The Most Outrageous (and Queerest) Record Label of the 60s
by JD Doyle
Almost nothing is known about the mysterious 60's record label Camp Records. They released an album and 10 45 rpm records of gay parody songs, most done with effeminate voices. I believe they were issued in the early 60's, as they all appeared in an ad in the gay magazine Vagabond, dated 1965. The address on the album record jacket was PO Box 3213, Hollywood, California, and it credited all selections to "Different Music Co, Hollywood." The "Queen Is In The Closet" LP was released at least as early as June 1964, as an ad for it appeared on the back cover of that month's issue of "One Magazine."
The artists singing most of the songs were uncredited, or with names obviously made up, like Byrd E. Bath and B. Bubba, but one name stands out, Rodney Dangerfield. That name credited on one of the songs, and possibly another. This would have been very early in Dangerfield's career, as his website bio says he decided to devote his career to comedy at age 40, which would have been in 1961. But I don't think it was the comedian we know; just a prop name used for the release. Dangerfield disclaims any knowledge of it...see article below.
A second album released on the label was called "Mad About the Boy." It was filled with mostly well-known Broadway and cabaret songs that were originally sung by women. This album kept the pronouns intact, making them very gay. They were done in lounge style, without a campy approach...in other words, done "straight." The liner notes state: "The primary reason for doing this album was to prove that good songs could and should be sung by everyone. Gender should not be the determining factor as to who should sing what." The notes later say that the male soloist and other artists on the album are well-known "Hollywood, TV, and screen personalities" but "we are not at liberty to reveal true names." I have no idea if all this is true, or simply hype. The album probably came out in 1964 or 1965, as it pictures on the back all the previous releases of the label. And it is also advertised in the 1965 issue of Vagabond (see more, below), so I believe it was the last record they released.
An amusing characteristic of the records they issued was the "label numbers" they gave them. Almost all of them are tongue-in-cheek gay references, if the letters and numbers are read individually. For example, ICUR1-2 becomes "I see you are one, too" or variations of that, along with 2B8 I believe being "to be ate." "45CC" for the single "Spanish Bar Fly" is likely referring to "45, Si, Si," and "OUR 2-2" could be "our tutu." And the "Mad About the Boy" album's numbering was "RU-1," which of course is "are you one?" meaning "are you gay?"
I've tried to give as complete a history as possible of this label, as it's truly unique to our culture. I show scans of all the records in my collection, and you can hear them as well. I don't think anyone as ever tried to do justice to this subject, but there are still many unknowns. If anyone reading this has additional information, please, please contact me. So, enjoy the photos and music...they are indeed very rare and give a unique look at gay humor of that time.
CAMP RECORDS DISCOGRAPHY
[click on the title to hear the song, or on "mp3" to download the sound file]
weekend of a hairdresser (2:46) mp3
about the boy (2:19) mp3
your cursor over the record label (and all of the others) to see the
and, the very rare one...by Rodney Dangerfield! (Well, maybe not)
A Disclaimer, of sorts...
Dangerfield's autobiography came out he was interviewed
KAPELOVITZ: Is it true that you recorded gay comedy albums in the '60s?
DANGERFIELD: How do they start these rumors? Jesus Christ!
KAPELOVITZ: There are 45s with the name Rodney Dangerfield on them. One song is titled "Stanley the Manly Transvestite."
DANGERFIELD: I'm not singing that.
Well, one has to wonder if he would admit it even if he had appeared on this record, and how on earth the Camp Records label would have come up with his stage name on its own. [Thanks to one of my internet listeners, James, for tipping me off about this interview. It was not available when I first researched for this section]
And, here's some additional info on this topic, from one of my site visitors, Steve Thompson:
Hi, JD, I'm not even
gay but I found your site fascinating, particularly the Camp records
section. I wanted to point out, though, in reference to Rodney Dangerfield's
purported participation on some of the records, that "Rodney
Dangerfield" was used as a pseudonym for performers going back
to at least the thirties. The name is used as an in-joke for various
characters on Old Time Radio series (including several times on JACK
BENNY) years before THE Rodney came along. A similar name in theater
was "George Spelvin" which was later used by various actors
in porn films of the seventies. In fact, "GeorgINA Spelvin"
actually kept the name and became a fairly big star in the field.
And, now for the other album...
cover was itself a parody of the cover of a best selling Julie London
Below, a close-up of the "letter" from the back cover
Above is the earliest reference I've found "dating" the Camp Records label. The ad appeared on the back cover of the June and July issues of "One Magazine," which is certainly a logical placement for the ads. By the way, it was rare for "One" to have any commercial ads. The ad does not mention the 45s, so there is still no information if they were released before or after the LP.
Vagabond Magazine was my source for the "dating" of the Camp Records releases in general as being from the early 60's. Other than One Magazine, it's the only reference from that time period I've ever found to even mention the label. Two full page ads appeared in the magazine showing the 45's, and a half-page ad was for the albums. There is no indication in the magazine as to how often it was published, so we can only guess when during 1965 "No. 7" came out, but as it contained an ad for Halloween cards, it likely came out in late summer. The record ads are shown below.
The rest of the magazine also gives a fascinating look at the underground pre-Stonewall gay culture. It's solely a catalog, and contained no articles, just opportunities to purchase books, cards, and other...well, let's call them "accessories." These items were no doubt very hard to obtain then, so a catalog like this was likely one of the few sources available. This is by far the most "adult" section of the whole website...:)
Click on the magazine cover to go to
a page showing the complete issue.
Click on the ads for larger versions
And, below, from "Drum" Magazine, September 1965 (thanks, Adam)
Interesting that it only advertized 8 of the 10 45s, does that mean the other two came later?
And the same ad from another issue of Drum, from August 1965
Special Bonus!...Click Here to read the whole Drum Magazine, a look at gay publishing in 1965
just in (Dec 2012)...another early "dating" source...
Article on Camp Records from Discoveries Magazine, December 2005
was incorrect about the name of the blond model. Their names were
Okay, the item
below had nothing to do with Camp Records, and is not even a record,
Pass your cursor over the album cover to see the flip side
an ad for the "album" from the April 1964 edition of "One
I can't resist giving you one more song, and it's in the same spirit, but the new lyrics are not quite ready for radio. It's by the BeeJays (yes, the name is a little obvious), and the article below is from the June 1980 issue of "Christopher Street." It's a 3:00 track. And you can also click here to download the mp3 file.
And, don't stop here, please visit the rest of my site......