Interview: Virginia Postrel on The Power of Glamour


Whenever Jimmy Page is interviewed about how he produced Led Zeppelin’s albums in the 1970s, he’s inevitably asked about the huge booming drum sounds he recorded. And he always tells the interviewer that he created that sound by moving the studio microphones away from the drum kit rather than having the mics right on top of the instruments as was the accepted practice at the time, and that it’s a recording studio axiom that “distance makes depth.”

One of the leitmotifs in Virginia Postrel’s gorgeous new book is that distance plays quite a role in creating glamour as well. In The Power of Glamour, the former Reason editor, who now writes for, notes that glamour hides the flaws of its subject, hides the difficulties in creating the photographs that give them such atmosphere. And that glamour can be a powerful tool for selling products and ideas as disparate as fashion, movies, politics, the future, and even negative subjects such as war and terrorism.

See also: the ubiquitous image of terrorist and mass murder Che Guevara, the crafting of which Virginia discusses in The Power of Glamour, along with the distance between Barack Obama, cool, distant, glamorous and exotic presidential candidate in 2008, and the bumbling wannabe technocrat of 2013.

During our 20 minute interview, we’ll explore:

● The source and meaning of The Power of Glamour’s iconic cover photograph.

● How does glamour focus its audience’s inchoate longing for transformation?

● What is the difference between glamour and charisma?

● Why does the future, particularly the technological future, seem both glamorous and terrifying?

● In the 21st century, is the role of glamour diminishing, or changing into new forms?

And much more. Click here to listen:

(20 minutes and 19 seconds long; 18.6 MB file size. Want to download instead of streaming? Right click here to download this interview to your hard drive. Or right click here to download the 5.81 MB lo-fi edition.)

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Transcript of our interview begins on the following page; for our many previous podcasts, start here and keep scrolling.