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Rocking the ClosetHow Little Richard, Johnnie Ray, Liberace, and Johnny Mathis Queered Pop Music$
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Vincent L. Stephens

Print publication date: 2019

Print ISBN-13: 9780252042805

Published to Illinois Scholarship Online: May 2020

DOI: 10.5622/illinois/9780252042805.001.0001

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Queering Post–World War II Masculinity through Music

(p.1) Introduction
Rocking the Closet

Vincent L. Stephens

University of Illinois Press

Johnnie Ray, Little Richard, Johnny Mathis, and Liberace are symbols of a hidden history of postwar queer masculinity. The chapter explores how queerness defied gender expectations of white men and black men, who were also expected to be “race men.” After outlining the enduring presence of queer masculinities in U.S. popular culture, especially film, the chapter outlines five discernible queering tools the musicians employ in various ways to convey their sexually elusive personae. The chapter situates the artists and tools in Christopher Nealon and Heather Love’s anti-teleological theories of queer history combined with musicological arguments by Phillip Brett and Nadine Hubbs about the unique relationship between queerness and musical expression.

Keywords:   Johnnie Ray, Little Richard, Johnny Mathis, Liberace, queer masculinity, race men, queer history, Christopher Nealon, Heather Love, Phillip Brett

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