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date: 18 March 2019

Abstract and Keywords

This chapter examines how queer pleasures are sublimated into musicals by analyzing the 1966 play Mame. Through this close reading of Mame and a broader consideration of musical theatre and film, this chapter explores how the show (and the genre, more generally) harnesses the power of the female body to disrupt the heteronormative impulses of narrative; creates a parthenogenetic world that celebrates motherhood; ironically deploys conventional representations of femininity; critiques heterosexual romance; and channels queer desire through the structure of musical theater. It also considers the relationship of musical theatre to camp, lesbian representation, and the spectacular male body. Finally, it provides an account of homosexuality and queerness in musicals that followed Mame—including La Cage aux Folles, A Chorus Line, Rent, and Hedwig and the Angry Inch—identifying moments that transcend the dichotomy between closeted structures and the representations of identity.

Keywords: queer pleasures, Mame, queer desire, musicals, queerness, female body, motherhood, femininity, heterosexual romance, homosexuality, camp

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