Growing up in the punk era and being a fan of The Sex Pistols and Bow Wow Wow, I'm well aware of the perception many have of their former manager Malcolm McLaren: Svengali, Shyster, Manipulator. The Pistols famously gave their side of the story in the documentary The Filth and The Fury and via their lawsuit, which they won. But Malcolm, to many of us gay boys in London, New York and beyond growing up in the eighties, was not just the first to embrace and basically invent punk and punk fashion as we know it today, but was the first to toss it aside during its peak popularity in favor of a surprise career in front of the mic.
In 1983, McLaren released his first solo album, Duck Rock, embracing American hip-hop way before MTV and anyone outside the Bronx did and melding rap with a very white style of electronic. This gave him two top ten hits in the UK. Then, the next year he had the brilliant idea of mixing opera, deadpan monologues and classical on his second and best album, Fans, way ahead of Pet Shop Boys and Enigma. Then finally in 1989, he brought Willy Ninja and New York's Vogueing balls to the white clubs a full year before Madonna's Vogue with his stylistic single and video, Deep In Vogue.
Malcolm, while considered straight, made electronic music sophisticated and gay as hell. So next time your iPod leads you to Pet Shop Boys, Lady Gaga, or Calvin Harris, remember one of the most foppish heteros in history and strike a pose. Waltz, darling Malcolm, waltz.