The following is a paper I have chosen to make Open Access. Due to the length of the paper, as well as the fact that it was written earlier in my academic career, I don’t think it is a good fit for journal publication. However, it is still a paper I enjoyed writing and one that I am very proud of, so I wanted to make it available to read for anyone interested in scholarship on New Queer Cinema, glam rock, or David Bowie.
Not-so-fun fact: I finished writing this paper the same day that David Bowie, my ultimate hero, died. It was an emotional time.
Performance, Performativity, Profit: The Authenticity of Queer Sexualities in Glam-Rock in Velvet Goldmine and Hedwig and the Angry Inch
Hayley Louise Charlesworth, Manchester Metropolitan University
In early 1970s Britain, Ziggy Stardust landed on Earth. David Bowie’s alien alter-ego may not have been glam-rock’s first notable figure, but he stands as a potent symbol for glam’s defining traits: sensuality, androgyny, a Wildean spirit, and sexual and gender fluidity. Through his influential concept album The Rise and Fall of Ziggy Stardust and the Spiders from Mars, released in 1973, Bowie became an icon for Britain’s youth in the midst of sexual revolution. But Bowie is also one of music’s greatest re-inventors, who famously discarded his bisexuality in a 1983 issue of Rolling Stone by referring to his identification as gay, and later bisexual, as ‘the biggest mistake I ever made […] I was experimenting.’ (Loader 1983). This calls into question whether the representation of sexual and gender identity in the glam-rock scene can be considered authentic, or merely a method of generating publicity and profit. This article considers this debate in relation to two films: Velvet Goldmine (Haynes, 1998), which loosely depicts the exploits of Bowie, Iggy Pop, and other key glam-rock figures, and Hedwig and the Angry Inch (Mitchell, 2001), whose transsexual rock star protagonist draws influence from the glam era.