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The Most Outrageous (and Queerest) Record Label of the 60s

by JD Doyle

Camp Records logo

   Almost nothing is known about the mysterious 60's record label Camp Records. They released an album and ten 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." And, of course, as we do not know who released these records, we do not know if they were meant to make money from laughing at gay people, or if the producers were gay themselves.

   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, and it's been reported 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 years before the Rodney we know came along.

   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?"

   In 2012 I was able to interview Murray Garrett, the producer of an LP called "Love Is A Drag," where the gimmick was it was all songs sung to a male, and sung by a male. It was released in 1962 with a veil of mystery, as the singer was not identified. My interview unveiled his name, fifty years after the album's release. As this LP preceded the Camp Records album "Mad About the Boy" by several years, I asked Mr Garrett if he had any information. He had heard of it, but never knew who was behind it. And he was in a position to know, as he was on the West Coast Board of NARAS. He remembered people calling him up asking about the Camp album, but he never heard the back story.

   So, what was the intended market for these recordings? I think it could go two directions, with one providing amusement for straights wanting to laugh at their perception of gay men. The other market was gay people themselves in providing the common sense of humor in their secret lives. The humor that exaggerated the campiness, the mincing, and the swishing...even with their negative stereotypes, could have provided some sense of community. In those days, when almost everyone was in the closet, and fear of persecution or worse was very real. It was really all they had.

   Where would you locate copies of these records? I suggest "bookmarking" them on eBay, and then be prepared to wait a while for them to show up. I regularly monitor eBay for gay-related recordings and in the last few years ones from Camp Records now rarely are featured. As trivia, I personally found the single "Mixed Nuts" hardest to find, taking me a number of years. In general they all show up so rarely I could not pick one to call the most common or easily found.

   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.

   JD Doyle

 Camp 45 Camp 45 Camp 45 Camp 45 Camp 45

CAMP RECORDS DISCOGRAPHY

Camp 45  Camp 45  Camp 45  Camp 45  Camp 45

   [click on the title to hear the song, or on "mp3" to download the sound file]

 LP:

 "The Queen Is In The Closet" (Camp Records 3455)

    the weekend of a hairdresser (2:46) mp3
    l'il liza mike (2:54) mp3
    a naughty cal-tale (2:29) mp3
    i'm so wet (2:44) mp3
    what can the matter be? (3:20) mp3
    a bar is a bar is a bar (1:59) mp3
    good old fashioned balls (2:29) mp3
    florence of arabia (3:39) mp3
    london derrierre (3:35) mp3
    down on the river drive (2:57) mp3

    or, click here to stream the entire album (28:52) mp3

 45's:


 Camp 2B1            i'd rather fight than swish (B. Bubba) (3:16) mp3
                                 i'd rather swish than fight (B. Bubba) (3:11) mp3
 Camp ICUR 1-2   homer the happy little homo (Byrd E. Bath & the Gentle-Men,
                                       Tap Dancing Solo: Rodney Dangerfield) (2:55) mp3
                                 florence of arabia (Byrd E. Bath & Rodney Dangerfield) (3:39) mp3
 Camp 45-CC        spanish bar fly (2:49) mp3
                                 l'il liza mike (Byrd E. Bath & the Gay Blades) (2:54) mp3
 Camp OUR 2-2    old fashioned balls (2:29) mp3
                                 down by the river drive (2:57) mp3
 Camp TS2U          leather jacket lovers (Sandy Beech) (2:03) mp3
                                 what can the matter be (Byrd E. Bath) (3:20) mp3
 Camp 345A           i'm so wet (2:44) mp3
             345B           the weekend of a hairdresser (2:46) mp3
 Camp UR12          the ballad of the camping woodcutter (John & Kay Holmes) (2:13) mp3
                                  scotch mist (2:19) mp3
 Camp 2B8             mixed nuts (Byrd E. Bath) (2:30) mp3
                                  london derrierre (Byrd E. Bath) (3:35) mp3
 Camp B1-4UR      rough trade (The Boy & The Gentle-Men) (3:47) mp3
                                  a naughty-cal tail (Max Minty & the Gay Blades) (2:29) mp3
 Camp I 8 1             stanley the manly transvestite (Rodney Dangerfield) (3:13) mp3
                                  a bar is a bar (Byrd E. Bath & the Gay Blades) (1:59) mp3

     or, click here to stream the songs that are not also on the album (21:18) mp3

  LP:
 "Mad About The Boy" (Camp Records RU-1)

    mad about the boy (2:19) mp3
    he needs me (2:37) mp3
    no lover (2:07) mp3
    one boy (2:36) mp3
    make the man love me (3:21) mp3
    it's so nice to have a man around the house (2:50) mp3
    how did he look? (3:38) mp3
    boy wanted (2:20) mp3
    the honorable mr. so & so (2:35) mp3
    the gentleman is a dope (3:12) mp3

     or, click here to stream the entire album (27:56) mp3


The back of this album cover was blank

             Queen Is In The Closet label

   Pass your cursor over the record label to see the "flip" sides.
As the label had no normal numbering systen, the order of
release is unknown

      

  

  

   

    A Disclaimer regarding Rodney Dangerfield, of sorts...

After Rodney Dangerfield's autobiography came out he was interviewed
by Dan Kapelovitz for the October 2004 issue of Hustler Magazine

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.

And I tend to believe him, based on 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.
Steve Thompson, of
BOOKSTEVE'S LIBRARY

And, now for the other album...

This cover was itself a parody of the cover of a best selling Julie London LP.

Below, a close-up of the "letter" from the back cover

letter from Camp


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 1964 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.


This way the the Vagabond catalog...adults only...:)


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.


Click on the magazine
cover to go to view
the complete issue.

 

 

 

Camp 45's adCamp 45's adCamp LP's ad

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 was in another issue of Drum, from August 1965

Special Bonus!...Click Here to read the whole Drum Magazine, a look at gay publishing in 1965


This just in (Dec 2012)...another early "dating" source...

The Toronto magazine "TWO" mentions the LP and the 45's, in its
issue from Volume 6, 1965. Another article in the same issue refers to the
"upcoming" re-opening of the NYC World's Fair (which was April 21, 1965).
So...this is the earliest mention I've found of the 45's.

Article on Camp Records from Discoveries Magazine, December 2005

Actually, Scott was incorrect about the names of the models. Their names were
(left to right) Francois Rossi and Frank Hollfelder. Click to see Much more of them.

See more ads for Camp Records

and, here's another oddity, the scan of whick was sent to me by Darryl Bullock (thanks!)
He wrote me (and I agree) what is very strange about this one:


"What is interesting for me is that, if you look closely, you’ll see that the label is marked
‘Promotional – Not for sale’. I’ve never seen this on a Camp 45 before and I find it a little odd:
I really can’t imagine the company would have manufactured copies to send out to radio
stations so why have the ‘promotional’ tag on it? It would suggest two things to me: that
there are possibly other ‘promotional’ Camp releases and that at some point they must
have thought themselves bigger than a novelty or gay-only outfit to warrant issuing promo
copies. Could it be perhaps that they originally intended this disc to promote the album and
then issued it as an ‘official’ release after the album was out? Notice that this is the only 45
not to have a jokey catalogue number: the catalogue number of the release is almost
identical to that of the Queen Is In The Closet album."

This certainly raises more questions than it answers.

by the way, Darryl has a very cool blogsite, World's Worst Records

Okay, the item below had nothing to do with Camp Records, and is not even a record,
but it does fit in with the spirit of this section. The album cover below was just that.
It was just a cover, there was no album. It was a novelty item, dated 1962. The text on the back read:


Suggested titles, suitable for enclosure in this Album Cover, are as follows:
On The Achison, Topeka and the Santa Fey
Mad About the Boy
He's Funny That Way
Balling the Jack
It Could Happen to You
A Wonderful Guy
People Will Say We're In Love
The Boy Next Door
We Kiss in the Shadow
My Funny Valentine
Come Fly With Me
What Shall We Do With A Drunken Sailor

Mixed Emotions

Pass your cursor over the album cover to see the flip side

ad for Mixed Emotions

Above, an ad for the "album" from the April 1964 edition of "One Magazine"
Below, the 12" round cardboard insert in the album


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.

article on BeeJays 45

BeeJays 45

BeeJays 45 pic cover

pass cursor over pic sleeve to see back

And, don't stop here, please visit the rest of my site......
www.QueerMusicHeritage.com