Tag Archives: David Bowie

The Glam Rock Rebellion

24 Jan
Brian Duffy - Photography Brian Duffy/Celia Philo/Philip Castle - Design/Artwork

Brian Duffy – Photography
Brian Duffy/Celia Philo/Philip Castle – Design/Artwork

Glam Rock is a musical subgenre and a cultural movement that evolved during the early ‘70s in Britain. Though Glam music is diverse, the performers are most distinguished from other musicians by their theatricality and public personas. Most Glam musicians were men who wore bright, form-fitting costumes, platform shoes, and makeup. Their on-stage personas were androgynous, exhibiting traits that were both stereotypically masculine and feminine. Glam performers drew from a diverse range of styles, including 1930s Hollywood glamour, 1950s pin-up sex appeal, Victorian literary and symbolist styles, science fiction, and ancient mythology (Auslander 57, 63, 87 and 141). Further, they were not afraid to step over established boundaries – their music often touched on taboo subject matter like overt sexuality.

Though many Glam Rock performers rose to prominence in the ‘70s, the one artist  who typifies the Glam movement is David Bowie. Bowie performed under several different personas and pseudonyms. He wore extravagant, form-fitting costumes and played overtly sexual music. But David Bowie was the most prominent Glam performer, continuing to utilize Glam elements in music decades after the heyday of Glam Rock had passed. He was also one of the few Glam artists to enjoy widespread success in both the United Kingdom and America. For this reason, I will be exploring David Bowie’s interactions with and interpretations of gender and sexuality as being representative of the popular Glam Rock movement. I’ll also place Bowie’s ‘gender bending’ in a larger historical context, examining popular eugenicist attitudes toward manifestations of gender and sexuality in the early to mid 20th century.

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