Tuesday, September 25, 2007

Fashion Icons and Role Models: The Town Whore

Sometimes I find it hard to believe that there used to be performers and musicians and singers who used to dress totally out of control and it wasn't "ironic" - from David Bowie to Prince to Grace Jones to Cher, to even Motley Crue/pretty much every hair band ever. (Even though like half these people just ripped off their look from somewhere else [There's one point in The Motley Crue biography Gaby lent me where Nikki Sixx is like, "I was on top of the world, making more money than Johnny Thunders ever was!" as if this wasn't directly proportional to him also being a million more times of a tool than Johnny Thunders ever was] they were definitely superior to the weak-ass version of rock bands today who always have one modelish member who stands in the front wearing v neck t-shirt while every other members hang behind their shaggy hair, mumbling about how they want to be like Mick Jagger or whatever likes there's not ten zillion other bands like them who pretend they're doing something really fresh.)

Anyway, my point is, I'm starting to feel we are reaching a highly styled, glossed over, and non-individual time where there may never be another Dolly Parton. Dolly has always said she's modeled her look after the town whore- the woman she thought was the most beautiful as the child, who had the biggest, blondest hair and tightest, shortest dresses. I love this, because, I too, as a kid, wanted to look like the women I thought were beautiful, even if they were Naomi from Mama's Family and Kelly from Married With Children. I mean, I thought Loni Anderson from WKRP in Cincinatti was really beautiful, and still sort of do!

Women like Dolly Parton practically invite drag queens to imitate them, and they certainly emphasize how much of femininity is simply a show- a big, sparkly, bewigged one. When people say they can see my hair from down the block, I feel, in some small way, that I am carrying on the tradition of a proud and glitzy trashiness, one that is miles away from the glitzy trashiness of, you know, Fergie. (Though there have to be some people who do Fergie drag, right? I mean, besides Fergie.)

Of course, Dolly is so much more than a fashion icon; she's an extremely talented musician and songwriter whose written numerous hits for both herself and others. In a time when few female artists wrote their own music, Dolly did. Unlike the cheesy country of today, she comes from the grand old Grand Ole Opry tradition, with artists like Hank Williams and Loretta Lynn and the Carter Family. According to wikipedia, Dolly grew up "dirt poor" in a one-room cabin in the Great Smoky Mountains of Tennessee. Her father was a "holy roller" type Pentecostal preacher, but Parton professes no denomination, claiming only to be "Spiritual" while adding that she believes that all the Earth's people are God's children. Plus she is rumored to be a lesbian, and that those long sleeves she always has on and her huge wigs are there to hide a bunch of butch tattoos and a shaved head. Whether this is true or not (it is), what's important is that someday Simone and I are going to go to Dollywood, her theme park, and it will be the greatest day of our lives.
PS: I highly suggest you to click on the photos to make them big, especially this last picture of Dolly Parton and Cher, which makes me really happy.
PPS: I thought the silver thing in the right hand bottom corner of that last photo was like a chair or something, and then I realized they were just Cher's knee high silver pirate boots. Oh man.


Simone said...

That picture of dolly and cher really is the best thing ever! did they do a duet or something? because that would be even MORE amazing.

Also, PS, duh you have to read "My Life and other Unfinished Business" by dolly parton herself! this is required reading before we take the big trip to dollywood! (with rock camp. ohmigod, i can't even tell you how thrilling that would be.)

M said...

no, i still haven't read it. i need to get on that!

i know, that picture of her and cher...i don't know, it's amazing. i love how they are smiling at each other. it's so weird to think that cher AND dolly parton were really popular. would they be popular now? probably not.

Anonymous said...

hows the miller's lite taste?

Anonymous said...

i am so funny! but what i really wanted to say was when i was reading this post it made me think of all the good times we had writing together. i miss writing with you mary!


M said...

dear gerard,
i miss writing with you too. i actually think we are capable of great things and that our camp essay should be, at least, in the new yorker. maybe we should have sent it to susan sontag if she wasn't dead.

Marlena said...

I just found your blog today through bits and bobbins. I had already added you to my reader after laughing through three entries, but when I got to this entry, I knew I was meant to find this blog. I am a gigantic Dolly fan, and she is the one celebrity that I really think I might cry if I actually met. I love that woman more than I love my mother.