Beauty Spotlight: Raheem Anderson

The Horror, The Horror…Oh, And The Style

   Johnny Cassanova chats with horror film director, Raheem Anderson about on and off-screen beauty, sex on screen, day as opposed to night personas and, of course, horror.

   FashionDecode introduces the second installment of The Faces of Modern Beautyby writer Johnny Cassanova. The Faces of Modern Beauty aims to spotlight individuals who are influencing or transcending the many facets of beauty. In the act of spotlighting these individuals, FashionDecode hopes to showcase and promote the various forms of beauty.

  Raheem Anderson is a New York based filmmaker. As a cult follower of horror films, the wicked and sinful phases of life inspire him. Consequently, Raheems upcoming projects utilize his lust for darkness in two horror films, Jemel and Buddy. Horror aside, Raheem Andersons love for fashion and makeup transcend him into another realm, resulting in characters that emphasize a warrior aesthetic. Raheem Anderson joins us in his Hamilton Heights apartment while horror sci-fi film, Liquid Sky, acts as a soundtrack for the conduction of this interview.

Johnny Cassanova: I’d like to thank you for taking the time to conduct this interview

Raheem Anderson: Thank you, I’m really honored to be a part of this.

JC: We’re honored to have you. Let’s begin. How would you describe “true beauty”?
RA: True beauty is not something that is reflected in the media. Although it may be cliché, I believe beauty is in the eye of the beholder. As I’ve matured, it [beauty] is what you feel you. Everyone has his or her own perspective of beauty and that’s okay. People can become so angry when they see an attractive person with an “ugly”person. I can’t understand why.

JC: What is attractive to you?
RA: The spirit of an individual [attracts me] –I’m not bounded by someone’s physical appearance. I’m drawn to their aura, their light, what makes them beautiful from the inside.

JC: Who or what is your beauty inspiration?
RA: People who are non-conformists. I love people who break boundaries. I respect trans-men and women because they create a world that is beautiful for them.

JC: Do you prefer beauty when it comes from a place of artifice?
RA: We live in a world where fake is common now –plastic surgery, weaves, nose jobs, it’s common –I have no problem with that. However, with myself, tend to feel we’re oversaturated with a lot of beauty that’s inauthentic. I appreciate the raw beauty –large noses, wide hips, small breasts –you don’t see it often anymore. Beaut today, it sets a standard that’s unrealistic. You can buy your face, but how do you feel within?

JC: How did you begin to develop your visual aesthetic?
RA: It’s a combination of the places I’ve been and the things I’ve seen –I’ve moved around a lot. However, I try to avoid media because it tends to make you forget that you can draw from within.. We’re all Gods –we’re all iconic. We tend to ignore the power that is conjuring inside of us.

JC: How does your nightlife aesthetic differ from your everyday aesthetic?
RA: It’s like the Cinderella effect. Once the sun goes down, I become another person. I enjoy being unrecognizable during the day and then becoming someone else at night. It’s like the Gemini. I could bleed the nightlife personality into the daytime, but I like to compliment my surroundings –my nightlife aesthetic doesn’t complement 90-degree weather in the middle of the day.

JC: What do you think is your reason for creating two different people?
RA: I’m very bored easily –I like to excite myself by creating the different people I can become at night.


JC: Creating a variety of looks must take its toll on your skin – What is your beauty regimen to maintain your skin?
RA: As I’ve gotten older, my skin withhold more than before. When I was younger, I suffered from acne and makeup was not an option. But now, my skin can handle these things. I am drawn to the great products offered by Neutrogena –I use their cleanser in the morning, moisturizer at night, and SPF during the daytime. When wearing makeup, I make sure to utilize primer and makeup wipes. Makeup wipes are extremely important –if you’re going to do this [wear makeup], you need wipes. I also swear by Coconut or Shea butter oil.

JC: Was there ever a time you struggled with self-acceptance and expression? If so, how did you begin to find clarity and comfort in your own skin?
RA: Yes, when I was around thirteen years old. I wanted to express myself, visually, but I was influenced by the fear that people would make fun of me. As I’ve grown, I realized you don’t have time to live under the shadow of other’s ideas. I’m at the point where no one can say anything to me.

JC: What is your field of work and what kind of work do you tend to produce?
RA: I am a filmmaker. I love horror and fashion –I hope to make the two bleed into one another. I love fashion and I understand it –I also understand where horror should be. People have taken horror and made it exploited it to a point of gore. I came to New York to return horror to its original state.

JC: What is a good example of horror and fashion bleeding into one another?
RA: A good example is Liquid Sky. It’s a science fiction film that transcends into horror. The story involves the unknown and the unknown can be horrifying to a lot of people.

Another example is Bram Stroker’s Dracula with Winona Ryder. The costumes are immaculate. The director said he was unsure of what he wanted to do with the set, but he decided to pray on finer details in the costumes. I saw that film at the age of eight or nine – in that moment realized what I wanted to do.

JC: Do you have any boundaries in your work?
In my work, I don’t want to have any sex scenes. Sex scenes are cheesy and exploit women. I don’t want that sense of exploitation in my films. We already have too much of that.

As far as my style, I’m not drawn to heels or lashes. My goal is not to be pretty, but more of the warrior style. I’m a fighter.

JC: Why do you dislike sex scenes in horror films?
RA: I’m turned off by it because of the era we live in. I want to bring back horror to the origin of a serious genre –back to Hitchcock. The attempt to sell sex is a thing of the past. The Internet has oversaturated our minds with the images of breasts and genitals. We didn’t see that so easily twenty or thirty years ago –anyone, at any age, can go online and search these things. It just has no purpose in my work.

JC: What projects are you currently working on?
RA: I am currently working on a project title Jemel–it focuses on a man who has been incarcerated for eight years. He ends up living with four girls who are actually demons that plan on sacrificing him. I am also working on another film title, “buddy”regarding the topic of bestiality. I can’t say anything else about Buddy other than that.

JC: As a New Yorker, what draws you here?
RA: It’s dark –the dark side and the darkness inspire me. I indulge in the depth and personality New York has to offer –what people are afraid to talk about. Regardless if New York has changed, I’m still inspired by the nightlife, the buildings, and its inhabitants.

JC: In a time of major beauty movements – including the natural look, androgyny, and the embracement of all figures – what do you think will be the next major direction for beauty?
RA: Beauty is reigniting that mentality of the late 70s and the 80s where people were looking to out-top each other –who can be the most original. The next wave of fashion, beauty, and style is about appreciating the individual.

JC: Do you believe it’s hard to be an original in a time where we are overexposed to media?
RA: Yes, but it’s always been this way. There have always been large amounts of people who are copying one another –the best way is to just avoid the commercialized versions of everything you see.

JC: In conclusion, I’d like to thank you for your time and I look forward to your upcoming projects
RA: Thank you, it was a pleasure.

by Johnny Cassanova