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Savage Ranch – summer 2019
From left: Domonique wears all clothes her own. Love wears bodice top and sash worn as belt her own, sheer dress worn as skirt Mathuson Anthony. Angela wears ruff led tulle dress Mathuson Anthony. Julio wears all clothes Mathuson Anthony, shoes CamperPhotography Charlie Engman, Styling Stella Greenspan

Welcome to Savage Ranch

Savage Ranch – summer 2019

“Let’s enjoy life and slather it up!” – Love Bailey is building a new American dream

Taken from the summer 2019 issue of Dazed. You can buy a copy of our latest issue here

Sitting outside the Southern California desert town of Temecula, Savage Ranch is a queer commune and artists’s retreat for the LGBTQ+ community in LA and beyond. Established by performer and “cultural visionary”, Love Bailey, the ranch is an “intentional creative community” with an open door policy, where artists, activists or queer youth in need of company can work, play and come together free of gender and sexual discrimination. With plans to create a residency program, a carnival and a sculpture park, Bailey’s dream for the future of the Ranch is to make the community self-sustaining. But, as she sums up: “The Savage Ranch boulder is already moving ahead, so either help push it or get out of the way.”

LOVE BAILEY

“The Savage Ranch boulder is already moving ahead,” says Love Bailey, red-haired ringmaster of southern California’s most eclectic troupe of queer talents, “so either help push it or get out of the way!” Sitting outside the town of Temecula, the Savage Ranch is both an artists’ commune and a queer refuge, brought to life by a circle of collaborators gathered around a towering farmhouse that keeps its doors open to all. “It’s important for me to foster a community of love beyond cliques, and communicate that you can sit with us,” says the performer and musician. Those likely to stop by include the LGBTQ+ youth sliding into her DMs to let her know that the ranch offers them a glimmer of hope, or the artists on the residency scheme that Bailey recently launched there. The ranch is now playing host to musician Street Fever, with whom she is releasing a single, “Shenis”. “It’s going to cause controversy, I’m sure,” says Bailey, and you get the sense that’s exactly what she’s hoping for. There’s also a music festival, a queer carnival and a sculpture park on the way – but for now, “I’m just thankful that, after everything, I’m able to stake my stilettos on this land and call it my own.”

JOHNNY RICE

“Let’s enjoy life and slather it up!” says Johnny Rice, quoting the battle-cry of Love Bailey’s gang of queer misfits. He might be best-known as one-third of the KissBoyz dance trio with Anthony Garza and Julio Marcelino, but Rice is one of LA’s most in-demand choreographers, working with everyone from Beyoncé to Janelle Monae. What you might not guess that this confidence was hard-earned. “Life was definitely not easy growing up. My house burned down as a child, then it was devastated again in the 1994 earthquake, which left us homeless.” Before discovering the magic of West Hollywood’s queer community in his late teens, Rice faced prejudice growing up in the predominantly black suburbs of Inglewood and Crenshaw. “I often had to protect myself from ignorance and hatred, because people of my own skin colour feared me for being myself and proud.” For Rice, safe havens like Savage Ranch offer room for uninhibited expression – the kind that no longer needs to be hidden in the world of underground nightclubs. “I wish these changes could happen overnight, but the Savage Ranch is here to lead by example.”

MISS TOSH

“Be prepared for a lethal dose of devastating glamour!” So reads DragCon’s website of Miss Tosh, Los Angeles’ premier queer burlesque artist. “Growing up, I never fitted the mould,” says the artist, who debuted a new clothing line at the convention last year. “So I just decided I was going to do things my way.” Beginning her career out of a one-car garage in Chicago, Miss Tosh has ascended to the status of local celebrity; first, as the founder of LA’s LGBTQ+ burlesque event Beauty of Burlesque, and, more recently, with LQQKS, the self-described “experimental queer nightlife extravaganza” in Chicago. “I remember my first time at the Savage Ranch,” says the artist, pictured here with her friend, India-Haylee Barton. “I was making an art film in one of my Swarovski stage outfits. We smashed watermelons with axes while I made out with my girlfriend in a diamante-studded bodysuit.” Even if spaces like the Savage Ranch offer a heartening vision of a queer homeland, in Miss Tosh’s opinion, an LGBTQ+ utopia has to come from within. “When we love ourselves, our actions and creations reflect this love outwards: I think that’s how we can create a more beautiful world.”

THE LINK

“I consider myself an alien sent to earth to help humanity rediscover its glory,” says artist and musician The Link, with delicious imperiousness. “We are all magical in one way or another, and we are all royalty.” The Link – real name Kevin Phillips II – grew up in Houston, Texas, but it’s in California that he found his weird and wonderful voice. After discovering he was HIV positive at the age of 20, Phillips sought refuge by moving in with his grandparents. Soon afterwards, he journeyed to LA to start a new life of “ultimate liberation”: “Being queer is a gift, and it’s something that should be celebrated.” Phillips first crossed paths with Bailey on a photoshoot at the Savage Ranch: he recalls feeling as anxious as he was excited, before being put at ease by the community’s founder. “Love told me, ‘It’s showtime,’ and that was that.” For all the fun and frolics, the Savage Ranch exists as a uniquely non-judgmental space for those who are often treated as outcasts, even within the queer community. “It gives me hope because it’s a place for the underdogs to cultivate their magic,” Phillips concludes. “I look forward to the day when the entire world becomes one big Savage Ranch.”

DOMONIQUE ECHEVERRIA

“Being a healer is who I am,” says Domonique Echeverria. “It’s my purpose.” A queer, Latinx reiki healer who discovered a range of alternative therapies to address her own psychological and physical traumas, she’s now offering those skills up to her circle of friends. While working as a party promoter in New York, Echeverria suffered an accident that left her disabled, but the incident had a silver lining, allowing her to reconnect with her native California. “Returning here as a Latinx, it filled my heart with joy to see mi gente taking up so much space. Our voices matter, and our magic is strong.” Echeverria was an early visitor to the Savage Ranch, where efforts have been made to make sure the house and grounds are accessible to all. “I was very nervous because I had just started walking with a cane, and could only stand for a few hours a day, but we cooked healthy meals, dressed up and performed throughout the night.” Bailey, however, she describes as altogether more fiery: “She is a creative wet dream, an actual lunatic, a Neverland child and a horny auntie who has the power to ignite creative flames within people like you wouldn’t believe. We need femmes with that fearless warrior spirit.”

ARISCE WANZER

“I feel like I’m finally getting to a place with my modelling opportunities where I’m being used for my talents and not just as a trans gimmick,” says Arisce Wanzer. Born and raised in Virginia, Wanzer landed in Los Angeles five years ago looking to make her break in acting and standup comedy. After moving to the city, Wanzer was cast in the Whoopi Goldberg-produced Strut, a reality show about the professional lives of a group of transgender models. Her most recent on-screen turns include a starring role opposite Isis King in the Amazon Prime comedy series Fish Tank, about two trans girls on the LA dating scene, and a part opposite Kate Bosworth in 2017’s cross-country drama Nona. But Wanzer wasn’t just drawn to California for the career opportunities: it was the promise of West Hollywood’s “gay Vegas” and the ever-evolving queer community that has kept her on her toes creatively. “Just like religious people have temples and churches, we need our safe havens to remind us of who we are from time to time. Some people call Palm Springs a queer utopia, for others it’s Key West,” she adds. “I’m still creating mine.”

JULIO MARCELINO

As one-third of the KissBoyz dance collective, Julio Marcelino channels his multicultural upbringing between Florida and Puerto Rico into fierce choreography. The group have quickly become a firm favourite with everyone from Janet Jackson to RuPaul’s Drag Race stars Shangela and Alyssa Edwards. “We just spend all our days and nights creating, living, laughing and dancing with pure joy – we know we are lucky that we get to do the thing that we love,” he says, smiling. Having worked professionally as a dancer from early in high school, Marcelino first found creative freedom in the ballroom scene of Orlando, Florida, where he was welcomed as one of the youngest members of the legendary House of Ninja, serving up looks for days in the categories of “queen in pumps” and “European runway”. But it’s in Los Angeles, with its diversity of unique spaces including the Savage Ranch, that he’s finally been able to find his spiritual home. “LA’s nightlife is my playground,” he says. “You can find a place for every mood here: I can dress more conservative and keep it cute, or I can end up naked in six-inch heels living my best life.”

LOS ANGELA

“The LA queer scene is where I grew up,” says DJ and club host Los Angela. “It’s home.” She describes her youth spent bouncing around the city with nostalgia: chain-smoking outside legendary music venue the Echoplex, and sneaking vodka-filled water bottles between her legs into pansexual dance party A Club Called Rhonda. Los Angela first encountered Bailey at one of these fateful evenings (“We redhead showgirls have to look out for each other,” she laughs), where they swiftly locked themselves in a bedroom to play dress-up all night. “What the Savage Ranch offers is a place without judgment,” she continues. “Love has a shipping container full of couture, and every day that I’m here I can live out my full fantasy, whether that’s a witch, a princess or a movie star.” Within these chameleonic guises, Los Angela is adding the role of singer: having cemented her position as a stalwart of LA nightlife with her DJing, she is now making good on her ambitions to start performing her own music. “For me, community is the most important thing. California is a dream, so make sure you don’t hang out with a nightmare!”

Hair Rob Talty at Forward Artists using Unite Hair, make-up Grace Ahn at Julian Watson Agency using NARS, photography assistant Bummy Koepenick, styling assistant Manuel Parra, hair assistant Lana Hunter, make-up assistant Christina Roberson, production Ian Crane at M.A.P, post-production Two Three Two, special thanks Chiara Meattelli