Although it is somewhat of a tired cliché to observe that popular music lays a particular emphasis on the body beautiful, its historical engagement with the sexually provocative has provided a particular forum for exploring and questioning gendered identity. Elvis Presley’s simulated pole-dancing in Jailhouse Rock (1957, dir. Richard Thorpe), for example, provides a graphic insight into why he transcended mere identification with the performer’s public image. As the character Clarence (Christian Slater) muses in the 1993 film True Romance (dir. Tony Scott), “Man, Elvis looked good. Yeah, I ain’t no fag, but Elvis, he was prettier than most women, most women.” He continues, “I always said if I had to fuck a guy-had to if my life depended on it-I’d fuck Elvis. . . . Well, when he was alive, not now.”1 Similar observations could be made about Marc Bolan, David Bowie, Mick Jagger, and the largerthan-life stars of heavy metal-not least such bands as Kiss, Mötley Crüe, and Poison. While it would be easy to suggest that identification relates strongly to their androgynous images, it is nevertheless evident that they also provide multiple possibilities of what it means to be
male in our culture-one image may be used by gay men, another by heterosexual men. For women, they can equally provoke both desire and/or identification. As fantasy figures they bring with them a whole range of possibilities and, notably, the potential to queer the heterosexual bias of popular music.