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July 02, 2003

Free Reads -- Gaydar, Camp, LBD and More

Friedrich --

I noticed the comment where you mentioned that you're puzzled by camp (as in gay-humor camp, not summer camp), and I was thinking -- in an enthusiastic but wary-of-too-much-effort kind of way -- of doing a posting on the subject. I'm a clueless het from the sticks, but I've spent more time than most such living it up in the Village and hanging out with gay friends. Why not capitalize on that a bit? Hmmm, let's see: "The Big Lunk's Guide to Camp." Or maybe: "Some Straight-Guy Notes on Camp."

I had a general direction for the posting to go. Start with camp being an underground thing, and bring it right up to the present, with nearly all of pop culture being suffused with camp, so much so that most people probably don't recognize it as such .... (The girly/tough look of the "Charlie's Angels" sequel -- hyperbright, candycolored, videogamey -- seems to me to come straight out of David LaChapelle.) I was even mapping out some "questions" and "issues" to poke and tickle: Why was camp so much more fun when it was underground? Are out-of-the-closet gays happier but less brilliant? Do straights know how much in the way of camp they're being fed? How would they react if they did? Might the pre-eminence of gays in pop culture have something to do with the cluelessness about how-to-be-a-man that I see in many young straight guys these days?

And then, thanks to Daze Reader (here), I ran across an issue of The Stranger devoted to contempo gay life, here. Not bad! Don't miss Edmund White (here), who says everything I was hoping to say with much more authority and wit than I could ever manage, or Dani Cone (here) on the question of Lesbian Bed Death: Real or Not?, or Andrew Sullivan (here) on how annoying it is that people automatically assume that gay equals Democrat. Many other funny, smart and informative pieces -- a damn fine issue, really.

I love it when other people do what I was hoping to do, and especially when they do it so much better than I could have. As one of my campier gay friends likes to say: Less work for Mother.



posted by Michael at July 2, 2003


Unable to be sane. Long ago driven mad by the fact that Susan Sontag came up with the idea that camp was a recent, very gay, invention, and got away with it despite extraordinary evidence to the contrary.

In 80s gay-speak (which is, like some much of homo ergot, from black women and high school girls), the subject works my last nerve.

Must read Thackeray until this passes. Better than looking up the OED entry on arch. But perhaps I should write a definitive monograph explaining how the convergence of post cold-war fears, a robust economy, and SNL created “silliness for adults.”

Posted by: j.c. on July 3, 2003 8:13 PM

Do it, girlfriend, and let me know when it's available. Sounds like a corker of a theory to me. And anything that lays into Sontag is OK with me.

I guess I've been assuming that J.C. would be the kind of gal who has an interesting and possibly involved relationship with camp. Am I wrong? Right?

Posted by: Michael Blowhard on July 5, 2003 10:57 AM

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