All these poses, such beautiful Poses
Jones, Matthew J.
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Singer-composer Rufus Wainwright uses specific musical gestures to reference historicalarchetypes of urban, gay masculinity on his 2002 album Poses. The cumulative result of hispenchant for pastiche, eschewal of traditional musical boundaries, and self-described hedonism,Poses represents Wainwright’s direct engagement with the politics of identity and challengesdominant constructions of (homo)sexuality and masculinity in popular music. Drawing from avast lexicon of musical styles, he assembles an idiosyncratic persona, ignoring several decades ofpop with an "utter lack of machismo [and] a freedom that comes to outsiders disinterested inmeeting the requirements of the dreary status quo".Though analysis of musical and lyricalcharacteristics of Poses, I establish a dialectic between Wainwright’s musical persona and fourhistorical modes of urban gay masculinity: the 19th Century English Dandy, the French flaneur,the 20th Century gay bohemian, and the "Clone". In doing so, I introduce Wainwright as areinvigorating force, resuscitating the subversive potential of radical gay sexuality as a 21stCentury model for imagining gay male subjectivity.