A QUESTION OF SEX

Unknown

12 December 1992

Melody Maker

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Submitted by: Susan

In January 1972, in an infamous Maker interview, David Bowie cheerfully announced that he was bisexual and enjoyed dressing up in women's dothes. It caused a sensation at the time, challenged contemporary attitudes and established notions of sexuality. By the end of that year, however, with Glam Rock in the ascendancy, mascara, lipstick and gender bending were all the rage. Bowie/Ziggy, Alice Cooper, Bolan, Roxy Music, even The (dear old) Sweet, were the gender-blurred heroes of the day. Twenty years later, how have our attitudes to sexual ambivalence changed? Is sexual ambiguity still subversive-wasitever? Are we more tolerant of transexuality, or is rock's latent homophobia more pronounced than ever? Over the next five pages, these are some of the questions we ask.


In the Maker Debate, overleaf, we talk to Suede's BRETT ANDERSON about his self-confessed bisexuality, LESLEY SILVERFISH about aggressive femininity, BOY GEORGE about being the nation's favourite Drag Queen and MC KINKY about the intolerance of gay women in rock. RICHARD SMITH, meanwhile, traces the uneasy alliance between gay culture and rock, while Nirvana's KURT COBAIN tells us why it's liberating, hip and cool for a man to occasionally get kitted out in a dress. To begin, however, SIMON PRICE celebrates the sexual icons of the last 30 years.

IN POP, ANYTHING IS possible. At least once in every adolescence, pop should throw you into sexual chaos. There should be a moment when you stare at the screen, seduced, abandoned and bewildered by the signals being given off, and wonder what the hell's going on... 1958, Little Richard: mascara, bouffant, pencil moustache, one leg longer than the other, screaming like a banshee. Wow. 1962, The Beatles: macho leather jackets clashing with chic homosexual "Paris Bob" haircuts. 1965, The Kinks: Dave Davies, the first genuinely long hair in pop. 1966, Smokey Robinson: the face of a man, the voice of a woman ... no, an angel. 1967, Dusty Springfield: panda-eyes, the world's tallest beehive ... Were all those exaggerated signifiers of femininity trying to tell us something? 1968, Jim Morrison: almost looked as though he'd been designed as the perfect leather boy by a couple of old queens. And as for that Iggy.. 1971, Lou Reed: the seediest transvestite. 1972, Glam Rock: Bolan, Bowie, Roxy, Alice, the Dolls, Sweet... what the f***???! 1975, P-funk: Clinton'n'Bootsy in glitter G-strings. 1976, Punk: straight white boys unwittingly steal outdated gay styles (again). 1977, Disco: Sylvester, Rick James, Village People...gay culture crosses over. 1978, Patti Smith: "I'm gonna uh! uh! make her mine". 1980, New Romantics: art school boys in drag, and suddenly it's '72 again. 1981, Grace Jones, Annie Lennox: scary dominatrices with a Number Two crop. 1982, Gender Benders: the day after "Top Of The Pops", everyone at school fancied "that girl" out of Culture Club. 1983, Divine, Dead or Alive: subtlety? Forget it! 1984, Prince: "I'm not a woman, I'm not a man, l am something that you'll never understand." Frankie Goes To Hollywood: leather gloves, irony...

COME! 1985, The Smiths: flowers, blouses, Wilde, Dean, "She's too rough and I'm too delicate". 1986, Rambo, Madonna, "Miami Vice", Dire Straits: "that little faggot in the earring and the make-up..." The counter-attack begins. 1987, Poison, Motley Crue, Dogs D'Amour good 'ole boys in eye-shadow, Jack Daniels rednecks in fishnets. 1988: who's this Sinead chick, and why hasn't she got any hair? 1989, Guns N' Roses: "immigrants and faggots, spreading some f***ing disease", but he's wearing leather chaps - does he know what this means? 1990, Happy Mondays: the Dark Ages are upon us. 1991, Manic Street Preachers: young, beautiful scum. Sub Alice Pop: young, ugly scum. 1992, Suede: at last...


The point of all this is that any truly thrilling moment in Pop History more than likely involves some challenge to sexual stereotypes. Which is why Jimmy Somerville, in a way, is as bad as Shaun Ryder: both have only one, clear-cut meaning. I understand the need for "out" gay role models, but had Morrissey, for instance, been unambiguously gay, The Smiths' relevance would have been comparatively minor. As it was, they liberated a whole generation of adolescents from straight/ gay, male/female clichés. And sure, I accept that heterosexual mainstream pop steals gay imagery to add a frisson of "Walk On The Wild Side" subversion, but the crosstown traffic works both ways (witness the new meanings have been given to moustaches and shaved heads in recent years).

All I'm trying to say is, if some hermaphrodite icon catches you at the right age, you can be anything. Self-reinvention is absolute freedom. In pop's playground, your sexual explorations are lived out by proxy: why - you can ask, at a safe distance - repress either side of your gender balance (God knows, there are plenty of others queuing up to do it for you...)? Which is why the current tyranny of unambiguously male bands (from Pearl Jam to those cock-rockers par excellence, 17) has implications for beyond music: a generation of sexual illiterates, unable to express the feminine side of their natures. And why Suede and Manic Street Preachers - the most precious bands we have - are no more than a start.

I want more. I want the presumptions of masculinity dissected with the ruthlessness of Pete Shelley or Stephen Morrissey. I want feminised young men as artistic and elegant as David Sylvian or Green Gartside. I want drag queens as disturbingly un-androgynous as Twisted Sister or The Sweet. I want that delicious moment of sexual terror, over and over again.

In pop, anything is possible.


SEX, SEX AND ROCK'N'ROLL

MM: In the great old cliché of sex, drugs and rock'n'roll, how important is sex?

GEORGE: I think sex is very important because it's one of the ways we discover our own worth. If someone wants to f*** you it makes you feel good about yourself. And i think if you're getting the amount and kind of sex that you need then that has to be good for you.

MM: But is sex fundamental to pop?

BRETT: I think lack of sex is fundamental to pop sometimes. There's a lot to be said for storing your sexuality and channelling it into something else. George is right that sex is incredibly important to mankind. It makes you content, it makes you happy about your life. But when it comes to writing, there's something to be said about being unhappy. I know I've been at my most creative when I've been sexually unsatisfied. When I'm sexually satisfied I write a load of old rubbish.

MM: Are you sexually satisfied now?

BRETT: Yeah.

MM: So you're writing a load of old rubbish.

BRETT: Yes, and it's a problem because we're supposed to be doing our debut album! (laughs) The point, though, is that being sexually unsatisfied gives you a certain amount of natural pain, and that's something that can be channelled creatively


KINGS'N'QUEENS'N'ALL THAT MEANS

MM: Who were your first pop icons?

MC KINKY: Marc Bolan.

GEORGE: Mine would be Bowie. He gave me something to hope for, showed me that there were people out there like me. As a kid, I really identified with his androgyny, and the reaction of my grandmother and my parents, who wouldn't let me go and see him play, just made it even more fantastic.

BRETT: It's not surprising that after you've been fed a diet of straightforward heterosexual icons like Springsteen, when someone comes along expressing different, no matter how blatant or subtle, you jump at it.

CASS: I was into Adam And The Ants, then The Stranglers, then Bowie. But when I was into Bowie, I wasn't really aware of his sexuality. I think the way he put things across was more subliminal

GEORGE: I always thought he was more gay than he was. I was kind of disappointed when I found out that he wasn't

BRETT: It shouldn't really matter about his private life, it should matter what he's saying.

GEORGE: To me, it does. To me, either you lick pussy or you don't. It's like when Madonna was asked if she'd had lesbian sex, she sat on the fence. I've done it myself and it makes me uncomfortable when I see other people do it. I just feel that if you exploit something like that it'd be nice to feel there's some honesty in it.

MM: Isn't it more interesting when there's some confusion as to whether someone's gay or not?

GEORGE: Yeah, yeah. That kind of Mick Jagger thing can be interesting and I think that's maybe something that's missing in today's pop stars. They lack that edge whereby you're not exactly sure what they are.

MM: One thing about many of the people you've mentioned - Bowie, Bolan, Adam Ant, Jagger - is that they all messed around with people's perceptions of their sexuality.

CASS: But almost every group does - to some extent.

MM: Whitesnake don't.

MC KINKY: They don't mean to, but I think they're complete drag queens

GEORGE: That's true. They do look like Essex girls.

BRETT: But like Kinky says, that's inadvertent. I think the people that matter are more knowing, more deliberate. They consciously don't declare their sexuality. I really don't think you have to declare your sexuality absolutely. Morrissey never has – his songs can be homoerotic, or about friends or just about love. And he's all the more interesting for that.

GEORGE: I kind of feel that way about Madonna. Even though she often gets on my nerves. I still find myself attracted to her in some strange way.

BRETT: I think Madonna's sense of sexuality is one of the most overrated and overblown things I've ever seen.

CASS: Then again, she does make people think with her art.

BRETT: Does she? She just makes me think she's reiterating a load of bullshit.

MM: Karen, Lesley, what do you think of Madonna?

LESLEY: I really like her. I like her because she does what the f*** she wants and she's really manipulative. l even like her music.

MC KINKY: I like her. She's made up her mind that she wants to conquer the whole world and she's set about doing it.

GEORGE: But she's hardly a feminist, is she?

LESLEY: Yeah, but what's a feminista

GEORGE: I don't think she's doing anything for other women, or anybody else, really. When I saw her being interviewed and Jonathan Ross asked her if she'd ever had lesbian sex and she said, 'Do you want me to've had? ' I was really annoyed. I mean, she's done something so explicit and open in many ways, I quite like the book, but she's going around acting like she's a role model for homosexuals and she ain't even gay. That seems desperate to me.

MC KINKY: I think what she does is good. I mean, what other straight singer does that?

MM: Isn't there often a point where superstars try to become all things to all people. Take Prince and Michael Jackson - half black / half white, half man / half woman.

MC KINKY: But what about all the stuff she does about AIDS? I think she's probably the only straight white female singer who's flying the flag.

BRETT: I'd say she's actually saying nothing, She's a multinational corporation and, in order to speak to the number of people she has to, she's necessarily quite bland.

LESLEY: But she is strong in what she does. Whatever you think of her, you can't ignore her.

MC KINKY: And she's obviously trying to sell records, Brett, but that's exactly what you're doing, too.

BRETT: Yeah, but there's different ways of doing it, and it's made a lot of people talk about it, which is good.

GEORGE: I liked the book, and my only problem with it is the rape thing. It actually isn't good to portray that as a legitimate fantasy That's really dodgy,

that and paedophilia. I mean, as far as I'm concerned she can take her clothes off if she likes, but it's not good to put that kind of thing in front of kids.

LESLEY: I didn't know about this, but I find the idea of putting rape fantasies in front of people in a book fundamentally disturbing.

GEORGE: Getting back to drag queens, I find Axl Rose completely camp. I mean, those little cycling shorts he wears. And he dresses in vosace. How many Heavy Metal stars do that? I quite like him, actually

MM: But how can you justify liking someone who's proven themselves to be homophobic? What about "One In A Million"?

GEORGE: He's obviously a disturbed human being, and that's come out more and more in the last year.

CASS: Through 45 hours of therapy a day.

GEORGE: Yeah, but that's great because he's experiencing the root of his problems. The guy's got problems, and if you don't understand that you're just as bad as he is. If he came up to me and called me a queer c*** then I'd react, I would react. I had a fight in LA with the guy who wrote that song for them. What I'm saying is that some positive things have happened because of all this. Axl Rose has had to try and sort himself out. The song made people address homophobia in Heavy Metal, and Axl Rose himself was forced to come out and apologise.

CASS: You would say something similar about Happy Mondays. When they came out as homophobes their career was pretty much finished.

BRETT: I think that was more to do with their record being crap.

MC KINKY: I think it definitely accelerated their downfall. I mean, after that interview people were smashing their Mondays records and sending them in to the NME.

BRETT: I really think that, eventually, it comes down to the quality of the records. I think people have always known what kind of people the Mondays were but that doesn't mean "Bummed" isn't one of the greatest records of the last decade.

CASS: I don't know about that. I don't wanna listen to records by people whose opinions are that wrong.

MM: Let's go back to Presley, Little Richard, Lou Reed. Did they really challenge and worry people?

LESLEY: Yeah, because I think Presley was one of the first people to show sex as absolutely natural and basic to humanity. Before him, sex was always swept under the carpet. And that did worry people.

MM: The interesting thing about Elvis was that his music was all about sex, sex was declared, and that's basically where rock'n'roll started because it is sex music, it is songs about f***ing.

BRETT: But his songs weren't about f***ing. That was intimated in his performance, in the way he moved, but his songs were written by teams of sterile songwriters. It was his interpretation that made them sexual.

MM: Another thing to remember about Elvis was that at school he was queer- bashed for the way he looked.

HUGH: And children at school recognise poofiness in other children, no matter how subliminal it is.

GEORGE: Yeah, they have an unsettling ability to notice. Even though I never wanted to play football or rugby - I hated it - they still never picked me, and I found that quite hurtful.


REBEL, REBEL?

MM: When pop stars blur gender distinction, are they genuinely being subversive or simply exhibitioniste?

LESLEY: I think it's perfectly natural and healthy to blur the boundaries of gender. It's really just about being yourself, I've always maintained and believed that there's really not much difference between men and women naturally. At least 99 per cent of the differences are completely man-made.

GEORGE (laughing): Man-made? You mean human-made.

MM: Do people object to you because of your short hair?

LEŚLEY: People say things about me just because of the way I am onstage. I've always been told I'm not a feminine because of my personality, because I'm outspoken, because I'm no shrinking violet

MM: Sinead O'Connor maintains that if she looked differently, more conventionally feminine, she'd never have had the trouble she has.

GEORGE: As far as the look goes, my feeling is that musicians generally live in a privileged world. A lot of the things are more acceptable to us because of the circles we move in, whereas things aren't quite so easy for a little kid who lives on a council estate in Scotland. Onstage, you have total freedom to be what you want. But if you get too political, people really don't like it at all. Sinead's gone looking for that trouble, and she'd be like that whether she had short hair or not. She wants to confront people.

MM: Isn't that what Boy George is about?

GEORGE: Is more about gaining confidence for myself. Some people gain confidence by conforming and being like other people. Others get it from dressing up, it kind of accelerates you toward what you want to be. Like Marilyn used to change radically when he was in drag. He was always a bitch, but in drag he was a bitch with sparks.

CASS: Yeah, I always used to enjoy going down the pub in make-up and stuff. I knew it pissed everyone off, but it gave me this feeling of superiority because I knew they were only pissed off because they were really narrow-minded and thick.

GEORGE: But you have to be yourself. If you're just doing something to be provocative, there's no substance. I think people can get so wrapped up in the myth, the expectations of a way of looking, that they forget themselves. It's the same with bands. Being provocative is fine as long as there's a sincerity to it. I mean, how many times have record companies tried to manufacture shocking bands? They always fail. How many times have you seen pictures of bands with winged shoulder pads and all that? They never get anywhere. You can always feel the sincerity of bands. Like The New York Dolls, they were trashy and provocative but they were obviously sincere and great for that reason.


WHEN THE STARS COME OUT

MM: If Jimmy Somerville were here, he'd say Brett is hijacking gay imagery in the most obnoxious fashion.

GEORGE: He'd definitely say that. And it would definitely be very boring.

BRETT: In one way l am - I say He rather than She in virtually all our songs. But, on the other hand, if I said "she" any debate would be closed, and it would just seem to be my point of view and couldn't be anyone else's.

MM: What is your point of view? You've never really said.

BRETT: I see myself as a bisexual man who's never had a homosexual experience. That's the way I approach my songwriting.

MM: Maybe you're not trying hard enough. Maybe, to quote the Marquess of Queensberry, you're just "posing as a sodomite"?

BRETT: If you're asking am l insincere to pose as a sodomite because I haven't had someone's cock up my arse, then no, I'm not. The sexuality you express is not limited to the things you've already experienced. I mean, if you're a virgin, does that make you asexual Well, no, it doesn't. The only validation I need for what I do is that sometimes I feel like a woman.

MM: What do you mean?

BRETT: I mean that I know l have certain traits and sometimes they come out. Sometimes, I'd rather wander round my house lighting candles than go out playing football. That's just the way l am, that's the way I write the songs. And, also, I'm not always speaking for myself, I can be talking for other people.

MM: So does this make you more dangerous, Brett? Or you, Lesley, since you come over as an aggressive woman?

GEORGE: I don't think she's aggressive. I think she's sweet.

CASS: I thought Fuzz got you in the band because he saw you beating someone up at Camden Underworld.

LESLEY: Most of it is to do with the press. At first, I dressed down because I didn't want to be just the girlie pushed to the front of the band.

MC KINKY: I'm sure Brett doesn't sit around at home thinking "I bet this song's gonna f*** people up. This is really dangerous.

BRETT: No, I just want to express sexuality in a way that's not so straightforward. Most music seems to treat sex as something very straightforward, whereas in reality it's transient and, in lots of cases, completely deviant. I mean, love is love in whatever form it takes, whether it's between a man and an object, or an animal or another man.

MM: Does that extend to children?

BRETT: Yeah. It still is love. Right or wrong, it's still love.

MC KINKY: I don't think it's all love.

GEORGE: It's people who have problems expressing their love to adults. A lot of paedophiles are actually terrified of having sex with people of their own age. So they go to a child who can't reject them or threaten them.

MM: George, when you were with Culture Club, you endlessly vacillated about your sexuality. Why didn't you just come off the fence?

GEORGE: Because I was going out with my drummer and he didn't want anyone to know. Plus I thought that, if l declared myself, people wouldn't like me

MM: Did that prove to be the case once you did come off the fence?

GEORGE: Yeah, there were definitely people who went off me because I'm gay. It was mainly because of the drugs, but I still regularly get letters from little old ladies telling me not to talk about being gay.

MM: So how would you've felt if you'd been outed?

GEORGE: I'd have got over it. In fact, I'd have been relieved. It would have taken a great weight from me.

MM: Don't you think the drug thing was just an excuse for getting at you because you're gay? Keith Richards never received that treatment.

GEORGE: No, I honestly feel it was because my persona was very mumsie and safe, and people were disappointed because drugs just don't go with that.


TURNING ON YOUR OWN KIND

MM: George, when you say you were seen as safe and mumsie, you're saying you were desexualised, useless as a subversive force. Couldn't Brett, in his ambivalence, be seen as something of a Trojan Horse, someone who can more subtly and effectively challenge popular perceptions?

GEORGE: I don't know, really. We're talking about this in terms of right and wrong, and I'm not sure if there is such a thing. I mean, I read an interview with Tom Robinson where he said he'd gone straight and had a kid and, at first, I was really annoyed. But then I thought,.no, he's just being honest and we don't have the right to say he should be championing our cause. I don't think we should set Brett up as anything

CASS: Brett shouldn't be set up as anything but the important thing is he's challenging prejudices. I mean, we've always been into fun and entertainment, but it gets to the point where you realise some people weren't having fun because they're being mentally or physically attacked for their sexuality or race. Our song is called "Homophobic Asshole" but it's basically about prejudice of all sorts.

MM: Do you feel certain sections of your audience are homophobic?

CASS: We've said before that we don't want to make music for homophobes or sexists. If they're in our audience then I hope that we alienate them.

MM: All of you here say you want to confront. But, in a way don't you all rely on people's prejudices? Do you think you need them? Would you be making music without them?

BRETT: Basically, what you're saying is that if there's a utopia there's no struggle, and if there's no struggle there's no art. It's a difficult question.

GEORGE: I think in a way I do need these prejudices, because there's a certain element of it that makes me feel superior. But aren't all these things a reflection of what goes on inside us anyway? Aren't we all prejudiced, aren't we all racist and homophobic in some way? I think we are.

MC KINKY: No, we're not. You're just speaking for yourself.

GEORGE: All right, I'm talking from my experience. But there are certain queens I see who really get on my nerves. And that is a form of prejudice.

MM: Are you saying you're homophobic?

BRETT: That's not homophobic, it's just reacting against a personality that's as overbearing as someone who's completely macho and heterosexual.

GEORGE: When I was 16, I hated effeminate queens, hated them to the point of being really vile to them. And all it really was was that I had this terrible fear that I was like that. And then a couple of years later I became like that. What I'm saying is that there's snobbery and prejudice at every level, even in minorities. You know, there's gay clubs that won't let men in or won't let women in, and I think if you've got prejudice in your own community, you're f***ed.

MM: But don't you all play to these prejudices?

BRETT: Yes, to a certain extent you do

MM: Isn't that cynical?

BRETT: No, because those prejudices are there to be broken down. I don't want to be Sting-like, but I think it's your duty to break them down. Really, it's more cynical to make the kind of records your record company wants you to make than it is to follow your own thoughts.

MM: You seem to be more against things than you are for them.

BRETT: To a point, yes. But all the best bands have stood out as being against what's going on. That's why the shoegazing thing died, because they were all together in a pack. And they were really asexual. Maybe that was music for utopia - harps and strings and nothing to say. But equally I think that unequivocal, explicitly political records never work. Jimmy Somerville, for instance, may be brave, but I don't think he's effective.

MM: So you're saying pop's at its most politically effective when it's sexual and most particularly when it's blurring gender distinction.

GEORGE: It depends. I was always surprised at the popularity of Bronski Beat. They were out-and-out gay and they got away with it.

MM: But you did it before them.

GEORGE: Different because the beginning my career was based on not really making a commitment, whereas Bronski Beat walked in the door declaring their sexuality and making it the focus of their music and their careers. What I think is that it was their honesty that made them.

CASS: It is one form of expression, but you can't rely on your clothes or your looks to express all your feelings.

GEORGE: The look can be a problem too. I went to see Erasure play a couple of months back and I was really angry when I saw Andy Bell trolling around in his stilettos singing "Somewhere Over The Rainbow" and I saw myself in it and it really disgusted me...

MC KINKY: But why should you say it's it disgust you?

GEORGE: I'm not saying it's wrong for him to do it, but it reminded me of me before. I've just been writing my autobiography and one of the most difficult things for me is reading all the old cuttings where one week I'm saying I'm straight, the next I'm saying I fancy lorry drivers. It was all contradictions, one lie after another. I am annoyed by the fact people accept you if you're just Danny La Rue or some old dame down the Vauxhall Tavern, if you're a jolly little queen. They like you because you don't bother them.

MM: But what did you think when you were playing huge gigs, looked out into the audience and saw all those boys dressed like you? Did you feel you were making them challenge their views or their sexuality?

GEORGE: It's funny because, when we started in Southend, we attracted all these wildly dressed people and I felt I was dangerously weird and on the edge. Then when we hit big, I think I noticed it when we were playing Doncaster or something like that, suddenly there were all these little girls, and I never, ever saw myself as that type, as Jason Donovan. I mean, I wasn't like that, but the audience was the same. But I think a lot of gay people were comfortable with me, and know a lot of people came out around the time of all that

MM: Brett, do you get a kick out of the idea that some people think you're homosexual?

BRETT: Some people definitely do and I get a kick out of the idea that that makes them view the band and the songs differently because, to me, the songs are the most important thing. But it's also important to be sexual and, if both girls and boys see us that way, that's good. To me, it doesn't matter who's attracted to us.

CATHI: I'm not attracted to you. To me, you're a man that other men find attractive.

MC KINKY: I saw him on "TOTP" and he was quite fab, really.

GEORGE: Yeah, we were there for the rehearsal and there was all this great bum wagging going on. It's a shame that wasn't what was shown, because I was watching the technicians and they loved it.

BRETT: I don't premeditate what I do onstage, it's just a pure expression of myself. It happens to be sexual and it happens to get interpreted either way It's not intended to be homosexual or heterosexual, just sexual.

MM: Cathi has said she found you sexually furtive and dishonest.

BRETT: That's fair enough. A lot of people do. I don't think it's dishonest but it might well be furtive - a lot of English sexuality is.


IT'S A MAN'S, MAN'S WORLD

MM: Why is it that it's generally men who blur gender distinctions and not women?

GEORGE: I think it's because women, and particularly dykes, get such a hard time for it. Music is a completely male dominated world and women are expected to be pretty, pliable little things.

MC KINKY: For dykes it's really hard, just because of the market. I mean, men aren't gonna be interested, so you're probably gonna end up just selling to other dykes.

MM: Lesley, have you felt any pressure to conform to particular conventions?

GEORGE: Are you gay?

LESLEY: No, but I know a lot of people who thought I was because I wore big boots and jeans. The last thing that happened along those lines was when ET categorised me with women who want to be men. To me, that's so narrow-minded. Just because l sing loudly and I'm aggressive doesn't mean I want to be a man. Women are supposed to be quiet and gentle and pleasing to the eye, and just because I step outside of that it's like 'Oh she's a dyke' or 'Oh, Lesley McPitbull'.

MM: It's been said that sometimes you're so aggressive other women can't relate to you. They say you're impressive but not a role model.

LESLEY: Well, I never really saw what I do like that anyway. I'm just being myself.

MM: Would you like to be a role model for women?

LESLEY: Yeah, I would, because I think the in-built aggression in my personality has got me pretty far, it's got me living a life I enjoy. And I think that same outlook could probably do a lot for other women. It's about assertiveness, and knowing yourself and your own worth - which is something women are taught not to have.

MC KINKY: Do you get many girls fancying you?

LESLEY: Yeah, I get a lot of that. But not from dykes. It's more like I'm seen as some kind of sexual figure by normal young heterosexual women.

MM: But why is it that when we were putting this debate together we could think of hundreds of men who blur gender distinctions but only a very Few women?

LESLEY: That's because it's so much easier for men. Men have a distinct dress code, they're not supposed to wear frocks or make-up, but it's easy for them to do these things and still be seen as theatrical. For women to blur gender distinctions they normally have to dress down and, especially in music, that's seen as not being glamorous and not being saleable and it's generally frowned upon.

MM: Do you like men in make-up?

LESLEY: I'm glad you brought that up because when I first started going out with blokes I always went for effeminate blokes. Maybe it's because I've never believed in the macho male, shrinking violet female stereotype.

MM: Do you still prefer effeminate blokes?

LESLEY: Depends on how many drinks I've had.

GEORGE: That's right. Sometimes macho men can fulfil a need.

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