Article Title:QWU review: A brazenly glamorous night to remember
Author or Credit:John Stone
Published on:27th November 2005 - 12:00 pm
Story ID:1022
Text:From the tongue in cheek Star Wars opening credits to the final production number, last night's NZAF fundraiser spectacular Queen of the Whole Universe was a pageant of fabulous glamour, full steam ahead excess, pathos, bawdiness and professionalism by which all future drag extravaganzas will be judged. It even started on time - which those who are familiar with 'dragtime' will doubtless agree is a major accomplishment in itself - and ran almost seamlessly from beginning to end. I'm probably not telling any secrets when I mention that only the final segments are a true competition, the whole of the first half and part of the second are merely excuses to get as many glorious visions of dragdom on stage as possible for vibrant spectacle and a bit of fun in the lead-up to the main event. Many of the performers were strutting their stuff in heels and sequins for the first time... some were gloriously amateurish, others slickly professional. There were even a couple of lesbians venturing into glamour drag for perhaps the first time and carrying it off bloody well! But that's all part of the charm of Queen. The art is in making it all hang together, building empathy between the audience and the 'contestants' with each outrageous segment topping those which preceded it and this the director, producer and performers managed extremely well, building to a crescendo of creativity as the real contestants emerged as 'finalists' and the true judging kicked in. This was big-budget, cast of (literally!) hundreds, dragshow heaven and every last cent showed on stage. The spectacle of dozens (too many to count!) of colour-coordinated, sumptuously overdressed divas easily and splendidly filling Auckland's cavernous Aotea Centre stage, parading and lip-synching their way through catwalk appearances, song and dance numbers and (shudder, laugh, hysterics!) the swimsuit section, was enough to have even this drag-phobe cheering and whistling from the cheap seats. Who will ever forget the effortlessly synchronized performances of conjoined twins Miss Trinidad and Tobago or the ghastly clog-clonking cheeriness of Miss Holland. Or Miss Thailand's beautifully judged homage to the culture of Thailand and the still raw tragedy of the Boxing Day Tsunami? The old-style bawdiness and pneumatically enhanced cleavage of Miss Brazil? Or the only slightly tongue in cheek grandeur of Miss Kenya's Lion King-inspired production number (preceded by an interpretation of the song Born Free which hovered in uneasy balance between the worst excesses of Martha Graham and Madge Alsop's regrettable interpretation of The Wasteland.) Or Miss Afghanistan's veiled anonymity and pert buttocks. Or Miss Mexico's truly awesome tribute to her country's patron saint Guadelupe - one can only assume that her costumier had a team of structural engineers on the payroll! But the standout from beginning to end was Miss India, from her opening number appearance in a golden snakecharmer's basket headdress (complete with snake) working her way through stunningly executed and hilariously well-judged costume references to stereotypical Indian culture, exuding effortless poise and mischief, to take the ultimate crown. This was the contestant/performers' night and even the supporting acts were well judged to impress with talent and provide respite from visual overload. MCs Buffy and Bimbo managed not to hog the limelight too much and kept things flowing, glossing effortlessly over the rare awkward little pauses, Buffy as always the avuncular foil to Bimbo's sugarcoated toxicity. Sound levels were a bit variable and B  
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