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Courtesy of Circus

Circus is back in town: Join Jackson Bowley’s band of beauty freaks

The unserious beauty platform for total weirdos is back with issue number two

Circus is back in town! The off-kilter beauty publication founded by photographer Jackson Bowley is returning for a second issue, boasting even more bizarre beauty this time around. “The first one was so fun, so I just got swept into it,” he says. “Not even a week after the issue launched, I said, ‘Let’s start the second one’ – I was really riding off the high.” 

Themed around ‘The Impossible’ – “I always have a lot of ideas and I was thinking about images I haven’t seen before or images I want to see,” Bowley says – the sophomore issue sees Bowley take a step back from his duties as a photographer, with his role as editor-in-chief consisting of creating interesting and unlikely pairings of beauty creatives to collaborate. 

He still appears in the issue as a dragged-up version of Frozen’s Olaf though, and had a direct hand in the cover’s creation as art director: travelling to Glasgow with make-up artist Lynski to collaborate with sports photographer Ian MacNicol and swimmer and Olympic gold medallist Kathleen Dawson MBE. “Ian shot loads of cool photos at the Olympics and I thought, ‘Wouldn’t it be cool if there was make-up?’” Bowley explains. The result, which he describes as “a catalyst for the whole issue,” could be an album cover – a begoggled, swimming hat-wearing face emerging from the deep, complete with kaleidoscopic painted skin.

Elsewhere in the issue, you’ll find a glamorous tanning accident, jet-skiing alien triplets, and even a prosthetic penis that’s actually a fridge magnet. With contributors including Alexis Stone, Janina Zais, Maisie Cousins, Aidan Zamiri, and Lily Bling, each followed the Circus format of creating a single full-page image intended to be ripped out and stuck on your wall. 

With fun abound, it’s curious why in 2022 Circus is such a unique publication – after all, isn’t beauty meant to be all about limitless expression? “Magazines take themselves too seriously, like it’s life or death,” Bowley muses. “Circus is all about seeing how the industry works, poking fun at it, and at the end we have our stupid fun posters to put on the wall.” 

Here, five of Circus’ contributors share the stories behind their shots. 


“This was a really fun project to work on. I love injecting satire into my work as the fashion and beauty industry often takes itself too seriously. Circus is a breath of fresh air that allows creatives to be as eccentric as they want, and I knew that Jackson would understand the concept and my unique point of view. 

“I often use these ‘caricatures’ in my work to explore and ridicule the unrealistic beauty standards that we are constantly exposed to online. Alexis Stone was the perfect fit; she is someone who is known for challenging notions of beauty through modification. The Balenciaga clothing amplified the message of this image, as the brand often approaches clothing and beauty with a sense of irony. I am thrilled with the outcome – it was totally worth staring at my screen for six solid days of retouching!”


“When Lily approached me on this bonkers, warped concept, I had to be involved – the idea paired with Balenciaga is a match made in heaven. Beauty standards and fascinating character finishes are at the core of what I do, so creating this creepy glam squad team is certainly visually stimulating. Doing this for a publication like Circus whose entire ethos is to have fun in creating standalone imagery allows me creative freedom as an artist.”


“I’m really happy to be a part of this project and incredibly proud of Juksi Bubsi for finishing the second issue of CITRUS! It all started with a YOLO attitude and look at where we are now! Our trip to Scotland was really fun, we left City airport at 6am, but it was all worth it – when in your life will you get an opportunity to do crazy make-up on an Olympic gold medallist?”


“This shoot came about because Jackson Bowley wouldn’t stop bugging me about creating some much-needed magic for his stoopid Circus magazine – ugh so annoying. Usually, I would put my phone on silent and ignore his call, but today I was in a good mood as I was on holiday in the beautiful city of Montreal. I answered the call of my beloved brother and agreed to answer his creative woes in spectacular fashion. I enlisted the services of local make-up celebrity Carole the artist and we started scheming. 

“I had seen the jet skis racing around in the harbour the day before and as I pictured them gliding across the water a bolt of lightning hit my brain like Adderall after a coffee. The scene was set. Now, we just needed someone to star in this adventure and ride the creative waves with us.

“We soon found our perfect model, fellow Québécois and human vertebrate Candy AKA Skid Rosa who has the best-shaped cranium in the biz (and a wig collection that would make Dame Edna jealous) and perfect for moulding into our amphibious goon. By complete luck Candy also has two identical twin sisters that agreed to come on board and take a 33.33 per cent share in the karma winnings, thus completing the trifecta and solidifying the imagery in the history books.

“Aquatic swag never died, it just got too wet to handle.”


“I wanted the witch puppet to look like it was found round the back of an old theatre or church hall – a crumpled relic from some demented community play, or an ancient effigy ready for the pyre, light ‘er up boys! The Bread & Puppet Theatre was a big influence – epic, spectacle theatre on a shoestring budget. Making something crude and simple on a big scale. Scaling up of stupidity or a scaling up of mistakes or shoddiness?”