Books

Good Booty

Ann Powers guides readers through the shared history between eroticism and American popular music.

Ann Powers

In Good Booty, Ann Powers explores how popular music became America's primary erotic art form. Powers takes us from 19th-century New Orleans through dance-crazed Jazz Age New York to the teen scream years of mid-20th century rock-and-roll to the cutting-edge adventures of today's web-based pop stars. Drawing on her deep knowledge and insights on gender and sexuality, Powers recounts stories of forbidden lovers, wild shimmy-shakers, orgasmic gospel singers, countercultural perverts, soft-rock sensitivos, punk Puritans and the cyborg known as Britney Spears to illuminate how eroticism — not merely sex, but love, bodily freedom and liberating joy — became entwined within the rhythms and melodies of American song. This cohesion, she reveals, touches the heart of America's anxieties and hopes about race, feminism, marriage, youth and freedom.

In a survey that spans more than a century of music, Powers both heralds little known artists such as Florence Mills, a contemporary of Josephine Baker and gospel queen Dorothy Love Coates, and sheds new light on artists we think we know well, from the Beatles and Jim Morrison to Madonna and Beyoncé. In telling the history of how American popular music and sexuality intersect — a magnum opus over two decades in the making — Powers offers new insights into our nation psyche and our soul. (From HarperCollins Publishers)

Author Interviews | Read an excerpt

Author Interviews

Ann Powers' new book Good Booty explores the relationship between music and sexuality in American history. 20:39

From the book

I think I was around nine years old when I realized music is sexy. From the first time I heard the songs that moved me to distraction in childhood, by the Beatles and the Jackson 5, I loved them because they affected my whole body, making me think hard and respond deeply and jump like a jelly bean. Music gave me a way to engage with those "funny feelings" my friend Lisa said rose up in her when she looked at a picture of Keith Richards slouching around in the Rolling Stones, feelings my mother wouldn't mention and the boys in the schoolyard snickered about but wouldn't own. The girls in my life were the ones who wanted to name those feelings, and we did it by dancing to the beat of the Bee Gees and Queen and Blondie, and once we all hit college, Prince. We became sexual by playing records, sweating in the crowd at rock shows, making out with boys in bands or other fans or each other while music played loud in cars and basements and through the walls of the bathrooms at the Odd Fellows Hall.


From Good Booty by Ann Powers ©2017. Published by HarperCollins Publishers.

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