Tammy Faye Bakker, Campy Fandom, and Ludicrous Tragedy
Tammy Faye Bakker, along with her husband Jim, led the “Praise the Lord” (PTL) network. One of the most (in)famous 1980s television ministries, PTL was widely mocked for its prosperity message and extravagant style, and fell apart under the weight of financial and sexual scandals. Tammy Faye herself was roundly ridiculed for her purportedly extreme appearance and emotions—attributes that would attract an unintended fan following of gay men who appreciated her for her camp value. This chapter outlines a first wave of Tammy Faye “campy” fans that emerged in the 1980s. It argues that the concept of “ludicrous tragedy” best explains these fans’ intriguing combination of ironic, and even critical, humor with genuine admiration.