If you are interested in gay history, then this book is a must, even if you aren’t into rock music, because Pansy Division was, is, a phenomenon. They get a mention, though their music didn’t get played, in the iconic ‘Queer as Folk’.
Like many gay men, the author was a loner growing up in small town at a time when gender bending was in fashion but there were no but no out groups – so he ended up founding one. Like many, the only role models he saw were camp and he wasn’t like any of them. So, he thought, it must be a passing phase. Indeed, he didn’t have his first sexual encounter until the age of 21.
He likens high school graduation as leading to ‘the slaughter house that is adulthood’ and doesn’t want to attend his graduation ceremony. His taste for ‘outward signs’ is similar to the protestations of religious leaders such as Guru Nanak who didn’t want initiation.
Like so many teenagers who dream of being pop stars, and there are a few who make it. The author had his dream and had to risk a job he liked in order to make it. He succeeded. Risk is the name of the game: one member of the band wanted a more reliable income after he turned age forty.
Pansy Division is an important aspect of gay culture. With so many clubs of the time playing disco, especially high energy, it seemed like it was compulsory. This group offered something different.
There is also distaste for the ubiquitous Oasis with their ‘wholesale theft of riffs and melodies.’
Other stereotypes are busted too, such as guys who refuse to kiss.
There is a good account of the group’s search for a drummer and for someone actually wanting to be asked and having the guts to say so. This drummer is a proper trouper, having played the drums when injured after a van door trapped his hand.
It never ceases to surprise me how America can be less tolerant that the UK. That conservative student groups can manage to banish a gay group as recently as 1998.
Two annoyances: the book is repetitive in places, for example when we are told twice within two pages of each other than the group’s agent thought their tours were too long rather than promoting them. Also the irritating misspelling of the place name ‘Ghent’ as ‘Gent’.
I had to look up ‘cockamamie’. It sounds rude to me but is an American slang term for something ridiculous, incredible or implausible. It is believed to be a close relative of decal, a design prepared on special paper for transfer to another surface. The origin of both cockamamie and decal is the French décalcomanie, which was created in the early 1860s to refer to the craze for decorating objects with transfers
Do you know what ‘Alpine skiing’ refers to? (Clue: From the song by Pansy Division.”it takes 3 guys to do it right, (they’re gay, so could be 1 girl & 2 guys) 1 on the left and 1 on the right. ..just get your hands around two poles, move ’em up and down in a steady motion”