Camille Paglia: Tina Turner's 'Private Dancer' Made a 'Feminist Statement'

Bob Gruen
Tina Turner in front of the Eiffel Tower in Paris, France. September 1984.

Dissident feminist Camille Paglia, author of the groundbreaking 1990 book Sexual Personae: Art and Decadence from Nefertiti to Emily Dickinson has regularly written on such pop stars as Madonna and Rihanna, who she proclaimed the new Princess Diana

A Look Back at 1984: Full Coverage

For Billboard's look back at 1984, Paglia shared her thoughts on Tina Turner's classic album from that year's Private Dancer:

"I'm a soul survivor," Tina Turner defiantly proclaims on the first song of her comeback album, Private Dancer, released May 29, 1984. As she sings on "I Might Have Been Queen," she was rising "reborn" from her tortured relationship with her abusive ex-husband, Ike. Recorded in England, Private Dancer uses blazing hard-rock guitars as a platform for Turner's mammoth power. Showing off her lion's mane wig, runner's legs and dominatrix high heels on the album cover, the 44-year-old Turner stunned the world with her ferocious, mature sexuality. Released at the puritanical height of the feminist anti-pornography crusade, the album daringly invoked prostitution in its title. But "What's Love Got to Do With It" makes a feminist statement, as Turner embraces a radical freedom of sexual choice. The five-times-platinum album projects her as a hybrid superwoman, her Amazonian militance melting into bluesy yearning. She is both hard and soft, raw and smooth, a truly modern woman for all seasons.

A version of this article first appeared in the Nov. 1 issue of Billboard.


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