West End Grrl

So, what happens when you take the High Altar of Geek and plonk it in the very heart of mainstream, high-culture London?

Aside from a personal visit by the Mayor (who once collected Marvel comics, so he said) and an amazingly rude anchor girl from a national news team (I don’t care if you’re ‘on the telly’ luv, you’re not using my display as a dressing table), a great deal of fun, frolics and photographs.

Yes, Westminster City Council invited Forbidden Planet back to West End Live.

You know I’m intrigued by the nature of geekdom – the marketeer in me labels it the customer-base of my company – but I’m still a fangirl at heart and Forbidden Planet’s people are less statistic and more friend. Not so the milling hordes in Leicester Square last weekend! Busier than even the organisers expected, the shoulder-to-shoulder crush was sightseers, tourists, families, theatre lovers and luvvies; the urban(e) heart of the West End who stand outside my demographic and who don’t give Star Wars so much as a sniff of disdain.

Yet we were busier than we’ve ever been.

Aside from our giant Spidey, we took with us a dressing up box – masks, helmets, hats and props from now-hot comic book culture. Unsurprisingly, the guys wanted to don The Hulk mask-and-hands and roar at camera-wielding girlfriends; unsurprisingly, the Who voice-changer was a massive hit with every kid of ten or younger; unsurprisingly, the Indy hat-and-whip caused much amusement among the ladies. The ‘surprisingly’? The appeal was universal.

Dressing up is one of those things we never grow out of. It breaks our boundaries, transcends the faintly bitter taste of ‘role-play’ and embraces the sweet allure of ‘stage and screen’. With us, once again, were our friends from the UK Garrison – this time clad in a variety of movie-class costumes – and fronting the ‘come-as-you-aren’t’ theme of the FP tent. They epitomised what the packed throng of visitors were teasing at the edges of – the desire to be the legend, the hero, the star.

Returning to my personal mission statement about the new age of geek credibility, it seems that West End Live blurred the ever-fading line between geek and chic even more… On a weekend where the Mayor collects Marvel and the ol’ comic store becomes the new green room, there’s no limit to how cool a geek can get!

One thought on “West End Grrl

  1. I wonder who willingly throws themselves into the heart of the metropolis these day though- the whole of central london is a theme park, or at least, so it seems to me. As such, a visitor is as abstracted from his social reality as a visitor to disneyland- of course you’ll get geeks, in Leister Square you’ll get everyone, in tiny “out of towner” chunks. I am worried though. Without I he being too scathing, those who pop into the very heart of darkeness for tourism purposes could be seen as affecting a certain lack of imagination- it’s so mainstream, so manicured, so theme park. And they’re geeks? Geeks who have given up the quest perhaps! Being a geel meant, at school, running the gauntlet of the jocks and the cool kids- understanding more and defining oneself, powerfully and dangerously, as being DIFFERENT. THis is pointing to the geek inside everyman, but I still hold proud to the geek who had to fight for his/her right to be.Goths, today, are hunted to death by chavs.

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