Sabor’s Queer Jukebox: “Mr. Jones”

This is the first post in a series driven by my partner Sabor’s keen interest in popular music.  In it, she and I will be looking at some hits of yesteryear and elucidating their queer subtexts.

It’s surprising we didn’t realize how queer a song “Mr. Jones” is until now.  Upon review, the song is about two gay men who are regulars at a strip club.   They are trying to pass as straight.  In the video, the sexual undertones are implied through the singer’s terrible costume and dance movements. He is a bird in heat. As his fringe leather vest slips sexily off his one shoulder, he closes his eyes chanting, “I wanna be someone to believe, to believe, to believe. Yeah.”

“How would you describe his hair?” Sabor asks me.

I respond, “Irresponsible, young, woke white man.”  In our era, he would have been out, but in the 90s he is in the strip club with Mr. Jones.

Sabor theorizes, “I think he has bastard children but it was because of his mistaken sexual orientation. He was trying to pass for straight.”

The singer and Mr. Jones’ love is unconsummated but that does not prevent it from being very deep and real.  They have adorable couple competitions, “She’s looking at you/Ah, no, no, she’s looking at me.”

A vaguely defined academic concept from Sabor’s book on Korean sex workers rears its head. “Necropolitics,” Sabor observes. The singer stares into the future–one made of screens full of static.  A poor Latina woman dances for him. She is also queer and oppressed. This is the theme of their crop: their inner death.

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