Friday, November 23, 2012

Shameless Saturday Camp Explosion: La Lupe!

"Camp is the glorification of 'character'... Character is understood as a state of continual incandescence - a person being one, very intense thing."
- Susan Sontag, "Notes on Camp"
In "Notes on Camp," Sontag includes a brief list of things that were, at the time she wrote the piece (1964) "part of the canon of Camp."  Most of them still ring true today (Tiffany lamps, Aubrey Beardsley drawings, Thombeau's beloved Scopitones), although perhaps fewer people are enamored now of Max Beerbohm's Zuleika Dobson, and her final entry, "stag movies seen without lust" has gone from Camp to more or less a definition of contemporary popular culture.
Rereading "Notes on Camp," one entry stood out: "The Cuban pop singer La Lupe."  I didn't know her; I had to investigate.
Sontag was right: she is the very definition of "continual indancescence," a sort of half-crazed combination of Celia Cruz (herself no stranger to afficionados of Camp) and Janis Joplin.  We see her here on an early '60s Puerto Rican talk show; those curious to see her on a more mainstream stage might be interested in her appearance on The Dick Cavett Show.  He speaks, retrospectively, of her having a kind of "pleasant menacing quality...a quality that's essential for most drama."  Suffice it to say that he ends the segment half-dressed; she would seem to have had that effect on people.

1 comment:

  1. True story: I walked into HMV Records in Oxford Street a few years ago, heard something delightful playing, shot straight to the counter to ask what it was - and it was La Lupe. Of course, I immediately had to buy it, and have adored her ever since...

    Thank you for brightening a grey Saturday!Jx