why sussi is not afraid to look ridiculous
The coolest club kid on the block offers his notes on beauty.
Photography Tim Walker
Scotty Sussman, AKA Sussi, is a visual artist using his own body as a medium for art, fantasy and expression.
Hailing from Venice Beach, his parents worked in Hollywood in the 80s and 90s -- his mother was one of the first E! News hosts, Heather Hartt. From a young age Sussi was exposed to a world of self-expression; his childhood home was filled with props, set pieces and films -- including a John Waters video collection. The avant-garde was always accepted and appreciated in his family and, as a result, digital media and storytelling are a major part of who he is.
At 14, Sussi got his first taste of New York nightlife. Constantly challenging the boundaries of gender and beauty, over the years Sussi has performed with Amanda Lepore, modelled for Charles Jeffrey, been shot by the likes of Steven Klein and Ryan McGinley, worked with Pat McGrath, appeared in i-D and has since evolved into a creative director and stylist himself.
Here he shares his notes on beauty.
“I first started wearing make-up ‘officially’ when I was living in New York and going to every party on the schedule with a group of queens and party girls. My first job was at a club night called Westgay, where there was a certain sense of freedom and stillness in the air and everyone felt comfortable to come out of their shell. I remember being inspired by all the beauty around me and being so attracted to the concept of creation and commitment when it comes to using the tools of drag.
Make-up never really crossed my mind until I put it on my face. The second it clicked that make-up was a form of transformation it felt like a natural extension of the costumes I was wearing. It made me feel comfortable. I could be anyone I wanted to be and became soft to the idea of wearing vibrant costumes.
I’ve always thought life was so beautiful, but as a kid looking in the mirror, what I saw never looked beautiful. I knew I wanted to be a beautiful person but I didn’t know how or what that meant. I loved looking at life and experiencing beauty visually, but when I looked at myself I never knew how to apply such beauty, as I was seeing in the world, onto myself.
My first few months of dressing up were very messy and that’s what I wanted, I wanted to kiss the ground and taste the dirt because I didn’t want to live a boring life. Being ordinary scared me.
Letting my wall down and realising that masculinity can sometimes be toxic was something I learned very young. I’m not afraid to be femme and I’m not afraid to look ridiculous because I’m not hurting anybody. If you laugh at me at least I’m making you laugh.
Today I feel most beautiful when it’s show time. Queer people are allowed to feel like stars and should be treated and paid like everyone else. To me, beauty is self-made.
I’ve met so many incredible people through the drag world, who have impacted me and shaped the way I understand beauty for the better. All of these individuals in nightlife communities around the world, using their body as a piece of art to be anything but ordinary, has inspired me to look beyond the artificial and look deeper. Most of the time putting drag on is a reflection of your dreams, so I’ve been able to learn a lot from the drag/LGBTQ community because just living is so bare and honest.
Moving forwards, I plan on doing everything within my dreams in this lifetime. I want to continue to create timeless iconic fashion imagery that has as much performance and theatrics as a Broadway show. I want to create an archive, and a fully-realised character. If life is a show, then I’m ready for my close-up and I know my character well. I do what I do because life is so much fun, and it’s even more fun when you have a crazy playwright living in your head.”