It has been said1 that the original followers of glam were the early 19th-Century dandies. A dandy is a gentleman who pays particular attention to his clothing and looks, and is commonly seen in the works of Oscar Wilde.
It wasn't until the 1970s that glam came to the fore, specifically through the newest music genre glam rock. If anything, it was the music that started the fashion and not vice versa. Overnight the world changed, teenagers worshipped the gender-bending stars that looked good with a guitar. Glitter, make-up and platform boots became the unofficial uniform of 'the children of the revolution' and the three-minute power beat of glam rock was heard on radios everywhere.
It was not only the looks of this generation that differed from the previous one, thus unnerving the adult population; these contemporaries challenged the sexual stereotypes that had been in place since the days of the dandies. Artists such as David Bowie and Marc Bolan of T Rex exploited the idea that 'sex sells' and introduced alternative sexualities to the masses.
Glam rock eventually reached its peak in 1975 and died soon after. The chameleon of pop, Bowie, moved on and in 1977 any hope of a glam rock resurgence was quelled with the arrival of the punk movement. This coincided with the untimely death of Marc Bolan (16 September, 1977).
It took almost 20 years after the 'death of glitter' for it to be resurrected, and the rebirth of glam is a much smaller affair the second time around. The sexual liberties that dominated the original scene returned with a vengeance and once again 'cocks in frocks' took centre stage. This time, however, it was generally at small dimly-lit gigs, although the sentiment remained the same.
Given that the entire glam movement was/is inspired by the music scene, music does, indeed, play a major role. The glam rock scene was created, some say exclusively, by Marc Bolan and his band T Rex. This may well be the case, with Bolan being credited as the first to wear glitter. However, T Rex are by no means the only 1970s superstars of glam.
Aside from T Rex, the record collection of a true follower of '70s glam will more than likely contain numerous records (or CDs) by the following artists:
- David Bowie (the Ziggy Stardust era 1969–1974)
- Roxy Music
- Cockney Rebel
- Suzy Quatro
- Gary Glitter
This is by no means an comprehensive list, merely a guide.
Although the UK is generally recognised as the home of 1970s glam rock, the US is not to be ignored. They offered their own brand of 'glam' in the form of Alice Cooper, Kiss, Iggy Pop and other such artists, all of which have a home in any glam record collection.
The rebirth of glam rock involves a similar number of artists compared with the original, although they are far less mainstream and their fans are primarily teenage cliques regarded as 'freaks'.
Although the music is comparable to 1970s glam, it has essentially failed to attract the vast numbers of glam rockers from days gone by. Whether this is because of the music or the fans remains to be seen.
The majority of the next generation of glam rock bands never seem to make it out of their bedrooms; there are a few, however, that have:
- Manic Street Preachers – Pre-Generation Terrorists through to The Holy Bible2
- King Adora
- Rachel Stamp
It may be 8.30 on a Sunday morning in the supermarket, but a true follower of glam will still look good. The thought process at work is 'if I don't look good, I'm not going out'.
The core of the stereotypical glam rocker is glitter, the correct application of which, however, is imperative. Too much and you will look like a Christmas fairy, which is not the look you're going for.
Like the Mods, never underestimate the value of a good suit. This is a vital base for the addition of every glam rocker's best friends: accessories.
The number and variety of accessories should be adapted to the daily situation; for example it is generally not acceptable to go to work wearing fairy wings and a tiara, unless, of course, you have the best job in the world. In contrast, the aforementioned garb would be perfectly acceptable stage right at a Manics' gig. When it comes to accessories there are no set rules; anything goes if it looks good. Pay particular attention to your choice of feather boa; it should always co-ordinate. Favourite accessories include:
- Anything with glitter
- Anything in faux leopard print
- Feather boas
- Fairy wings
- Fairy wands
- Retro kids items
Make-up is a must for both sexes. Eyeliner is your friend; if nothing else never leave home without it. Whatever make-up you apply remember it's all in the cheekbones; if you're lucky enough to have cheekbones to die for, flaunt them for all it's worth - you'll be the envy of all the boys and girls.
Nail polish should be dark or glittery. If you play guitar give up all hope of ever having nail polish that isn't chipped.
The language of glam is as important as the look. The glam star should be, above all, articulate. This can be easily achieved with the reading of literature, or for those who are slightly lazy, simply learning quotes that can be liberally sprinkled around conversations. Pay particular attention to epigrams and witticisms - Oscar Wilde is an ideal source:
Nothing makes one so vain as being told that one is a sinner.
The only thing worse than being talked about is not being talked about.
In life there are only two tragedies. One is not getting what you want, the other is getting it.
Additionally, conversation should be liberally peppered with phrases including, but not limited to the following:
- Darling(pronounced dah-lin'
- My lovelies
If you have to insult someone (and face it, from time to time who doesn't?) always say exactly what you mean by the most articulate means possible. They may have derided your fashion sense but that is not an excuse for you to forget grammar rules and split infinitives. Regale them with your vocabulary.
In order to secure a place in glam society, learn a few key phrases in French, any of the following are ideal:
- La Tristesse Durera – 'Sadness will last forever'
- Trop d'audace – 'Too audacious'
- Le réalité et toi, vous ne vous entendez pas, n'est-ce pas? - 'Reality and you don't get on, do they?'
However, it should be noted that common phrases such as c'est la vie and crème de la crème will immediately get you dismissed.
Guttural languages such as German can convey the meanings. However, they do not sound as good, which is the essential part of the character.
Depravity and debauchery (within legal parameters) are the expected levels of behaviour. However, they should not be openly bragged and boasted about in public. Alluding to the aforementioned (mis)behaviour is perfectly acceptable. As a general rule if the debauchery is to be referred to (for example, in answer to a direct question) euphemisms will not be used. Why lie about it? Remember everything you do is perfect.
The world is your stage, an audience views everything you do; even something as mundane as waiting at the bus stop allows you to perform the first duty in life – striking a pose.
The triptych of 'sex, drugs and rock 'n' roll' is core to your character3.
Air kissing. It is important to avoid the smudgy make-up look and yet still exudes the air of glamour everyone is after.