Jump to ContentJump to Main Navigation
Rocking the ClosetHow Little Richard, Johnnie Ray, Liberace, and Johnny Mathis Queered Pop Music$
Users without a subscription are not able to see the full content.

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

Show Summary Details
Page of

PRINTED FROM ILLINOIS SCHOLARSHIP ONLINE (www.illinois.universitypressscholarship.com). (c) Copyright Illinois University Press, 2022. All Rights Reserved. An individual user may print out a PDF of a single chapter of a monograph in ISO for personal use.date: 27 May 2022

Fine and Dandy

Fine and Dandy

Mapping Johnny Mathis’s Negotiations of Race, Sexuality, and Affect

(p.115) Chapter Four Fine and Dandy
Rocking the Closet

Vincent L. Stephens

University of Illinois Press

This chapter explores how Johnny Mathis launched his career successfully by maneuvering the racial and gender norms of the 1950s. Through projecting a culturally respectable, sexually neutral, and musically inoffensive persona, marked by visual dandyism, he was appealingly ambiguous. Vocally, Mathis’s sweet tenor sound was somewhat unconventional yet soothing enough to make him a premier interpreter of love songs. Similarly, though jazz, R&B and pop crooning influenced him, his “raceless” sound helped him appeal across races and ages. Culturally, Mathis adheres to the “race man” persona prominent among postwar black male celebrities, but his muted politics and lack of a romantic relationship helped him avoid scandals. His queer black dandy persona has parallels among other performers including Bobby Short and Luther Vandross.

Keywords:   Johnny Mathis, tenor, respectability, dandy, ambiguous, raceless, race man, black dandy, Bobby Short, Luther Vandross

Illinois Scholarship Online requires a subscription or purchase to access the full text of books within the service. Public users can however freely search the site and view the abstracts and keywords for each book and chapter.

Please, subscribe or login to access full text content.

If you think you should have access to this title, please contact your librarian.

To troubleshoot, please check our FAQs, and if you can't find the answer there, please contact us.