The Hard-Rocking "Queens" Of Botswana's Heavy-Metal Scene

Photo: Paul Shiakallis.
These aren't your typical heavy-metal fans.

You might think of men with long hair and bandanas, headbanging to Metallica. But for the "Queens of Marok," a metal subculture in the southern African nation of Botswana, rocking out in leather jackets and studded pants is about more than their taste in music.

These women, who often go by alter egos, create "double lives" as rockers, according to photographer Paul Shiakallis.

Shiakallis has spent years documenting the female fans who often show off their heavy-metal alter egos and outfits only after dark. Many come from traditional families. Listening to heavy metal — and dressing in the genre's signature style — is a way of pushing back.

"The mindset is still very patriarchal," Shiakallis told Refinery29. "It's much harder to become a rocker as a female than it is as a male in Botswana."

Shiakallis, who lives in South Africa, explores the subculture in his project Leathered Skins, Unchained Hearts.

Boundary-pushing "Queens" of rock: We salute you.