In Praise of Isaac Mizrahi’s Camp Genius

This fab color scheme will work no matter where the cosmic winds take you!


If you fancy yourself an aficionado of camp—the aesthetic sensibility associated with gay people, not the place with tents and s’mores—like I do, you should be watching gay designer Isaac Mizrahi’s show on QVC. Called, naturally, Isaac Mizrahi LIVE!, the show features Mizrahi and co-host Shawn Killinger hawking various garments, shoes, and accessories while models process awkwardly around the pair as if taking part in some sort of garish stripmall cakewalk. Killinger plays the perfect gal-pal counterpart to Mizrahi’s delightfully overzealous queen, both of them gushing absurdly (and clearly cynically) over items that are more chintzy than the oft-repeated adjective chic. Palpably middlebrow callers are occasionally tolerated, and discussions of “infinity scarves” and other objets d’kitsch often devolve into the peculiar syntactic fantasia (remember “a treat is happening”?) for which QVC is famous. Suffice it to say, I have passed many an evening with only a bottle of wine and this program for entertainment.

For those that haven’t yet made an acquaintance with the campy joys of IML!, a new bit of viral content offers an appropriately outré entrée. Tape of a recent segment of the show surfaced on the Internet earlier this week, in which a standard consideration of the color palettes of a line of cardigans suddenly shifts into a disquisition on the astrophysical nature of the moon. Specially, Killinger and Mizrahi wish to determine if the moon is a planet or a star—forgetting the incidentally correct option that it is, you know, a moon.

Don’t ask questions, just watch:

Here are my favorite three lines, presented without attribution to enhance the poetry:

“The moon is a planet, darling … the moon is such a planet.”
“There was Uranus and there was Saturn and there was the one with the rings on it … alright here look, this is key lime.”
“The moon is what? The moon is a natural satellite? What’s that mean? Is that what Google said? No, I don’t like that at all.”

Please also note how the camera can’t even face the hosts once the discussion begins, and then, once it does, how the model on the back right must cover her mouth or risk breaking that cool becardiganed gaze. All this goes to show that although Mizrahi and QVC might well try to sell you the moon, that doesn’t necessarily mean they’ll market it accurately—better take a look at that return policy first.

Want to hang out with Outward? If you’ll be in or near New York City on Feb. 3, join June Thomas, J. Bryan Lowder, and Mark Joseph Stern—and special guest Lea DeLaria of Orange Is the New Black fame!for a queer kiki at the first ever Outward LIVE show, hosted by City Winery. Details and tickets can be found here.