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Beyond the Cellar Door

Beyond the Cellar Door is a project that represents my personal journey and fascination with a community that I once viewed as a separate entity to my life and anything I knew. As a result, the ‘us and them’ barrier between me and the performers has gradually disintegrated. A community is a group of people united, often, by their interests and/ or identities, so when I asked drag performers on the scene to think about how they see me in the community, most responded by explaining that my constant interaction with the community is what unites me with its individuals, rather than my visual identity or sexuality. So, by including myself in these portraits, I am representing the continuation and progression of these relationships. I asked individual drag queens to decide a role for me to perform in the portraits that represents how they view me in the community, with over half deciding to dress me in a very similar way to their own drag personas. I shot the images in and around drag venues in Soho, which is viewed as drag ‘territory’, and wanted there to be a strong sense of collaboration in the images to signify the mutual relationships between us. As well as letting them have control of my physical appearance, I also gave them control of the shutter release to encourage the idea of collaboration, as I was interested to see how the images compared to each other, depending on who controlled the shot. These images appropriately represent how, I feel, I fit into the community, and also how the drag queens view me in the community. The images represent acceptance, physical and personal unity, ownership and collaboration which I, personally, feel represents the drag community Beyond the Cellar Door.


Rosie Gilbey

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Project Tags

  • photography
  • drag
  • Medium Format
  • London
  • performance art
  • visual

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