Camp as Knickers by BA Finnegan

Reprinted from out paper magazine upstart

Publisher: Mercier Press (1 Jun. 1996)

The subtitle is ‘How to camp it up and have an absolutely fabulous life’.  “Camp”  here, means being conscientiously ‘fem’, drunk, obsessed with certain television progs (AbFab for example), and the usual list of Hollywood stars.  Bette Davis, Joan Crawford, Judy (yawn) Garland.  The notion of ‘camp’ as a form of social and cultural subversion does not enter into it: John (christened “Marion”) Wayne with his limp wrist, golf-ball-between-the-arse-cheeks mincing walk, made La Davis look like Mr America.

Reading this short (95 pages) book, is a bit like watching a small, cute, dumb, animal being relentlessly bludgeoned to death.  There one, very slight joke, simply does not stand up to the cold scrutiny demanded by printed ink on paper.  This sort of thing is (probably) a gas if you are in the right frame of mind, (ten G&Ts, etc).  Honestly, asking seven quid for what amounts to one over-extended joke is a bit much.

Especially as it tends to demonstrate the fact that camp and/or ‘scene’ queens are as funny as a dose of the skitters, and that being able to lip-sync whole scenes from Whatever Happened to Baby Jane? is not an audacious off-centre ‘take’ on modern popular culture.  It’, just as sad, really, as being a “Trekkie”.  Specially if you are still at it after the age of, say, eighteen and a wee bit.

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