Kate Bush was singing about anal sex and ‘vaseline’ in the 70s – the BBC wasn’t having any of it
In March 1979, Kate Bush quietly referenced anal sex on “Wow”, the second single from her sophomore album Lionheart.
In it, she sings about a man who will “never make the screen” and will remain stuck acting on the stage, despite his dreams of getting into television and film. But why can’t he make it big, you might ask?
Well, as Bush sings, he’s never going to be a “movie queen” because he’s “too busy hitting the Vaseline”.
Kate Bush apparently really wanted to make sure people knew what she was singing about when she shot the spacey, dreamy music video for the song.
When she sings the “vaseline” line, she shoots the camera a cheeky smile as she pats her bum – just to make sure her bottoming message wasn’t lost on the masses.
The year was 1979, and such a move from a pop star who had so recently topped the charts with “Wuthering Heights” was naturally controversial. The BBC were so horrified by Bush’s vaseline gag that it actually censored the music video, according to The Guardian.
Kate Bush sang about a gay couple in love on the BBC in 1978
But that wasn’t the singer’s only ode to the LGBT+ community. Lionheart, one of Bush’s less influential albums, also featured a song about a gay couple who “live in sin” but who love each other and “know the way to be happy”.
The song was “Kashka from Baghdad”, and it was quietly revolutionary for the time.
“At night they’re seen laughing, loving, they know they way to be happy,” Bush sang. The song is written from the perspective of somebody who sees the couple through the window opposite. They long to be in Kashka’s apartment, to get a glimpse into his world, because there is “light in love”.
Kate Bush didn’t seem particularly aware that gay relationships weren’t widely accepted at the time – which might be why she decided to perform it live on the BBC.
In 1978, Bush appeared on the the BBC’s Ask Aspel, a chat show aimed at children and families, where she sang her ode to gay romance seemingly without any awareness that what she was doing was subversive.
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In the decades since, Bush has repeatedly challenged the status quo in her music, singing about everything from nuclear fallout to murderous brides – but for many fans, she will always be adored for the way she explores sexuality.
This is the singer that sang about the feeling of “sticky love inside” post-sex on her debut album, recorded and released when she was still just a teenager. Her most recent album, 50 Words For Snow, included a 13-minute track about an unnamed figure who has a love affair with a snowman, only to find he has melted all over the sheets the next morning.
It’s fair to say that Kate Bush isn’t exactly what you’d think of as conservative – which is probably why fans were so perplexed when she appeared to out herself as a Tory in 2016.
The world was whipped into a frenzy when she made some surprisingly kind comments about Theresa May in an interview with Canadian magazine Maclean’s, and as is often the way with the internet, Bush’s reputation was rapidly reevaluated. She wasn’t a force for change at all, some suggested – she was just a regular Tory.
Diehard fans who had spent years diligently listening to her progressive, challenging music were confused – but there was elation when she clarified three years after the event that she was not a Tory after all. She was apparently so horrified by the rumours that she couldn’t go another day without telling the world that she did not support the Conservative party.
And that’s the provocative Kate Bush queer people know and love. She is, and always has been, an artist who has refused to accept that there should be limitations on where she can take her craft next – and that’s why she is still seen as the ultimate gay icon by her swarm of fiercely loyal queer fans.