Author: Deborah Nelson
LA. photographer and visual artist Robert Hayman seems to be able to inspire a trust in his subjects to get them to go places beyond where they might ‘think’ they would be comfortable. Like when you go to the mall with your friend and they make you try on an outfit you never would think of trying. You put it on, you look sickeninnnnggg and it comes home with you and becomes your “go to” new look.
Robert’s first drag queen shoot was a high fashion spread with LaGanja Estranja earlier this summer. Robert sought out Laganja for a photo shoot because he loved her on Drag Race. “I thought she was very funny in the way she expressed herself and I thought she was very vulnerable. I wanted to meet her and thought that, if my intuition was right, we would make some great art together,” he explained. His instinct was correct and the gorgeous and inpsiring results have made a huge impact on both the drag and fashion worlds.
Robert said he and Rhea connected through a mutual friend who thought their personalities might mesh. Both are so excited by the results of their collaboration that they are planning a second shoot. Rhea had mentioned to me in a previous interview that she was hoping to take her looks in a more glamorous direction. Certainly Robert has achieved that here, both in the photo shoot, which premiered exclusively on Dragaholic, and with this new video.
I’m a huge fan of vulnerability in drag queens and seeing the “real” person shine through. Apparently, I am in good company with my opinion, as Michelle Visage told me in our interview, “Ru loves vulnerability. Ru loves to see the real them. That’s what just makes him fall in love.” I often feel like drag queens wear their makeup and clothing as armor to feel powerful. Some do not understand that one of the most powerful tools a lady has is her ability to be vulnerable, to pull emotions from others.
I also love to see drag queens go for ‘more.’ To me, the most boring thing a queen can do is get “stuck” in a look. Some do not have the courage to open themselves up to the world. Their version of “more” is to throw on another pair of eyelashes. They do not get that “more” can be achieved by “less.” The work I’ve seen Robert produce, of both Rhea and Laganja is brave, honest and beautiful. The vulnerability and softness shines through – it’s all you can see.
I’ve spoken with Robert by phone and we have chatted on social media. He is charming, witty and unique. Also very smart. Rhea is also smart and brave. In the middle of our first interview together she called me out on an opinion I had about a certain queen. I was secretly impressed because she didn’t care about kissing my ass to get a good article. She cared more about convincing me that I was wrong and got me to rethink my opinion on that person. I’m so happy she is moving towards a “new” Rhea. I’ve always thought she has a lot more to show the world than the buzz cut or blue-haired “party Rhea” we see in our social media feeds.
Here, in their own words, are Rhea’s and Robert’s thoughts on working together:
[quote]To be honest I was a little scared to shoot with Robert because he wanted to do my makeup. And painting a queen is hard because I feel like our faces are our identity. But there was nothing to worry about, He diiiiid that! Robert ended up really inspiring me with a future Rhea Litre. There’s a lot more to this professional party girl than you think.
I’ve been accused of being too hard…. harsh dark makeup crazy outfits… I’m really trying to gear towards perfecting and simplifying my look.
You know I’ve had a lot of growth and different personas in my drag career. Even though I’ve kept the same name, I really feel like I have been four different types of queens.
There is only one other queen I know that has done that – RuPaul. ‘Busted Hooker/ Androgynous/ Club Kid/ Supermodel & Glamazon.'”[/quote]
Connect with Rhea on Social Media:
Purchase Rhea’s song ‘Let’s Have a Kai Kai’ on iTunes
[quote]I like shooting drag queens because I’m drawn to interesting people. I didn’t know Rhea prior to shooting her but I found her to be fun, irreverent, laid back, tough and sexy – so I went to capture that. She has an extremely exceptional ability to zero in and become at one with her sexual energy. When I work I just channel who they (the subjects) are “to me” and interpret them using both their and my aesthetic. I love working with fearless artists who have an easy time trusting me and my vision. When my subject allows me that respect we both go places we never thought we might because we are vibrating at a similar creative wave and can then push ourselves to go to the next level perhaps and achieve art. Rhea and Laganja are both fearless and trust me. The art piece I’m about to shoot with Laganja will be much more involved and shot for the sake of a moving visual piece. This piece with Rhea was shot with my Samsung Note II phone. Rhea and I have plans to shoot again……wait til you see what I do next!”[/quote]
Visit Robert’s online store to purchase Robert Hayman original Rhea prints and Laganja Estranja custom-made T-shirts.
Connect with Robert on Social Media: