That‘s ‘Dame‘ camp mother to you

The country may have got a few more knights and dames than it bargained for after musical comedy duo, the Topp Twins were honoured with damehoods.

Dames Jools and Lynda Topp at Auckland‘s ASB Waterfront Theatre. Photo: RNZ / Rowan Quinn

Newly minted dames Jools and Lynda Topp said some of their famous characters, such as Camp Mother and Camp Leader, will insist on being along for the ride.

“Prue and Tilly will be dames too – and Ken and Ken will be sirs I suppose,” Dame Jools said.

“All of those characters are us. I‘m sure a few of them will take the title at the odd gig or two – but it‘s kind of nice that Jools and Lynda are dames too,” Dame Lynda said.

The pair were made Dames Companion to the New Zealand Order of Merit for services to entertainment in the Queens Birthday Honours.

But that entertainment could not be separated from their political activism because it was what gave them a platform and a profile they could use, Dame Jools said.

Both had protested the 1981 Springbok tour and been vocal about supporting a nuclear free New Zealand and the Homosexual Law Reform Bill, among many other causes.

Camp Mother & Camp Leader. Photo: Te Papa

They were surprised to get the honour which was a sign of how society had changed, they said.

They would never have been offered it 30 years ago, nor would they have accepted it.

“So now what‘s happened is we‘ve done our bit, we‘ve changed the establishment and now they‘re honouring that,” said Dame Lynda.

“The rebels have got their medals.”

In some ways accepting the award was the most political thing they had done because it was an acknowledgement of all they had fought for, Dame Jools said.

Once upon a time only very conservative people of a certain class got knight and damehoods but now people were honoured for what they do, not where they come from.

“The Queen must have said ‘yes.‘ She had to tick the box,” said Dame Jools.

“She must have said “oh yeah …give those lesbian twins a bloody medal.”

The Topp Twins, Lynda and Jools, in the early 1980s. Photo: 2015 Simon Grigg

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