Queer cultural critics have spent the last month or so debating whether or not this year's Met Gala was actually camp. As it turns out, the man who practically invented camp wasn't even invited. In an interview with Vulture, legendary filmmaker John Waters was inevitably asked what he thought of Camp: Notes on Fashion, some thing he "knew" he would be questioned about.
"I wasn't invited even though I was in every article. I wasn't invited to the Comme des Garcons one either," Waters said, referring to the 2017 Gala honoring Rei Kawakubo. "But I had the best of all worlds: I didn't have to pay $40,000. I didn't have to get in an outfit that I might've felt uncomfortable in. And I'm in every article about it. I didn't have to go through all that or pay anything and got the same amount of coverage."
When Vulture pressed that it's "wild" for Waters not to be invited to a ball about camp, he responded with a question of his own: "Well, do you think Anna Wintour is that funny? She's an incredibly successful editor, but I've never heard her say anything that funny." Clearly Waters hasn't watched her 73 Questions video.
Waters also explained that "camp" is a word he hasn't spoken in 40 years. "It started as a secret gay word that only gay people understood. I had the book The Camp Followers' Guide. I stole it on 8th Street. But then, everything evolved from that. Camp was a hidden thing only a few people understood." Now, Waters added, straight people have infiltrated gay culture, making camp less of a coded queer language -- just look at the mainstream popularity of RuPaul's Drag Race.
In his new book, Mr. Know-It-All: The Tarnished Wisdom of a Filth Elder, Waters is attempting to "push a new agenda on gay people: for gay men and gay women to have oral sex together for the first time. Which I don't think anyone has ever advocated yet. So I'm trying to go beyond any of those terms -- camp, trash, or filth -- into another level of humor. But camp was always something that was so bad it was good, and didn't know it. Trump ruined that. Even camp he ruined." Maybe Marianne Williamson will help restore it.