Julia Fox has single-handedly salvaged the remains of paparazzi culture: after all, any time the actress-model-author-muse steps outside, she’s serving. The streets of NYC, filled with a chorus of snap-happy paparazzi, have proved to be the perfect arena for the star’s deadpan humour and fierce garb, turning her into a contemporary pop culture icon.
With our cover star’s famed snaps in mind (remember the time she went grocery shopping in her undies?), we’re looking back at some of the most legendary paparazzi shots of the 21st century that feature queer stars and queer sensibilities.
This paparazzi photo of Nicole Kidman leaving an attorney's office after finalizing her divorce to Tom Cruise in 2001 is everything pic.twitter.com/35QwEz6x5A
— Andy (@astralandro) September 16, 2017
Nicole Kidman’s post-divorce paparazzi pics are universal. Taken in 2001, the photos show the Oscar winner and LGBTQIA+ favourite in complete euphoria after signing the papers to legally separate from the man who would go on to bounce on Oprah Winfrey’s sofa. With her eyes closed, hands in the air and a beaming grin of absolute triumph plastered across her mug, the whole thing is simply camp as tits and widely used as a meme by the LGBTQIA+s (I used it yesterday), so its placement here feels correct.
2006: You still can’t sit with us!
Lindsay Lohan provided pop culture with the unofficial “you can’t sit with us!” sequel when the Holy Trinity – also consisting of Britney Spears and Paris Hilton – were papped in a car leaving a shindig at the Beverly Hills Hotel. Famous white women only! Fun fact: Hilton revealed in a 2021 podcast that she and Lohan came into conflict prior to this because she was “sick” of Lohan (*allegedly*) starting rumours, including that Hilton had hit and thrown a drink at her, Eastenders-style. Gag.
2010: “Who has the biggest dick?”
Kesha’s question to the paparazzi is giving that one-size queen (me) at the orgy (that was a joke, I’m never invited). After spotting her in a car with Danielle and Este Haim, the paparazzi swooped – and, in retaliation, a visibly tipsy Kesha flipped the script, asking the assembled photographers: “Who has the biggest dick?” It’s an important question that needs to be thrown at despicable, cis-het men more often. Stream Gag Order now!
2010: Jamie Lee Curtis is fuming
Don’t mess with horror’s ultimate final girl: it is futile! In a restaurant in Venice Bench, Academy Award winner Jamie Lee Curtis was snapped during a moment of fury as she tormented her friend with the wag of a finger and a scowl. According to sources at the time, the Everything Everywhere All at Once star made her friend cry. (I wish it was me.) To this day, we still don’t know what her friend did to elicit such a vehement response. If this groundbreaking moment in history isn’t dramatised in the inevitable Curtis biopic, expect the limp-wrist community to pop off.
Okay, this one is not technically a paparazzi moment, but it’s too good not to include. RuPaul’s Drag Race star Tatianna memorably paid homage to doughnut-gate in her impersonation of Ariana Grande on All Stars 2. Published by TMZ, the video sees the Grammy winner lick a doughnut in a random shop and declare her hatred for America. A statement followed soon after, where Ariana apologised for her comments about her country. “What I said in a private moment with my friend, who was buying the doughnuts, was taken out of context and I am sorry for not using more discretion with my choice of words,” she explained, before expressing concern over America’s high child obesity rate and saying she was “disgusted” with herself. Can’t explain why, but this is queer. Please don’t contest this.
2018: Troye Sivan = ungrateful
When a so-called “ungrateful” twink disposes of deceased flowers, civilisation collapses. This is precisely what happened in 2018 when the aforementioned twink, Troye Sivan, was seen throwing away a bouquet of flowers that a fan gifted him two days prior.The horror. And we don’t mean Troye’s relationship with flowers, we’re referring to the online response – where he was rinsed for supposedly treating his fans poorly, despite the paparazzi shots showing that the blooms were clearly wilted. Time to get into flower pressing, we guess?
2018: Eyeball licking goes mainstream
Sam Smith redefined PDA in 2018 when their snogfest, face-eating antics with 13 Reasons Why star Brandon Flynn – papped on the streets of London, FYI – made the rounds on social media, with many (me) hailing it as “strange” and “eerie”. When reflecting on the smooch with Nick Grimshaw on BBC Radio 1 a month later, the non-binary chart-topper said the exaggerated nature of the scene was intentional: “We were just waiting outside the shop while my sister got cigarettes. I was just joking. I was literally licking his eyeballs.” They gave a more accurate depiction of the kiss in question as they compared it to “Ursula sucking the voice out of Ariel”. Sam and Brandon broke up six months later, RIP.
2019: The Master Series Faux Leather Sex Bench
On 29 May 2019, sapphic history was made. At approximately [insert time here, I haven’t the foggiest], model slash actress Cara Delevingne and her then-girlfriend Ashley Benson of Pretty Little Liars fame were mischievous giggle buddies as they were papped carting a Master Series Faux Leather Sex Bench (which RRPs for £360) into their West Hollywood home. Typically used in the art of BDSM, the bench carried marketing taglines such as, “Ergonomically designed for deeper penetration!”, “Punish and restrain as you see fit” and “Perfect for a spanking punishment!” Speaking with Cosmopolitan two years later, Delevingne revealed that the photos led to a security issue, which forced her to move out. The Master Series Faux Leather Sex Bench: her impact!
2020: Lil Nas X is a marketing genius
You might remember the video for Lil Nas X’s Christmas banger ‘Holiday’, which saw the musician dressed up as the futuristic, fashionista version of Santa Claus that queer society needs and deserves. Well, one week after the release of the video, he was papped at a Target in West Hollywood while wearing that very same Santa outfit: a grey wig and matching prosthetic beard, moon boots and a silver ski jacket, with an added face mask (this was 2020 after all). After filling his cart with festive picks – including a Star Wars-themed sweater and a Grinch costume – LNX made a pit stop to Starbucks and treated fans to a lovely peppermint frappuccino.
2023: Pedro Pascal, the internet’s daddy, being the ultimate LGBTQIA+ ally
“you should know why” pic.twitter.com/ORuo4SiWZl
— Pedro Pascal Daily (@pascalarchive) March 6, 2023
Buffy the Vampire Slayer season four episode one star Pedro Pascal proved his status as my favourite cishet ally when he shut down a TMZ paparazzo’s daft question about LGBTQIA+ representation. For context, the actor was questioned on the inclusivity of his post-apocalyptic drama The Last of Us, which features a queer leading character – Bella Ramsey’s Ellie Williams – and an episode dedicated to a gay love story. “Can I ask: what do you say to the people who don’t want to see LGBT character love stories?” the photographer asks Pascal. “Why is it so important that LGBTQ+ characters on TV shows?” (This is a conversation from 2023, by the way.) Pascal’s having none of it. Still, the paparazzo continues to hassle the internet’s daddy, until Pascal hits back with: “You should know why.” In Pedro Pascal’s name, we stan.