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(“No, he’s not black, he’s Brazilian”… with Diego S from Berlin)

One of the most interesting legacies of having spent my childhood in America was the casual racism that permeated everyday life. After having spent my entire adult life in England, the comparative lack of racism astounds me, and I still marvel at the amount of mixed-race couples around as if that was something extraordinary.

At the age of eight, my mother got married, and the new ‘wealth’ brought by having a second income meant that I would be sent to Catholic school, which required tuition. I wasn’t sent there for religious reasons but for safety. The new Catholic school was no more than fifteen minutes by foot from my old public school, but demographically it was worlds apart. At the new school it was purportedly less likely that I’d end up being murdered on the playground there. That new school was totally white.

Ok, to be totally honest, there were a couple of Latinos, but one was Ecuadorian and the other’s family was from Belize.  The point was made, however, that they were “not Mexican or Puerto Rican”. These were the bad kind of Latinos, the ones who joined gangs, sprayed graffiti and shot each other outside the 7-11. Ecuador? Belize? Nobody talks about them in the news.

In the final year at St Ferdinand Parish School we got two transfer students, a twin brother and sister. They were black. And they were the first black people we ever saw in six years at the school so far. Most people thought this was big news, but the twins were well-liked, so the news wasn’t spread in an aggressively racist way. These kids were “good” but black was still “dangerous”, so there was a standard reply whenever kids from the neighbourhood would say “I heard you got some black kids at your school now”… I’ll always remember the response, “No! They’re not black, they’re Brazilian”. I guess that not having your ancestors brought up picking cotton in the Alabama sun was safe, no matter what colour your skin actually was.

See more of Diego and read his story in Elska Magazine issue (02) Berlin

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“No, he’s not black, he’s Brazilian”… with Diego S for Elska Magazine

One of the most interesting legacies of having spent my childhood in America was the casual racism that permeated everyday life. After having spent my entire adult life in England, the comparative lack of racism astounds me, and I still marvel at the amount of mixed-race couples around as if that was something extraordinary.

At the age of eight, my mother got married, and the new ‘wealth’ brought by having a second income meant that I would be sent to Catholic school, which required tuition. I wasn’t sent there for religious reasons but for safety. The new Catholic school was no more than fifteen minutes by foot from my old public school, but demographically it was worlds apart. At the new school it was purportedly less likely that I’d end up being murdered on the playground there. That new school was totally white.

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Ok, to be totally honest, there were a couple of Latinos, but one was Ecuadorian and the other’s family was from Belize.  The point was made, however, that they were “not Mexican or Puerto Rican”. These were the bad kind of Latinos, the ones who joined gangs, sprayed graffiti and shot each other outside the 7-11. Ecuador? Belize? Nobody talks about them in the news.

In the final year at St Ferdinand Parish School we got two transfer students, a twin brother and sister. They were black. And they were the first black people we ever saw in six years at the school so far. Most people thought this was big news, but the twins were well-liked, so the news wasn’t spread in an aggressively racist way. These kids were “good” but black was still “dangerous”, so there was a standard reply whenever kids from the neighbourhood would say “I heard you got some black kids at your school now”… I’ll always remember the response, “No! They’re not black, they’re Brazilian”. I guess that not having your ancestors brought up picking cotton in the Alabama sun was safe, no matter what colour your skin actually was.

Find out more about Elska here: www.elskamagazine.com

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(A Rare Glimpse at the Photographer… with Angelica Fox, out of drag) 

I wish that i could be more confident, but something happened instantly at puberty that made me go totally shy. Before that point I was always posing for the camera. There’s even a picture of me at around age seven dressed in some form of drag with a mop-top as a wig, a colander on top as a hat, and my mother’s curling iron as a microphone. I was probably even singing Madonna into that mic when that image was taken.

Fast forward only a few years and you couldn’t get me in front of a camera no matter how much you begged. I haven’t changed. But sometimes there are little accidental shots of me, such as this one captured in a mirror during a shoot with Scotty, before he got into his drag persona, Angelica Fox. Admittedly it doesn’t reveal a lot, but if it did, I probably wouldn’t be posting it.

Written by Liam Campbell, chief photographer and editor of Elska Magazine.

Subscribe to or buy individual issues of Elska Magazine, available in select shops or online at www.elskamagazine.com

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(Drag Queens and Pancakes in the Desert…with Scotty P)

When I was a flight attendant, the holy grail of trips you could get was the 6-day Los Angeles trip. With most long-haul flights, the cabin crew get one or two nights at the destination, but four times a month there was an LA trip that gave you 5 local nights. In all my time at the airline, I was lucky enough to get the 6-day LA once.

During that trip I hired a car and drove into the desert where I’d spend one night at a clothing-optional resort in Palm Springs. Of course, I’d also try to use this opportunity to meet and photograph a local, so I turned on Grindr and found Scotty P, a 21-year old lad who’d moved to Palm Springs a year before from an even smaller desert town.

Scotty worked by day at a pancake restaurant. I’m guessing it was IHOP ‘cos he didn’t have a car and IHOP was the only pancake house within walking distance. By night, he performed as a drag queen called Angelica Fox. During the shoot, he didn’t get out any of his drag costumery, but his shaved legs and lack of musculature surely enough revealed the Angelica alter ego.

First we shot inside, which stunk rather strongly of piss. He told me that only ten minutes before I arrived he was with a guy doing watersports and hadn’t chance to clean up yet. Indeed his bed was covered with a plastic tarp to protect the sheets and mattress beneath.

He wanted a shower, so I followed him and shot him there. The stench was bothering me and I had moments where I just wanted to get the hell out, but there was a gentleness to him, as well as a sort of sad idealism that reminded me of myself at that age. So I stuck around, but switched to  shooting outside in the fresh air. He sat by the community pool; in the notepad he brought, he  wrote stream of consciousness while I photographed.

The next day, even though I really don’t like IHOP (though it is better than Denny’s), I contemplated stopping there for breakfast and to see him again. Instead I ate at Elmer’s Restaurant on East Palm Canyon where the pancakes are superb and don’t taste like they were made in a factory 3000 miles away. But I wished I’d gone to IHOP.

Find out more about Elska here: www.elskamagazine.com

Drag Queens and Pancakes in the Desert…with Scotty P for Elska Magazine

When I was a flight attendant, the holy grail of trips you could get was the 6-day Los Angeles trip. With most long-haul flights, the cabin crew get one or two nights at the destination, but four times a month there was an LA trip that gave you 5 local nights. In all my time at the airline, I was lucky enough to get the 6-day LA once.

During that trip I hired a car and drove into the desert where I’d spend one night at a clothing-optional resort in Palm Springs. Of course, I’d also try to use this opportunity to meet and photograph a local, so I turned on Grindr and found Scotty P, a 21-year old lad who’d moved to Palm Springs a year before from an even smaller desert town.
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Scotty worked by day at a pancake restaurant. I’m guessing it was IHOP ‘cos he didn’t have a car and IHOP was the only pancake house within walking distance. By night, he performed as a drag queen called Angelica Fox. During the shoot, he didn’t get out any of his drag costumery, but his shaved legs and lack of musculature surely enough revealed the Angelica alter ego.

First we shot inside, which stunk rather strongly of piss. He told me that only ten minutes before I arrived he was with a guy doing watersports and hadn’t chance to clean up yet. Indeed his bed was covered with a plastic tarp to protect the sheets and mattress beneath.

He wanted a shower, so I followed him and shot him there. The stench was bothering me and I had moments where I just wanted to get the hell out, but there was a gentleness to him, as well as a sort of sad idealism that reminded me of myself at that age. So I stuck around, but switched to  shooting outside in the fresh air. He sat by the community pool; in the notepad he brought, he  wrote stream of consciousness while I photographed.

The next day, even though I really don’t like IHOP (though it is better than Denny’s), I contemplated stopping there for breakfast and to see him again. Instead I ate at Elmer’s Restaurant on East Palm Canyon where the pancakes are superb and don’t taste like they were made in a factory 3000 miles away. But I wished I’d gone to IHOP.

Find out more about Elska here: www.elskamagazine.com

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(Somebody Said You Got a New Friend (TBT)… with Lucas V)

As with Elska Magazine, where every shoot owes inspiration partly to a song (note the Elska Mixtape list of inspirations on the back page of every issue), music videos are also a big source of drive when photographing a subject.

My friend Lucas Voclère, who used to be an actor and model way back wanted to try a quick little shoot when he was at my place. I really don’t like to just shoot without some inspiration, and then I saw that Robyn’s ‘Body Talk’ was on the turntable at the moment. Without even putting the needle to the record, I started picturing the video clip of track two: “Dancing On My Own”. And that’s really all I needed for us to get started.

Start the video at 0:08 (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=J294A-R1Cjk) and you will see why I told Lucas to make these fists. Simple as that.

Subscribe to or buy individual issues of Elska Magazine, available in select shops or online at www.elskamagazine.com

Somebody Said You Got a New Friend (TBT)… with Lucas V for Elska Magazine

As with Elska Magazine, where every shoot owes inspiration partly to a song (note the Elska Mixtape list of inspirations on the back page of every issue), music videos are also a big source of drive when photographing a subject.

My friend Lucas Voclère, who used to be an actor and model way back wanted to try a quick little shoot when he was at my place. I really don’t like to just shoot without some inspiration, and then I saw that Robyn’s ‘Body Talk’ was on the turntable at the moment. Without even putting the needle to the record, I started picturing the video clip of track two: “Dancing On My Own”. And that’s really all I needed for us to get started.
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Start the video at 0:08 (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=J294A-R1Cjk) and you will see why I told Lucas to make these fists. Simple as that.

Subscribe to or buy individual issues of Elska Magazine, available in select shops or online at www.elskamagazine.com