The 1980s: the birthing ground of contemporary British culture. Upon undertaking one of the most strenuous political climates, Britain’s future became increasingly bleak. Ancient regimes and Thatcher’s iron fist dismantled society as the nation knew it; political consensus was shattered, trades unions squandered, widening of the North South divide. The plethora of policy changes instantaneously affected Brits everywhere and completely destabilized the nation all in the midst of a vicious killer: HIV. Despite the chaos and destruction, the underbelly of fringed, marginal groups were closing in fast. Youth culture went toe-to-toe with austerity and it rapidly became an impossible feat to contain.
Queer Britain – queer Black Britain – refused to be confined by their oppressors. They may have been doubly burdened by the then-taboos of race and sexuality, but they were ever resilient. The original Club kids. Cultures were cultivated out of necessity, out of survival: speeches became battle cries for freedom. They were armed with intellect and expression, their creativity led them to vanguard. The fight was laborious, but today, those pioneers have been able to tell their tale. It’s not often we get to witness these individuals age and live out their strife. Not only is it an honor to experience, but it is a cathartic exhaling.
Chronicling the lives lived of some of the UK’s most iconic and instrumental patriots of the 70s and 80s club scene. Model, videographer and photographer, Claire Lawrie’s film is an ode to the unsung – the trendsetters and jetsetters. Gathering nine omnipresent yet latent figures of the time, in their most vulnerable and most familial states, they discussed their contributions and impact on a culture. To this day these have impacted language, style and quite frankly, changed perceptions of the humanity of a community. The firsts to navigate life post the decriminalization of homosexual acts in 1967…
We know of Paris is Burning. We know the Leigh Bowery’s and the Judy Blames, but, in the words of Andy Polaris, “To me it’s important now, that people realize that black people were there. […] they try to paint us out.” So BEYOND is here to explore the stories untold and the interceptions of the tribes cultivated by these LGBTQ+ teens; a line of defense from society’s exclusions. Whether their paths led them to music, film, or fashion they managed to find their way back to one another, always.
Andy Polaris. Kenrick Davis. Frank Akinsete. Les Child. Winn Austin. Rob Scott. Roy Brown. Lanah P. Nicky Green. Kenny Campbell. Vee Davis. They came, they saw, they conquered; Beyond: There’s always a black issue dear. This is their testimony…
Singer-songwriter of the pop band Animal nightlife, who grossed hits with the single, ‘Mr Solitaire’. Andy is also a writer and feature regular in the likes of ID, Vogue, The Face and GQ magazine.
Stylist to some of pop cultures’ most iconic, from Diana Ross to Oasis. Akinsete is also the founder of the notable vintage store, Souled Out.
Worked with Leigh Bowery and Rachel Auburn at their store in Hyper Hyper, leading to him taking a key role at Cutler & Gross, the luxury eyewear company. Kenrick now lives in London with his husband Tom and works for Soho House.
Velma ‘Vee’ Davis
Mother. Survivor. Orator. Cultural archivist. Davis aided in the documentation of the Windrush era for the likes of Steve McQueen. Her love of performance has even seen her appear in commercials for Virgin and British Vogue.
Actor and performer, famed by portraying Alex in the 1975 movie, Eat the Rich alongside Paul McCartney, Jennifer Saunders and more. Lanah also starred in ‘The Comedy Strip Presents’ among other things.
Trained at Ballet Rambert, Les was a principal dancer in The Lyndsey Kemp Company and The Michael Clark Company. He went on to form the House of Child in the late 1980s. A choreographer whose work has led him to fashion, theatre and film. Les currently collaborates with some of the world’s top fashion photographers on campaigns for Burberry, Gucci, DVF, Alexander McQueen & Topshop As well as working in fashion choreographing shows and shoots, Les has choreographed shows for some of the world’s most notable recording artists, including, Boy George, Eartha Kitt, Erasure, Marc Almond, The Pet Shop Boys and the Rolling Stones.
Icon & Muse to London’s creatives Winn has modelled for Pam Hogg, Vivienne Westwood, Rifat Ozbek, Thierry Mugler and Anthony Price.
Model, performer, Working with photographers such as Rankin, Juergen Teller, Nick Knight, David Bailey, Tyen, Jean Baptiste Mondino and Solve Sundsbo. As a dancer he has worked with The House of Child, Donna Summer, Grace Jones, Neneh Cherry, and Frank Ocean. As a singer and songwriter, performing as ROY INC. He’s releasing new tracks with Hot Chip’s Joe Goddard & Horse Meat Disco on the upcoming album. He runs S.O.S the bestSoul/Funk night on London’s LGBTQI+ scene & lives in London.
Widely respected makeup up artist who’s produced looks for Paulo Rovers & Juergen Teller. not to mention credits in British Vogue Harpers Bazaar, Elle and Interview magazines Jean Paul Gaultier, Christain Lacroix, Chanel, YSL, Louis Vuitton.
A well known socialite on the nightclub scene in both NYC and London. Nicky worked in the ‘downtown’ club scene in NYC at World, Nell’s, Danceteria, CBGB’s, Area & various clubs and boutiques in both NYC & London. Alongside the club scene she worked as a fashion buyer for which she studied at F.I.T. working for Showroom 7 amongst others. She modelled and hosted various club nights in London & in Italy. Nicky lives part of the year in London and part in New York & is an avid collector of French antique silver. She is currently working on Ryan Murphy’s TV series Pose.
Musician, composer and recording artist, whose career spans three decades. Robb Scott ran well known club nights with the 999 boys in London in the 1980s. His music career is on going having just won Best R&B soul Album 2018 Bright Star music awards for his critically acclaimed new album Siren. He lives and works in London and Malaga.
& not least,
Director, Editor & Producer; Claire Lawrie
Claire Lawrie was a part of the club scene in London and NYC. She was a model with Z agency and performed with artists the Neo Naturists & Mathew Hawkins Ballet company, (where she met Lanah.P.) She taught herself photography & began taking photographs of those around her, later graduating with a 1st class BA in Photography from The London College of Communication, her graduation work was collected by the Birth Rites collection. She has won Bartur, Life Framer and Portrait of Britain awards & been featured in Photoworks Annual & the Brighton Biennial & at Claremont Arts Project in London. Her first film Beyond ‘There’s always a black issue Dear’ is the winner of The Queer Vision Film festival & Iris Prize Best of British 2018. She works as a freelance photographer in London.
Take a look in the gallery below for a behind the scenes of Rankin x Beyond: There’s always a black issue dear screening here at the studio…