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Guest post: My Favorite Dolled-Up Male Rocker: Kevin Barnes

23 February 2011

My Favorite Dolled-Up Male Rocker: Kevin Barnes
Joy Paley is a guest blogger for My Dog Ate My Blog and a writer on accredited online colleges for the Guide to Online Schools.
When most people think of a male rocker in makeup, the terrifying face of Gene Simmons from the band KISS comes to mind. He basically ruined the highly made-up look for male rockers for a good 15 years. Luckily, we’ve had Kevin Barnes to revive the trend of dudes with guitars and face paint--but not in a black-and-white, devil-monster sort of way.
If you’re not familiar with Barnes, he’s the frontman for the indie rock group Of Montreal, who have been churning out an array of glam, psychedelic indie pop albums since the late ‘90s. While Barnes has always played with style and gender norms, the past five years have really marked his great awakening. His glitzy, tranny alter-ego Georgie Fruit was invented for Of Montreal’s 2007 album Hissing Fauna, Are You the Destroyer?, and Barnes’ style hasn’t been the same since.

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What I love about Barnes is his sense of color and outrageousness—they really project a fearlessness that’s encapsulated in the genre-bending nature and melodrama of his tunes. Glittery, turquoise face makeup is a norm for Barnes, along with highly stylized, bold outfits reminiscent of ‘70s disco wear—in a good way. Barnes has let fans pour colored body paint across his body during shows and ridden a large white horse out onto the stage on occasion.
Although he’s straight and married, Barnes isn’t afraid to be ostentatious, something that male rockers have been afraid to try as of late. The over-the-top-ness of his glittered, asymmetric looks and red leather pants works because it gels with his music and his personality; he’s just being himself, a self that happens to identify with aspects of both sexes. For those unfamiliar with Barnes, consider him a male Lady Gaga, except with a more original musical aesthetic and style, and with less of a craving to get attention for attention’s sake.
And while even original women pop stars like Gaga continue to use sex as a point of intrigue for fans, Barnes’ use of physical appeal is more complicated. He’s sexy because he looks cool, original, and confidant, not because he’s showing off his flat stomach. Through his crazy style, he’s allowing men to be sexy in a different way—not because they have a rock-hard butt, big biceps, or a baby face--and that’s pretty awesome.

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Thanks chiclets for your chic comments. I look forward to hearing more from you.

Forever chic,