Bang That Gong…Glam Rock and Sexuality

Okay so this blog post is a little bit raunchy, but something I find so intriguing…have you ever read the lyrics of Glam Rock songs? Like, REALLY read them. If you have, then you will know what I mean. Some people may get a little bit of a shock, and those people are normally the ones who just idly sing a long just because it’s catchy. But now lets take a long, hard look into the lyrics of said songs, and discuss how the genre of glam rock had such a connection with sex and sexuality.

“Well you’re dirty and sweet, clad in black, don’t look back and I love you…’ “Get it on, bang a gong, get it on”– ‘Get It On by T-Rex, their biggest hit in the US. What’s it about? Sex. However, as the imagery is a little subtle (probably not in the minds of people today) most people didn’t realise the meaning of the song. “Get it on” obviously refers to getting ready to have sex, and apparently, according to the ever reliable source of Urban Dictionary, “Bang a gong” refers to hitting a womans sweet spot with…well, you get the picture. Even the grinding guitar riff in 20th Century Boy makes anyone listening to it feel alive and makes you want to grab someone and dance up against them. For some reason, Glam Rock flicks a switch in people, turning on that part of us most of us hide until the lights go off.

You can’t talk about glam rock and sexuality without mentioning David Bowie. Now, whilst he may have had a stint playing in the glam rock genre before drifting in and out of others, he really created an uproar concerning sexuality when releasing albums such as The Man Who Sold The World, Ziggy Stardust and the Spiders From Mars and Pin Ups. His character Ziggy Stardust, was portrayed as ‘plastic’ and ‘bisexual’, although Bowie immersed himself so much in Ziggy that his fans and the media were unsure of his true sexuality, something that at the time was a huge deal. He wore make-up, had bright coloured hair, wore skin tight feminine clothes and the media wasn’t sure whether to love it, or stick to the gender roles that were so in place at that time and put so much negativity on him for daring to be controversial. At a concert, when playing the role of Ziggy Stardust, Bowie reportedly went down on his guitarist and acted out oral, in front of the entire audience. This, clearly, did not help with calming the media’s anger and confusing concerning his sexuality. It seemed that Bowie was more interested in wanting to create a shock value, get a reaction out of people, that the high musical/lyrical talent of his songs and albums were overlooked. (Research from http://www.highbrowmagazine.com/david-bowie-and-medias-obsession-sexuality).

The New York Dolls were a band which really went straight in with the cross-dressing, androgynous element of glam rock, wearing over the top drag-queen style make up and having hair so big it made Bon Jovi’s do’s look flat as pancakes. They wore bright colours that clashed and bold patterns and platform thigh high boots. A style which would become more prominent when glam rock evolved in the 80’s. In an interview on http://chicago.gopride.com/news/interview.cfm/articleid/101881, David Johansen says that ‘there was a big celebration of sex going on’ (in the 70’s) and that he ‘never dug sexless music’. The New York Dolls song ‘Looking For A Kiss’ had one particularly sexy lyrical section,

“Well I been looking for a real.. hot.. kiss
Come on, kiss me

You think it’s bad, but you know it’s true
So why won’t you just look here baby
When I’m looking for a kiss”

Until that point it doesn’t seem like a deeply raunchy song, then it hits you and that is what brought them and other bands like them attention. Glam Rock was a genre which allowed you to explore. Explore yourself, explore others and allow you to do things for the first time that were originally looked down upon. When I think of glam rock I visualise a technicolour, glitter filled haze with smoke floating up and the sounds of T Rex in the background, and every form of sexuality being tried and accepted. I would have loved to have been around when Glam Rock was at it’s peak, so I could experience all the things that were associated with it, to see T Rex, Bowie and Suzie Quatro live… However I don’t think it would be as tastefully sexual if revived today, if anything there would be more controversy than ever, but thats another blog post.

Vicki x

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