• Cabaret (1972). (SBS Movies)Source: SBS Movies
With the Eurovision Song Contest just around the corner, time to revise your classics, with this essential list of the campest moments in musicals.
Stephen A. Russell

19 May 2015 - 4:24 PM  UPDATED 26 Apr 2016 - 10:17 AM

The confluence of glitter guns, bright lights, big hair and highly flammable fabrics that is the cheesy pop smorgasbord of the Eurovision Song Contest is, without doubt, the annual marking of peak camp. 

This year, the vast swathe of acolytes down under who never miss the show have even more reason to tune in, with former X-Factor Australia winner Dami Im leading the charge for our decidedly un-European nation (well, if it’s good enough for Israel/Turkey), performing ‘The Sound of Silence’ in the hopes of bringing glory home from the pop contest held in Stockholm and dubbed “Come Together.”

Will the millions of viewers answer the call and join #DamiArmy? We’ll soon find out, but in the meantime, why not celebrate some of the campest moments in musical movie history? We’ve scored them all Eurovision-style


NUL POINT: 'Shipoopi', The Music Man


This monumental moment in musical campery/crappery beggars belief. Surrounded by tap dancing ladies in floaty, frilly pink dresses, Buddy Hackett’s Marcellus Washburn warbles about the merits of playing hard to get. Cop this, gals: A girl who kisses on the very first date is a “hussy,” compared to a chaste third date smooch from your “Shipoopi.”

Hackett's nasal assault is skewered to perfection in Seth McFarlane's Family Guy, when Peter Griffin belts it out as his “victory tune”. 


UN POINT: 'Song for Anat', Cupcakes


A group of besties based in Tel Aviv accidentally ends up thrust into the spotlight as the Israeli entry to a thinly-veiled Eurovision analogue 'UniverSong' in writer/director Etyan Fox’ Cupcakes (aka 'Bananas' in Hebrew).

The heartbroken Anat in question (Anat Waxman) performs his moving on up number in a tux jacket, bow tie, tennis shoes and pink tutu, arm in arm with his best girls. If that’s not camp enough for you, Scissor Sister’s Babydaddy penned the song for Fox. 

Watch it now at SBS On Demand
SBS On Demand Camp Classics


DEUX POINT: 'Springtime for Hitler', The Producers


The pinnacle of Mel Brook’s outrageous satire The Producers, the wildly inappropriate ‘Springtime for Hitler’, sees barely clad Valkyrie rubbing shoulders with prancing men in lederhosen and goosestepping SS officers tap dancing in swastika formation. "Deutschland is happy and gay! / We're marching to a faster pace / Look out, here comes the master race!"

The faces on the audience are a picture of stunned horror, and yet somehow the shock and awe give way to a standing ovation and overnight success, wrecking the tax write-off plans of Zero Mostel’s cash-strapped producer and his dubious accountant, played by Gene Wilder. 




TROIS POINT: 'The Rich Man’s Frug', Sweet Charity


Serenading a flayed tiger rug, Shirley MacLaine’s sweet dancer for money Charity, with a love heart tattooed on her shoulder, popping her big top hat while shaking her toosh, is as cute as a button in big number ‘If They Could See Me Now,’ but nothing can top the high camp glitz of ‘The Rich Man’s Frug.’

“This place sure is crawling with celebrities, I’m the only person here I never heard of,” she giggles as the vicious gossips hiss, “Who is it?” before busting out in one of director Bob Fosse’s classic dance numbers, all swinging sixties sass.


QUATRE POINT: 'Cabaret', Cabaret


Nazi-era Berlin during the decline of the liberal Weimar Republic seems ripe territory for musical exploration and never more iconically so than in Bob Fosse’s masterful Cabaret, which swept the board at the 1973 Oscars, including scooping Best Director and Best Actress for glittering star Liza Minelli as the inimitable Sally Bowles, singer at the Kit Kat Klub. 

Though there’s a dark heart to Fosse’s take on the stage musical book by Joe Masteroff, adapted from John Van Druten's play I Am A Camera in turn inspired by author Christopher Isherwood’s semi-autobiographical work Goodbye to Berlin, Minnelli dazzles in the title track, with its pay-for-play girls, pills and liquor. “Come taste the wine, come hear the band, come blow your horn, start celebrating, right here, your table’s waiting…”




CINQ POINT: 'Sugar Daddy', Hedwig and the Angry Inch


John Cameron Mitchell and Stephen Trask’s Hedwig and the Angry Inch flaunts the Berliner connection again. As well as writing and directing duties, Mitchell plays East German transgender rock goddess Hedwig, left with the unfortunate inch in question after a botched sex-change operation undergone in the hope of marrying a caddish American soldier.  

Sharing Cabaret’s in-situ style, with the songs part of a club performance, rather than spontaneously erupting inexplicably from the characters, lends it a camper edge, never more so than in the big blonde wig, silver shirt, stripy tie and fringed PVC skirt combo of ‘Sugar Daddy,’ “Come on, Sugar Daddy, bring me home.”

Watch it Wednesday 4 May, 9:55pm on SBS 2


SIX POINT: 'A Woman’s Touch', Calamity Jane


Doris Day’s fabulous turn in David Butler’s wild west-themed Calamity Jane is a whip crack away winner, based on the real life pioneering frontierswoman and Deadwood citizen. With Howard Keel as her Wild Bill Hickock, the real camp factor is served in ‘A Woman’s Touch’, the suggestive duet between Calam and Allyn McLerie’s fancy blue dress-wearing Katie Brown. Talk about secret love, “With a rub, rub here and a rub, rub there…”



SEPT POINT: 'Ain't There Anyone Here for Love', Gentlemen Prefer Blondes


1953 was a vintage year for camp musical hits. Though Howard Hawks’ is the second filmic take on the Joseph Fields/Anita Loos musical, let’s not pretend anyone but Marilyn Monroe and Jane Russell’s head-to-head gets a look in. 

While Ms Monroe’s ‘Diamonds are a Girl’s Best Friend,’ is a camp classic, inspiring Madonna’s video for ‘Material Girl’, not to mention Nicole Kidman’s squealing turn in Moulin Rouge (no, really, don’t mention it), it’s Russell’s wide-eyed, flesh-filled gym scene that steals it. “Honey, you’ll hurt yourself.” 


HUIT POINTS: 'Over The Rainbow', The Wizard of Oz


If it seems like a heinous crime against campness that Judy Garland’s gingham-frocked Dorothy Gale trilling about rainbows isn’t in pole position, then that’s Eurovision for you. Deal with it. 




DIX POINT: 'I Can Make You a Man', The Rocky Horror Picture Show


This is why Judy needs to take a back seat. You could spend a century in Dr. Frank-N-Furter’s laboratory trying to figure out exactly which song in Jim Sharman’s big screen adaptation of Richard O’Brien’s Rocky Horror reaches camp boiling point, with songs like ‘Touch-A, Touch-A, Touch-A, Touch Me’ and ‘Sweet Transvestite’ in serious contention, but we’re going with the Charles Atlas seal of approval. 

Barring a minor interruption by Meatloaf’s ill-fated ‘Hot Patootie’ Eddie, Tim Curry, rocking out in pearls, heels and a pea green lab coat, has never been better than when groping Peter Hinwood’s oiled and buff blond, freshly baked Rocky. Stretching half rhymes like, “The sweat from his pores as he works for his cause,” work purely on the basis of Curry’s filthy delivery. 

Trevor White, who dubbed Rocky’s singing voice uncredited on ‘Rose Tint My World’ and ‘The Sword of Damocles,’ scored the plum role of Jesus in Sharman’s Australian stage production of Jesus Christ Superstar.


DOUZE POINT: '[You] Can’t Stop The Music', Can’t Stop The Music


Even Mr Curry can’t top (You) Can’t Stop The Music. Quite possibly the campest thing ever to be committed to the cinematic screen, Nancy Walker’s Village People biopic, celebrating their gay porn archetypes - leatherman, policeman, construction worker, G.I. soldier and, errr, Native American – somehow manages to out-bamboozle its obvious crapness (it secured Worst Picture and Worst Screenplay for Allan Car and Bronte Woodard in the 1981 Razzie Awards) by going all out, balls to the wall G.A.Y.

Bonus points are awarded for the film featuring latest LGBTI hero Bruce Jenner’s buffed abs in a crop top. An extended dance version of this track introduced Olivia Newton-John’s rendition of ‘Xanadu’ at Sydney’s 30th anniversary Mardi Gras party back in 2008, threatening to turn the entire planet queer for one ridiculously glorious moment. 


Explore the SBS On Demand Camp Classics Collection

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SBS On Demand: Camp Classics
In the spirit of Eurovision, we've themed a collection of free movies that's as camp as a row of tents. All available for free at SBS On Demand.