Amanda Palmer: Naked, but far from vulnerable

The performance artist has taken on the Daily Mail and music industry of late

Share
Related Topics

Until very recently, I had not been familiar with the oeuvre of the American musician and performance artist, Amanda Palmer. One half of the band Dresden Dolls, her style could best be described as part-punk, part-cabaret, part-agitprop. She's an anti-celebrity celebrity, a musician who's found notoriety by circumventing the music industry, and a commentator on modern mores who wants to be taken seriously.

She's certainly not to everyone's taste: an attention-seeking controversialist who styles herself as “Amanda ****ing Palmer” and who challenges the established order in a combative and full-frontal way. Sometimes literally. During a recent gig at London's Roundhouse, she performed a protest song about the Daily Mail totally naked, and it is her assault on arguably Britain's most powerful newspaper that has brought her to wider notice.

What upset Palmer was the Mail's coverage of her appearance at Glastonbury this year: not the critical appreciation of her work, but the scrutiny paid to the inadvertent exposure of one of her breasts during her performance. The massively popular online version of the Mail focused on what has become known, in that arch phrase, as “a wardrobe malfunction”. It wouldn't have taken much research to discover that Ms Palmer's wardrobe has had questionable functionality for some time.

In 2009, she posted 25 nude pictures of herself on her Twitter page, she's performed naked - save for a ukelele - at a festival, and has often used her unclothed body to make a political statement. So the fact that one of her boobs fell out at Glastonbury was hardly the stuff of breaking news. And her reaction to this coverage was to write a protest song about the Mail which, appropriately enough for someone who is an example of how the Internet can be a liberating and sustaining force for an artist, has become a huge hit on YouTube.

In it, she includes the lines: “But a rag is a rag, and far be it from me/To go censoring anyone - oh, no/It appears that my entire body is currently/Trying to escape this kimono”. At which point, the kimono drops to the floor, and she performs the rest of the song completely starkers. It's a stunt, all right, but it was enough to get her an earnest interview on Newsnight.

Ms Palmer is the poster child for a new paradigm in the music industry: upset by her record company's excision of a shot from her video because they said (according to her) that she looked “too fat”, Ms Palmer has raised more than a million dollars on crowdfunding sites on the Internet, and if groups of fans get together and raise enough money, she'll perform live for them. So she has a reputation for doing things differently.

We don't all have access to a microphone and an audience, but you have to admire Ms Palmer's decision to take to the stage rather go through the courts to battle it out with a newspaper. I must point out, however, that she's not exactly a pioneer in this respect. Radiohead wrote a song about the Daily Mail, and the last word on newspaper hypocrisy must go to the Bard of Salford, John Cooper Clarke: “You'll find all kinds of hideous excess/But you'll never see a nipple in the Daily Express”.

React Now

Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

SAP Project Manager

competitive: Progressive Recruitment: SAP PROJECT MANAGER - 3 MONTHS - BERKSHI...

SAP Project Manager

competitive: Progressive Recruitment: SAP PROJECT MANAGER - 3 MONTHS - BERKSHI...

Senior Investment Accounting Change Manager

£600 - £700 per day + competitive: Orgtel: Senior Investment Accounting Change...

Microsoft Dynamics AX Functional Consultant

£65000 - £75000 per annum + benefits: Progressive Recruitment: A rare opportun...

Day In a Page

Read Next
Children of a bygone era  

Kids these days aren't what they used to be — they're a lot better. So why the fuss?

Archie Bland
A suited man eyes up the moral calibre of a burlesque troupe  

Be they burlesque dancers or arms dealers, a bank has no business judging the morality of its clients

John Walsh
Save the tiger: The day America’s love of backyard tigers led to a horrific bloodbath

The day America’s love of backyard tigers led to a horrific bloodbath

With only six per cent of the US population of these amazing big cats held in zoos, the Zanesville incident in 2011 was inevitable
Samuel Beckett's biographer reveals secrets of the writer's time as a French Resistance spy

How Samuel Beckett became a French Resistance spy

As this year's Samuel Beckett festival opens in Enniskillen, James Knowlson, recalls how the Irish writer risked his life for liberty and narrowly escaped capture by the Gestapo
We will remember them: relatives still honour those who fought in the Great War

We will remember them

Relatives still honour those who fought in the Great War
Star Wars Episode VII is being shot on film - and now Kodak is launching a last-ditch bid to keep celluloid alive

Kodak's last-ditch bid to keep celluloid alive

Director J J Abrams and a few digital refuseniks shoot movies on film. Simon Usborne wonders what the fuss is about
Once stilted and melodramatic, Hollywood is giving acting in video games a makeover

Acting in video games gets a makeover

David Crookes meets two of the genre's most popular voices
Could our smartphones soon be diagnosing diseases via Health Kit and Google Fit?

Could smartphones soon be diagnosing diseases?

Health Kit and Google Fit have been described as "the beginning of a health revolution"
Ryanair has turned on the 'charm offensive' but can we learn to love the cut-price carrier again?

Can we learn to love Ryanair again?

Four recent travellers give their verdicts on the carrier's improved customer service
Billionaire founder of Spanx launches range of jeans that offers

Spanx launches range of jeans

The jeans come in two styles, multiple cuts and three washes and will go on sale in the UK in October
10 best over-ear headphones

Aural pleasure: 10 best over-ear headphones

Listen to your favourite tracks with this selection, offering everything from lambskin earmuffs to stainless steel
Commonwealth Games 2014: David Millar ready to serve up gold for his beloved Scotland in the end

Commonwealth Games

David Millar ready to serve up gold for his beloved Scotland in the end
UCI Mountain Bike World Cup 2014: Downhill all the way to the top for the Atherton siblings

UCI Mountain Bike World Cup

Downhill all the way to the top for the Atherton siblings
Save the tiger: The animals bred for bones on China’s tiger farms

The animals bred for bones on China’s tiger farms

The big cats kept in captivity to perform for paying audiences and then, when dead, their bodies used to fortify wine
A former custard factory, a Midlands bog and a Leeds cemetery all included in top 50 hidden spots in the UK

A former custard factory, a Midlands bog and a Leeds cemetery

Introducing the top 50 hidden spots in Britain
Ebola epidemic: Plagued by fear

Ebola epidemic: Plagued by fear

How a disease that has claimed fewer than 2,000 victims in its history has earned a place in the darkest corner of the public's imagination
Chris Pratt: From 'Parks and Recreation' to 'Guardians of the Galaxy'

From 'Parks and Recreation' to 'Guardians of the Galaxy'

He was homeless in Hawaii when he got his big break. Now the comic actor Chris Pratt is Hollywood's new favourite action star