Toronto
3 min

Camp

Where the homos are

BOYS WILL BE BOYZ. The B-Girlz (Hard Kora, Barbie-Q and Conchita) troop out the true colours of gaydom at the inaugural boy cabaret at Buddies. Credit: Paula Wilson

Camp – it’s the quintessential gay aesthetic. It’s why we howl with laughter at Siegfried And Roy or cry real tears during Whatever Happened To Baby Jane?



Hets rarely understand our sophisticated relationship to camp. (Case in point: Last year Kate Taylor, The Globe And Mail’s theatre reviewer, gave one star to Kiki And Herb, a superlative drag act from NYC, while she gave three stars to the touring production of Fame.)



In her famous 1964 essay, Notes On Camp, Susan Sontag defined camp as “glorifying and satirizing objects, people and attitudes.” From drag kings dressed up as women to the name of Toronto’s Inside Out film festival, that bifurcated perspective is evident in almost every facet of the homo community. Through some dandy dialectics, opposites like glorification and satire, sincerity and artifice become one in our hearts.



There’ll be plenty of effective affectation on-stage at Buddies In Bad Times Theatre for the upcoming Where The Boys Are. For 12 years, Buddies has presented a wildly popular lesbian cabaret called Strange Sisters. For the first time this year, the boys get their kick at the can.



Here’s how the bevy of beaus – amassed by director Marc Richard and musical director Alan Moon – define camp.



“Camp: A celebration of the gaudy, glittery, girlie side of us all, like Mel Lastman’s jewelry or Adrienne Clarkson’s idea of fashion – that’s camp.”

– Lee MacDougall; Jordan Pettle, Patrick Galligan, Peter James Howarth and Ken James give a sneak preview of the gay assignations in MacDougall’s newest play Waterdown Road, about a sexually predatory bisexual prime minister in Ottawa; MacDougall’s stage adaptation of Who Has Seen The Wind opens in Hamilton next month



“There’s an image from a Pride Day years ago that has stuck with me: A guy dressed as a construction worker – cut off denim shorts, tool belt, yellow hard hat… and the nicest pair of pumps – slightly drunk and walking not too well on his heels. It’s my touchstone.”

– Michael Rawley, who sings two songs (written by Kevin Bowers), “The Miserable Song” and “Jennifer: With Apologies To Leonard Cohen;” Rawley also performs a monologue from his upcoming play The Perfect Travelling Fag



“Valley Of The Dolls, Joan Crawford, pink lawn flamingoes; high style without apology seen and appreciated by fags, or people who wish they were.”

– Kent Staines, who performs with Lynne Cormack in Pursued, a short two-hander by Staines about a stalker who is stalked by his stalky



“Camp is the way we deal with our pain.”

– Sky Gilbert; Greg MacArthur will sing “I’m A Sad And Lonely AIDS-Infected Faggot,” a song from Hell House, Sky’s new play inspired by those nasty “haunted houses” put on by rightwing Christian teenagers in the US



“Camp is coming to terms with a hidden part of ourselves, the other – like a big masculine man putting on a dress. It’s a way of mocking society that’s got an edge, a bite.”

– Joey Miller, composer of Outrageous, Brad Fraser’s upcoming musical about female impersonator Craig Russell



“Camp: To flaunt homosexuality.”

– Greg Finnegan; Gary Krawford will perform a monologue and song from Finnegan’s play, Bobbie’s Last Number; the song is by David Walden, who accompanies on piano



“Me and Spencer under a canoe with a bottle of suntan oil and a snorkel.”

– Greg MacArthur, who reads one of his fan letters to a boy band, either the Moffats, Backstreet Boys or the Hanson Brothers



“My idea of camp is someone who has the ability to make a party where there was no party.”

– MC Ed Sahely; his improv comedy TV series Not To Be Repeated is tentatively scheduled to air in April



“Camp is the freedom to express and be expressive. It’s such a great opposition to tragedy.”

– boy wrangler and director Marc Richard



“I think camp is essentially history viewed histrionically. A heightened drama painted onto the past.”

– The B-Girlz’ Hard Kora



“I love camp! Although I never had the chance to go when I was a child in Espagne.”

– Conchita



“Camptown ladies sing this song. Doo-da. Doo-da!”

– Barbie-Q



The musical comedy drag troupe resents special drag guests for the cabaret; catch them on The Comedy Network’s Merman-off special in the spring, or get girlz 24 hours a day at www.b-girlz.com.



Where The Boys Are.

$15. 8pm.

Sat, Jan 22.

Buddies In Bad Times.

12 Alexander St.

(416) 975-8555.