Saturday, February 20, 2010

notes on camp + the emasculation of James Bond


I meet Jolene in the Hertz parking lot at the Atlanta Intl Airport.  We speed off together in the red Camry, out past suburban Atlanta and into the rolling hills of South Carolina.  Jolene is tight-lipped; when I press the accelerator hard to leave suburban Atlanta in the rearview mirror, she doesn't say a word.

Checking into the Comfort Inn in Clemson, I leave Jolene in the car.  Dr. Aga Skrodzka, an expert on eastern and central European cinema, meets me in the lobby of the motel, and takes me out to dinner.  

I was hoping we'd talk about Kieslowski, Zanussi, Agnieszka Holland, and other great Polish film directors . . . but somehow we end up discussing a) the likelihood of frat boys understanding camp (Susan Sontag, eat your heart out) and b) American men's emasculation fears as reflected in recent James Bond films.  

Not uninteresting topics, but not what I was expecting.

Prof. Lee Morrisey - who worked at NYC's The Kitchen in its avant-garde heyday - tells me that Trimpin visited the university a decade earlier, on his invitation.  I try to picture what the frat kids would make of Trimpin's whimsical whistle/duck call sculpture, Phffft!, but my imagination fails me.  Lee and I trade notes about sound artists we know; lots of mutual friends.

Prof. Skrodzka has done her homework: The Clemson screening is packed, the projection is fine.  During Q+A, the students even laugh at my jokes (bless their hearts).  Afterwards, Prof. Amy Monaghan kindly treats me to a beer at the local watering hole.  I decide not to tell her about Jolene.