Kylie: Becoming a Gay Icon

Kylie: Becoming a Gay Icon
Foxtel Management Pty Ltd
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Kylie’s passionately dedicated gay fans have been a key part of her success. In this short clip from Molly Presents the Divas (2006) Molly Meldrum refers to Kylie’s hit ‘Better the Devil You Know’ (1990) as a ‘Kylie anthem‘. An excerpt of the iconic music video, directed by Paul Goldman, features.  

The song was written and produced by Stock Aitken Waterman and was released on her third studio album Rhythm of Love (1990). As the raunchy dancing and costumes in the video illustrate, ‘BTDYK’ as it’s known by hardcore Kyliephiles, is credited with reinventing Kylie’s image from girl-next-door to sex symbol. It is also a key song for her gay audience and, in a sign of devotion, London’s G-A-Y club plays it every Saturday night at 12:30 am.

It is interesting to note that Kylie credits the making of this career-changing video clip as the first time she 'felt part of the creative process'. She told the Sydney Morning Herald in 2011 'I wasn’t in charge but I had a voice. I’d bought some clothes on King's Road [London] for the video. I saw a new way to express my point of view creatively.'

Kylie is held in the highest esteem and adored by her gay male fans. Her performances at the Sydney Gay and Lesbian Mardi Gras Party in 1994, 1998 and 2012 are legendary. She says her gay fans have been with her through thick and thin, although she was never specifically marketed to that audience when she was starting out. Singer songwriter Rufus Wainwright summed it up nicely: 'She is the gay shorthand for joy'.

The clip finishes with home video footage of Melbourne-based drag queen Millie Minogue miming to a recording of ‘Shocked’, also from Rhythm of Love. Despite the poor quality of the footage, it’s easy to see why it was included – that a drag queen has a full-time gig impersonating her shows the extent of Kylie's gay male following. Millie told The Star Observer in 2010 that Kylie ‘knows what to give the gay people. Camp feathers, lovely boy dancers – all those ingredients make the perfect recipe.'

It’s amazing how much this clip covers in under one minute. This is down to Kylie’s skilled soundbite responses to Molly’s questions, their obvious rapport, and the right choice of video clips to illustrate and add colour and movement to the static interview setting.

Notes by Beth Taylor