August 02, 2004



For those who haven't delved into the depths of the Glampirism comments box, Mark Sinker has now posted up his Velvet Goldmine-inspired Sight and Sound piece on glam (the one I quoted) here. Well, I confess to sometimes being baffled by Mark's prodigious feats of associative connection-engineering, but, despite the exasperation of the S and S correspondent Mark quotes, this article is really a masterpiece IMHO.

One of the piece's many virtues is its reassertion of the essential queerness of any worthwhile pop. Queerness, that is, not homosexuality. It is precisely glam's indeterminism, its smearing of sexual/gender/machine/alien categories that made it disturbing and exhilarating. Glam's flaunted ambivalence allowed it it to jam the Dominant Operating System's equation of sex with the truth of the self. Sexuality indeterminate and indeterminable; truth displaced into simulation, 'selves' worn and shed like skins.

The Glampires = replicants.

(By contrast, of course, Cult Studs-endorsed identity politics emerges as part of the program of the Dominant OS: tell us who you are. Madonna's role in all this is interesting. My view would be that, whereas Glam flirted with the Dorian Gray concept of the self as pure surface [Deleuze: 'why is superficiality considered an absence of depth, but depth not considered an absence of surface?'] and therefore as pretty vacancy, Madonna's mummery has always been stage-managed as the serial presentation of a solid, underlying self. We're never allowed to forget that beneath and behind each costume change is a Strong Woman (as opposed to Glam's weak men: the Burroughs-branded Queers and Junkies*).


* Could these Burroughs' pulps be the ur-texts from which the Allen skinhead series to which Mark refers derived?

Queers and junkies both belong to that group which Leslie Fiedler calls 'the new mutants', both, as Fiedler said, were feminized by the acceptance of the alien into their bodies...

(Glam certainly went out of pop with the (re)closeting of homosexual desire. For me, that was Wham's first appearance on TOTP. I remember thinking - and if you were to see the camp dance routines now, you'd realise how far gone things had got by the early eighties - these two can't be popstars, they look like ordinary people. Where was the make-up, the look, the image?)

Posted by mark at August 2, 2004 01:14 AM | TrackBack

Heard a dance mix of Lou Reed's Glam-ballad classik "Satellite Of Love" on the radio earlier on. They kept in Bowie's full-throated backing vox too. I dug it.

Posted by: Nick at August 2, 2004 11:12 PM