Fearless Vulgarity: Jacqueline Susann’s Queer Comedy and Camp Authorship

Wayne State Univ. Nov. 2022. 304p. ISBN 9780814346044. pap. $34.99. LIT
Whether readers love Valley of the Dolls and Old Hollywood gossip or know very little about Jaqueline Susann, this book will likely make them laugh and realize just how much of today’s pop culture is thanks to Susann. It’s reasonable to conclude that pop culture may never have gotten The Real Housewives franchise or RuPaul’s Drag Race if not for Susann’s undeniably camp creations. Feil (visual and media arts, Emerson Coll.; Dying for a Laugh: Disaster Movies and the Camp Imagination) does a glorious job of capturing the candid, unapologetic nature of Susann’s personality and work, while breathing importance and meaning into what most of the world considered trash in the 1960s. For decades, only the die-hard film nerds and LGBTQIA+ pop-culture fanatics recognized Susann’s impact, but hopefully Feil’s book will open her legacy to a wider audience.
VERDICT Young patrons and baby boomers alike will likely enjoy this true story of a larger-than-life gay icon and her influence on pop culture, making it a great addition to all nonfiction collections.
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