Friday Fun: Gender Play


Lady Smut

by C. Margery Kempe

I recently took in the “David Bowie is” exhibit at the V&A in London. One of the most fun aspects of Bowie of course is his gender play. From early on, the audience confusion — “Is he a girl? Is she a boy?” — was part of the provocation. I remember the label on this video saying it was banned in the US, but I know I saw it at the time, so perhaps it was only banned from certain mainstream avenues.

There’s a drag tradition in Britain that’s different from what it is in the States: from the days of Shakespeare, where the theatre was far too scandalous to allow women on it, right up to the relatively modern public (i.e. private) school tradition that segregated genders and made it necessary that school plays include boys dressed as ingenues, it has been largely accepted as…

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