Meet the legendary “Rebel Camera-Girl” Suze Randall and world-renowned trailblazer for erotic modeling and photography
Welcome back to my playground, fiends and friends.
I am beyond excited to share with you my interview with Suze Randall for ASN Lifestyle Magazine‘s December 2022 issue.
If you haven’t heard of the legendary “Rebel Camera-Girl” Suze Randall and world-renowned trailblazer for erotic modeling and photography, it’s my pleasure to share some inside scoop about her.
Suze Randall’s legacy continues as she passed her love and passion for photography and adult film down to her daughter, Holly Randall, who I previously had the pleasure of working with (when I was scriptwriting and creatively producing a variety of productions for some of the most popular adult film companies in the world). You can check out my sexy podcast episode where I interviewed Holly Randall, and my interview for Holly’s cover feature in the November 2020 issue of ASN Lifestyle Magazine.
Suze is a master behind the camera and is filled with so much talent, creativity, and bold ambition. She’s inspired and influenced many and truly lit the erotic world on fire with her photography and videography.
In a mostly male-dominated industry, Suze came in and busted down the glass ceilings and made herself known as she portrays her female subjects in such a provocative, empowering, sexy light in her work. She has had a major impact on the evolution of erotica and sexual freedom, and I am SO HERE FOR IT!
Suze shares openly about how she got her start as an erotic model after ditching her career as a nurse in England. A naughty nurse? Yes, please! She began modeling on a whim and quickly fell in love with the industry. However, her male photographers drove her mad because of how full of themselves they were. She became glaringly aware of how uncomfortable men in this industry made her and other models feel, so she decided to take matters into her own hands… and that is where her career in erotic photography began.
She became her own boss with full control of her shoots and images. She used her personal experience in the modeling industry to make women feel sexy, alive, comfortable, and empowered during her shoots. She captured the stunning “aura” of women and brought the female body into the most beautiful, sexual light through her images.
Her legacy is one that will stand the test of time and go down in history as one of the most influential erotic models and photographers of all time.
Check out my exclusive interview with Suze Randall for the December 2022 issue of ASN Lifestyle Magazine below.
Meet Legend “Rebel Camera-Girl Suze,” Trailblazing Model-Turned-Photographer
Through her mastery of the camera, Suze Randall’s talent, creativity, and bold ambition inspired, influenced, and stimulated millions.
As a world-renowned photographer and adult film director, Randall set the erotic world on fire and pioneered a new age of erotic photography and videography. Her legacy spans multiple decades and includes countless creative and artistic contributions with legendary performers.
She obliterated the glass ceiling within a male-dominated industry, portraying her female subjects in a provocative, liberating, empowering, and seductive light. Her works have been featured in publications like Playboy, Hustler, and Penthouse, firmly entrenching her work in the evolution of erotica and the global landscape of sexual freedom.
It’s impossible not to admire her sheer will and charisma. Randall rose atop under the power of her wits and brazen charm, earning herself a moniker that I personally love: “Rebel camera-girl Suze.”
Among other achievements, Suze Randall was the first female staff photographer for both Playboy and Hustler in the 1970s. Her photography of Norwegian model Lillian Müller became the first full-frontal Playboy spread to be shot by a woman. She was also the first woman to sell her nude photographs to The Sun.
Suze doesn’t give interviews often, so I am enjoying a rare pleasure of learning more about this 76-year-old icon and how this dynamo blazed a trail to the top.
Especially since she says she never aspired to make her mark in the realm of photography.
“I never meant to be a photographer. I never meant to be a model. I really loved nursing. But in England, that’s a Florence Nightingale good jolly job, but no bloody money kind of thing.” At the time, she was working as a nurse and living in London with her writer husband, Humphry Knipe. “I was broke… we didn’t make any money. So, I answered an ad in an underground newspaper to do topless modeling, and that sucked me into the industry. Everybody was really shocked ‘cause I was such a healthy, good, well-behaved girl then. But it was really fun. So I started that, and it took over.”
Suze’s Topless Modeling Days
Her foray into the fashion world as a topless model was brief, and it wasn’t long until her path diverged towards a more mainstream direction. “Another photographer who is quite famous, [Magnum photographer] David Hurn, said, ‘for heaven’s sake, Suze, keep your clothes on.’ And I started doing regular modeling.”
Suze went on to model for publications like Vogue, but working as a model revealed sexism, power dynamics, and various other shortcomings of the fashion industry. “Fashion is terrible. They line you up, and they say, ‘you, no, not you. Oh no, you, no. Oh, give me a blow job, and maybe I’ll give you a job.’ Um, no, it was terrible.”
When I asked if she could share an example of a shoot gone wrong, she recounted, “I did one shoot that was sort of like a bit of bondage and things. They tried to tie me up, and I hit them and kicked their ass and got very aggressive and walked off set.”
Male photographers, in particular, drew her ire. “[Modeling] drove me mad working with these men,” said Suze. “Most of the [male photographers] are so full of themselves and very proud and everything, and they don’t know how to make a woman feel comfortable.”
Suze’s vexing frustrations with many of these modeling experiences compelled her to take what would become a massively important step for her career.
Bad Behavior Sometimes Pays Well
“I went down Bond Street and conned some cameraman into letting me buy a camera. Actually, first I conned my bank manager into lending me the money. And I started shooting my girlfriends on stage, you know, fashion shows and things. I even shot Jerry Hall, shot lots of people, started selling them to the Sun Newspaper, and it was great.”
In contrast to Suze’s experiences within the fashion industry, nude photography offered a fresh, exciting opportunity. “Nude photography, which was sort of, kind of frowned upon, was exciting because you could be the best. [Laughs] The competition wasn’t very great.” Now that things that used to be taboo years ago are now more mainstream, I asked Suze about these societal shifts. “Yeah, now everybody’s doing it. Everybody’s naked, everybody’s shooting, and their grandmother, no. It was so much better in my day when it was frowned upon, and you had no competition.”
Even if her competition had been significant, I’d argue that Suze would still have stood out as a daring, shutter-friendly queenpin. Not only was her female gaze a massive asset as she redefined the art of erotic photography and videography, but Suze’s entrepreneurial boldness also appears to have served her well throughout all her endeavors.
Yet Suze credits Humphry for having the biggest influence on her career: “My husband kicking me [in] the ass and, you know, encouraging me and holding my hand. When I fought with [Hugh] Hef[ner] and got thrown out and fought with [Larry] Flint and fought with everybody, I fought so much that I ended up having to shoot for myself.”
Her desire to be her own boss, on her own terms, was well-placed when the age of the internet came upon us. “I was the only photographer who owned [the rights to] her own pictures. Thank gosh. And my husband worked out the internet, and gosh, we were lucky. Bad behavior sometimes pays well.”
Indeed, bad behavior can pay quite well. Humphry and Suze created Suze.net. Today, the membership site includes an online archive of Suze’s photographs and videos, and their subscriber base continues to grow.
“I just did whatever I had to do to stay ahead of the game,” Suze said. “The trouble with video is I’m too noisy and always encouraging. I’m just a cheerleader, and it was too noisy for video.”
Her Distinctly Feminine Approach
In her shooting days, Suze encountered many personalities. When I asked which were her favorite talents to work with, she replied, “Traci Lords was probably my favorite. But Amber Lynn was fun. Ginger Lynn was fun, everybody was fun. But Traci Lords was awesome. She’d walk into a restaurant, [and] everybody [would] stand up and clap. She had such an aura about her.”
Suze was able to capture on camera that “aura” she referred to. Among her many talents, Suze was well-known for how comfortable she made her models. Perhaps her early experience honing her bedside manner when she was a nurse, combined with how the male photographers used to treat her in her modeling days, made Suze a better shooter because of how attuned she was to the people in front of her camera.
“I’m very good at helping the models relax and joking around,” says Suze, “you know, just to see this other girl on the other side of the camera who obviously didn’t know what she was doing and didn’t mind and didn’t care, and everybody laughed, and everybody got relaxed. So I was able to get great pictures.”
As a viewer, it’s clear to me how much of her subjects’ personalities were captured through Suze’s lenses. And I also had the opportunity to notice these same qualities when I worked behind the scenes with her daughter, award-winning photographer, director, and producer Holly Randall. On Holly’s production sets, her models were always well-fed with good food, hydrated, relaxed, and ready to give her their best — all qualities of a fantastic director and an artist who really cares about her subjects.
Like Mother, Like Daughter
And when exploring Suze’s legacy, no one can leave out the family she and Humphry built together, and all the skills and lessons their daughter Holly learned and discovered along the way.
I wondered if Suze foresaw that Holly would follow the erotic photography path. “Well, I must say I never wanted Holly to follow in my footsteps,” Suze said. “She’s very smart. I wanted her to be a writer and a-this and a-that. But you know what? Whatever you want, you never get. And so she ended up being a great photographer, knowing everything and very, very smart. So I’m very proud of her.”
As we wrapped up our interview, Suze offered some advice for budding photographers: “All I can say is good luck. It’s tough, but it is a fun business. It’s fun. It’s like, oh, shooting the Olympics, you know, when somebody’s really talented in front of you. Um, it’s wonderful. It’s wonderful. I put my camera down and just watch. It was so super.”
Suze was recently the recipient of the 2022 ASN Lifetime Achievement Award, which was accepted on her behalf by Holly. Though her new award is meant to recognize someone whose passion, vision, and dedication to their craft solidified their legacy, the best proof of the effect Suze has had on the world (beyond the erotic sphere) is more than apparent in her impressive body of work.
Learn more about Suze Randall, her photos, and videos at suze.net.
Until next time, stay Lexual, my friends!
Photos in this article are from the December 2022 edition of ASN Lifestyle Magazine, provided courtesy of the Suze Randall Estate.