Thursday, 16 May 2019

Too Much of a Good Thing Is Wonderful

“Why don't I just step out and slip into something more spectacular?”

“I had to dare a little bit. Who am I kidding - I had to dare a lot. Dont wear one ring, wear five or six. People ask how I can play with all those rings, and I reply, Very well, thank you.”

“I don't give concerts, I put on a show.”

“Nobody will believe in you unless you believe in yourself.”

Darlings! We have a centenary to celebrate - and a very important one indeed, to those of us who are aficionados of, and do not struggle to find a definition of, CAMP.

The living embodiment of "the lie that tells the truth", Mr Władziu Valentino Liberace was born/crafted/fabricated one hundred years ago in the backwoods of Wisconsin to an unassuming Italian-Polish family. His talent as a pianist was clear as a child, but these skills were far eclipsed by the time young Lee discovered the dressing-up box!

And the rest, of course, is history...

The ultimate "WTF" moment

Despite the charade of his denial of his sexuality, the man created his own legend and fortune out of sequins, marabou and oleaginous charm. He worked hard to earn his nickname "Mr Showmanship". For decades he flicked a diamond-encrusted finger at critics, self-proclaimed "moral guardians" and the media - and for all that and more, we salute him...

Nobody did it better.

The Liberace Foundation website.

Tuesday, 7 May 2019

Yes - but is it CAMP?

And so, the annual fundraiser fashion parade that is the Metropolitan Museum of Art (Met) Gala chose as its theme Camp: Notes on Fashion this year?! This deserves closer examination, methinks...

Is a cynical attempt by anodyne individuals to appear "over-the-top" really camp? Is a parade of privileged people wearing unaffordable-to-the-masses designer-label clothing really camp?

Some of the outfits certainly fitted the bill of "inversion of taste", to which Miss Susan Sontag referred in her Notes on Camp [which was the "set text" for the Gala's participants] - Michael Urie's 1920s-style half-and-half drag pastiche being one such example: was Janelle Monae's surrealist number:

However this "inversion" - as argued by Katrin Horn in her book Women, Camp, and Popular Culture: Serious Excess - was historically conducted with a more meaningful intent:
"At its core, camp is defined as a parodic device that uses irony, exaggeration, theatricality, incongruity and humour to question the pretext's status as 'original' or 'natural'...[it is] the inversion of taste in favour of the neglected, the other, the marginalised. From this playful shift in aesthetic judgements camp derives its broader potential 'as a way of making cultural, social and sexual critique under the guise of harmless humour'...the inversion of insider and outsider by way of recoding 'who's in on the joke'."
So was there actually a "joke" to be "in on" demonstrated at the Met?

I suppose one could point to theatre owner Jordan Roth arriving on the catwalk as...a theatre:

...or "gangsta-rapper" Cardi B - who made her name with records about deprived urban street life and gang fights - wearing a frock that apparently took more than 2,000 hours to create and needed a team of five men to lift the train:

It would appear, however, that it was another of Ms Sontag's definitions of camp - “the sensibility of failed seriousness, of the theatricalization of experience” - which proved the most widely popular of themes, as ably demonstrated by Mr Billy Porter:

...and RuPaul:

One of the main tenets, however, that truly "defines" camp - if any such "definition" were so readily agreed upon - is irony. Thus, in its truest sense, if anything summed up the most camp occurrence of the entire occasion it was not Gaga showing-off with a triple-layer frock and an entourage of performers, it was not rich heterosexual males thinking they could get away with looking a "bit sissy" for an evening, nor was it the cavalcade of voluptuous and vacuous starlets squeezing themselves into lurid-yet-flattering frou-frou gowns.

No! The campest moment was Dame Joan Collins, turning up as herself portraying her most famous [and ultimately most camp] on-screen character Alexis Morell Carrington Colby Dexter Rowan...

Now that, laydeez'n'genlmen, is how it is done.

Wednesday, 1 May 2019

Erected poles

Hip hip hooray!
The first of May
Outdoor sex begins today!

Happy May Day!

From Streetswing dance site:
Originally the Maypole represented a phallic symbol or a Pagan symbol of Fertility celebrating sexuality and life to the 'Horned God' which was decorated mostly with flowers and wild garlands (still used by wiccans and witchcraft). The Horned God image is similar to the Greek/Roman Pan, he is a symbol of fertility and the life for the forest, including the hunt, which supplied ancients with their livelihood. Later moving away from Pagan worship it was revived, changed and became Roman in origin, who used it in some ceremonies connected with the worship of Maia, the mother of Mercury, and the presiding goddess of that month. For many centuries it was the chief dance of rustic England. The ancient Britons erected Maypoles even before Claudius and the Roman invasion (AD 43) and adorned them with flowers.

I think I prefer Beltane, myself.

Friday, 12 April 2019

This weekend, I am mostly dressing casual... today's birthday girl, the lovely coloratura soprano Lily Pons!

Facts about Lily:
  • Born in Cannes, France, she began her long career playing the piano and singing for soldiers during WW1, before taking formal training as an opera singer.
  • Between her engagement with the company in 1931 and her retirement in 1960, Mlle Pons was one of the New York Metropolitan Opera's most enduring sopranos, performing there more than 300 times.
  • She was widely used in advertising, becoming the "face" for Lockheed airplanes, Knox gelatin and Libby’s tomato juice.
  • For a while (until it became too much to handle) she had a pet ocelot.
  • In 1955 Mlle Pons topped the bill for the first broadcast of the long-running TV series Sunday Night at the London Palladium.
  • She was awarded the Croix de Lorraine and the Légion d’honneur by the Government of France.
And here is the lady herself with one of her favourite roles (she performed in this opera 96 times!)...


Wednesday, 3 April 2019

Expert put-downs, the Kappelhoff way

It's Doris Day again! All hail...

Many happy returns, Miss Doris Mary Ann Kappelhoff (born 3rd April 1922) - she's 97, you know?!

Wednesday, 27 March 2019

Sic Transit Gloria

Art Deco and Miss Swanson. Made for each other.

Gloria Swanson (born Gloria May Josephine Svensson, 27th March 1899 – 4th April 1983)

Tuesday, 26 March 2019

Sparkle, Honey!'s Miss Ross's 75th birthday today. All hail!

Diana Ernestine Earle Ross (born 26th March 1944)

Friday, 22 March 2019