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Rozy Lee4
Rozy Lee

Roxy Lee's portraits capture queer life in all its gore and glory

TextAmelia Abraham

Instagram's @sausageandcustard, aka Roxy Lee, is the photographer documenting the messy beauty looks of London's queer underground

When I first discovered @sausageandcustard on Instagram it immediately struck me as an account compiling all the great nights I've never been on. But once the FOMO dissolved, it made way for an appreciation of the characters and beauty looks on show; the pictures usually feature dishevelled, genderqueer or else ultra masc subjects, caught in moments of inhibition, lying on a club floor or emerging from a puff of smoke. There is a keen eye for strange body art, dodgy tattoos and lopsided wigs. And often, the make-up looks like it happened totally by accident.

The photographer behind the account is Roxy Lee, an East London born and bred photographer and part-time barmaid who is committed to capturing London's underground queer scene from the inside out. Flick through her portraits and you'll notice that they feature familiar Dazed Beauty faces like Larry B, as well as Dazed Beauty Contributing Beauty Editor and make-up artist Daniel Sällström, who Roxy recently shot in drag for Gut Magazine.

Below, we talked to Roxy about what makes a good portrait, and what it is about East London's queer scene that she finds so beautiful. 

Where are you from and where do you live now?
Roxy Lee: I was born in Hackney and have been fortunate enough to stay here.

When did you start taking photos? 
Roxy Lee: Err, I guess i started taking photos in my teens. We always tried to get the most disgusting photos of each other and would laugh about them for what felt like months after. We'd make albums on social media just to rip the piss out of each other really. 

How would you describe your aesthetic? And your subject matter?
Roxy Lee: Well I'd like to think my aesthetic is real life and my subject matter is real people with sometimes quite extreme characters. It's just my world and what I'm lucky enough to be witness to. I enjoy people coming to life in environments where they can totally be themselves which they may not have the freedom to do 24/7. I think it is so important to have the facilities and spaces to do that. I get really excited by things that are to most people a bit off. I really enjoy details for instance; a matching shoe and handbag. I'd like to think my aesthetic is quite honest, I guess I seek things that would usually get covered up. I think things should be celebrated that aren't widely regarded as pretty or chic.

Where are some of the places you most often take pictures? 
Roxy Lee: I love to take photos in clubs and of nightlife. Part of me thinks this is because my first experiences of partying were usually in illegal venues and squats which were so disposable. I'm really precious considering my home (Hackney) has changed so dramatically what feels like overnight.

What do you look for when you're out at night with your camera?
Roxy Lee: I don't have a formula in what I look for really... I love a look and anything humorous but I love the way people move and navigate in clubs too.

Who are your beauty heroes? Both personally and as a photographer? 
Roxy Lee: This is so hard to answer! I'm a really observant person, I like to perv on people and study their mannerisms and character, but I guess one of the first things that draws my eye is how someone presents themselves. I'm really fond of something that looks really thrown together but is actually really considered. Or the complete opposite where something is so unconsidered and actually thrown on but looks completely perfect. As a photographer, my beauty hero is basically fancy dress in it's the broadest form. And personally Jayne County and Zsa Zsa Gabor.

Who do you make work for?
Roxy Lee: I make work for myself really. Of course, it's flattering when other people appreciate my work but fundamentally I want nice photo albums!

How would you describe London's queer scene right now, from your own perspective? 
Roxy Lee: It’s hard for me to describe London’s queer scene as I only witness a small portion of it. Things are changing though especially language and the way we refer to other people. There’s a real fight to keep parties alive because we’ve lost so many places and given current politics I think we all need a place to relieve ourselves of some stress! 

In all your work, what have you noticed about the relationship between nightlife and beauty? 
Roxy Lee: I think I get a special view of how people chose to express themselves with make-up and clothing. Things seem to change at night or at a party because you can totally reinvent yourself, you don’t have to worry about being ‘presentable’ for work or what the kids will think on the bus at rush hour or ‘dressing appropriately’ or wearing ‘natural make-up’. People have always got done up for parties to feel fabulous in their own skin, whether anyone else thinks they look fabulous should be totally irrelevant.

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