cover image Fabulous: The Rise of the Beautiful Eccentric

Fabulous: The Rise of the Beautiful Eccentric

Madison Moore. Yale Univ, $26 (280p) ISBN 978-0-300-20470-4

This freewheeling study, the first book by cultural critic Moore, examines the concept of fabulousness as a political mode of expression in Western pop culture. Moore, who serves as director of the Queer@King’s Research Center at King’s College in London, defines the parameters of his study early on: “The story I’m telling is about fabulousness as a queer aesthetic, an essence that allows marginalized people and social outcasts to regain their humanity and creativity, not necessarily to boast about power or influence.” Through a series of conversations with self-styled eccentrics and those pushing the cultural boundaries, such as performance artist Alok Vaid-Menon and deejay Shaun J. Wright, Moore illustrates how being fabulous is about challenging expectations and cultural norms. Lasseindra Ninja, an early adapter of the style of dance known as voguing, discusses how the gay ballroom scene in Harlem developed in response to the marginalization of gay black teenagers who were rejected by their own families. Moore also includes profiles of violin virtuoso Amadéus Leopold, performance artist Pepper Pepper, and drag artist Victoria Sin. He invokes Prince as one of the patron saints of the concept, calling him “unlocatable, dangerous, extravagant... an outcast, a style rebel.” This revelatory study of one facet of LGBTQ culture and transgressive art and fashion will appeal to readers of art and cultural criticism. Color photos. (Apr.)