Why You Keep Hearing About Julia Fox
How Julia Fox went from teen dominatrix to anti-It Girl.
I don’t know about you, but in the the past few weeks my social media has been dominated by one enigmatic individual, and it’s high time to for me to admit that I have no idea who this woman is, or why everyone is talking about her. So, let’s explore this together, shall we? Just who the heck is Julia Fox?
Rags To Riches?
Nepo baby she ain’t! Ms Julia Fox was born in Italy as an Aquarius on February 2nd, 1990 to an Italian mother and American father. When she was six, she migrated to New York City with her father. They lived with her grandfather and frequently moved in and out of houses her father was renovating before Fox moved in with friends to give her life some stability.
But Fox started early at the socialite lifestyle, sneaking out clubbing from her mid-teens. “I think I started going clubbing when I was 14. I remember I made a fake ID and laminated it myself. I forget what the name on it was, but I remember it was something so stupid,” she told Into The Gloss in 2015.
Before graduating from school, Fox worked a lot of different jobs to support herself. Most notably, she worked as a Dominatrix known as Lady Valentina an interview with Rolling Stone, she explained the gig ignited her love for acting.
“You’re given a few words on what the client’s interests are and then you have to build from there and improvise the rest. So imagine having to do that multiple times a day in different outfits — a nun, teacher, nurse, mom — according to the clients’ desires,” Fox told the magazine. “I went in an angsty teenager, and left a really self-assured woman.”
Fox has also spoken of her late teens and early 20s being riddled with drug abuse and unhealthy relationships; themes that she would later explore in her art career.
Speaking of which…
Julia Fox, The Artist
Through relationships and connections made in her Dominatrix career, Fox was able to turn her attention to the fashion and art world. Her first write-up came via Elle in 2014, praising her now-defunct designer label, Franziska Fox.
“But far from being just another pretty face, this particular artists’ muse — Julia Fox — is also a talented designer,” wrote Lauren David Penen. “If you’ve ever been to New York’s Gansevoort, Dream or Sanctuary Hotels — or to the restaurants Tammany Hall and Mulberry Project — you’ve probably seen the lovely visage of a striking young woman staring down at you from paintings and photographs by Curtis Kulig, Merlin Bronques, Avone, Katsu and Moises de la Renta.”
Throughout the mid-’10s, Fox moved through NYC’s art scene as both muse and artist in her own right. She self-published two erotic art photography books, one in 2015 called Symptomatic of A Relationship Gone Sour: Heartburn / Nausea and the other titled PTSD after debuting it as an exhibition in 2017.
Heartburn / Nausea saw Fox delve into an abusive relationship with drugs and her ex-boyfriend. In PTSD, Fox hauntingly documented her year-long sabbatical in the deep South of poverty-stricken Louisiana and its accompanying exhibition included a ‘trap room’ of Fox’s own design. In an interview with i-D Magazine, she explained,
“The trap room is a recreation of my bedroom in Louisiana. But it’s not just that, it’s a space that embodies a state of mind. It’s a little decrepit but still very poetic. It’ll hold a bed, nightstand, and a TV, which will be streaming a video of me on loop.”
In 2017, Fox also created an art exhibition called RIP Julia Fox, depicting mystical imagery painted by Fox in her own blood on silk canvas. In an interview with The Huffington Post Fox explained,
“I love the way blood bleeds onto fabrics. I think the colour is mesmerising. I chose the silk because it’s so feminine, in that it is delicate but at the same time it’s so strong and hard to tear through. I feel like blood is so precious and it’s only right that it be displayed on a fabric which is just as precious.”
Julia Fox, The Breakout Star
It’s moving in these NYC artist circles that Fox came to know the Safdie brothers, who would give Fox her big film break in 2019’s Uncut Gems, where she played Julia, the unassuming, sharp-witted mistress of the gambling-addicted protagonist played by Adam Sandler.
Fox famously claimed in a very viral TikTok that she was Josh Safdie’s muse for Uncut Gems. Given her history as a professional muse, as well as the Safdie Brothers admitting her influence on the character, she probably wasn’t wrong.
“When she finished [reading the script], Julia asked me if I had been spying on her because she thought that there were so many strange similarities with the character,” Josh Safdie told The New York Times. “But she gave me good feedback, so I would call her on a whim when I had writer’s block, and I would ask her for advice. The character was just kind of constantly evolving to become more specific to her.”
Never idle, Fox also used her time doing Uncut Gems press to promote the short film she co-wrote and directed, Fantasy Girls. The film follows a group of teenage prostitutes in Nevada.
“I went to Reno knowing I wanted to make a short film, just not knowing exactly what. And then I met all these young girls between the ages of 13-15 and I knew they were stars; I knew they would be my stars, I just didn’t know for what. After speaking with the guardians, I found out how child sex trafficking and kidnappings are so frequent there that they don’t even report them anymore,” she told Paper Magazine in 2019.
“I hope I can do more things like that and give people a voice using mine, while also raising awareness for causes that I think are really important.”
Pandemic, Podcasting, TikTok Fame, and Dating Ye
Over the course of the pandemic, Fox divorced her pilot husband, Peter Artemiev. On the marriage breakdown, Fox told GQ, “He’s still my friend. I’m sure he would like it to be more, but it’s not happening.”
In 2021, Fox gave birth to her son, announcing the pregnancy and birth via a nude photoshoot she posted to Instagram. “These photos were taken by my sis @richieshazam right after my gyno told me I would need to go have my baby early cuz of some blood pressure issues. I ran home in a panic cuz I still hadn’t taken any pics,” she wrote. “190 pounds of MILF💪”
A hustler at heart, Fox clearly didn’t let motherhood slow her down. In 2021, she starred in the ‘60s noir thriller series, No Sudden Move for HBO, and started a podcast. Co-hosted by friend and fellow actor-influencer, Nikki Takesh, Fox’s Forbidden fruits podcast boasts some pretty unreal guests including infamous scam artist, Anna Delvey, musician FKA Twigs, and the real-life Zola – the sex worker who inspired the film, Zola.
That same year also saw the beginnings of Fox’s TikTok takeoff. Within the span of three videos, Fox clocked up over one million views, using the platform to share her life as a single mum, her struggles with being neurodivergent, her killer outfits, and some truly unforgettable nuggets of wisdom.
“I think women should normalise suing their partner for infidelity,” said Fox in a TikTok filmed in her bathtub boasting over three million views. “You’ll carry those emotional scars for the rest of your life, and I think someone should pay for that.”
Of course, she was already going viral on the app, thanks to her popular Call Her Daddy podcast interview in which she claimed she was Josh Safdie’s muse; the audio of which was redubbed, remixed, and re-shared across millions of TikToks due to the, shall we say, interesting inflection with which she expressed it.
In 2022, Fox is a bona fide star. A brief fling with the ever-increasingly-controversial Kanye West post his divorce from Kim Kardashian made her a household name for many. The two only dated for about a month, but Fox shared in Interview Magazine some details of their date that included an impromptu photoshoot at the restaurant and a hotel suite full of clothes.
“…who does things like this on a second date? Or any date! Everything with us has been so organic. I don’t know where things are headed but if this is any indication of the future I’m loving the ride.”
Fox has since come under fire on TikTok for her connection to Kanye, despite the pair having long been broken up. Responding to a fan who asked how she could date a “violent misoginyst and anti-semite, Fox said in a now deleted TikTok,
“I had this thought that maybe I could get him off Kim’s case, to distract him, because if anyone can do it, it’s me,” she said. But she also explained, he wasn’t on social media while they were dating. “The moment he started tweeting, I was out…I stand with the Jewish community.”
Ever the agent of her own curated chaos, Fox also starred as a guest on Ziwe. During the show she and Ziwe discussed Fox’s potential “gay bone,” abortion rights, and whether or not Italians are people of colour.
So, Why are People Obsessed with Julia Fox?
As a person who had no idea who Julia Fox was before this piece, it’s hard to describe just how surprisingly and wonderfully strange she appears to be.
Most current big-name influencers — actors, even — have risen in the ranks thanks to rich and connected families.. Thus, these celebrities spend so much time curating relatable personas where they post cooking tutorials from their mansions in barely used kitchens, insisting fame makes them no different to the average person.
Fox, on the other hand, offers a refreshing no-holds-barred approach to fame: she relishes her notoriety for what it’s given her, but it’s something she neither strives for nor cognitively maintains. Her fame is a matter of fact, a fact she enjoys for the platform it gives her, but has proven over the multitudes of lives she’s lived that it’s a fact she can live without.
“Celebrities are not that fucking important,” she told The Cut. You can tell us about your stupid fucking date. We’re in a pandemic. Give people something to talk about. Do your fucking service, do your job.”
The light of the overly-manicured down-to-earth celebrity is fading. Fate is favouring Fox’s hyperbolic authenticity that feels just as curated as a Kardashian, but far less filtered and more self-aware. Fox does not come to your feeds as a false friend, but as a seasoned performer who doesn’t care if you leave the show.
As she said in her 2016 interview with The Huffington Post, “I kind of consider myself as an anti-it girl. I don’t really care about being seen. I want the things that I create to outshine the person that I am perceived to be.”
Of course, a question that haunts all Julia Fox discourse is whether she’s actually telling the truth. From an Italian-born teen dominatrix, to acclaimed actor, to the viral TikTok philosopher of our time – hers is a story that’s difficult to believe for some. Some parts of her life read like pure unreality, but Fox, for better, worse and everything in between has always presented with a hyper-frankness that is undeniably magnetic, even if it doesn’t seem true.
In her bio on Twitter and Instagram, Fox identifies as an artist. Buther most notable artwork is not her erotic photography, her bloody ballsy exhibitions, her budding film career, or even her unforgettable fashion; Julia Fox’s greatest work of art is Julia Fox, and it’s one hell of a show.
Merryana Salem (they/them) is a proud Wonnarua and Lebanese–Australian writer, critic, teacher and podcaster on most social media as @akajustmerry.