Shakespeare’s Globe was rebranded “the Mandala of British Theatre” on Saturday night (20 October) when it played host to Andrew Logan’s Alternative Miss World (AMW), an extravaganza of outrageous costume, unbridled expression and high-octane glamour that has now become a cherished British institution. This year the theme was “Psychedelic Peace”—the event began with a mass-meditative chant and described itself as “a temporary refuge away from the world’s strife, division and obsession with wall building”. This was especially appropriate since it took place on the same day as the 700,000-strong People’s March parading through London demanding a second referendum on Brexit. The Alternative Miss World finale included a mass cha-cha. Photo: Holly Revell

Now in its 14th incarnation, AMW describes itself as fusing the format of a beauty contest with that of Cruft’s dog show “but with neither dogs nor leashes—not usually”. Anyone can take part in this agenda-free cultural cornucopia whose contestants model daywear, swimwear and eveningwear inspired by each year’s theme and are judged solely on the criteria of poise, personality and originality. Previous participants have included the late, great Derek Jarman who took the crown as Miss Crepe Suzette in 1975; Leigh Bowery as Miss Fuckit in 1986 and Grayson Perry, who responded to the 1985 Water theme as a fetishistic fisherman, dangling his trussed then-girlfriend Jennifer Binnie on a sturdy rod. Miss UFO, the winner, in evening wear. Photo: Holly Revell

This year Perry was back but now among the judges—along with the musician Jarvis Cocker, the fashion designer Zandra Rhodes, the artist Duggie Fields, Logan’s brother Richard and the last AMW winner, the Kandinsky Prize-shortlisted Russian performance artist Sasha Frolova, who took the crown in 2014 as the latex-clad cyber-chick “Miss Zero +”. Although not on stage this time, Jennifer Binnie was also a crucial presence applying body paint onto her sister Christine and the rest of the neo-naturist group who were energetic participants under the collective title of Miss Neon Ommm. They lived up to their name by ending their naked cavorting to Hawkwind’s Silver Machine by whipping the crowd up into a collective hum of “ommms”. The neo-naturists dancing to Silver Machine. Photo: Holly Revell

Other notable participants were Logan’s sister Janet as Miss Who Gives a Fuck? and the redoubtable Edwina Orr as Miss Lysergic Acid and Hallucinations. Complete with a rising and falling tower and hydraulic, fibre-optic butterfly wings, Orr received loud applause for her spirited anti-Brexit diatribe when asked what her wish would be if she won the contest. Presiding over the proceedings was the magnificent Mr Logan, in his usual Zandra Rhodes-designed master/mistress of ceremonies costume, who this year was assisted by co-host actress Sara Kestelman and Scarlett Cannon as the “Sparkling Secretary”. Andrew Logan and co=host Sara Kestelman. Photo: Holly Revell

The overall winner was yet again a Russian with a penchant for rubber, with this year’s Logan-designed crown and orb awarded to Miss UFO, also known as the artist, performer and provocateur Andrey Bartenev, who remained invisible under a shell of inflatable polyps. The Globe Mandala then reverberated with more chanting and a mass cha-cha from all the contestants, and the declaration that “If all the world’s a stage then tonight Shakespeare’s stage is for world peace—and psychedelia …” From the Globe—and now Russia—with Love… Andrew Logan crowns the winner, Miss UFO. Photo: Holly Revell

Alternative Miss World contest brings psychedelic extravagance to Shakespeare’s Globe Theatre


The Buck stopped here

The Buck stopped here is a weekly blog by our contemporary art correspondent Louisa Buck covering the hottest events and must-see exhibitions in London and beyond