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Welcome to the wonderful world of Andrew Logan’s Alternative Miss World

Posted at 10:00 am, October 16, 2014 in Arts & Entertainment, Shopping & Style

Andrew logan © Robyn Beeche  

Alternative Miss World is London’s anything goes beauty pageant founded in 1972 by Andrew Logan. Before the thirteenth bash, he explains why it’s such a special occasion. As told to Sonya Barber

‘Alternative Miss World is a surreal art event for all-round family entertainment. It’s based on Crufts dog show. Contestants are judged on poise, personality and originality. It’s a classical format with daywear,  swimwear and evening wear rounds, but there are no rehearsals. It’s organised chaos.’

In the 1970s, Miss World was huge, every household in the UK watched this beauty pageant, so we used it as a theme for a party and realised it was a great format.’

The first Alternative Miss World in 1972 was held in an old Dalston jigsaw factory with a catwalk made out of orange boxes and just a few friends, including David Hockney and some other artists. It was so successful that we did it again the following year. That one was so packed, people were climbing in the windows. David Bowie queued and couldn’t get in. It just grew from there. Now they happen every few years; the last one was in 2009.’

Andrew logan © Robyn Beeche 1978

I discovered my first hosting outfit in a jumble sale. It’s a half-and-half costume from a musical routine where you tango in as a man and out as a woman, but I thought it was interesting to see it full frontal. It became my signature attire. It works well because there are no barriers of age, gender or sexuality in Alternative Miss World. Anyone can enter. We even had a robot win. We haven’t had an animal yet, but you never know.’

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Applications for contestants are first-come, first-served. You get the veterans, like my sister Janet who’s done each one, and new people join every year. Sometimes it’s their first time doing anything like this.  You always know which contestant has won. You’ll go through all the competitors and then there’ll be a roar. At the last one in 2009, a contestant called Fancy Chance hung from her hair and that was it.’

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You often get a glimpse into the future at Alternative Miss World. In 1975 there were clothes with rips and safety pins. Malcolm McLaren and Vivienne Westwood were there, and punk came a year later. When [filmmaker] Derek Jarman won in 1975, he was quite unknown and then his career took off. The first time [performance artist] Leigh Bowery appeared was in the 1985 Alternative Miss World, the same year Grayson Perry took part. It has always been a platform for people who want to express themselves and don’t quite know how yet.’

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Grayson Perry is my co-host this year. It makes sense, he’s a product of Alternative Miss World. I’m sure his acerbic wit will come to the forefront and I’ll be a comforting presence.’

‘The effect of Alternative Miss World spreads around the world. It’s like throwing a pebble in the pool. The ripples go out then settle and emerge again when the time is right. I want to keep it going until I drop. I might end up in a village hall with three people in wheelchairs, but as long as I feel the warmth I’ll carry on. ‘

Alternative Miss World, Shakespeare’s Globe, Sat Oct 18. www. alternativemissworld.co.uk

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