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Always Camp

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According to the media, certain professions almost systematically attract people with camp sensibilities and drama queens. Most typically these are "hip" professions linked to showbusiness or the arts. Although most noticeable of male characters, it still affects women quite frequently.

Bonus point if they're French or have some sort of accent, double bonus if they are Camp Gay (they tend to be at least Ambiguously Gay), and if they say "I am not an X, I am an artist", oh boy do you have a winner. Such professions include:

Can be Truth in Television in some societies and/or eras for the reason that these professions are based on talent: so they tend to be tolerant of people with unusual mannerisms or personality quirks. But can also not be the case. If society in general is tolerant or even supportive of this behavior then it's not this trope. Common variant: a tough working-class manly-man has to act the part to get work in one of the above.

Compare Real Men Wear Pink.


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     Anime and Manga  
  • Ayame Sohma from Fruits Basket, male-romantic-fantasy-fashion designer. He's bisexual, has frequent Ho Yay gags with Shigure and is just plain fabulous.
  • Pegasus from Yu-Gi-Oh! pulls this, to the point when it is often mocked in Yu-Gi-Oh! The Abridged Series. He's a painter and card game inventor who comes across as not-entirely-straight until the very end, when you realize everything he did was for his wife.
  • Played with in Yuri!!! on Ice. Male figure skaters come in all shapes and sizes in this series, and their sexualities are all over the spectrum. The closest one that comes to the trope is Cristophe, but even he's more levelheaded than the usual stereotype would suggest.

  • Bianca Castafiore of Tintin. OK, she's rampantly heterosexual, but she's still a drama queen who looks like a man in drag. One writer actually published a fictional biography of her as a castrato.
  • Cacofonix the bard in Asterix is usually drawn with very campy mannerisms, relatively flamboyant dress, and is in love with an image of himself as a tragic, misunderstood artist. He is also a (relative) Non-Action Guy, and has no romantic life whatsoever (apart from getting tied up a lot?), when all the other major male characters in the comics have either wives or occasional love interests. His Distaff Counterpart in The Secret Weapon, Bravura, wears trousers and acts out male gender roles (although her main romantic interest is Asterix, she pursues him much like a particularly awful, boorish man would pursue a woman, which he finds extremely upsetting). She's also a drama queen, though much less so than Cacofonix.
    • Laurenceolivius, the Roman theatre director in Asterix and the Cauldron. He resembles David Bowie, talks and acts in a stereotypically camp way and is even happy when the heroes end up getting him thrown to the lions, on the grounds that it'll be a great show.

  • This is has even transcended to other cultures. In the Bollywood flick Kal Ho Na Ho (Tomorrow may never come), the wedding planner is unmistakably campy. It leads to some humorous moments because the servant of the groom has been terrified that he is gay, and is SO happy that he is marrying a woman, that she practically beats up the wedding planner to keep him away.
  • The live-action 101 Dalmatians (1996)' Cruella DeVille - the sequel has an even campier stylist played by Gérard Depardieu.
  • Paulette Bonafonte from Legally Blonde (though the entire movie is arguably campy).
  • Father of the Bride (1991) (the Steve Martin version) has Wedding Planner Franck Eggelhoffer, who also appears in Father of the Bride II to plan the baby shower.
  • And the obvious subversion is the whole point of the Adam Sandler vehicle You Don't Mess with the Zohan, wherein the titular Zohan is the most badass of badasses - but he doesn't want to be a super-soldier anymore; he just wants to cut hair. In fact, not just cut it, he wants to make it "silky smooth".
  • Long before that, Warren Beatty's hairdresser in Shampoo (1975) was a The Casanova who used his job to find new women to seduce.
  • Azrael from the movie Dogma
    Jay: "What are you, some kind of fucking chicken?"
    Azrael: "No, I was an ARTIST, STUPID!"
  • The gallery owners in the Honey and Clover movie.
  • The hairdresser in She's the Man was definitely camp, but they're never clear about his sexuality.
  • Beverly Hills Cop has Serge the gallery guide. Later he reappears as a weapons dealer, but still over the top.
  • Get Shorty. Actors and directors. Loan sharks, punk rockers and producers, however, are strangely down to earth.
    Karen: Actors never order off the menu. They always special order something they just have to have. And they never pay for anything.
  • Invoked in Billy Elliot. In the middle of the manliest of cultures, a boy wants to become a ballet dancer.
  • "The French Mistake" number from Blazing Saddles. Combines acting, dancing and musical theatre.
  • Simon Marshall in A Hard Day's Night is equal parts camp and uptight TV producer. He and his crew mistake George as the new spokesperson for a line of men's shirts which Simon instructs George to call "gear and fab and all the other pimply hyperboles." When George calls them "grotesque" and then calls resident teenager Susan Campey a drag ("We turn the sound down and say rude things"), Simon flips.
  • High School Musical has Ryan Evans, the choreographer and co-President of East High's drama club. He's the only non-jock male among the series' main cast, and is the most effiminate of them all.

  • At the end of The Dresden Files book White Night, it's revealed that Thomas, an incubus, has been feeding himself by becoming a hairdresser (he draws power from intimacy, and says that styling a woman's hair is the second most intimate thing one can do with them). In order to make them feel more comfortable and prevent them from molesting him, he plays up campyness, including a fake French accent, and implied homosexuality.
  • In the Discworld novel Unseen Academicals, Pepe, a designer at a dwarf fashion house, plays up his campness when working (as well as claiming to be an Uberwaldean dwarf). When off-duty, he's a tough Morporkian lad from the streets ... but probably gay, nonetheless.

     Live Action Television  
  • Oren Pierre Alfonzo in Kamen Rider Gaim. Interesting in that he combines Camp Gay mannerisms and dress with Manly Gay physique and military background. He ends up being one of the most unarguably dangerous Armored Riders to join the Rider War, being a legitimate threat to the protagonists until his Heel–Face Turn before becoming just as much of a threat to the other teams afterward.
  • Michel from Gilmore Girls is the concierge of the Independence Inn. He has a French accent, is very image conscious, will be rude to supposedly rude guests, dotes on his Chow Chow dogs, loves Celine Dion, has an appreciation for the "finer things," and has a giggly girlfriends-like relationship with his mother.
  • Elim Garak, the Cardassian former Obsidian Order spy tailor on Star Trek: Deep Space Nine. Although the suits (heh) gave him a girlfriend (Ziyal, the half-Bajoran daughter of Gul Dukat) to quell the gay rumors.
    • The Expanded Universe novel A Stitch In Time, written by the actor Andrew Robinson, may or may not have said he was bisexual, but if it didn't it tried its hardest to imply it.
    • Both Andrew Robinson and Alexander Siddig (formerly known as Siddig El Fadil, the actor playing Dr. Bashir) have stated in interviews that they were well aware of the gay/bisexual subtext between their characters, and that they and the scriptwriters deliberately played with that subtext. Robinson stated in an interview (and in the author's note of his novel) that he always found the idea intriguing that Garak might be bisexual because Cardassians, being aliens, shouldn't have the same sexual taboos as people today (meaning the Western World). So yes, fans of that pairing are not just imagining things.
    • The title of the Andrew Robinson interview about Garak was "Cardassian - Writer - Tailor - Spy. Actor-Director Takes a Stitch In Time", by Michelle Erica Green (webdate: 3/18/2000). The interview can be found via the Internet Archive Wayback Machine here.
    • See also this essay: The Queer Cardassian: The Case for a Gay Garak by The Plaid Adder.
    • And on, Julia Houston mourned the sudden end of the relationship between Garak and Bashir in her essay ''"The Loss of Garak and Bashir"'' (Dateline:10/24/98)
    • And finally, one of the writers for the show, Robert Hewitt Wolfe, has stated that he wrote Garak to have an attraction to Bashir, but unrequited and unnoticed.
  • Mr. Bob, from an episode of Get Smart. He was hired to redecorate Max's place. In a subversion, he's really a tough guy with a Brooklyn accent, who can handily whip Max in a fight, but he needs to sound and act camp to be taken seriously as an interior designer.
  • In an episode of Cheers, Norm turns out to have a talent for interior design — previously undisclosed as he has spent his entire life trying to hide it. Frasier and Lilith persuade him to try it professionally, but to get work he has to put on a (rather subdued) camp persona. Come to think of it, since Norm has long been married to the always-off-camera Vera, with whom he never sleeps, to whom he pays as little attention as possible, but on whom he will never cheat even when tempted, one is tempted to wonder...
    • Norm's referrals to his wife are camp in & of themselves; he is hiding his deep affection for her because he "knows" that the denizens of the bar would rib him for being openly loving about her.
  • Parodied in one sketch on This Hour Has 22 Minutes, with the "Heterosexual Interior Designers" (or some other similar name). Their client refuses to admit them in, since they simply aren't gay enough.
  • Absolutely Fabulous: Patsy Stone.
  • Averted by Ice, the Bounty Hunter/Caterer on Arrested Development, who is neither campy while catering nor obnoxiously macho while bounty hunting.
  • Mr. G in Summer Heights High.
  • In The A-Team episode "Pros and Cons", Hannibal gets his camp on when he poses as a hairdresser.
  • The titular Wig Master from the Seinfeld episode "The Wig Master".
  • The Murdoch Mysteries episode "Painted Ladies", which was about the growing acceptability of make-up in Edwardian Toronto, featured a rather flamboyant cosmetician called Oscar Ducharme, played by Thom Allison from Killjoys.
  • Played anything but straight (pun intended) in one sketch on Saturday Night Live, which features the US Men's Heterosexual Figure Skating Championship. None of the skaters are particularly talented; one falls down within thirty seconds. During the partner skate, the male partner attempts to tear off the lady's clothes and takes an "upskirt" picture.
  • The Professionals. In "Fugitive", Bodie and Doyle walk into a hair salon.
    Receptionist: Bobby's free.
    (indicates male hairdresser who's checking them out.)
    Doyle: Hell, I'm sure he is.

     Video Games  

  • BioShock: Sander Cohen is a creepy version of this trope, combined with the Mad Artist. To a lesser extent, this also applies to Dr. Steinmann, "Surgery's Picasso".
  • Zhang He of Dynasty Warriors. "We move! Our path through to the battlefield shall be paved with the petals of roses!"
  • Hairdresser Octopus in Parappa The Rapper 2.
  • Star the Opera Singer in Silent Scope 2.
  • Bebe, the head of the Fashion Club in Persona 3. However, in the PSP version, he's a romance option for the female character.

     Web Comics  

     Western Animation  

  • The Fairly OddParents!' Mr. Bickles. And Cupid, though he falls for Momma Cosma under the spell of his own arrow.
  • The first-chair hairdresser at the new shop in Arlen on King of the Hill. The rest are catty women. Doughy army sergeant-barber Bill has to act the part (poorly) to get a job there and express his stifled creativity.
  • The indomitable Edna Mode from The Incredibles. She plays this one for all it's worth.
  • Dion, the fashion designing college student in Braceface.
  • Bobbi Fabulous, rocker-turned-beautician from the Phineas and Ferb episode "Dude We're Getting The Band Back Together", fits this to a T.
  • Ze French-accented Painter Smurf in Ze Smurfs. He's always temperamental when it comes to his masteurpiesas.
  • The Chameleon Brothers from Rocko's Modern Life.
  • Straight female example: Fashion designer Rarity from My Little Pony: Friendship Is Magic generally designs with an over the top style, full of embroidery, gems and layers that wouldn't feel out of place in a Drag Queen catwalk. She is very expressive, to the point of being stilted at times. Always worried by the latest trends, colors and good taste. She has all the characteristics of your Camp Gay fashion designer despite being cis, female and only showing attraction to the opposite gender.

     Real Life  
  • Khnumhotep and Niankhkhnum, ancient Egyptian servants who are speculated to be the first same-sex couple in recorded history, shared the title Overseer of the Manicurists in the Palace of King Niuserre, showing that this one's Older Than Dirt. Always Camp indeed.
  • An example arising from the 2014 Winter Olympic Games: In response to host country Russia's enactment of laws against "homosexual propaganda", US President Barack Obama pointedly refused to attend the opening ceremonies, and in his stead sent three openly gay American Olympians: Caitlin Cahow (hockey player, participated in these Olympics), Martina Navratilova (retired tennis player, doubly insulting to Russia because she had defected to the US from Communist Czechoslovakia during the Cold War), and Brian Boitano (retired figure skater). Or, at least, Obama thought that he had sent three openly gay Olympians—as it turned out, Boitano had never "officially" come out, and everyone from the President on down seems to have simply thought "Male figure skater? Figure skating is so camp he has to be gay." Boitano corrected this error, "officially" coming out after the announcement.


"The French Mistake"

Combines acting, dancing and musical theatre.

How well does it match the trope?

5 (8 votes)

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Main / AlwaysCamp

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