Photography IRVIN RIVERA






Instagram: @Merikatheone
Twitter @MerikePalmiste
Location: New York

Who is Merika? Tell us your story in a nutshell.

I was born in Estonia. I was 10 years old when I left Estonia and moved to Russia. I love sports and I played basketball and volleyball .
After school I went to Saint Petersburg at the University of Culture and Arts. 

Most of my life I work in the event industry producing all different types of events. I came to the US in 2013 to learn English. 

At that same time, the anti-gay situation is Russia was getting worse and worse. With all the anti-gay law that was passed I figured I had no future to go back. 

I had to start my life from scratch - no money, no friends , not legal to work and can’t speak English. It was terrible. I couldn't get a job for a long time.  I slept on the streets. I got asylum right before gay pride in NY and that was the first time I was so proud and happy just to be able to be who I am and not afraid. 

That was like tasting freedom for the first time in my life!!  
That kind of support made me strong.

What's your ethnic background?

My Mom is Russian and my Dad is Estonian

Tell us about your hometown.

Tallinn, small  old town very very beautiful in any time of the year, located on Baltic sea, narrow streets of old town flooded with tourists, good food and good beer.

Where are you based now? You think you would stay there for a while?

In NYC and I love it! I’ll stay till I have enough money to move to California.

What inspired you to be a model?

Prove to all who tried me bad, bit me and insulted me - that I can and I will.

How long have you been modeling?

So far 3 years

Tell us about your earliest modeling gig. Can you still remember it? How was it?  

It was for Toni&Guy.  I had long dress and heels. I was so terrified to fall. It was so high with my 6.3 inches heels in the dress that was seen from Guliver or something like that. They like the muscular look. 

What’s your favorite part in being a model?

Being controversial and being able to do what another would not have guts to do. And I also love  runways. It’s wild and energetic like a different world. 

How do you manage your time as a model?

I don’t really. 
It’s easy. I have all my casting and shoots I just go for it moving anything else on the side.

Outside modeling, what do you do?

Working with Margeaux Simms- she is an artist and singer. I was on the shoot on one of her music videos “Girl on the left” that was so much fun. 
I am producing events and do bookings. I love traveling a lot.
I am a student in NYU and I do bartending on the side.

How is it being the first Same-sex Couple on Marriage boot camp

We were grateful for the opportunity to be on national TV and represent LQBTQ community but the way it turned around was not a very happy ending. It was stressful and emotional. 

I love Margeaux so much it was hard watching her making hard choices. This show’s desire to flip all your emotions up and down can make you go crazy - and I don't think that the best thing for LGBTQ community.

Being on TV I had no control over how our relationship is gonna be shown. 

I believe we need more educational shows showing real stuff like loyalty, love to each other, with powerful women together, and men, couples raising kids together, love and take care of each other, and beautiful love stories. 

And I believe that there’s a lot more that what you see on TV.

How many tattoos do you have?

I have multiple and continue getting more. I want to tattoo my girlfriend’s portrait on my arm. 

The ones that were memorable were covered up already. They were memorable because they were done when I was 16 or 17 and was stupid not like now when I'm very smart. 

Book that you’re currently reading.

A few books: The Power of Now by Eckhart Tolle and  The Selfish Gene by Richard Dawkins. 

What comes next after modeling?

Movies, Screen Writing , Events , my own clothing line, get married and have kids.

Any advice you can give to any aspiring models out there?

Know what kind of model you are and what you willing to do for it!

Dream project?

Write and produce movies. 

Dream Client?

Dsquared2, H&M, Adidas

Tell us a secret.

Brad Pitt  to be our sperm donor

Currently binge watching _____

The Young  POPE

If you’re gonna have a book what title would it be?

Stupidity - is the new form of knowledge. 

If you will be given the chance and opportunity to help a specific charity, what would it be and why?