Barbra Streisand's Eternal Appeal

By: Jackson Lourd

Barbra Streisand biographer William Mann makes a strong case for the legendary performer being just as relevant as ever after six decades in show business.

In an essay written for The Advocate, Mann states: In 1962, whenever a teenage singer from Brooklyn named Barbra Streisand appeared on the television talk show PM East, gay bars all across the country turned off their music so their patrons could watch. Streisand was unpredictable. When host Mike Wallace asked her what she was going to sing next, she replied, “The Kinsey Report.”

With her perfect figure, prominent nose, and two-inch-long fingernails — and a voice that one critic called a “natural wonder of the age” — Streisand was gate-crashing her way into the big time, at a time when beauty and talent were measured by the likes of Elizabeth Taylor and Audrey Hepburn. For gay men, Streisand was fabulousness defined. And, as always, what the gays first identified as special eventually became the thing everybody wanted, and it wasn’t long before Barbra Streisand was the biggest star in the world.

Nearly half a century later, Streisand is suddenly cool again. At the clubs, Duck Sauce’s irrepressibly catchy mix, “Barbra Streisand,” rules the dance floor. There’s barely an episode of Glee that doesn’t feature Streisand’s music, name, or image. Funny Girl, the show that launched her Broadway stardom in 1964, is being revived, and next year her road-trip comedy with Seth Rogen, Guilt Trip, is set to hit theaters. Also next year, if the showbiz gods are kind, Streisand will star in a new version of Gypsy. And this week she releases a new album, her 64th, What Matters Most.


Read the full essay here.