I think she was fully conscious of – and took great pride and pleasure in – the erotic spell she exerted over other women. I would be curious to know how men found her in this regard; the few times I saw her with men around, they seemed to relate to her as a kind of intellectually supercharged eunuch. The famed ‘Natalie Wood’ looks of her early years notwithstanding, she seemed uninterested in being an object of heterosexual desire, and males responded accordingly. It was not the same with women – and least of all with her lesbian fans. Among the susceptible, she never lost her sexual majesty. She was quite fabulously butch – perhaps the Butchest One of All. She knew it and basked in it, like a big lady she-cat in the sun.
His appeal to homosexuals, especially those who enjoyed the passive role, was even stronger; he seemed a small, fierce, thrusting tiger of virility. Picasso himself was overwhelmingly heterosexual by inclination. But in the culture from which he sprang there was no disgrace to his manhood in taking the active role to satisfy a needy “queen,” to use his expression.
Thanks, Paul, that really made my day. But it does explain a certain amount about the history of art in the 20th Century.
Unfortunately, Sontag didn't have much to say of enduring interest, as Mr. Kirsch's many thousands of words of explication inadvertently demonstrate.