Bitter jealousy, glorious revenge, corrupted innocence—these are the tropes of an emerging pulp lesbian sensibility that traffics in the tawdry castoffs of ’50s and ’60s American pop culture. The territory of fanzines, girl bands, and a host of recent artists and writers, this self-consciously downbeat vision salvages its images from a mélange of bad plays, pop psych, and supermarket novels from Ann Bannon to Jacqueline Susann. Trashy, melodramatic, and trading on irony, its seductions collide with more familiar aims of gay cultural politics: countering the stereotype, fighting misrepresentation, pleading for understanding.
Such urges to legislate representation always bring their own repressions; during the ’70s, feminist-inspired fantasies of idyllic female relationships spawned a kitschy array of painfully sentimental and precious images that playwright Holly Hughes once described as
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