Cover

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Title Page, Copyright Page

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pp. i-iv

Contents

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pp. v-vi

Acknowledgments

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pp. vii-viii

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Introduction

Christopher Moore and Philip Purvis

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pp. ix-xvi

Ever since the word “camp” sashayed into the lexicon of aesthetic parlance in the early 1960s, music has tended to linger in the wings of discussions about this notoriously hard-to-define and ever-evolving concept. Early advocates of the term, Christopher Isherwood and Susan Sontag both included references to music in their pioneering descriptions of camp without, however, proposing any kind of rationale for what was so camp about it. Isherwood, in a charming fictitious dialogue, has his protagonist pronounce somewhat extravagant...

Part One: The Saccharine and the Sacred

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pp. 1-2

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1. On Fairies (and Mothers): Beatrice Lillie Sings

Mitchell Morris

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pp. 3-15

On February 3, 1952, the popular television host Ed Sullivan presented a special episode of his weekly CBS variety show Toast of the Town (The Ed Sullivan Show). Entitled “The Beatrice Lillie Story” (season 5, episode 22), the program that night was an hour’s homage to the Canadian-born actress and singer, proclaimed by Sullivan to be “the number one comedienne of international stage.” In its structure the show was straightforward enough: a rose-tinted, flashback-filled biography followed by a series of Lillie’s most famous comedy sketches and...

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2. The Uses of Extravagance in the Hollywood Musical

Lloyd Whitesell

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pp. 16-30

In a recent book on gay culture, David Halperin warns: “Theoretical debates have raged over what exactly camp is and how it should be defined . . . [and] there are good reasons to avoid becoming entangled in these larger debates.”1 The difficulties include pinning down traits of a practice whose manifestations depend so acutely on local context, distinguishing between camp artistic production and the camp reception of straight culture, and recognizing queer inflections in a discourse motivated and compromised by the need for camouflage. Rather than...

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3. Musical Camp: Conrad Salinger and the Performance of Gayness in The Pirate

Stephen Pysnik

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pp. 31-48

In between two takes during the prerecording session of “The Jitterbug”—a number that was ultimately cut from The Wizard of Oz (Victor Fleming et al., 1939)—one can hear a voice speak quietly into a recording microphone: “Against the allegations that I am a fairy: I am NOT a fairy.”1 The voice is that of Conrad Salinger (1901–1962), the number’s musical arranger and orchestrator and a relative newcomer from New York and Broadway.2 Salinger’s apparent desire to defend himself bespeaks his vulnerable position as a gay man, and the purposeful act of recording his statement with the resultant assurance that others...

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4. The Camp Sincerity of Christmas Carols

Ivan Raykoff

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pp. 49-72

One distinguishing characteristic of the December holiday season is its voluminous repertoire of Christmas music ranging from traditional hymns such as “Joy to the World” and “Hark! The Herald Angels Sing” to familiar carols such as “Silent Night,” “O Holy Night,” “The First Noël,” and “Angels We Have Heard on High,” not to mention twentieth-century popular songs such as Irving Berlin’s “White Christmas.”1 (Bing Crosby’s recordings of this song have given it the distinction of being the best-selling single of all time.)2 These Christmas tunes...

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5. Camping the Sacred: Homosexuality and Religion in the Works of Poulenc and Bernstein

Christopher Moore

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pp. 73-92

The last act of Francis Poulenc’s 1957 opera Dialogues des Carmélites famously concludes with a mass execution. Sixteen Carmélite nuns, arrested and condemned to death by an eighteenth-century French revolutionary tribunal, submit, one by one, to the blade of the guillotine while singing a full-throated rendering of the Salve Regina. The second-last to be decapitated, Constance, spots in the crowd her friend Blanche, who had fled the Carmel when the nuns (in act 2) chose to take a vow of martyrdom. When Constance is killed, Blanche, out of...

Part Two: Flaming Lips and Flaming Hips

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pp. 93-94

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6. Watch My Lips: The Limits of Camp in Lip-Syncing Scenes

Freya Jarman

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pp. 95-117

The problem of how lips move with the words they say or sing has been one for cinema from the moment any attempts were made to synchronize the two. Most iconically, Singin’ in the Rain (dir. Donen and Kelly, 1952) theatricalizes the issue of what to do when a voice is not as glamorous as the body of the silent screen star. In musical films more generally, it has always been common for actors to have their voices supplied by singers. Somewhat ironically, Singin’ in the Rain supplies the example again: Debbie Reynolds, playing the singer who dubs Jean...

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7. Camping Out: Queer Communities and Public Sing-Alongs

Sam Baltimore

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pp. 118-136

In Place for Us, D. A. Miller carefully dissects every minute interaction that takes place in a New York gay piano bar when a man or several rise to sing a favorite show tune. His account, relentlessly personal and uncomfortably intimate, delights in moving among the various registers of meaning that are contained in the participatory experience, lingering longest on the use of participation to describe a community’s members. Miller begins with the supporting rituals that surround musical participation, the cigarettes and cocktails, sumptuous clothing,...

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8. “The Booty Don’t Lie” and Other Camp Truths in the Performances of Janelle Monáe

Francesca T. Royster

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pp. 137-156

In Susan Sontag’s landmark essay “Notes on ‘Camp’” (1964), she insists that camp as a sensibility is necessarily distanced, disengaged, and nonpolitical, even as it has become a tool of creativity for marginalized gay cultures.1 More recently, filmmaker and writer Bruce LaBruce has provided a rebuttal to Sontag, suggesting that “Camp was always a kind of signifying practice invented out of necessity (both for survival and for sheer pleasure) by ‘queer’ (in the classic sense) outsiders—fags, drag queens, transsexuals, deviants, sexual renegades—and that it was always by its very nature deeply politically committed.”2 Indeed, Christopher...

Part Three: Gender and Genitals

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pp. 157-158

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9. Strauss as the Pervert? Gendered Subjectivity, Ambiguous Meaning

Peter Franklin

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pp. 159-180

Can high-culture aesthetic talk about artistic purity, ineffability, and spirituality be a cover for something else? Might it be a cultural-political strategy to conceal a more complex and vulnerable truth about artistic aims and meanings? To clarify and demonstrate how this hypothesis might work, I propose to address the representation of explicitly attractive young men in earlier musical-theatrical works by Richard Strauss, utilizing the concept of camp in an unfamiliar historical context. Celebrations of male beauty in Strauss have not, to my knowledge,...

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10. Poulenc’s (Sub)urban Camp: L’Embarquement pour Cythère

Philip Purvis

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pp. 181-199

Ordinarily, the countryside and the suburbs are places from which gay people want to escape. They are places of conformity with limited opportunities for sex and are perhaps even sites of danger. The Adventures of Priscilla, Queen of the Desert (1994) is a popular example of this phenomenon; the film is structured around the idea that gay people are “out of place” in the Australian outback. Of course, these things aren’t always so clear-cut. Being away from the city also provides an opportunity to escape from heterosexual social expectations. The gay pastoral idyll—albeit imagined through urban eyes—has an important...

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11. The Straight Bookends to Camp’s Gay Golden Age: From Gilbert and Sullivan to Roger Vadim and Mel Brooks

Raymond Knapp

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pp. 200-219

Camp is most often understood as a mode of reception particular to gay men. But this understanding applies mainly to a sensibility that took form in the early decades of the twentieth century and lasted until camp was “outed” by Susan Sontag in “Notes on ‘Camp’” (1964), after which camp, qua camp, became increasingly mainstreamed.1 Moreover, emergent camp sensibilities, especially high camp sensibilities, were based in part on preexisting theatrical tastes. Thus, a significant mainstream prehistory for camp may be found in nineteenth-century...

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12. The Dark Side of Camp: Making Sense of Violence against Men in Christina Aguilera’s “Your Body”

Marc Lafrance and Lori Burns

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pp. 220-240

In her video for the hit single “Your Body” (2012), Christina Aguilera is represented as a ruthless femme fatale who murders her lovers in cold blood. Beginning with the warning that “no men were harmed in the making of this video,” the clip shows Aguilera on a carnivalesque killing spree as she lives out a vivid and often vicious road trip fantasy. Set in an unmistakably American landscape of lowbrow consumer culture and trailer park chic, the fantasy begins with Aguilera hitchhiking by the side of a road, having sex with the first man who picks...

Bibliography

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pp. 241-252

About the Contributors

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pp. 253-256

Index

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pp. 257-272