CAMP STYLE: introduction

Camp is an aesthetic in which something has appeal because of its bad taste or ironic value. When the term first appeared in 1909, it was used to refer to ostentatious, exaggerated, affected, theatrical, effeminate or homosexual behaviour. By the mid-1970s, the term was defined as “banality, artifice, mediocrity, or ostentation so extreme as to have perversely sophisticated appeal.”American writer Susan Sontag’s 1964 essay “Notes on ‘Camp'” emphasised artifice, frivolity, naïve middle-class pretentiousness and shocking excess as key elements.

 

Celebrities with camp personas include David Bowie, John Waters, Elvira, Pee-wee Herman, Elton John, Freddie Mercury, Richard Simmons, Dame Edna, Divine (Glen Milstead), RuPaul, Boy George, and Liberace.

 

“Camp” forms a strong element in UK culture, and many so-called gay-icons and objects are chosen as such because they are camp. People like Kylie Minogue, John Inman, Lawrence Llewelyn Bowen, Lulu, Graham Norton, Lesley Joseph, Ruby Wax, Dale Winton, Cilla Black, Rick Astley, Madonna, and many others…

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