OREN MOVERMAN:The ambitiousness of the screenplay and the enormity of the film suggest more than just a casual interest in glam rock on yor part. What is your relationship with the period and the music?
TODD HAYNES: In 1971, the year Marc Bolan's 'Ride a White Swan'came out and began that whole glitter period in the UK, I was only 10. So I was just a little bit to young to take a real interest in glam rock. There weren't too many major glam hits that had commercial success in the States. I remember T-Rex's 'Bang a Gong'(retitled from 'Get It On'), and a trickling of Bowie that made it's way in US conciousness. I remember it mostly as being something forbidden, dangerous; something I associated with the tougher girls at school - the 'smoker girls' who were very in the know. They started dressing differently and making themselves up differently. It was really offputting. America was well entrenched in the aethetics of post sixties naturalism at that time; kids emulated hippie culture, more than anything. So, all of a sudden, this very dressed-up, shiny, cosmeticized look - along with the sexual ambivalence and ambiguity of the music - appeared and it was a little bit threatening to me.
But I guess my interest in glam rock finally arose from a new understanding of homosexuality in the world of pop culture. In the summer of 1974, while I was in junior high school and the glam rock that you see in Velvet Goldmine was beginning to end, I went to a friend's house and we played Bowie's 'Diamond Dogs' and Alice Cooper's 'Billion Dollar Babies', and I remember being extremely impressed with the album covers. The art was so intense! Both covers had this Gothic, horror, sexual lure to them that every teenager at some point takes pause and responds to.
I was really into Elton John's 'Goodbye Yellow Brick Road', which was basically mainstream glam. And there was this song on the album called 'All the Young Girls Love Alice' about a girl who spends afternoons with lonely housewives and pleases them. This whole idea of lebianism which I find even more foreign then male homosexuality, was deeply fascinating and disturbing to me. And I remember seeing these two girls wrapped around each other, under a bunch of tarps backstage at some event, and freaking out. The Elton John song and that image came together in my mind and I sensed there was something going on in me. That whole season, late 1974, was full of elements of glam rock that seeped into my suburban American life and intersected with my own questions about sexuality it became a potent combination.
Yet it wasn't until college that I really got to know and understand Bowie, Eno and Roxy Music, and the Velvet Underground and the Stooges, and some of the American bands that were influenced by glam. That's when I began to see that glam was a cultural moment that incorporated a lot of different elements - including visual aesthetics - to create a very particular sound and style.
New York Times Velvet Goldmine Review
Entertainment Asylum Review
Entertainment Asylum Editorial
Gail Worley's Review
Entertainment Weekly Music Review