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The Fabulous Sylvester: The Legend, the…

The Fabulous Sylvester: The Legend, the Music, the Seventies in San…

by Joshua Gamson

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Big, beautiful, a heavenly voice. Born in Los Angeles, Sylvester went to San Francisco. There, he (kind of) conquered the city, made some memorable recordings, and died. Scholarly work. ( )
  vesuvian | Apr 7, 2007 |
For the most part it was an enjoyable enough read, particularly the histories of the young inner-city, cross-dressing disquotays. Mid-way through the book it gets a bit tedious (the writing and Sylvester himself.) It does pick up again and is worth sticking with, but ultimately it is not as gratifying as I would have liked, given the subject matter. ( )
  AaronB | Jun 23, 2006 |
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Amazon.com Product Description (ISBN 0312425694, Paperback)

Imagine a pied piper singing in falsetto, wearing sequins, and leading the young people of the nation to San Francisco and on to a liberation where nothing was straight-laced or old-fashioned. And everyone, finally, was welcome--to come as themselves. This is not a fairy tale. This was real, mighty real, and disco-sensation Sylvester was the piper.

Yale-trained sociologist Joshua Gamson uses Sylvester's life to lead us through the story of the 1970s, when a generation took off its shame. Celebrity, sociology, and music history mingle in this endlessly entertaining story of a singer who embodied the freedom, spirit, and flamboyance of a golden moment in American culture.

(retrieved from Amazon Thu, 12 Mar 2015 18:09:35 -0400)

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"Our story begins in the mid-sixties with Sylvester, a boy whose dreams were as big as his voice, a child whose family didn't quite understand the special difficulties of raising a potential superstar. Joshua Gamson follows this young diva-to-be from his church choir days (as the child wonder of gospel), through his adventures with a crazed gang of glamour-seeking L.A. gay kids called the Disquotays, and on to his move up north to San Francisco, where the hills were alive and where Sylvester began his rise in the notorious theatrical troop known as the Cockettes. When he links up with two amazingly gifted, but never slender, backup singers called Two Tons o' Fun (Martha Wash and the late Izora Rhodes Armstead), Sylvester suddenly shoots to stardom. But he discovers, as the burgeoning gay liberation movement begins to provoke violent reactions and powerful enemies, that he stands for much more than he ever realized - a truth that is underscored when the tragedy of AIDS begins to rob him of the people he loves." "Set against the beat of a magical time, this is the story of Sylvester's life, his quest for stardom against all odds, and the legacy he created by standing up for everybody who was just a little different. Josh Gamson uses Sylvester to lead us through the world of San Francisco in the seventies, when a new kind of music helped usher in an era of change that liberated us from conformity, boredom, and the Carpenters. Through Sylvester's journey, Gamson captures the exuberant life, feeling, and fun of a generation's wonderful awakening - the parties, the dancing, and most of all, the music."--BOOK JACKET.… (more)

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