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Literature / The Man from C.A.M.P.

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One of the first gay pulp fiction series, an Affectionate Parody of James Bond and The Man from U.N.C.L.E. written by Victor J. Banis under the pseudonym of Don Holliday, shortly before Stonewall.

Jackie Holmes is a swishy, wealthy gay man living in California in the mid-1960s. He is also a vintage car mechanic, an expert on diamonds, an expert marksman, a martial arts master, and a spy. Specifically, he's employed full-time by a clandestine organization known as C.A.M.P., dedicated to the protection and advancement of homosexuals everywhere. With the help of his burly assistant Rich and whatever poor sorry straight INTERPOL stuck him with, Jackie foils thieves and crime rings, flounces around and is generally fabulous, and always manages to seduce his partner in the end.

Works in the series include:

  • The Man from C.A.M.P. (1966)
  • Color Him Gay (1966)
  • The Watercress File (1966)
  • The Son Goes Down (1966)
  • Gothic Gaye (1966)
  • Holiday Gay (1967)
  • Rally Round the Fag (1967)
  • The Gay Dogs (1967)
  • Blow the Man Down (1968)
  • Sex and the Single Gay, a self-help book (no, really) (1967)
  • The C.A.M.P. Guide to Astrology (no, really) (1967)
  • The C.A.M.P. Cookbook (I am not making any of this up!) (1968)
  • Gay-Safe (not by Banis) (1971)
  • "Jackie Returns", a short story (2007)

The C.A.M.P. books are notable mostly for being among the first queer novels published before Stonewall, but they're pretty fun in their own right too, despite being written in a few days each, and some of the prose being kind of rough.

After these being out of print for a very long time, anthology collections are starting to come out—hooray!


The Tropes from C.A.M.P.:

  • Agent Peacock
  • Ambiguously Bi: Rockstar Dingo Stark is either bisexual or has internalised homophobia in Color Him Gay.
  • All Gays Are Promiscuous: Well, not all. But Jackie is, and most of the people he meets are.
  • Atlantis: In Blow the Man Down, Jackie discovers that Atlantis has rebuilt itself underwater and is trying to take over the world. In the end, he destroys the city for good.
  • Author Tract: There are weird Anvilicious moments of Gay Aesop scattered throughout, where two of the gay cast (pick two, any two) will drop what they're doing and wish airily for a world in which their love is accepted. Although some moments of Gay Aesop are actually either a good time capsule or ahead of their time concerning homosexuality and sexuality in general.
  • Badass in a Nice Suit: Jackie has mostly been seen in a satin suit, though he does where different clothes depending on the situation.
  • Beware the Silly Ones: Do NOT piss off Jackie.
  • Biggus Dickus: Rich.
  • Bound and Gagged: Happens quite a lot to Jackie and sometimes whoever he's working with.
  • Bunny-Ears Lawyer: Whenever someone first meets Jackie, they always assume he's too light-hearted and effeminate to take anything seriously or be competent at his job. But he proves time and time again he does take his missions and duty seriously, and does a damn good job at it. In other words, he's actually a badass.
  • Bury Your Gays: Subverted. The series was specifically created to subvert the 'sad-boys-doomed-to-tragedy' genre (in Banis' words) of the time, by having the protagonist be an openly proud gay badass who always lives at the end. There have been a few deaths of gay characters, but because of the dangerous situations they were in rather than anything to do with their sexuality.
  • Butch Lesbian: Big Daddy, from the first novella.
  • Camp Gay: Duh. Though, admittedly, Jackie sometimes exaggerates this persona to make people assume he's harmless when he's far from it.
  • Cast Full of Gay: Jackie makes sure of that.
    • Jerry Shannon from The Son Goes Down is implied to be an exception, because of his attraction towards women and lack of attraction towards men. Jackie just opened his eyes to the fact that he now also happens to like male-on-male sex and a person's sexual orientation is more based on sexual attraction than the type of sex they like. It is factually correct in Real Life and perhaps even a notion ahead of its time. For example, some asexual people have sex and sometimes enjoy it regardless of their lack of sexual attraction.
  • Cartwright Curse: A frequent trope concerning Jackie', but averted in Gothic Gaye when all four of his love interests in the previous novellas return to help him.
  • Closet Key: Might as well be the definition of Jackie.
    • He isn't exactly for Dingo Stark though. Stark's former lover Steve was initially, Jackie just helped him embrace his sexuality.
  • Cool Car: In most of the novellas, Jackie drives one of his many vintage cars (vintage at the time, so think 1920s or 1930s) from his collection, a different one each time.
  • Crouching Moron, Hidden Badass
  • Defiant to the End: Jackie and Rich's attitude towards Birdie Wing when he had them captured and tortured for information on C.A.M.P.
  • Depraved Homosexual: You meet a few of these. Like the one in the first novella, who takes Jackie home, only to tie him to the bed and attempt to castrate him.
  • Drag Queen/Wholesome Crossdresser: Somehow, Jackie seems to always end up in drag. In Rally Round the Fag, this constitutes a big chunk of the plot.
    • And once dressed as a young girl...
  • Everybody Smokes: The series was literally set in/written during the 1960s, of course they did.
  • Faster Than They Look: Rich.
  • Fatal Flaw: Jackie's lust and his lack of concern for his own safety.
    Jackie: I’ll be careful, I always am.
    Rich: No, actually you’re usually quite reckless where your own neck is concerned.
  • Force and Finesse: Rich and Jackie respectively.
  • Gayngst: Not just avoided, but dragged out of the closet, punched repeatedly in the face, and shot dead with a jeweled derringer.
  • Gayngster: A lot of the antagonists are this.
  • Hidden Depths: Both the series and Jackie.
  • If It's You, It's Okay: Jackie's conquests are sometimes outright stated to be this.
  • Magical Queer: Played with. Jackie seems to get stuck with a lot of homophobic partners solely to teach them lessons about tolerance. But he's absurdly competent, too, with his own motivations, and thus doesn't really fit the bill. Plus they always end up screwing in the end.
  • Manly Gay: Rich.
  • Married to the Job: Why Jackie doesn't believe he and Rich should settle down. That and his tendency to bed hop from man to man rather than stick with Rich.
  • Minor Crime Reveals Major Plot: In Color Him Gay, an attempt to blackmail Dingo Stark by threatening to reveal his previous homosexual relationship leads to B.U.T.C.H.'s highly organised state-wide blackmailing ring that exclusively focuses on closeted homosexuals with immense power, fame, or wealth.
  • Moment Killer: High Camp has, at times, alerted Jackie that he is needed when he is in bed with another man.
    Jackie: [...] How can I get around to coming anywhere when these damned chimes are always going off before I do?
  • Mr. Muffykins: Jackie's miniature poodle Sophie, who is trained to kill.
  • No Bisexuals: Subverted: if Jackie gets a partner over the course of the book, the partner will always, always start out as an incredibly bigoted homophobe. And he will always—always—wind up having sex with Jackie by the end of the book.
  • No Celebrities Were Harmed: "Dingo Stark", "Dean James" and "Shelley Tipple".
    • Though it's in name only concerning Dingo Stark, he physically resembles Mick Jagger more.
  • Non-Idle Rich: Jackie is a millionaire and he is definitely not idle. In fact, when C.A.M.P. was just starting up, they went to him because they hoped he and his wealth would be helpful.
  • One-Man Army: Jackie is literally described as such.
  • Phone Booth: Jackie has tried to get changed in and out of his old man disguise in Holiday Gay, but lampshaded as a disgusted and frightened woman noticed.
    That was the difference, he thought ruefully, between real-life crime fighters and the comic book heroes in the comic books they were never interrupted while they changed clothes in phone booths.
  • Pint-Sized Powerhouse: Justified. Jackie is below average height and seems slender, but years of physical training as a daily routine ensures he's strong enough to handle any opponent bigger than him.
  • Pop-Culture Isolation: Not well known outside of old pulp novel enthusiast and obscure LGBT fiction communities.
  • Rape Is a Special Kind of Evil: Rape is always presented as torture conducted by the villains.
  • Red Oni, Blue Oni: Jackie and his sidekick Rich, but don't worry, they get along great (possibly even because of the contrast).
  • Shoe Phone: A tracking chip disguised as a thumb nail, another disguised as a homing device, a cigarette case disguised as a camera, a drug that can knock out an elephant for hours within a fake pinkie nail, artificial ass skin that contains two parts of a throwing dagger and a garrotte (protected by compressed foam rubber), two teeth that are really containers of explosive chemicals (designed to be pulled out first of course), a briefcase with a complete sending and receiving radio kit, a blowgun disguised as a cigarette holder, sunglasses that can see the shoeprints of shoes designed to track collaborating agents of other agencies, artificial armpit skin to hide explosive capsules, shoes with compartments for some of the aforementioned gadgets and at one point a radio.
  • Situational Sexuality: There's something about working cases with Jackie...
  • Spy Fiction: Martini, with one of those fun frilly umbrellas on top.
  • Straight Gay: The INTERPOL agent who acts as a C.A.M.P. liaison, Lou Upton, might be one of these.
  • Stupid Sexy Flanders
  • Tracking Chip: All C.A.M.P. agents have their thumb nail replaced with a tracking chip disguised as a thumb nail.
  • Tickle Torture: Done to Jackie in Holiday Gay. For laughs at first, but then you get the idea how painful it actually is.
  • The Twink: Subverted. Jackie seems to be an older 1960s' equivalent, a short blond slender Pretty Boy. But it's mostly an exaggerated persona since he's not always as flamboyant and his clothes hide a more toned wiry body from years of training specifically for his job.
  • Transgender: Rosarita Beech.
  • Weapon of Choice: Jackie's jeweled derringer. "Small and me."


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