Inside Casa Susanna

Barbican Centre

We explore life at Casa Susanna, at a retreat in New Jersey for men who chose to dress as women. 

Casa Susanna
Our 'Another Kind of Life: Photography on the Margins' exhibition followed the lives of individuals and communities operating on the fringes of society, one of which was Casa Susanna - a retreat in New York for men who chose to dress as women. As part of the 'Another Kind of Life Story' podcast series, we took a closer look at some of the people who visited Casa Susanna. 

In 2003 at a flea market in Manhattan, antique collectors Robert Swope and Michel Hurst discovered an innocuous looking cardboard box containing almost 400 photographic prints taken at a retreat in New Jersey for men who chose to dress as women.

Curator Alona Pardo discusses the origins of Casa Susanna
Professor Michael 'Miqqi Alicia' Gilbert on the Casa Susanna
'This was the moment at which the portable camera becomes part and parcel of any household. So you know, they are family photos, really. It's a family album...'
'Those two are quite fashion...' - Rhyannon Styles
‘She’s almost got that 1950s, Bettie Page look about her…I’m envious that they had this time of their lives, doing this…’

'There's such a strong sense of character in these women and women they are trying to portray and emulate...
But we get no sense of what they are beyond Casa Susanna...What happens when they go back to their homes?'

Rhyannon Styles - 'In the real world, they couldn't do this...'
Casa Susanna Collection

Explore the Casa Susanna collection, and the rest of Barbican's Another Kind of Life: Photography on the Margins exhibition, in Street View.

Credits: Story

Another Kind of Life: Photography on the Margins took place in the Barbican Art Gallery from 28 February-27 May 2018.

Listen to the full podcast series and discover more stories behind the subjects in the photographs on

Credits: All media
The story featured may in some cases have been created by an independent third party and may not always represent the views of the institutions, listed below, who have supplied the content.
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