During the early to mid-1970s, when feature-length hardcore films became a popular cultural phenomenon in the United States, hardcore came to designate more than just a genre or an industry—it became a ubiquitous mode of performance, an ethos, and a style. This article explores how hardcore as a style was taken up by the popular gay-marketed entertainment magazine After Dark. Through a close descriptive analysis of three photo spreads from 1975–76, it illuminates how female, gay male, and otherwise non-straight-identifying performers participated in a hardcore stylistic that, paradoxically, worked to shape queer elaborations of heteroeroticism. Within these vital images of singers, dancers, models, and performance artists, created at the height of hardcore's newfound cultural influence, performances of female-male coupling and group-centered socio-sexual activity both worked with and moved to dissolve normative heterosexist configurations of sex and gender.
Hardcore Style, Queer Heteroeroticism, and After Dark
Ryan Powell is an assistant professor of cinema and media studies at the Media School, Indiana University. His book Coming Together: The Cinematic Elaboration of Gay Male Life, 1945–1979 (University of Chicago Press, 2019) explores the first wave of films and related ephemera made by, for, and about male-desiring men in the United States, illuminating the centrality of filmmaking and exhibition to gay socializing and world-making.
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Ryan Powell; Hardcore Style, Queer Heteroeroticism, and After Dark. Feminist Media Histories 1 April 2019; 5 (2): 111–147. doi: https://doi.org/10.1525/fmh.2019.5.2.111
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