Quite some months ago, whilst studiously partaking in one of our BA History of Art lectures on the Renaissance, my dear and talented friend Mr. David McAlmont casually whispered to me that he would be singing at Andrew Logan’s Alternative Miss World 2014 beauty pageant at Shakespeare’s Globe Theatre. I knew absolutely nothing of this event. However, I had an overwhelming sense that I simply MUST be in attendance. My first question was “Do you think I could be a contestant, I think I’m quite alternative?” About which, with a quick flick of his Lagerfeld-esque Spanish fan, he charmingly laughed and said “With these dames, honey, you’ve got no chance.”
Well, it certainly sounded like a veritable dressing up box of an event, which had “Middleton” written all over it, and with a carefully executed outfit that I was quite sure I could handle “these dames”, I was sure I would be quite the match! I would attend a la Marlene Dietrich style donning evening tails and white tie, there was quite simply nothing else for it!
As I stepped from my carriage, I ventured a little nervously towards the Box Office through a malaise of divinely eclectic souls who had done Logan’s “Neon Numbers“ theme proud; whereupon I collected my pink wristband which would allow me and my curiosity admittance to the mysteries of the backstage spectacle. I had now found my stride and I casually sauntered up the back stairwell with a confident air to find Monsieur McAlmont in the dressing rooms casually attaching feathers to his glitteratta of a bejeweled headpiece. Well, this was all quite an eye opener for the young Middleton who had never before been in such close proximity to so many colourful queens getting ready for a performance, whereupon the following conversation ensued: “Oh my gaaaaawd, its’ Victor/Victoria!” to which I clearly had a quizzical look on my face which told the whole dressing room that I clearly had no idea who this “Victor/Victoria” cat was.
At this juncture one of the said artistes wearing nothing but a pair of 7” “fuck you” heels and a few bits of ribbon, quickly whirled me round by my shoulders ensuring everyone had a good clear view of ‘La Middleton’ and said “Hellllloooooooooo, you ARE Victor/Victoria honey”. I felt so very naively Annie Hall! I did of course spend a spent and exhausted Sunday afternoon reclining on my chaise longue, eyes glued to the screen watching Julie Andrews transform herself into ‘Victor/Victoria’, to nullify such a situation EVER happening again!
Now to the main event. Co-hosted by the artistic creative genius and founder Andrew Logan, making his spectacular entrance via a winching device from the Globe rafters. This involved his lordship side-saddling a gigantic hoop in his double-edged neon ensemble fit for Iris, the Greek Goddess of the Rainbow. Logan was accompanied by the once-in-a-lifetime experience which is Turner Award-winning artist Grayson Perry, who outdid himself with a triple multifarious costume change. His sensational finale assemblage was a fluffy ball of canary yellow wonderment and as co-host he definitely gave Ruby Rod from The Fifth Element a run for his money.
The phantasmagoric neon spectacle followed the normal pattern of events that a traditional Miss World contest should, but as the doorman pointed out when I entered the historical arena of the Globe Theatre and politely asked if it was OK for me to take some photographs “Normal rules don’t apply tonight Madame”; how right he was!
The categories of day wear, swimwear and evening wear were a delight to behold. I cannot even begin to put into words the extraordinary effort that the contestants had gone to. Surreal, magical, totally insane, truly outrageous. How some of the outfits even managed to fit onto the stage was a wonder, Miss Enigma’s gigantic fan being one of them.
Another was the orange octopus during the swimwear section that fell off of the stage into the crowd of flamboyant onlookers, who then came good, and excitedly began to chase Grayson across the well-trodden boards with flowing tentacles. The naked man that emulated the pastel purple poodle was one of my favourites as was the formally laid dining room table complete with chandelier and man servant.
However, with my love for latex in mind, McAlmont and I rushed backstage to capture a photo with the deservingly newly crowned Alternative Miss World 2014 winner Miss Zero+ who had been the most resplendent of contestants, breaking free from her enormous couture balloon enclosure via the medium of spinning to reveal her black and white head to toe latex ensemble, including millinery, and a delightful and charming Russian girl she was too.
Now, it would be remiss of me not to mention that, between the main sections, we had the darling Eve Ferret and her penoir, which is always a pleasure to watch. Secondly we had the songbird talents of David McAlmont with his Lady Grinning Soul and Diamonds Are Forever renditions. If you have not heard McAlmont sing the latter then get yourself to the nearest YouTube station and tune in immediately! He glided across the Globe stage with the greatest of ease accompanied by some gloriously sensual dancers and decadently clad in a white suit with sparkling epaulets made from diamante panthers, not to mention the luxurious feather boa that had sumptuously draped itself across his Concorde-esque wing span. Simply darling, darling!
To round off the evening, the colourful creative crowd trooped downstairs for a DJ duet set comprising of McAlmont and Martin Green, where the atmosphere was electric with love, happiness and a camaraderie of which I have never witnessed before in a dancehall, discothèque or dungeon! The togetherness of spirit emulating from the audience, the participants, the organizer, the array of celebrity judges including Zandra Rhodes, Fenella Fielding, Zoe Wanamaker and the darling Suggs to name but a few, was awe inspiring. It was mingling magic, where you could wander off to one corner of the room and you would be guaranteed to have made around ten new friends by the time you got to the other side, which is tantamount to the spirit in which the event is organized.
I was extremely reticent to let the evening go, I wanted to hang onto the magic of the night for as long as I possibly could. Therefore I had great trouble handing back my evening tails to Buckleighs, but they have promised me, as all good Fairy Godmothers do, that Cinderella will go the ball again, so I cross my fingers that the fabulous Andrew Logan will grace us with another party that is full of love and joy and effervescence very soon. A huge thank you to everyone involved.
Words and pictures by Nicola Middleton