Is Ziggy Stardust Camp?: David Bowie As A Case Study In Music And Camp




Vela, Janina Ann

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David Bowie’s performance style and image during his “Stardust Years” (1972-1973) are widely considered as exemplifying a Camp aesthetic. With few exceptions (Buckley, 1993), all consider his image, the persona Ziggy Stardust, as being Camp and specific discussions of his music as Camp are lacking. Indeed, most sources lump Bowie’s music and image together when referring to him as Camp but only use the visual aspects to draw examples of Camp. Nevertheless, Freya Jarman-Ivens’ “Notes on Musical Camp” (2009) is a recent source that attempts to locate the camp aesthetic “in the music” as well as in the performance style and image. Applying Jarman-Ivens’ methodology to David Bowie’s “Let’s Spend the Night Together” (1973), I will locate Camp in this musical performance, highlighting specific traits, as described by Jarman-Ivens, which elicit a reading of the Camp aesthetic. Using two of Bowie’s songs “Ziggy Stardust” and “John, I’m Only Dancing,” I will also attempt to separate the visual aspects from a musical performance, in order to search for Camp strictly in the music. The significance of my thesis is to validate Jarman-Ivans’ study and her methodology on locating a Camp aesthetic in a musical performance.



Music and Camp, Bowie, David, Ziggy Stardust


Vela, J. A. (2010). <i>Is Ziggy Stardust camp?: David Bowie as a case study in music and camp</i> (Unpublished thesis). Texas State University-San Marcos, San Marcos, Texas.


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