john inman

People in History: John Inman

John Inman as Mr. Humphries. Wikimedia Commons

Born in Preston, NW England, in 1935, from an early age John Inman exhibited a tendency towards camp which would become a hallmark of his later success. His mother ran a boarding house and his father was a hairdresser, but Inman was always determined to become an actor, no doubt influenced by his parents’ move to Blackpool when he was twelve. His parents supported his ambition, paying for him to take elocution lessons at their local church hall. As a child, Inman was also noted for his love of dressmaking.

Within a year of moving to Blackpool, Inman secured small roles at the Pavilion on Blackpool’s South Pier. At fifteen he took a menial job at the pier, occasionally playing parts in some of the plays.

After leaving school, Inman gave up the theatre to work as a window dresser in a gentleman’s outfitters, and moved to London to work in Regent Street two years later. He remained in retail for another four years before leaving to work as a scenic artist with a touring company in order to earn his Equity Card, a licence which was required for all professional actors. Continue reading →

Posted by Kate Aaron in Biography, Queer Blogging

The History of Homosexuality: Camp

John Inman in Are You Being Served?. Wikimedia Commons

Wikipedia describes camp as “a social, cultural, and aesthetic style and sensibility based on deliberate and self-acknowledged theatricality.” It is all those things, and more besides, but it’s difficult to pin down. Nonetheless, we all know camp when we see it.

Camp is effete, it’s garish, it’s hyperbole and exaggeration, it’s shameless, crude, funny, and sexless. Camp appeals to the masses, yet is intrinsically associated with queer men.

Camp derives from the French se camper (“to pose in an exaggerated fashion”), and was first defined in 1909 in the Oxford English Dictionary as: “ostentatious, exaggerated, affected, theatrical; effeminate or homosexual; pertaining to, characteristic of, homosexuals. So as a noun, ‘camp’ behaviour, mannerisms, et cetera.” Continue reading →

Posted by Kate Aaron in History, Queer Blogging