Unbearable Fadistas: António Variações and Fado as Queer Praxis

  • Daniel da Silva Columbia University
Keywords: Trans, performance, gender, sex, affect, improvisation


António Variações’s first single, Povo que lavas no rio/Estou além (1982), offers a radical version of Amália Rodrigues’s fado “Povo que lavas no rio” (1962). This article considers Variações as fadista in order to think fado as queer praxis. Though Variações's debut release was a commercial success, his turn as fadista provoked critical derision for what, I argue, is a trans formation of the genre’s gendered codes and practices. Variações's queer masculinity gives body and voice to the transgressive sexuality enmeshed within gendered and fetishized repertoires of fado that are most recognizable in the myths and voices of the genre's divas. This article locates Variações within a fado genealogy, from Maria Severa to Amália Rodrigues, of performers who have similarly been unbearable in body and voice. The purpose of this is to draw attention to fado's affective dispersions of sex and reveal how the genre has coalesced in relation to queer tactics and people throughout its history.

Author Biography

Daniel da Silva, Columbia University

Daniel da Silva is a PhD candidate at Columbia University in the Department of Latin American and Iberian Cultures. He researches gender, sexuality, and popular music in Lusophone cultures and their intersections with popular and queer cultures of African diaspora.