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18th March 2015

Becoming the ‘world’s first bionic pop star’

She’s extravagant, she’s sexy, she’s blunt. She’s challenging preconceptions and starking conversations. Viktoria Modesta is a true pop star.

She was born in Latvia in the late ‘80s, but an accident left the nerves in her left leg damaged. From then on, she spent most of her early years in hospitals undergoing 15 operations.

The last one was a voluntary below-the-knee amputation when she turned 20.

“I think people have always found it hard to know what to think or feel about an amputee who wasn’t trying to be an Olympian. In sports, ‘overcoming’ a disability makes you a hero, but in pop there is no place for these feelings.” Viktoria told the Daily Mail.

Becoming the ‘world’s first bionic pop star’

She moved to London at the age of 12 and started teaching herself music, song-writing and art direction. After dropping out of high school she took on modelling jobs and was soon on the cover of subculture magazines Bizarre and Skin Two.

The breakthrough in music came in 2012, when she performed at the closing ceremony of the Paralympics in London. For her Ice Queen role she wore one of the most sparkly prosthetic legs you’ve probably seen.

Crystal leg by the Alternative limb project

2 years later her music video ‘Prototype’ aired during the ad-break of the X Factor finals in mid-December. I’m no pop fan but it’s worth it, really!

The video was made to feature under Channel 4’s new campaign “Born Risky” and in a matter of 4 days got over a million views.

Changing the discussion on disability

Whether it’s fluorescent light, Swarovski embedded or a spike cone, the artificial legs in the video are all … brilliant. And beautiful.

“The time for boring ethical discussions around disability is over.” Instead she believes in moving the discussion to a new platform: mainstream pop culture. She’s definitely got the shock factor, the style and the channel to do that.

“I have never felt comfortable thinking of myself as disabled”

I understand those who argue that branding yourself as “the world’s first bionic pop star” does not make you a great singer. But honestly, she doesn’t have to be.

She’s doing something different and unseen in pop culture: ‘showing off’  her disability. She’s bringing sexy back challenging the popular desexualization of the disabled. She’s breaking down preconceptions, inspiring and starting conversations.

She’s making waves.

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