The British Guide To Showing off
Andrew Logan’s Alternative Miss World is the stuff of legend offering a contrasting ideal of what and who can masquerade convincingly as beautiful in a world where the mundane is constantly in the ascendant. The fact that his ideologies are as rigorously loose as they were in 1972 when he started the whole furore with an event that had David Hockney as one of the judges and Derek Jarman as a contestant is apparent in this ‘documentary’ detailing the run up and preparations to 2009’s show at the Roundhouse in London. A moment of clarity about Logan’s intentions is revealed in a meeting with a young production assistant who is insisting on introducing technology- adding up votes accurately via mobile phones- whose suggestions are shot down in flames with Logan informing him accuracy and votes are not the important issues in choosing a winner. In this statement he reveals his inner belief that the whole show ,to him, is little more than a family ‘do’ although it is a hugely extended family and one that houses more pink sheep –of a day-glo hue obviously- than the traditional black ones. Think Warhol’s Factory contingent but with a little bit of heart soul and humility and you have some idea of Logan’s self created world. This film captures the fun behind Logan’s events but also exposes his serious side as a relevant artist whose flamboyance masks a serious message at its core.
Logan comes from a large close knit family and all seem to have a part to play in the staging of his Alternative Miss World events. This closeness extends to the friends who have been on his journey with him and who are still invited to enter the competition as contestants even though they know it is unlikely they will win. Claiming to despise celebrity culture Logan still manages to draw on his connections for his co-hosts and 2009 saw Ruby Wax join him to introduce the exuberant onstage antics and creations. Previous participants have included such luminaries as Julian Clary, Richard O’Brien and a legendary appearance in 1978 by Divine. The event also hosted a very early appearance by the fledgling Sex Pistols at a time when there were very few outlets for this band that would change the face of not just music but culture in Britain during the 1970’s. A young Leigh Bowery also made early appearances at Logan’s shows which were a perfect entry point for this extremely important aspiring performance artist. Logan obviously spotted their potential and likewise saw them as outsiders and rebellious kindred spirits he wanted to welcome. Perpetual cultural commentators such as Grayson Perry and Brian Eno are drawn in as willing co-conspirators to Logan’s vision and lend it some gravitas although gravitas is seemingly unimportant to Logan who despite all the flamboyance and avant-garde leanings comes across as thoroughly grounded and sincere. A telling moment occurs during a corporate meeting discussing branding and such stuff and he is so disinterested it is wholly refreshing much to the consternation and bewilderment of the corporate businessmen who cannot comprehend such a maverick spirit.
The British Guide To Showing Off is a humorous, colourful and thoroughly engaging trawl through the world as seen by Andrew Logan. A truly British eccentric he is one of a dying breed who recognises there no longer is any real alternative and although this is depressing he does not allow it to dishearten him. For such a realisation and for the progress and influence his events have exerted he deserves to be lauded and applauded.