Cover image for Entertaining lesbians : celebrity, sexuality, and self-invention
Entertaining lesbians : celebrity, sexuality, and self-invention
Gever, Martha, 1947-
Personal Author:
Publication Information:
New York : Routledge, [2003]

Physical Description:
xii, 236 pages : illustrations ; 23 cm

Format :


Call Number
Material Type
Home Location
Item Holds
HQ75.6.U5 G48 2003 Adult Non-Fiction Central Closed Stacks

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Before the rise of celebrities like Ellen DeGeneres and k.d. lang, lesbians were rarely in the limelight and the few that were often did not fare well. Times have changed and today's famous lesbians are popular icons. Entertaining Lesbianscharts the rise of lesbians in the public eye, proposing that celebrity has never been a simple matter of opening closet doors, portraying "positive images," or becoming "role models." Gever traces the history of lesbians in popular culture during the twentieth century, from Radclyffe Hall and Greta Garbo to Martina Navratilova and Rosie O'Donnell, to explore the paradoxes inherent in lesbian celebrity.

Author Notes

Martha Geveris Assistant Professor of Communication at Florida Atlantic University/Broward. Her books include: Queer Looks: Perspectives on Lesbian and Gay Film andVideoand Out There: Marginalization and ContemporaryCultures. She is the former editor of The IndependentFilm and Video Monthly.

Reviews 1

Library Journal Review

Readers who pick up Gever's book expecting a gossipy tell-all will be surprised to find instead a thoughtful, wide-ranging discussion of lesbians in 20th-century pop culture that touches on the history of photography, tabloid journalism, theories of mass culture, and the politics of coming out, among other subjects. Famous-and entertaining-lesbians such as Mercedes de Acosta, Jill Johnston, and Martina Navratilova are portrayed at length to highlight Gever's main interest: their strategies of self-representation. She shows how de Acosta (1893-1968), lover to both Greta Garbo and Marlene Dietrich, employed discretion in her affairs but not because of self-hatred, as was so often assumed to be the reason lesbians remained closeted. Gever (communications, Florida Atlantic Univ.; coeditor, Queer Looks) makes the case that up to the late 1970s, the term lesbian was so stigmatized and pathologized that even women who by today's standards were clearly lesbians would have refused the label, for entirely healthy reasons. Her book goes on to show how and why lesbian celebrities have taken a more prominent position in mainstream entertainment. Written in a relatively jargon-free style that should appeal to general readers, this book is recommended for women's studies and sexuality collections, as well as those focusing on communications and popular culture.-Ina Rimpau, Newark P.L., NJ (c) Copyright 2010. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.

Table of Contents

1 Introduction: Celebrity talk, lesbian style
2 Visibility now!: The sexual politics of seeing
3 Celestial configurations: Aspects of lesbian stardom
4 Going public: Star wars in the liberation movements
5 In retrospect: Legends of Mercedes de Acosta and company
6 Popular mechanics: Advanced technologies of lesbian celebrity
7 Afterword