Playing With the Self: Celebrity Autoerotic Asphyxiation

    Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

    Abstract

    Celebrity sexual scandal has long attracted the attention of the popular media and is a motivating force in the construction of celebrity identity. Its aftermath is often carefully stage-managed by agents, publicists and promoters, but always mediated and beyond the control of the celebrity. It is the relationship between celebrity and a particular sexual transgression – autoerotic asphyxiation (AEA) – that is our focus here in terms of how celebrity and AEA have been similarly read and discussed. This is illustrated through a consideration of the diverse case studies of the peculiarly perverse and untimely deaths of INXS front man Michael Hutchence, found naked in a hotel room in 1997, veteran B-movie actor David Carradine, discovered hanging from a wardrobe in a Thai hotel in 2010, and the bizarre reports regarding British Conservative MP Stephen Milligan's death in 1994. In considering the practices and discourses around it, we argue that AEA both reveals and makes sense of the tensions and contradictions inherent in celebrity identity. In particular, the article considers the complex negotiations between the private and public selves, contradictory discourses that seek to make sense of an AEA death and the impact it has on the celebrity persona. Ultimately we argue that the nature and content of the sex act and death reconfigures and fixes the celebrity identity that existed prior to the celebrity's association with AEA.
    Original languageEnglish
    Pages (from-to)58-70
    Number of pages13
    JournalCelebrity Studies
    Volume4
    Issue number1
    DOIs
    Publication statusPublished - Mar 2013

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