Mother Camp: Female Impersonators in America

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University of Chicago Press, 1972 - Photography - 136 pages
8 Reviews
For two years Ester Newton did field research in the world of drag queens—homosexual men who make a living impersonating women. Newton spent time in the noisy bars, the chaotic dressing rooms, and the cheap apartments and hotels that make up the lives of drag queens, interviewing informants whose trust she had earned and compiling a lively, first-hand ethnographic account of the culture of female impersonators. Mother Camp explores the distinctions that drag queens make among themselves as performers, the various kinds of night clubs and acts they depend on for a living, and the social organization of their work. A major part of the book deals with the symbolic geography of male and female styles, as enacted in the homosexual concept of "drag" (sex role transformation) and "camp," an important humor system cultivated by the drag queens themselves.

"Newton's fascinating book shows how study of the extraordinary can brilliantly illuminate the ordinary—that social-sexual division of personality, appearance, and activity we usually take for granted."—Jonathan Katz, author of Gay American History

"A trenchant statement of the social force and arbitrary nature of gender roles."—Martin S. Weinberg, Contemporary Sociology
  

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LibraryThing Review

User Review  - urthona73 - LibraryThing

An interesting anthropological consideration of drag queens in the 1960s. A lot of it the information is dated, but it's interesting to see what parts continue to linger, particularly in the perceived distinctions made between the queens themselves. Read full review

Review: Mother Camp: Female Impersonators in America

User Review  - Ai Miller - Goodreads

An incredibly important ethnography, Newton offers a fascinating insight into the culture of female impersonators in the late 1960s. Packed with interviews and observations, it really made me want an ... Read full review

Contents

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59
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97
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112
XI
132
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About the author (1972)

Esther Newton is Professor of Anthropology and Kempner Distinguished Professor at State University of New York at Purchase. She is the author of several books, including Mother Camp, a groundbreaking study of American drag queens, and Cherry Grove, Fire Island: Sixty Years in America??'s First Gay and Lesbian Town.

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