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photography LUKE BOOTH
13 July 2023

hairstylist YUMIKO HIKAGE
first photo assistant FLORIAN RUSTERHOLTZ second photo assistant KAJOL JAIN
set designer ANTOINE DUGRAND

Sam Quealy is a creative tour de force. Writing, dancing, singing, performing and curating her own exhibitions, the enigmatic performer is impossible to codify or contain to just one art form. After travelling the world as a dancer, working from Hong Kong to America to the Philippines, Sam has settled in Paris to extend her creative voice. There’s little terrain that this multifaceted artist hasn’t explored yet, and after a summer of wildly erotic, genre-bending releases from her upcoming album, we have the feeling that she’s only just begun to scratch the surface. We caught up with Sam to discuss her journey from Australia and how she’s managed to capture the zeitgeist of a post-lockdown Paris.

Katie Brown: Can you tell us a little about how you ended up in Paris and what you love best about the city?

Samantha Quealy: I find that this city is the best spot to be if you are an artist or are creative. The streets, the museums, the culture can inspire you so much. Also, I like being surrounded by like-minded people and I feel free to be myself and express myself here without judgement. Also the food and wine is on another level … need I say more.

KB: What was it like growing up in Australia? Was it where you first realised that you wanted to be a dancer/performance artist?

SQ: I had an amazing childhood in Australia. I grew up in Cronulla, Sydney. I had two older sisters and a big backyard. I was always obsessed with dancing, singing and performing. I loved getting dressed
up. I made a video of myself as a Ken doll and I wanted to cut all my hair off to really commit to the role [laughs]. I basically knew that I wanted to be a pop star in my own way. I had really supportive parents who encouraged me in the arts, and I was accepted into Newtown High School of Performing Arts where I developed my dance, music and acting skills.

Sam wears necklace / top by Zubeldia

KB: The long spell of closures for events and spaces has taken a toll, especially on smaller club, drag and cabaret scenes. What was your experience of being separated from your physical dance community?

SQ: Yes, all the closures due to Covid-19 really affected me and a lot of the performers I know here in Paris. I have a lot of friends in the drag scene whose sole income was from drag/performances. The same goes for my friends who work in cabaret. Some of them have worked shows six days a week for years, so to suddenly not be on stage can be confusing and depressing. My vogue house managed to still take on some group training, but not as frequently. I tried to stay inspired by reading a lot, training and working on my music every day, whether writing new lyrics or conceptualising visuals. Inspiration is weird though, sometimes it pours like a free fl owing tap of magical juice and other times the tap is dry … there are no rules.

Sam Quealy is wearing saddle by Kerbl, bra by Isadora, boots by Abra

KB: You play with ideas of beauty and femininity in your practice. How has your understanding of yourself as a female performer changed over your career? Do you choreograph a specific expression, or do you feel that your style is now intuitive and authentic to yourself?

SQ: I have always loved extremely strong feminine women. Beauty can come in so many forms. Being a female performer I like to own my body, my confidence and my voice – this makes me feel liberated. I love to imagine a character and how they would speak, talk, move, etc. I don’t really plan the way I move, it’s definitely more intuitive and an expression of my authentic self.

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SEE ISSUE #06 HERE. The theme for this issue, Revelations, delves into the unfiltered aspects of life. It’s an appreciation and exploration of raw beauty, where authenticity reigns supreme; the unconventional is not just accepted but celebrated. In a world of manufactured perfection, this issue chooses to validate our quirks and idiosyncrasies. After all, they are what make us inimitable.

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