RIP Little Richard, Tutti Frutti Sex Revolutionary

It was cancer, not the coronavirus, that took the life of the 87-year-old rock music pioneer known to the world as Little Richard.

But Good Golly Miss Molly, it’s still hard to lose such a blessing to our culture, especially when gifted ground-breakers like Little Richard seem to be rarer than ever.

In fact, there was nobody like Richard Wayne Penniman, the dirt-poor dishwasher who transformed himself into the self-dubbed “Architect of Rock ‘n’ Roll.” Yes, his ego was big as his towering hairdo, but he deserved that honor and many more, profoundly influencing the Beatles, the Stones, Elvis, Hendrix, Bowie, Patti Smith, Prince, MJ, everybody!

Not only did he inspire future generations of rock, Little Richard was also an erotic pioneer for the Sexual Revolution and Gay Liberation. I’m no music critic, but as a sexologist, I’d like to credit him with paving the way for many people to embrace their own not-so-straight sexuality.

He called himself “omnisexual” which is pretty much the same as “pansexual,” aka bonoboesque. In other words, he liked everybody. He was married, dated women and loved it when the ladies in his audience threw their panties at him as he performed, but he was also very much into guys. An avid cuckold, he enjoyed watching his girlfriends have sex with other men (which got him busted for “lewd conduct” in Macon, Georgia). Other times, he’d just get it on with the men himself; no girlfriend necessary.

However, Little Richard was a devout Christian whose father kicked him out of the family home for being “gay,” so he struggled with his desires for men throughout his life. He often denied or proclaimed that he’d “conquered” those feelings. Then, a few years or minutes later, he’d confess that he always was and always would be attracted to men.

Interestingly, he never seemed to struggle with what we call “crossdressing”—even making it an aspect of being a successful “crossover” musician in such segregated times. He later opined that his effeminate manner made him seem less of a threat to insecure white men who gave him easier access to “whites only” venues.

Little Richard was the King and the Queen of Rock ‘n’ Roll. His style was aggressively feminine: the bouffant pompadour, pancake makeup, mascara, powder like his beautiful mother used, lots of glitter and flamboyant fashions during a very grey-flannel-suited time when flamboyance was not “in” for any man but Liberace. Indeed, this was years before Ziggy Stardust touched Earth and decades before Sir Elton donned his sequin shades or RuPaul’s Drag Race was even warming up.

Then there was Little Richard’s first major hit, “Tutti Frutti.” Sounds sweet as candy, but what is it?

When I first heard the song, I felt he was singing about me, “Got a gal named Sue / She knows just what to do.”

Though I had no clue what to do.

A-wop-bop, a-loo-mop, a-lop-bam-boom” was, apparently, the answer, but what was that?

Years later, I learned the true meaning of the mysteriously tasty Tutti Frutti: anal sex.

The original lyrics he couldn’t record in-studio were “Tutti Frutti, good booty / If it’s tight, it’s all right / If it don’t fit, don’t force it / You can grease it, make it easy…”

So Little Richard was a sex educator too, teaching us how to make sweet backdoor love without force and with a lot of lube.

He wasn’t shy about the centrality of his libido, though he usually framed it with a disarming rhyme. When asked about rockabilly music, Little Richard didn’t miss a beat, “I don’t know about rockabilly, but I been rockin’ willy for years.”

Last but not at all least, Little Richard was a great integrator, bringing black and white people together from their strictly segregated sections of the club, sock hop or concert hall and into the aisles to dance. It was revolutionary, it was very bonobo and it’s the type of revolution we as a society need again and again and right now.

We love you, Little Richard, and we are grateful for all you have done for our sexuality, our culture and to heal the wounds of our bigotry.

Go get that Tutti Frutti Booty in Rock ‘n’ Roll Heaven, Baby!

© May 9, 2020.

More articles by:

Susan Block, Ph.D., a.k.a. “Dr. Suzy,” is a world renowned LA sex therapist, author of The Bonobo Way: The Evolution of Peace through Pleasure and horny housewife, occasionally seen on HBO and other channels. For information and speaking engagements, call 626-461-5950. Email her at drsusanblock@gmail.com  

August 11, 2020
Richard D. Wolff
Why Capitalism is in Constant Conflict With Democracy
Paul Street
Defund Fascism, Blue and Orange
Richard C. Gross
Americans Scorned
Andrew Levine
Trump and Biden, Two Ignoble Minds Here O’erthrown
Patrick Cockburn
The Rise of Nationalism Has Led to the Increased Repression of Minorities
Sonali Kolhatkar
Trump’s Presidency is a Death Cult
Colin Todhunter
Pushing GMO Crops into India: Experts Debunk High-Level Claims of Bt Cotton Success
Valerie Croft
How Indigenous Peoples are Using Ancestral Organizing Practices to Fight Mining Corporations and Covid-19
David Rovics
Tear Gas Ted Has a Tantrum in Portland
Dean Baker
There is No Evidence That Generous Unemployment Benefits are Making It Difficult to Find Workers
Robert Fantina
War on Truth: How Kashmir Struggles for Freedom of Press
Dave Lindorff
Trump Launches Attack on Social Security and Medicare
Elizabeth Schmidt
COVID-19 Poses a Huge Threat to Stability in Africa
Parth M.N.
Coping With a Deadly Virus, a Social One, Too
Thomas Knapp
The “Election Interference” Fearmongers Think You’re Stupid
Binoy Kampmark
Mealy-Mouthed Universities: Academic Freedom and the Pavlou Problem Down Under
Alex Lawson
34 Attorneys General Call to Bust Gilead’s Pharma Monopoly on COVID Treatment Remdesivir
August 10, 2020
Gerald Sussman
Biden’s Ukrainegate Problem
Vijay Prashad – Érika Ortega Sanoja
How the U.S. Failed at Its Foreign Policy Toward Venezuela
Daniel Warner
Geneva: The Home of Lost Causes
Mike Hastie
The Police Force Stampede in Portland on August 8, 2020 
Jack Rasmus
Trump’s Executive Orders: EOs as PR and FUs
Rev. William Alberts
Cognitive Without Conscience
David Altheide
Politicizing Fear Through the News Media
F. Douglas Stephenson
Is Big Pharma More Interested in Profiteering Than Protecting Us From Coronavirus?
Evaggelos Vallianatos
The Money Plague
Howard Lisnoff
Revolutionaries Living in a System of Growing Fascism
Ralph Nader
Donald Trump is Defeating Himself
Lynnette Grey Bull
The Murdered and Missing Indigenous Women Human Rights Emergency is Not a Photo-Op for Ivanka Trump
Victor Grossman
Some Come, Others Go
Binoy Kampmark
Death From the Sky: Hiroshima and Normalised Atrocities
The Stop Golden Rice Network
Why We Oppose Golden Rice
Michael D. Knox
After Nagasaki, the U.S. Did Not Choose Peace
Elliot Sperber
A Tomos 
Weekend Edition
August 07, 2020
Friday - Sunday
John Davis
The COVID Interregnum
Louis Yako
20 Postcard Notes From Iraq: With Love in the Age of COVID-19
Patrick Cockburn
War and Pandemic Journalism: the Truth Can Disappear Fast
Eve Ottenberg
Fixing the COVID Numbers
Jeffrey St. Clair
Roaming Charges: Every Which Way to Lose
Paul Street
Trump is Not Conceding: This is Happening Here
Robert Hunziker
The World on Fire
Rob Urie
Neoliberal Centrists and the American Left
John Laforge
USAF Vet Could Face ‘20 Days for 20 Bombs’ for Protest Against US H-Bombs Stationed in Germany
Andrew Levine
Clyburn’s Complaint
Kavaljit Singh
Revisiting the Idea of Pigou Wealth Tax in the Time of Covid-19