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Girls Will Be Boys: Madonna

March 18, 2011

I did a presentation yesterday for the Music & Culture course I am doing on Thursday evenings at Goldsmith on gender subversion in female performers of popular music. I’m fascinated with the women in the past who have used cross-dressing and male impersonation as a expression of their image and upon my research came across some really wonderful photographs that I wanted to share.

First in line are these beautiful Steven Meisel images from Rolling Stone magazine in 1991. Madonna played along with the eighties game of blonde, MTV-friendly femininity but as her star grew, so did her balls it seems. After the release of the ‘Justify My Love’ video and her notorious Sex book, Madonna responded to all the negative press and outrage by adopting her ‘Dita’ persona. This short-haired woman who played with ambiguity and a more masculine persona is depicted here in some of these stunning pictures directly inspired by Marlene Dietrich and the brothels and opium dens of Paris in the 1930s.

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