Sheilas and Poofta

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Sheilas and Pooftas’: Hyper-Heteromasculinity in 1970s Australian Popular Music Cultures

Rebecca Hawkings

Macquarie University
In 1978, a letter writer to Rock Australia Magazine (RAM) wrote disparagingly of pop music’s sheilas and pooftas, and positioned them as the antithesis of Aussie rock and roll.1 The colloquial language employed by the letter writer reveals a deeper fear and loathing of non-masculine (sheila) and non-heterosexual (poofta) influences on Australian popular music culture. Indeed, gender and sexuality were two key ways by which Australianness’ in popular music during the 1970s was recognised, and this article seeks to unpack and problematise those nationalising demarcations. Using the analytical framework of performative hyper-heteromasculinity (specifically, the ‘ocker’ identity and variations thereof), this article will critically engage with artists including Billy Thorpe and The Aztecs, Skyhooks, and The Angels, in order to better understand the complex nexus of gender, sexuality, and cultural nationalism that defined much of 1970s Australian popular music.

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