Friday, 22 October 2010

The Museum of Camp

One of my great hobbies is a love of all things camp - and by that we don't mean bitchy, anorexic trolly-dollies getting off their tits at the "Lady GaGa 2-for-1 drinks offer" at G.A.Y Bar in Compton Street.

I mean real, genuine Camp. Susan Sontag in her famous (infamous?) Notes on Camp tries to define the concept thus:
"...there are other creative sensibilities besides the seriousness (both tragic and comic) of high culture and of the high style of evaluating people. And one cheats oneself, as a human being, if one has respect only for the style of high culture, whatever else one may do or feel on the sly.

"Camp is the consistently aesthetic experience of the world. It incarnates a victory of "style" over "content," "aesthetics" over "morality," of irony over tragedy...even though homosexuals have been its vanguard, Camp taste is much more than homosexual taste. Obviously, its metaphor of life as theatre is peculiarly suited as a justification and projection of a certain aspect of the situation of homosexuals.

"Camp taste is, above all, a mode of enjoyment, of appreciation - not judgement. Camp is generous. It wants to enjoy. It only seems like malice, cynicism. (Or, if it is cynicism, it's not a ruthless but a sweet cynicism.) Camp taste doesn't propose that it is in bad taste to be serious; it doesn't sneer at someone who succeeds in being seriously dramatic. What it does is to find the success in certain passionate failures. The ultimate Camp statement: it's good because it's awful!"
Here at Dolores Delargo Towers we do indeed aspire to a "consistent aesthetic experience", and we appreciate knowing what makes such disparate things as the Ethel Merman Disco Album, Lalique glass bowls decorated with budgerigars, Joan Collins's acting career, Bollywood musicals, Christopher Isherwood's 'Berlin Stories' and Klaus Nomi all fall into the Camp genre.

So I have begun a long-cherished project - to start to sort into some semblance of order all the various articles, pictures, links and other ephemera we hold on the PC, on CD and on our bookshelves. I call it our "Museum of Camp". And what an exercise it is turning out to be!

As I continue the task, I felt it appropriate to share some of the little joys that quite clearly are destined to enter the hallowed halls of the Museum...

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