Hard Glamour

by Kiko Matsing

Maquillage as Mask

When I judge Lady Gaga, I judge what I feel is the miming of sexuality without the real sexual magic coming from beneath the surface… Marlene Dietrich [is] one of the great pioneers of modern sexuality, coming from her own roots as a live singer in cabaret[s] in Weimar Berlin, as an enormous explosive breakout performer as the femme fatale in the Blue Angel in 1930, then a very sophisticated woman playing with transvestism in Morocco, wearing a tuxedo, and then inventing the whole style of hard glamour that is used in all the major fashion magazines world wide, a certain look [in] fashion… the maquillage as a mask–Baudelaire actually prophesied that–but she’s the one who created that look. It was a look that gay men love. [What] gay men understood from the start was transvestism. They understood. They saw Marlene Dietrich as a drag star. In fact she was a participant in the great drag balls in Weimar Berlin at the height of Weimar decadence. I think yes, there always is this transvestism lingering, a masquerade, behind the most glamorous of female looks of the last century.

(from Camille Paglia, Fliporto interview, 2011)

Blonde Venus (1932)

Woman performs a kind of duty when she endeavors to appear magical and supernatural; she should dazzle men and charm them; she is an idol who should be covered with gold in order to be worshipped.

(Charles Baudlaire, Éloge du maquillage)

Helmut Newton, Woman into Man, Paris, 1979