In the 1960s, camp's ironic register expanded to many of the decade's cultural and artistic discourses, becoming hegemonic in historical accounts. This essay examines the response of two queer diasporic Puerto Rican artists, the filmmaker José Rodríguez-Soltero and the drag performer “superstar” Mario Montez, who were members of New York's artistic underground, to such an expansion. While Puerto Rican and Latino migrants to the city were associated in the works of underground artists with a seamlessly unfractured culture of fervor and belief that often made their cultural practices illegible as “art,” queer diasporic Puerto Rican artists, who were the product of multiple colonial and metropolitan displacements, promoted an aesthetics of mediation that combined calculation with surrender, and self-conscious dismantling of cinematic and artistic conventions with exaltation and belief. The essay further examines the recent comeback of Montez in contemporary queer debates on camp, failure, and shame in light of this diasporic aesthetics.

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