Saturday, August 10, 2013

Shameless Saturday Camp Explosion: Oh, Lord

In naïve, or pure, Camp, the essential element is seriousness, a seriousness that fails.
- Susan Sontag, "Notes on Camp"

Well here's a curiosity.

It would seem that for a while in the 1950s, for reasons lost to history, the unlikely quartet of band singers Connie Haines and Beryl Davis and screen temptresses Rhonda Fleming and Jane Russell came together to warble in an evangelizing sort of way as an ensemble called variously The Hollywood Christian Group and/or The Four Girls.

Here we see them run through a vigorous medley of gospel favorites in a veritable maelstrom of nipped waists, ample frontage, and what seems like a liberal dose of Librium - they're like the Lennon Sisters, with bigger tits, decked out in what are almost certainly the most determinedly demure frocks this side of Now, Voyager's first half.  It's a disconcerting thing to watch Miss Russell apply essentially the same techniques she used to ensnare the men's Olympic team in Gentlemen Prefer Blondes to a song like "Do, Lord," don't you think?  And how did I possibly miss this apparently substantial part of the careers of all these ladies? They recorded (you can pick up an album here, if so inclined) and were touring together as late as 1968, so this wasn't just some passing fancy.

Today, alas, only one of these unlikely church ladies survive - and it's her birthday.  Many happy returns to that ruby-haired siren of sacred song, Miss Rhonda Fleming, who turns 90 today.  Let's hope that she still, after all these years, has the joy, joy, joy, joy down in her heart (or, per their choreographer, her left shoulder).


  1. When Miss Russell joined the Broadway company of COMPANY in the role of Joanne, she refused to sing "...and Jesus Christ, was it fun." Mr. Sondheim accommodated her sincerely held religious convictions and rewrote the line to "... and boy, oh boy, was it fun."!B3pft)w!mk~$(KGrHqF,!jcEybj7ZrbiBMm-b!nre!~~_3.JPG

  2. "Gimme oil in my lamp," Baby.

    I think it's all about those ladylike gloves.