The essay addresses the New York scene of late 1964 as the stage for the emergence of camp, framing contemporary issues of visual and celebrity culture, conspicuous consumption, gender, subcultural subversion, appropriation and reclaiming. The paradoxical economy of pop secrecy of the mid-Sixties is charted by enacting a complex narrative that intermingle three icons of survival (James Bond, Susan Sontag, Victor J. Banis) differently deployed as star spies on the spectrum of cultural visibility. Ranging from the James Bond ironic reassertion of British superiority and the male gaze, to the female challenge to high culture sacredness of Sontag's camp, to the ambiguous survival strategy of Banis' pulp hero, the gay secret agent Jackie Holmes, these three camps stand for the complex use of camp by institutions, intellectuals, women and gays, a use that foregrounds a competition as well as a proximity that inscribes them all in the spectacular cultural scene of the time, peopled by moles, double crossers, and hidden schemes.
Financed by the National Centre for Research and Development under grant No. SP/I/1/77065/10 by the strategic scientific research and experimental development program:
SYNAT - “Interdisciplinary System for Interactive Scientific and Scientific-Technical Information”.