Josephine Baker: The 20th Century’s First International Black Female Sex Symbol

There she is...Josephine Baker -the enigmatic, beautiful, uneasily categorized woman that book ends the bottom of the 50 SHADES OF BLACK cover design.  So much has been written and said about this woman and much more will continue to be.  As we continue to explore African American Sex Symbols and the Complexity of Skin Tone, I'd like to add to that conversation as we explore the woman and the legend of La Baker.

In what will be a series of rare photos and posts about Josephine Baker, we begin today with an article that explores her queer identity.  In an in-depth and intriguing article The Gay and Lesbian Review Worldwide, Lester Strong offers a critical, insightful, and beautifully nuanced view of a woman whose legacy and mystery we will be trying to understand for years to come.

This centennial year of her birth is a fitting time to glance back at the woman and the life that together constitute the legend of La Baker—and it’s especially fitting to examine the legend in a queer context. An African-American by birth who felt more at home in France than in the U.S., a person of virtually no formal education whose ambition and innate abilities allowed her to rise from obscurity and poverty to wealth and fame, a lesbian famous for her exploits with men —these were just some of the contrasts and contradictions in the fantastical life of Josephine Baker. Both her friends and her public recognized the talent, ambition, and sexual provocativeness, but few seemed to see her life as the queer dialogue it was with the world around her. For make no mistake: Josephine Baker led one queer life. It’s not just that she was lesbian or bisexual, although her sexuality was an important part of it; it’s the fact that nearly everything she did expressed desires and needs that deviated significantly from the prescribed social norms of her times. What’s more, to live life on her own terms, she was always willing to transgress those norms at every turn.

Read Complete Article HERE

Posted on August 20, 2012 and filed under blog.