When queer nightclub star Zeki Müren died in 1996, the nation mourned and commentators and fans contemplated a complex legacy. In the years immediately following his death, old recordings and films slowly materialized and broader stretches came into view of a remarkable career, until then largely remembered in terms of the kitsch and camp of his later years. A consistent theme emerged: Zeki Müren as “model citizen.” This chapter explores that characterization and its entanglement with issues of cultural intimacy. Three elements are at play in the nostalgic popular identification of Müren as a kind of model citizen. First, Müren drew on the regional (and Egypt-dominated) circulation of sentimental films and musical styles identified with revolutionary politics. Second, arguments about Müren's queerness—or denials of it—constituted a way of talking about other kinds of identities and the relationship between identities and citizenship in the 1990s. Finally, Zeki Müren nostalgia also functions as a palliative to the broad condition of cynicism that prevailed after the Susurluk car crash of 4 November 1996.
Keywords: nightclub star; Zeki Müren; model citizen; cultural intimacy; identities; citizenship; queerness
Chapter. 16631 words. Illustrated.
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