The Fascinating Legacy of Army of Lovers Star La Camilla aka Camilla Henemark

When sharing our feature on the greatest mixed vocal pop groups, we struggled to confine our love to Army of Lovers to simply one paragraph. Whilst Swedish eurodance act Army of Lovers has changed from its original shape and form of Alexander Bard, Jean Pierre-Barda and Camilla Henemark (aka La Camilla), later joining member Dominika Peczynski now remains part of the band whilst Camilla is not. The story of La Camilla is fascinating one.

Army of Lovers was formed by the trio after Bard’s short-lived drag artist project Barbie. Barbie, aka Barbara Hitchcock, was a secret child of Marilyn Monroe and John Fitzgerald Kennedy, who was sent to Mars for many years. La Camilla and Pierre-Barda would often join Barbie on stage in persona as characters Katanga and Farouk at that point. With a second Barbie album struggling to come to fruition, the project evolved with Bard, Pierre-Barda and Henemark who would name themselves Army of Lovers based on a 1979 documentary by German director Rosa von Praunheim called Armee der Liebenden oder Revolte der Perversen centred on gay life in America during the seventies. They would record their debut album Disco Extravaganza in 1990 which was a much more minimalist and experimental sound. However, it would be their 1991 follow-up Massive Luxury Overdose that would propel them to their peak but would also mark the temporary end of La Camilla’s time in the band. It’s not quite clear as to why Camilla departed – pressures balancing her modelling career, tensions within the band, whilst fan site Army of Lovers CZ notes there were “some reports in media suggesting she was missing sessions, being drunk on stage or having problems with drugs.” Dominika Peczynski would later join the band. This video gives a sense of the hostility regarding relations between Bard, Pierre-Barda, Peczynski and La Camilla.

La Camilla would go on to release some solo music after departing, singles I Am Not In The Mood For Lovers and Everytime You Lie. Both tracks packed club beats and La Camilla’s defiant, sexy vocals – not massively dissimilar to the band’s original sound. She would record a solo album in this period dubbed Temper in 1996, but this wouldn’t be released until the mid 2010s.

In a shock turn of events, La Camilla would rejoin Army of Lovers in 1996 for the band’s first greatest hits, Les Greatest Hits, which would also feature La Camilla’s solo release Everytime You Lie. This would then lead to the band hanging up their historical garb temporarily. La Camilla would balance a career in films and television, even delving into hosting a late night Swedish sex show dubbed Seventh Heaven which capitalised on her raunchy persona.

In the band’s hiatus, political expose The Reluctant Monarch examined the personal life of King Carl XVI Gustaf of Sweden, detailing his lengthy affair with the Army of Lovers songstress. TheLocal.se shares “The relationship reportedly lasted about a year in the late 1990s and with the knowledge of Queen Silvia,” before quoting an extract from the book “The King sometimes looked like a love-crazed school boy and on one occasion they talked about running away together to an isolated exotic island.” This news was unveiled back in 2010, yet still surprises given La Camilla and Army of Lovers flamboyant, camp and sexually-charged image totally at odds with the stiffness (ahem) and stately image of the Swedish monarchy.

After the bombshell which the singer did not reveal any comment, La Camilla would form The Happy Hoes with fellow Army of Lovers bandmember Michaela Dornonville De La Cour and drag artist Miss Inga. The three would release singles Happy Ho Ho Ho, Don’t Try to Steal My Limelight and We Rule the World as part of the short-lived 2012 collaborative project. This would be followed by another Army of Lovers reunion with a new Greatest Hits album dubbed Big Battle of Egos and also a high profile entry into Melodifestivalen, Rockin’ The Ride which would not qualify for the final due to a disappointing sixth place result. A very public fall-out ensued with La Camilla being sacked from the band by Bard and former member Dominika Peczynski once again re-joining.

La Camilla faced further troubles after Melodifestivalen, sharing: “I lost my footing, after the Eurovision Song Contest, and had a dull spring and thought I’d be homeless again. It was at the famous hair. It has cost me so many weeks, months of anxiety. So I drank and … Yes, I smoked cannabis on the Walpurgis night” – Walpurgis being the Swedish version of May Day. Previous bouts of homelessness had affected La Camilla throughout her time outwith Army of Lovers with the firing bringing back potential fears of this happening again. The star would later take part in The Biggest Loser where she would discuss a number of these issues and the ups and downs of her turbulent career.

The story of La Camilla and Army of Lovers is a fascinating one. We hope the group will be able to patch things up for a future chapter.

Leave a Reply