On Friday I attended Britain and Ireland’s Next Top Model Live on a press pass, in my guise as “illustrator”. I’ll include some of my sketches in this post, but all of them (and maybe some worked-up illustrations from the sketches) will be in a British Style Bloggers post sometime soon. Watch out for that.
It was a weird kind of day. Overall good, but weird. It’s not my natural environment, to be plain; I had a lot of reservations about attending. I wasn’t sure how the.. celebrification, I suppose, of the “Models” concept jibed with my personality, my feminism, my general opinions. I kind of thought it had the potential to be really annoying? I thought about it a lot – but in the end I decided it was hypocritical or perhaps just OVERLY critical for me to look down/askance on/at a modelling convention when I’ve attended conventions for scenes no more ideologically pure – anime and ‘western geek’ fandoms aren’t exactly famed for their sensible, measured social progressiveness, are they? No matter how we may try. And natch, there’s nothing inherently bum about modelling.. Some of my favourite characters are models!! (note: ironical use of meme-sentence
seriously though, Mary Jane Watson).
So, I went.
Alas! I have never watched an episode of The Only Way Is Essex, which even the actual news seems to call “Towie” now, so I had not done all of my homework! I do not regret this. Some prices are too hard to pay.
My real BINTML thoughts can be saved for the BSB post. They’re generally positive, and any criticism is constructive.
I was on the light railway, nearly at the centre, when I noticed some kid in a yellow hoodie with big graphic eyes and teeth. “Neat hoodie”, I thought. I was on the platform or going up stairs when I noticed someone in a really terrible hat over green hair. I thought, “Huh”. I got up the steps to the covered walkway and started to think “usually you won’t see a girl with huge thigh cut-outs in her jeans next to a longhair with a black cowboy hat and that other guy, whose unusual garb I have forgotten at time of writing”, because I don’t live anywhere too exciting. But by the time I got further along the walkway, and started seeing multiple yellow hoodies, and kigurumi wearers, and, like, people that I was sure I would recognise if I’d kept myself in the general fandom loop, you know? Coincidentally, that day was also a day for London Expo.
And I gotta tell you, a tiny yearning started in my spine.
I hurried to meet Rachel, get my pass, get my goodie bag. They’d run out of goodie bags, but two out of three ain’t always bad. I stared at all the cosplay kids with hungry eyes as I made my way up the convention centre. I saw two Robot Unicorns. I saw zombies. I saw more people who I felt like I should recognise, but didn’t recognise. London Excel Centre is long as longcat! But I had work to do. Drawings! Networking! Observations! Hopefully freebies!
The only freebie I managed to catch, by the by, was some sort of magical “weight-loss” ice-cream. They had a topless gennleman in very tight jeans and body glitter handing them out, and I will tell you why: It was not tasty.
Topless chaps* and weight-loss products were strong themes, really, along with gaining personal visual attention and chocolate. Weight-loss products and chocolate: they are the best of friends. I didn’t bring a drink – foolish – so mid-afternoon (after the press refreshments were done and gone) I quenched my thirst with ‘weight-loss tea’. As I drank it, someone asked the booth attendant “So does this.. make you go?” Yep, she replied. Mmmm! Delicious!
(So apparently “Amy Childs” is a famous person. This was just someone getting some sort of make-over at.. her.. fashion booth? Tiny sparkly dresses.)
This dude was giving out free perfume, but he wasn’t just giving it out. He made people say please, and put their hands up before anyone else, and go “woo”, and kept up a torrenting stream of patois. I do not do these things for people so I got no free perfume but I did get this picture. His colleagues were impressed with it, which was nice.
I met a lot of fun, enthusiastic people (such as Zi at Zed-Eye); I dug the dyamism of trying to sketch on a packed convention floor; I hung out with a long-term BSB colleague and I enjoyed the energy of the catwalk show, but by four o’clock my energy was seriously flagging. I needed some meat. I went to get a chicken and leek slice.
And that was when the day started to shift itself to my level! Kind, day! Who should be in front of me at not-Greggs, but Dr Mrs The Monarch??
We chatted; apparently London Expo didn’t see too many Venture Bros fans on the Friday. Such a shame! It was a pretty flawless costume to my eye, and the reason that I didn’t ask for a picture is because I am DAFT. Luckily not everybody else was! Still. I expressed my admiration. That’s important.
I went and sat on the steps, and took in the view. It was so relaxing. To be in an environment where my enthusiasm was really real. In the Top Model hall, when reality television celebrities were being asked for pictures and autographs and people were becomming breathless and starry-eyed, I was asking Rachel who they were. I forgot while she was telling me, because I didn’t care (but thanks for answering, Rach!). When I stopped a guy in Kabuto Raijā/Blake-from-Ninja-Storm
or wait.. is that the other way around? I only watched the first epiosde of Hurricanger.. spandex and asked him if he was Sentai or Power Rangers version, I did care when he said “Sentai, of course”. When I passed a BEAUTIFULLY crafted cat-headed, apparently animatronic robed mystery costume, I cared a lot that I couldn’t appreciate the character being portrayed. I cared a surprising, fascinating** amount that I shook the actual hand of this pitch-perfect Decade player. I shook hands with Decade, man! With Decade! I love Decade!
I swam in two different “people wearing clothes for the purpose of those clothes being see” pools in one Friday, and it’s funny how much intent can matter when the end product of the resulting action isn’t causing someone harm. I love me some visual fiction and I love me some interesting clothing, but I guess I I’m so much more sharply interested in the “model” organs of sartorial storytelling’s guts when.. there’s an encouraged element of personality sacrifice? There’s a great deal of exhibitionism potential in cosplay, of course, and many models can and will express what the clothes or styling is designed to say rather than try to become queen, but – drag is more interesting to be around than “the natural look”. That is my metaphor. Look how flippin’ great this character/show/design is, omg is more compelling to me than look how much I want to be where people will look at me. And those are the feelings I get, from these two events. This reflects on me, rather than the quality/truth/validity of either.
Spot: Knuckles, Lara Croft, the Eleventh Doctor hugging anthropomorphised Rainbow Dash, mystery gas mask man, mystery.. black/white/neon pink anime morris dancer?, apparetly possibly Ino from Naruto, other person from Naruto (you know they wear those coats with clouds on), Dr Mrs the Monarch, Cookie Monster, Just Dance 3 stage + dancers, mystery military officer drinking a big ole bottle of Coke, hooded person I almost recognised but then failed at.
Other brilliant costumes I can recall: Dark Phoenix, many Homestuck trolls, many presumable Hetalia countries, Ragdoll, Sora, Tidus, Riku, those black-coat guys from the Kingdom Hearts PS2 sequel, Poison Ivy, Mario & Luigi (boy versions), Tenth Doctor, Stormtroopers, that guy from that game where he has a long black hooded coat with metal ornamental rope around the neck and sunglasses with two dark blades, Dante, Assassin’s Creed people, Tails, a girl dressed head to toe in what looked like Baby, the Stars Shine Bright, Buzz Lightyear, handfuls of Naruto characters, Iori Yagami, L.. why can’t I remember any more of them?
There was a really cute baby jigging to the Just Dance stage music, but that does’t count as a costume.
Cosplay photos to follow in small number.
Good day, all told. Good day.
I kept my Top Model press badge on while I was mingling and vocally recognising, because I know that in the past I would have looked down on the idea that someone can like “model stuff” and hold a genuine appreciation for “nerd stuff”. These hot-girl actresses who say “Oh I love Batman, Wonder Woman is so awesome”, and legions say NAWWWWW BIIIIITCH Y U FAKIN TO TEMPT THE BOYZ? It’s a shame.
* Often thrusting. They had actual strippers, at one point.
** To me