‘I Love You, Paul!’ Adolescent Sexuality and Finnish Female Fandom at the Turn of the 1950s and 1960s

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In Finland, popular music fandom developed into a large-scale youth cultural phenomenon at the turn of the 1950s and 1960s. From the start, the most eye-catching feature of Finnish fandom was its femininity: the fan communities of the most popular teen idols like Elvis Presley, Paul Anka and Finnish singer Lasse Liemola consisted almost without exception of adolescent females. This has naturally raised many questions and surmises about the role of sexuality in the fan cultures of the era. In my paper I discuss this theme by studying the different ways in which sexuality was expressed by fans in fan letters, concerts and the popular media of the late 1950s and early 1960s. Furthermore, I will discuss the multiple and varying meanings of adolescent female sexuality as a part of fandom. In this discussion I lean on the earlier and in part contradictory interpretations of scholars like John Fiske, Barbara Ehrenreich and Janice A. Radway on the subject, studying the validity of these interpretations in the context of early Finnish female fandom.

Janne Poikolainen, University of Helsinki, Finland