Roll Over, Tchaikovsky!

Russian Popular Music and Post-Soviet Homosexuality
Author: Stephen Amico
Sex, the body, and pop music in modern urban Russia
Paper – $30
eBook – $19.95
Publication Date
Paperback: 09/26/2017
Cloth: 06/30/2014
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About the Book

Centered on the musical experiences of gay men in St. Petersburg and Moscow, this ground-breaking study examines how post-Soviet popular music both informs and plays off of a corporeal understanding of Russian male homosexuality.

Drawing upon ethnography, musical analysis, and phenomenological theory, Stephen Amico argues that the gay body in post-Soviet Russia rejects both the Soviet aversion to physical pleasure and the Western politicization of sexuality. Instead, both listeners and performers turn to popular music for a framework within which they can experience an embodied sense of sexuality, the self, and intersubjectivity.

Roll Over, Tchaikovsky! Russian Popular Music and Post-Soviet Homosexuality begins with an expert technical analysis of Russian rock, pop, and estrada music, dovetailing into an illuminating discussion of gay men's physical reception and uses of music. The book outlines how Russian homophobia and gender systems interact (often inconsistently) with popular music. Performers sustain a delicate literal and physical dance with cultural expectations.Amico argues that performers use song lyrics, physical movements, images of women, drag, and sexualized male bodies as tools and tropes to implicitly or explicitly express sexual orientation through performance. Finally, he uncovers how these performances help gay Russian men to create their own social spaces and selves, in meaningful relation to others with whom they share a "nontraditional orientation."

About the Author

Stephen Amico is an associate professor of music at The Grieg Academy at the University of Bergen.


"Adroitly fusing ideas derived from queer theory with an interest in the recent affective turn in the humanities, Roll Over, Tchaikovsky! Russian Popular Music and Post-Soviet Homosexuality will be of interest not just to specialists in Russian popular culture but to scholars of national identity and contemporary society too."--Slavic Review

"This is a book about the careful negotiations involved in the making of post-Soviet Russian pop songs and stars. . . . but also about gay men's own subject-making. Amico's tracing of the materiality and temporality of 'gay social space'. . . . offers a model for understanding the production of post-Soviet sexual subjectivities in the moment before the sharpening of state homophobia and the reshaping of Russian and Ukrainian musical identities after 2014 brought about yet another revision in the meaning of the 'post-Soviet' itself."--Journal of Soviet and Post-Soviet Politics and Society

"As an undertaking that opens new doors in the study of sexuality in musical culture, moreover a courageous one in an increasingly homophobic Russia, this study takes on a real urgency and importance. Roll Over, Tchaikovsky! will appeal to scholars in a range of disciplines, including sexuality studies, musicology, Russian studies, and popular culture. In the ongoing attempt to understand the enigma of Russia, Stephen Amico has unraveled a vital thread."--Popular Music and Society

"Roll Over, Tchaikovsky! offers an important contribution to studies on music, gender, and sexuality, especially as it highlights gay subjectivities which undermine the hegemonic narrative of LGBT liberation. . . . It will offer essential reading to scholars and students of ethnomusicology and popular music studies, of interdisciplinary post-Soviet studies and of queer theory more broadly."--Ethnomusicology Forum

"Amico weaves a fascinating, tri-partite narrative, meshing together the specificities of Russian popular music, the public (and frequently homoerotic) displays of those who perform that music, and the attitudes and behaviours of those (gay men) who consume it."--Slavonica

"Roll Over Tchaikovsky is a wonderful addition to a new body of works written by engaged ethnomusicologists in the area of music and sexuality, and an important monograph on the still relatively modest bookshelf of queer ethnomusicology."--The World of Music


"This is important work, bringing the scholarship of sexuality into a fascinating new setting. The project required a rare combination of skills--musical understanding, rich knowledge of present-day Russian culture, and the talents of an ethnographer who can be accepted as a confidant by Russian gay men. The research will never be duplicated, and this book is of great value to scholars of popular music, popular culture generally, and sexuality."--Fred Everett Maus, Department of Music, University of Virginia

"I thoroughly enjoyed Roll Over, Tchaikovsky! Amico has produced an intensive, well-argued study that should be read by anyone with an interest in today's Russia."--Eliot Borenstein, author of Overkill: Sex and Violence in Contemporary Russian Popular Culture


• Marcia Herndon Prize, Gender and Sexualities Section of the Society for Ethnomusicology (SEM), 2015
• Special Mention, IASPM Book Prize, International Association for the Study of Popular Music, 2015