For our latest head-to-head, the iconoclastic duo sit down to reflect on their roots as scrappy NY city kids, the power of reinvention, and commemorating community through their projects
Richie Shazam and Julia Fox are family, really. “It’s like we had known each other in past lives,” Fox says of how easily the pair formed a connection when they found themselves at an afters where Fox was ready to fight a man who had knocked an ashtray on her. “I’ve been known for fighting dudes,” she deadpans, staring straight into the camera, almost as a warning. It was this fearless, no-fucks-given attitude that initially drew Shazam in. “At that point in my life, I was already dealing with the hecklers,” she says, “I just remember seeing your defiance and your courage. I was like, ‘Woah, I need to be around her!’” The rest, as they say, is history.
Now sharing a new home in Harlem together, their familial ease around each other is evident as they sit down to discuss Shazam’s latest project: an eponymous photobook published by IDEA. Born out of an aversion to how online we were in the pandemic, Shazam is a physical artefact bringing together the people that make up her extensive creative community – make-up artists, stylists, photographers, but most importantly, friends that know when to show up and show out for their kin. Combining their skills to create powerful images reflecting the continual reinvention of Richie Shazam, the saturated high-gloss pages tell the story of how transformative it can be to find your tribe.
Cushioned by the “safety net” of co-conspirators Fox and Briana Andalore (who also features in the project), this is how Richie Shazam as we know her now was formed – one heeled foray into the fray of New York nights at a time. Since then, this freedom to experiment with their identities has hit full stride, carrying them through many different lives with increasing levels of infamy. Fox, in particular, exploded across the internet last year, her rising star as Josh Safdie’s muse in Uncut Gems reaching new, stratospheric heights after a little date night with Kanye West. Spinning out into a year of red carpet appearances, fashion serves, and viral soundbites, Julia Fox became the celebrity we so desperately craved after a long drought of perfect PR answers and textbook looks.
‘We have such a symbiotic relationship... knowing that you’re ten feet away, doing your photoshoot gives me that calm, reassuring feeling like you’re not alone because writing a book [can be] so daunting’ – Julia Fox
She said it herself when asked how she was adjusting to this newfound level of fame at the Vanity Fair Oscars afterparty last year. “It comes so naturally to me,” she laughed, “I’m having so much fun with it... I feel like that maybe means something, I don’t know, that I’m so unfazed.” Hearing her and Richie Shazam swap notes about their days as scrappy New York city kids (“Richie loves a fight”) and stunt queens sheds some light on this perspective. Be it the NY club circuit or front row at fashion shows since, it’s clear with every appearance that the iconoclastic duo were raised on the principle of ripping up the rulebook and revelling in the spotlight that followed, and it’s this irreverent spirit of play that is still so resonant about their presence in pop culture.
From turning up to Shazam’s otherwise WASP-central graduation flying their freak flags high, to facing a fishy eviction in the production of Shazam, Fox and Shazam have always had fun while tilting their world on its axis, blissfully disregarding the discomfort or disdain of less open-minded others. Used to creating in tandem, it was inevitable that Shazam and Fox’s long-teased book Down The Drain – both publications documenting the space they’ve carved out for themselves creatively, personally, and professionally – fed into each other. Their studio was as much Shazam’s playground as it was Fox’s space to mould her memoirs in time for release later this year, with each stepping in to support the other where needed.
“We have such a symbiotic relationship,” Fox observes, ”Knowing that you’re ten feet away, doing your photoshoot gives me that like, calm, reassuring feeling like you’re not alone because writing a book [can be] so daunting and just such a mindfuck!” Shazam agrees, speaking on the significance of their environment: “Working in our familial studio allowed me to really bring my ideas into fruition... What can we do when we’re in a really tiny space, being quite maximalist in our approach, and executing the gnarliest vision?” The results, evident in Shazam and the colourful anecdotes of this conversation that give a taste of what’s to come in Down The Drain, speak to the power of this process when you are able to work with your chosen family.
Watch their full head-to-head above. Shazam is available now.