06/23/2011 AT 6:45 PM ET
When Stella Mouzi met Mel Gibson this spring through mutual friends, the pair hit it off. But not, Mouzi insists, in a romantic way.
Eager to set the record straight after tabloid reports declared her Gibson’s new, young girlfriend when they were photographed together, Mouzi tells PEOPLE exclusively: “I came to the U.S. from Greece a few months ago and was charmed by the American hospitality. I made many new friends including Mel Gibson, with whom I share merely a friendly acquaintance.”
Described unflatteringly in some reports as everything from a “Greek Gothic chick” to a fetish model, Mouzi clarifies: “I am a dancer, performance artist and a photographer – that is the extent of my professional life. It has been difficult to be the subject of false rumors, which have also been hurtful to my friends and family.”