When you hear the word camp, what are the first things that pop into your head? Long sunny days, summer romances, or being away from home, are a few things that the average kid/adult might come up with. However, when I come across the word ‘camp,’ the image of a 6-foot tall man dressed head-to-toe in women’s clothing with a pretty deep voice is the first thing I think of. I might have not gone to summer camp as a child, but I sure as hell do know what camp is.
Camp is a certain style of performance that has been around for ages, from films that date way back in the early 1900s. A prime example of this over the top and flashy enterainment would be the Lady in the Tutti Frutti Hat from the film ‘The Gang’s All Here” The clip shows a musical performance with giant props and lavish costumes set to entertain the viewer in this fantasyland.
(Bear with me for a minute, cause I’m about to drop some knowledge)
The actual word camp is a French term, se camper (who knew?), which means, “to pose in an exaggerated fashion” (holla at wikipedia). In other words, drag queens that consider themselves camp are the ones that are usually are poking fun at themselves with their styling, outfits, and personalities/personas. Camp queens are usually not the ones that are trying their hardest to pass as a woman, that isn’t their goal. They want to go beyond that, they want to entertain you, make you laugh. They know that they aren’t a fishy queen or a queen wrapped up in fashion. They are performers, whether it is singing, acting, or sometimes a mixture of both or none at all. Their goal is to keep you on the edge of your seat in awe, amusement, and hilarity.
Most of the times campy queens are misunderstood by other types of drag queens.
The main conflict between the subgroups, usually between the pageant or fashion forward queens, is that they don’t ‘get’ or ‘understand’ the camp queens. The look is very important to the pageant queens, their goals are to be fishy and passable as a woman and when that is not a requirement for any other queen, honestly, they turn into a group of catty bitches. There are many different forms of drag and it is unfortunate that sometimes the different subgroups tend to put each other down. Not to get all preachy on your asses, but I think that bullying between the groups is bullshit. I’m all for the cattiness and the portrayal of bitches, but there is a difference between reading someone and tearing them down for being different. With Ru realizing this, I’m glad to see her trying to bring the two different types of drag by creating different challenges that showcases the different strengths of each type of queen. A prime example of the riff between the two types of queens can be seen in the first episode of RuPaul’s Drag Race: All Stars. MiMi Imfurst and Pandora Boxx, mainly MiMi, was hounded for even being on the show be she wasn’t ‘worthy’ of being an All Star, and the other queens rallied to bring her down. Granted MiMi isn’t one of my favorite queens but the way she was treated crossed the line at times. You can get a RuCap from my friend over at Fish of the Day or you can watch the full episode, again of course, here.
I know that this post seems to be more serious than my other ones and it’s meant to be. As much as I love to be a bitch, I know where the line is. With this big epidemic of children being bullied in our country, I didn’t want to add to that hate and negativity. I didn’t want it to seem that I was glorify bullying. To reiterate, there is nothing wrong with being opinionated or being able to read another queen. Its just you know when something is being done out of fun where everyone is involved or when something is malicious. So the next time you wanna read someone, take a second and think about where the initial source of the read is coming from.