Ciara’s new album drops today. Back in ’05, she was subject to a bunch of rumors claiming she used to be a dude. Thanks to the internet, said rumors often thrive and persist. Several singers, from Grace Jones to Lady Gaga, have been the subject of such talk, but are any of them true? Don’t bother reading a message board – just find out here:
One of the burning questions surrounding this pop star hasn’t been “When is Lady Gaga’s new single coming out?” but, instead, whether she has a penis. The video for “Telephone” supposedly resolved this rumor, but Gaga has stated otherwise, indicating at some point that she’s intersexed. Although Gaga’s routine drag queen-esque getup might fuel buzz on the internet, she has yet to give a clear answer.
Meanwhile, Gaga’s sexual ambiguity has influenced a Bulgarian fan to undergo a sex change and start a music career. Perhaps impersonating a pop star is no longer sufficient.
On the surface, Ciara seems like one of the least likely singers to be hit with a sex change rumor. After all, the light-voiced “crunk-N-B” star has churned out club-friendly fare like “Get Up” and “Goodies” over the past decade, and hasn’t been shy to show off her own goodies in her music videos. Coming out in 2005 about her sexuality – she’s a lesbian – served as a catalyst, however, and the “Like a Boy” singer has been the target of many internet discussions regarding transvestitism to full male-to-female sexual reassignment surgery.
Elly Jackson (of La Roux)
Being known for androgyny is a spark for gender rumors. Not coming clear, as La Roux’s Elly Jackson has done, propagates them even further. Rather than playing the bisexual card like many singers before her, Jackson claims to have both fluid sexuality and gender. Plenty of “Is she or isn’t she a lesbian”-type talk circulates around the internet, but Jackson seems content playing up suits with jewelry and gaudy makeup and churning out synthpop hits.
Androgyny was all the rage in the ‘80s, and performers from the Second British Invasion, ranging from Dead or Alive to Duran Duran, sported this look. Nevertheless, when a Newsweek piece about the influx of English artists on the American charts ran, rumors regarding Eurhythmics’ singer’s gender started. Although these have since passed over, Annie Lennox’s androgynous appearance and deep voice made her the embodiment of female ambiguity at the time.
Disco might be the first instance in pop music in which male and female voices are interchangeable: the falsetto, ethereal notes of the Bee Gees balanced out the huskier tones of Gloria Gaynor and Grace Jones. Out of the performers at the time, Jones had an appearance like no other, and as a result, her birth sex was under question by magazines.
Michael Jackson and Pete Burns
These two singers reached the peaks of their careers around the mid-‘80s: Burns, in group Dead or Alive, for “You Spin Me Round” and Michael Jackson for Thriller. Yet, despite their claims to fame, both have been tarnished by excessive and well-publicized plastic surgery. Considering both singers have had significant modifications (and serious mishaps), sex change rumors didn’t follow too far behind a nose job gone wrong or botched lip procedure – especially for Burns, who cultivated an androgynous image and was close with Morrissey.
April Fool’s prank or not, Marilyn Manson’s Mechanical Animals ignited a never-dying rumor regarding a sex change. Although the group’s switch from Goth shock-rock to glam on the 1998 album turned off some fans, Manson’s ambiguous – or lack of – genitals on the cover image caused even more questions. In the present, however, this simply appears as an intentional Photoshop job to avoid even more censorship.
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