There was also the equally sudden appearance of piercings, tattoos and – most shocking of all for hardcore metal fans – make-up. It was one thing seeing Kirk Hammett – always the most (comparatively) effeminate of the group – posing in mascara, showing off his new body tattoos and face piercings, including a labret (a small, silver spike) dangling below his lower lip, 1.camping it up for all he was worth in order to alter the public perception of who the people in Metallica really were. Seeing Lars imitating him, though stopping short of the extravagant tattoos (Lars was game, not reckless), was also strangely digestible, knowing what lengths Lars would go to in order to keep Metallica in the public eye.

1 Does it mean that Kirk was pretending to be gay? Earlier in the book it says that he was kissing Lars. 2. What does the expression mean in other words?

  • 4
    I'm pretty sure, like your past questions, that this contains a block quote from some book. When we start reading, we think the first few words are yours. To change that, please start the quote by typing > and it will format it as a quote. (Also, could you tell us the book?) Commented Jun 17 at 20:02
  • "Pretending to be gay"—style and appearance in rock circle has always been a complicated history. It might be too much to say that Kirk was making any overt statement, simply that he was adopting styles associated with the Camp movement. Commented Jun 17 at 20:07
  • Camping it up: becoming more camp, i.e. flamboyant, which some may relate to being gay. Being game, not reckless: willing to do something (in this case becoming more camp), but not beyond a certain point.
    – ishtar
    Commented Jun 17 at 20:15
  • In the sense of overdone performance, all of the British Hammer films are definitely camp. Commented Jun 17 at 20:18
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    I think in most contexts, camping it up and hamming it up are more or less synonymous - they don't particularly imply that the subject is either homosexual or thespian, just (usually, deliberately, facetiously) acting in a flamboyantly exaggerated way. Commented Jun 17 at 20:28

2 Answers 2


Camping things up can mean to act in a stereotypically 'gay' fashion (mincing, lisping, behaving effeminately, calling everyone 'ducky'), but in the context of performance it can also mean merely to act with exaggerated speech or gestures.

Camp is an aesthetic style and sensibility that regards something as appealing because of its bad taste and ironic value.

Camp (style) - Wikipedia


English learners, much as the word "gay" can mean either

  • homosexual

  • cheerful

The word "camp" can mean either

  • regarding a homosexual person: behaving in a flamboyant manner

  • regarding acting or performing: acting in an over-the-top, corny manner.

Your partial question, "was he pretending to be gay". No, this was answered perfectly in a comment:

"...don't particularly imply that the subject is either homosexual ... just ... acting in a flamboyantly exaggerated way"

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