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Apr 18 17 2:10 AM

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Here's a fascinating documentary with Boy George explaining how the popular culture of the 1970's opened up for his own alternative gender expression. 

Boy George was the leader of one of the most popular pop bands of the 1980s, known for the Karma Cameleon.

Note his admiration of David Bowie. "I don't know what he was," the gay Boy George says. We do!






 HT Sacha
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Apr 18 17 9:10 AM

Jack, Thanks for this post. I watched some of the video, and bookmarked the rest for later. It looks really good. I was watching the video, and it induced a flashback to the feelings I had when I first saw Boy George in the early 80s. There were androgynous musicians and performers before him, such as David Bowie, and a lot of rather pretty heavy metal bands. But pretty much all of these performers came across as men going for the shock value of looking like a girl. Boy George was way different. Everything about him was feminine from his raw physical looks to the way he dressed and moved, and he pulled it off with such ease, which to me separated the really feminine souls from the interlopers. Beyond that, he was rather pretty in those days. One could easily imagine him with breast implants and a mini skirt making the full jump to other side without ever skipping a beat. He triggered my cross dreaming tingles back then. Still does for that matter.

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The 1970s and the 1980s had quite a few "gender bending" stars, many of them crossdreamers (Prince, Bowie, Boy George, Mercury, Lennox...)

We now live in an age where gender variance is much more accepted, but somehow that is not reflected in the gender expressions of pop and rock musicians. I like Miley Cyrus and her figth for the rights of trans and queer, but the symbolic value of her gender expression is not as radical as the previous generation. It is as if the rebellion has been transferred from clothes and makeup to words and concepts.

Although we do have Lady Gaga!

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jackmolay wrote:
The 1970s and the 1980s had quite a few "gender bending" stars, many of them crossdreamers (Prince, Bowie, Boy George, Mercury, Lennox...)

We now live in an age where gender variance is much more accepted, but somehow that is not reflected in the gender expressions of pop and rock musicians. I like Miley Cyrus and her figth for the rights of trans and queer, but the symbolic value of her gender expression is not as radical as the previous generation. It is as if the rebellion has been transferred from clothes and makeup to words and concepts.

Although we do have Lady Gaga!

If there was theater, then queer expressions had a fantasy component.  It is as though off-stage, life had to be taken seriously without all of that "gay" nonsense.  Now that activitists are advocating without the colorful hair dyes, then gender variants no longer need the stage.  This is disappointing.  Memorable music and art have declined over the decades, probably because queers no longer need to express themselves through them and still "go back to ordinary life off-stage."  (Miley Cyrus does not have the same musicianship that her father had, by the way.)  

Last Edited By: lal2828 . Edited 1 time.

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In the 80s there were a lot of heavy metal musicians, who weren't really glam rockers, but never-the-less adopted rather feminine looks. You always got the sense that these were red blooded males just trying to look pretty for purely rebellious reasons, and that is were their femininity ended.

Guns and Roses
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And we must not forget the role of disco.

The disco culture (with Studio 54 as its Mekka) celebrated all types of diversity: color, gender, sexuality and gender variance.  

I still stick to the theory that the rock/punk/grunge backclash was a hypermasculine reaction to this kind of gender liberation. We normally think of that kind of oppression as something exclusive to right wing, conservative, forces, but the truth is that the fear of femininity in men can take many forms.



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And.......they succeed, those hypermasculine rock/punk/grunge backclashers.  Male musicians just came back in a different form, but masculinity, it still is.  Think about all the boy bands, like the Backstreet Boys and One Direction in the millenial age.  Masculinity, queer that is,  has a way of transforming itself over and over again.  

Some bands, like Bon Jovi, AeroSmith, Led Zepplin, Gun N'Roses are like fixtures ....... forever.  They even make it into the Rock N' Roll Hall of Fame.  It's not always about their hair and cake make-up.  I have to learn how to play some instruments by watching these guys play, and I'm a classical musician. Musicianship is there, with or without the feminity, it seems.  

The Spice Girls didn't last.  Society tends to have singular females, like Madonna, Beyonce, and Lady Gaga, evoking screen goddesses once more, but even they need the sex appeal first.  

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