An art buff's colorful journey

Published May 14, 2007

ODESSA - To get to the point where Angye Fox became a sexpot with a stripper pole in her bedroom, no qualms about getting naked in public and a hobby of painting canvases with her breasts, we need to go back a few years.

Back to when she was Angela, a tall, somewhat thickset athletic girl who didn't wear makeup, never had a manicure and wore her mousey brown hair in a mullet yes, the "business in the front, party in the back" do. She was born in Green Bay, Wis., where - according to her - most women wear comfortable shoes, jeans and cardigans.

Angela Smits grew up the only daughter of a single mother who struggled for money. They often were on the verge of getting their power shut off. Angela took on the adult's role - fixing things, doing yard work, making sure the bills were paid. By the age of 19, she had her stockbroker's and real estate license. She worked hard to make sure she never had to worry about paying bills.

During the years that followed, she moved to Florida and became a serial entrepreneur. One business was never enough. She had a restaurant. She did real estate. Marketing. Public relations. She was always on the phone. Always bubbly and energetic - though very serious about business.

She married and became Angela Younk. Then she divorced and remarried, this time becoming Angela Whitaker. She had a son, P.J., and when he was 2, the marriage fell apart.

So, in 2004, Angela found herself alone, again, this time in her mid 30s, angry and confused and sad. She never wanted to be divorced once, let alone twice. What am I doing wrong? she asked herself. Being the child of a single parent, she vowed that her child would not go through the same thing. Yet here she was, a single mother, her son navigating between two homes, two worlds. Why?

She went to therapy. She focused on her son and her businesses. Then a friend started making suggestions, not in a mean way, just offhand advice:

You should get your hair highlighted.

You should get your nails done.

You like sports - why don't you start working out? Get yourself a personal trainer.

One change led to the next and the next, picking up speed, until it was total. People who knew her before don't recognize her - this tall, fit blond, oozing sexuality.

Her breasts - which run large among the women in her family - sagged, so she got a lift, bringing her to a size 34F. She started tanning. She got her belly button pierced.

She changed her last name to Fox, because she liked the sound of it.

She got a tattoo of a fox with a heart around it.

She started going to Caliente, the nudist resort in Land O'Lakes, and eventually was hired to do their marketing. When she's there working, she's in a suit or long skirt and heels. But she does go topless and such for parties.

She started drinking dirty martinis and smoking expensive cigars. She won an amateur stripping contest at Thee Doll House.

She got a group of girlfriends together - all successful businesswomen - who wanted a creative outlet. Angye (not Angela) started painting with her breasts, dripping acrylic paint on strategic points and then pressing the canvas to her skin. She gives them away and auctions them for charity.

Other women made cigar box purses, glass sculptures and other things. Angye named the group Foxxxy Dames. (They sell their wares on www.foxxxydames.com.)

She realized her clothes - which with her new body had gotten revealing - didn't match her Odessa house, which was all pastels and seashells. So she got a decorator. She changed her living room into a game room.

And her bedroom into a boudoir.

"Here's your ticket, " Angye said during a visit the other day. She hands out an actual ticket, like the kind you get at the fair. You are expected to sign your name. Then she drops it into a large martini glass. She says there will be a raffle in the future.

"Welcome to the Fox Den."

Inside is all sex. (Seriously. It says so on the wall, spelled out in large wooden letters.) There's a mirror over the bed, and recessed mirrors along the walls with tea lights inside. A stripper pole, with a stereo and stilettos with heels that light up. There's a disco ball on the ceiling. The decor is all black and red, a mix of leather and soft fabrics, feminine yet masculine.

Angye said women go through three stages. In the first, women form their identities through men. The second stage is the "I am woman, hear me roar."

The third, where Angye is now, is softer. She's not angry with men. She's comfortable in her skin. She doesn't wear racy outfits very often - mostly they are ladylike, flowing skirts and heels and simple, classic jewelry. She loves being a mother - her son is her priority.

"Self-actualized, " is how Angye describes it. She's been praying a lot and reading the Bible. She feels grounded. And more like her true self - this self she created, in name and body.

For all the talk of empowerment and sexiness and strength, Angye said she still gets lonely. So she's looking.

Though this time around - as Angye Fox - she might ask for an open marriage. That's definitely something Angela Smits never would have done.

Erin Sullivan can be reached at esullivan@sptimes.com or (813) 909-4609.