At night and underground, there’s something happening in New York. A new wave of club kids is rising up, feeding off one another’s creative energy and cross-pollinating work and party into a supercharged reality. The scene inspires designer Raul Solis of LRS Studio, so much so that recently he and photographer Sarai Mari took to the NYC streets with two such muses for an exclusive shoot for HERO.
“New York has always been a huge source of inspiration for me, and this city is nothing if not for the kids that feed it life,” says Solis. “I am always grateful to work in a city that fosters creativity, I constantly look at these creatives for inspiration, motivation and friendship. They understand the struggles of surviving as individuals and the resourcefulness of working on your craft in one of the most expensive cities. There love, acceptance and community will always be a big part of who I am.”
Channeling also the style and attitude of subversive NYC icons Patti Smith, Jayne County and Jackie Curtis, Raul’s clothes are full of tensions – luxury and street, full-on and reserved, provocative and approachable all at once. Sharpened with the attitude of those new club kids that are tearing up the nightlife rulebook, it becomes a wardrobe to raise brows and kick ass.
See the shoot and meet the muses below.
Ryan Burke – club host, make-up artist
“My name is Ryan Burke and I am originally from a small town in Virginia. I moved to New York five years ago because I wanted to live in and be inspired by a city that has much more opportunity, stimulation and culture. I am a freelance make up artist, photographer, visual artist, and nightlife persona. I’m basically a professional art project – I use my body as a canvas and create a variety of looks which I photograph myself.”
“My style is alien eclectic royalty. I change it up a lot but mostly I love gowns and elegant clothing with glamorous headpieces and makeup, but done in a way that does not relate directly to any current or past fashion trend or era. I get materials everywhere, from Etsy and Amazon to 28th and 38th streets in the city. Most looks involve going to many different stores in order to find all the right materials.
I’m always working to some degree, whether it’s finding ways to become inspired or creating pieces to wear for a new look, my ‘free time’ is largely spent prepping and brainstorming. I do love to go to the beach, museums, clubs, cute restaurants, cinemas etc. when I can with my friends. I’m most inspired by things that don’t relate to fashion or makeup. I get my ideas from colour combinations and abstraction, art and design in other mediums, and the occasion for which I am dressing.
“New York’s young generation is all about self expression to a huge degree.” – Ryan Burke
“Of NYC, I love the variety of people and opportunities available,” says Ryan. “I love the energy, especially in the summer. The young generation here is all about self expression to a huge degree. With it being incredibly easy to expose yourself to the world and gain an audience, it has become a commodity to be unique and talented. Young artists are creating new types of art as well as being exposed to many different perspectives and ideas daily. That energy is all over the place in a city like New York.
I’m most involved in the underground artist drag queen and club kid community, which is made up of probably the most eclectic, self-expressive people in nightlife. I love Susanne Bartsch’s parties and Ladyfag’s parties the most. They have different vibes but both bring a variety of amazing people together and create an atmosphere that is always exciting and inspiring, and give a wonderful sense of community.
If my life was the soundtrack from a film, I think Amelie would suit the best. I have a very whimsical colourful life full of characters and strange situations.”
Follow Ryan Burke on Instagram @ryburk
Cheeky Maa – club promoter
“My name is Cheeky Maa and I’m from Long Island, NY. I moved to Manhattan a little over a year ago and now live in Brooklyn. I always fantasised about moving to the city when I was younger. I knew there would be so many opportunities here and I could have the freedom to be myself.”
“I would describe my style as eclectic with an edge. I pull a lot of my art and style inspiration from the streets, magazines, nature, anime and movies that I love (a lot of sci-fi). One of my favourite inspirational characters is Tank Girl.
For work I mostly model and host parties too. I am currently a student at Arrojo Cosmetology School to become a certified hair stylist. When I’m not working I really like to relax, draw, watch some TV, go out shopping or grab food. I live with my partner, NAR, so I spend most of my free time with him. I like to see my friends when I go out at night. Since I’m in school full time I don’t get to see most of my friends as much as I would like to. My family lives in Long Island so I get to see them at least once a month, my partner and friends are always inspiring and motivating me!”
“I like to surround myself with people who are aware and remain positive even in these hard, confusing times.” – Cheeky Maa
I love NYC for the constant opportunities, the friends I’ve made and the creative energy. The energy of the young, creative generation in the city is very optimistic. I like to surround myself with people who are aware and remain positive even in these hard, confusing times.
The night life community I’m involved in is all about having a good time and letting go of the daily struggles. My favourite part of going out is getting in my look and enjoying the company of my friends, laughing, dancing and just feeling cute.
If my life was a song it would be Sissy that Walk by RuPaul.”
Follow Cheeky Maa on Instagram @cheekymaa