around with all the other pictures that ended up being stolen. I wonder if somewhere, else all these plans happened in another place and time?
I drove by Larry’s in Arlington yesterday on Highway 9..I couldn’t remember where it was exactly, but what I do remember, after Dem’s memorial, we went there and Kathleen opened a closet in the foyer and there were a bunch of dresses there of Demri’s. She handed me one that I still have..it wasn’t the one, but it’s beautiful. I also wanted to turn off and go downtown and take a photo of the little theater that Dem would go see matinee’s…
whatever spirits come through…I know Demri will be dancing around! Me, Me!!
Long gone day : Lake Washington…drum circles..near the Soundgarden…”
Best smile!!! It would light up a room!! Then when she walked away…..!!! Layne loved her sooooooooooooooo much. Her spirit is grand!!!!
Layne was the sweetest boyfriend and friend!!! If anyone has ever wondered, and believe me, I’ve been asked…I never slept made love with them in the physical sense, nor the “heavy” we did smoke some herbage….but our senses were so in love with each other…they weren’t of this world. They did their time. Life here, has not been the same without them…but but there is so much LOVE, and as Demri said, “We are OLD SOULS.”
Layne and Demri: The way they played off each other.
I loved their sense of humor and “geekiness”….so immature and child like but deeper than the ocean. Their River Ran Deep!!