We bring you our favourite longform features that we published this year – from Comme des Garcons witchcraft to Chicago footwork crews
In the year of our lord 2016, it might seem increasingly difficult to stretch your attention span. There’s stuff everywhere, isn’t there? Here, we still firmly believe in the longread format, we believe in in-depth reporting and rich writing that is perhaps becoming harder to find. And you, our readers, do too.
I’m really proud of the long form features that we’ve published this year, some hitting print first before making their way onto the site, others commissioned specifically for online; with a wide range of topic and themes, from mental health issues to Marilyn Manson. Seeing as it’s the holiday season and you’re likely doing nothing, now’s the perfect time to put your feet up and dive into our favourites from the year that Dazed turned 25.
This is an electric, no-holds-barred interview with model and actress Hari Nef conducted by Shon Faye. Nef serves the tea boiling hot as she goes in on freedom in the fashion world and trying to stay casual. Choice quote: “All week people here – y’know, especially the European people here for fashion week – have been coming over to tell me I look so “free”. It’s such bullshit. Calling me ‘free’ because you think I’m your fucking ‘beacon’ of gender because I don’t look like what you thought a woman looks like, or what a model should look like.”
This fascinating essay on the social history and pop cultural symbolism of the witch began life as a magickal shoot by Paolo Roversi and styled by Dazed Creative Director Robbie Spencer. Starring Anna Ewers in Comme des Garcons' 'Blue Witches' SS16 collection, the moonlit shoot became a starting point for what would become an in-depth essay tracing the sex, magick and symbolism of the witch across film, fashion and pop culture at large. "To reclaim the word witch is to reclaim our right, as women, to be powerful" wrote Starhawk in her 1979 book on Wicca and the Goddess movement. It's a sentiment reflected across the many and varied contributors to Susanne Madsen’s essay, from the owner of London's oldest occult bookseller, Geraldine Beskin, to teen witch Tavi Gevinson, designer Claire Barrow, Anjelica Huston and set designer and Museum of Witchcraft curator Simon Costin – who also contributed historical illustrations from his collection.
Trey Taylor goes deep with James Duval, star of Gregg Araki’s Teen Apocalypse Trilogy, who went on to play the demonic bunny in Richard Kelly’s cult classic. Marking 50 years since the film’s release, Duval tells all about the magic of working with a young and prodigiously talented Jake Gyllenhaal, the shock of seeing Frank’s mask for the first time and how Watership Down inspired Kelly to make the film the way he did. A fascinating read with a central character in the cult film that flopped at the box office but went on to mean so much to teenagers across the world.
House music changed the world when it appeared 30 years ago, but the stories of its dancers were left behind. Today, dance crew The Era are reminding the world of the culture’s history. This longread on the Chief Manny, Litebulb, P-Top, Steelo, and Dempsey, the radical collective who talk about footworkin’ after their 9-5 jobs finished, being mistaken in art spaces for workers, not performers and the language of dance.
Uganda is a dangerous place for LGBT people – as recently as 2013 legislation was passed that sentenced anyone found “guilty” of homosexuality to life in prison. It was also a crime to “promote” homosexuality. The impact on the lives of everyday LGBT Ugandans was swift, and predictable. They lost their jobs, their homes and, in extreme cases, their lives. But still Ugandans want to celebrate their sexuality, doing so at Pride events held in secret and talked about via word of mouth. These interviews, accompanied by photography from Diana Zeyneb Alhindawi make for a compelling insight into LGBT life in the African country.
Through five decades of transformative art and music, Genesis P-Orridge has dedicated a lifetime to breaking down binary thinking and galvanizing the mainstream. It's fitting, then, that s/he appeared in our summer issue wearing Hood By Air and rubbing shoulders with Zayn Malik and Lil Yachty. In this candid conversation, s/he spoke to Patrik Sandberg about divine creation, dinner with Donatella Versace, as well as gave a hint of the political apocalypse to come, months before the election. "Their hatred is being validated and it's already taking off," she said of Trump's supporters. "Anything he does seems like it’s part of a reality show. He has lost his mind. I’m pretty sure he doesn’t realise that he could potentially have the power to create the end of humanity, with wars and so on. He’s living in a fantasy."
We commissioned a series of articles to run during Mental Health Awareness Week, which takes place every year in May. This series of interviews focusses on people who suffer from depersonalisation-derealisation disorder, a condition that inhibits your ability to connect to the “self” and leads you to feel detached from your bodies, emotions and surroundings. We conducted interviews with sufferers in order to shed light on a rare mental health condition that little is known about.
When putting together Dazed's big 25th anniversary issue, we wanted to take the opportunity to bring together the weirdest and most wonderful interviewees we could think of – and, even better, to get them to talk to each-other. The best of the bunch was one Ms. Dolly Parton and RuPaul. In this hilarious in-conversation, the country queen and drag megastar (having met only once before) discussed how their passion for hair, happiness, and sharing what's in their hearts with the world overlaps – even prompting Parton to declare, "I always said if I hadn't been a woman I would have been a drag queen!" It's the best head-to-head since 'Islands in the Stream.'
Post-truth was fittingly named word of the year by the OED, and it’s a topic that dominates Adam Curtis’ brilliant documentary HyperNormalization, a sleepy, cinematic series of ruminations on power systems and politics, and all the ways that we’re being malevolently confused. Curtis’ film was released two weeks before Trump’s election, but feels all the more prescient now – a president elected on a wave of aggressive rhetoric, false information and gaslighting. Here, Curtis talks about the failures of liberalism, the genius of Burial and why his journalism is always emotional.
This is a thrilling interview with Ukrainian fashion deviant Misha Koptev, who talks about eating fish from copies of Vogue and Cosmo, before re-reading them, trapped as a Soviet child with only one hour of access to television a day. He claims to eat nothing but meat, discusses what it was like to slaughter a pig for the first time and talks of himself as a “stain on his hometown”. It’s wise to take what he’s saying with a pinch of salt, but strap yourself in for a wild ride.
Barbara Kruger is someone with deep ties to Dazed, having been recruited by Mark Sanders to work on an art project in a 1996 issue of Dazed and then working with Damien Hirst on a cover in 2006. Here, Emma Allwood goes deep with the design iconoclast about reality TV as brutal but enjoyable anthropology, how she’s not entirely sure if things are better for women now than they were 40 years ago and Donald Trump as a “silly, shallow bully”.
In July of 2015, women’s health care provider Planned Parenthood was subject to a series of bogus attack videos. Created by an anti-abortion organisation called the Center for Medical Progress, the videos purported to show that Planned Parenthood profited from the sale of fetal tissue, begging viewers to “Hold Planned Parenthood accountable for their illegal sale of baby parts.” They were proven to be falsified propaganda, but the damage was done; socially conservative politicians railed against the organisation, and in December of 2015, the Senate voted to defund Planned Parenthood. Here we talk to Adwoa Aboah, Grace Miceli, Alexandra Marzella plus more about why women’s healthcare is so essential.
Unais Gomes was a British man killed in a Peruvian ayahuasca retreat by a Canadian called Joshua Stevens. We speak to Stevens – who was close to Gomes – to get his side of the story and in the process delve into the perils of ayahuasca tourism, with new psychedelic spiritual centres ill-equipped to deal with the possibility of demonic possession, which in this case many speculate led to death. Along with Stevens, we speak to a shaman, a psychoanalyst and the owner of the retreat where the killing took place.
At the same time that Dazed launched in 1991, Irvine Welsh was holed away in Scotland putting the finishing touches to his seminal debut novel Trainspotting. With the film’s sequel on the horizon just as Dazed turns 25, it was the perfect time to touch base with Welsh. Here, we discuss Trainspotting as a story about the transition out of work, the war on drugs ans the trappings of capitalism.