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Chapter3 part c: the Image of the Beauty Queen
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Chapter IV: The Runway part a
  
 
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TARA MAGINNIS
 
TARA MAGINNIS
  
Chapter III part c:
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Chapter IV: The Staging Context
  
The Ideal of The Beauty Queen
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The Intent of any kind of theatre performance is to manipulate the audience with thesensory content of the performance into feeling and thinking what the artists wish theperformance to convey. The negative side to this is described by Anita Block:"Theatre consciousness is the condition of being entranced by the glamour and theoften spurious trappings of the theatre--such as clever acting, smart dialogue, dazzlingcostumes and effective scenery-- into a drugged indifference to the values of the playcontent." The audience is most easily moved by those "trappings" which itdoes not consciously recognize as being part of the performance, since its critical focusis likely to be centered on what it sees as the "performance". Audience membersrarely question or analyze the theatre building itself as part of the performance unlessit intrudes upon their notice (as in the case of hard seats, poor sightlines or anextremely unusual playing space). Consequently the physical layout of the playing space ina theatre, unless abnormally awkward or intrusive, can have an enormous effect on theaudience's unconscious attitude toward the performance and the performers. Steven Josephin New Theatre Forms (1968), insists,
  
Of all three forms of theatre described in this study, the beauty pageant is the onemost conspicuously concerned with the ideal of womanhood presented by its performers.Unlike the other two forms of theatre however, beauty pageants as a rule tend to taketheir ideal images so seriously that they frequently confuse them with reality, and expecttheir performers to live up to the ideal in their daily lives. Beauty contestants arejudged not only on their on-stage performances, but on personal interviews, and in somecases on the information judges have on contestants' personal, professional and charitableactivities. Since judging often includes these areas which cross over from thecontestants' real lives it can become extremely difficult to separate the beauty contestperformer's ideal image from her day-to-day reality. This problem is fostered by theamateur status of the performers, and the extreme seriousness with which they and thejudges often treat this ideal image. As Pam Eldred, Miss America 1970 observed:
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In a theatre, actors and audience meet each other at the moment of performance, they share the experience and each contributes something towards it. Real actors, acting in the presence of a real audience: this is the essence of theatre. In designing a theatre this meeting can be seized upon and developed so that the presence of the actor is more strongly felt and the contribution of the audience is increased.  
  
After participating in the Miss Detroit, Miss Michigan, and then the Miss America pageants, I knew that the most beautiful girls didn't always win. What the judges were looking for were young women who set goals and dreams for themselves. They were looking for women who were willing to work toward goals by continuing their education, by devoting time to perfecting a talent, and by taking pride in themselves and trying to be the most attractive person they could be.
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Richard Southern has written:
  
With a performance standard that requires a total commitment to the ideal in one'sprivate life, many pageant contestants are bound to become obsessed with the ideal andfeel that living up to it holds the key to their future happiness. Pageant enthusiastsstate over and over, in the publications they have created for one another, that theprocess of preparing for a pageant by a transformation of one's appearance and lifestyleis the real goal and virtue in a pageant. Pageants are seen by these people as groupconsciousness raising sessions that provide support for self-improvement throughdiscipline. Their literature promotes pageantry with the kind of zeal usually seen infollowers of obscure religious sects.  
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Whenever you put on any sort of theatrical show the thing which matters most (on the material side) is not the scenery but the stage--its shape, its nature, and its relation to the audience...the stage affects the acting--it conditions the look and the `reach' and the concentration of a show; It can endow the actor, and thus the action, with an essential command of appeal.  
  
Through all this, the one theme that dominates is the ideal of the performer. Pageantjudges are expected to select a woman to represent what pageant officials have decided arethe ideal qualities of a Miss Whatever. This is where pageant people and their criticsusually conflict, since the ideal of women promoted by pageants naturally does notcoincide perfectly with the ideals of other groups. As long as pageants present theirwinners as representing the preferred ideal of womanhood they will continue to be attackedby those individuals and organizations who prefer another ideal. The ideal of most beautypageants is a conservative one, due to the composition of the pageant audience (seeChapter II), and is composed of rather vague, amorphus guidelines in order to be flexibleenough to fit a variety of contestants. The judges' manual for the Miss Americapreliminaries in 1990 lists the basics in terms of that particular competition:
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Different stage shapes (and their relation to the position of the audience in thehouse) act upon audiences differently: an indoor proscenium theatre has a completelydifferent audience dynamic than an outdoor theatre-in-the- round. Other less drasticdifferences in theatre space also produce varying kinds of effects on audience reactionsto a performance. Performers also are obliged to work differently on different types ofstages, depending on their varying position in relation to the spectators.  
  
Miss America is a vibrant, concerned woman, accepting the challenges for today and possessing even more exciting dreams for tomorrow...women are being sought with the best composite of the following attributes:  
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Sociologists have given clues as to the way space, body position and distance betweenpeople affects the way audience members view performers. Edward T. Hall for example,describes the social values applied by Americans to certain distances between people asfalling into four main categories:  
  
Intelligence
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Intimate distance (0-1&1/2 feet), Personal distance (1&1/2-4 feet), Social/Consultive dis- tance (4-10 feet), and Public distance (10 or more feet).
  
Talent
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These four categories of distance form the basis of the theoretical understanding ofspatial relationships between people both onstage and off. Hall describes some of the maincharacteristics of each of these distances and how they affect one's view of the personseen at that distance:
  
Leadership
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Intimate Distance The presence of the other person is unmistakable and may at times be overwhelming because of the greatly stepped-up sensory inputs. Sight (often distorted), olfaction, heat from the other per- son's body, sound, smell, and feel of the breath all combine to signal unmistakable involvement with another body. This is the distance of love-making...the high possibility of physical involvement is uppermost in the awareness of both persons.
  
Courage
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Personal Distance ...the distance consistently separating the members of non-contact species [like humans]. The three dimensional quality of objects is particularly pronounced. Objects have roundness, substance and form...surface textures are also very prominent. Subjects of personal interest and involvement can be discussed at this distance.
  
Communication and interpersonal skills
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Social Distance--Close Phase Details of skin texture and hair are clearly perceived. Impersonal business occurs at this distance. It is also a very common distance for people who are attending a casual social gather- ing. To stand and look down at this distance has a domineering effect.
  
Poise
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Social Distance--Far Phase This is the distance to which people move when someone says, "Stand away so I can look at you." Business and social discourse....has a more formal character.
  
Attractiveness
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Public Distance--Close Phase Fine details if the skin and eyes are no longer visible. 60-degree scanning includes the whole body.
  
Consider well these qualities of each contestant-- be governed by absolutes.
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Public Distance--Far Phase Thirty feet is the distance that is automatically set around important public figures...there are certain adjustments that must be made, however. Most actors know that at thirty or more feet the subtle shades of meaning conveyed by the normal voice are lost as are the details of facial expression and movement...the nonverbal part of the communication shifts to gestures and body stance.
  
The notion that people can be judged by "absolute" standards in itself isoffensive to some people even when the ideal goals of intelligence, talent, etc. areadmired. However it is the cornerstone of pageant thinking that the ideals of womanhood aspresented in the pageant are there not merely to be enacted, but to be lived up to. Thiskind of thinking becomes apparent whenever a winner is "caught" doing somethingthat the pageant officials feel is not in keeping with the image of the competition. Thewinner is assumed to have no right to a private life, and can be dethroned by officialswho disapprove of anything she does in her personal life, from marrying, to posing nude,to making a personal political statement.  
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Runway stages have the almost unique facility of allowing the performer to create orannihilate distance between all four of these distance categories without having to leavethe stage. This is possible because of the runway's intimate proximity with the audience,and the stage proper's height and public distance from them. A performer, simply by movingforward onto the runway, or even, ultimately, lowering herself onto it at audience eyelevel, can travel through the areas of interactive distance from the "public"through to the "intimate." Southern comments:
  
The two most famous cases in which pageant officials have forced title holders torelinquish their crowns are those of Vanessa Williams, Miss America 1984, and Kathy Huppe,Miss Montana 1970. Ms. Williams was forced to resign when it was disclosed that she hadposed for a photographer in the nude, even though this event took place years before sheentered the competition, or began to work for the pageant organization. Ms. Huppe wasforced out of her job by the pageant organizers because she was against the Vietnam War,and refused to transfer to the university which they preferred, despite the fact that thejudges who selected her knew her views and her university from the beginning, and she madeno "embarrassing" statements about Vietnam. In both cases the organizers of thepageants were determined, at all costs, to rid themselves of title holders who did not fittheir ideals, even in areas which most employees consider personal and private.  
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It is useful for an actor to be able to create or annihilate distance between himself and his audience as he chooses...it is not so easy to achieve this sense of withdrawal and advance on a picture-frame stage. Here [on a thrust stage] we may have control of distance--acting back- wards and forwards; that is to say playing on different scales--large acting at the back, spread wide, coming to small acting at the front, pin-pointed and concentrated...here the actor has a most potent weapon offered him, the weapon of direct address. You are the object of that advance. For you he came forward; to you now he speaks.  
  
Contest officials have objected to winners before, and have even canceled their owncompetitions rather than acknowledge a winner who doesn't fit their ideal image of acontestant. The New York Times reported one such incident in 1924:
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The runway stage is, of course, a form of thrust stage, indeed the most extreme formsince it is generally too narrow to be used for conventional action, and is purely used asa method for advancing on the audience. The closest parallel in stage shape to the runwaystage is the hanamichi bridge (see fig. 4-1) in the Japanese Kabuki theatre, however, notthe less formal Western incursions into audience space like theatre-in-the-round. Runwayshave been used in Japanese theatre for centuries in order to bring performers physicallycloser to the audience, without putting the performers on the same level or destroyingtheir stature and glamour.
  
The Flushing [New York] beauty contest was terminated abruptly yesterday, as Dorothy Derrick, 17 years old, a negro girl, was in third place and threatening to gain. For two days Dorothy Derrick led the Flushing beauties in the balloting. She had dropped to third place, but was threatening a comeback, when the managers...decided that the public could not be trusted in a delicate matter of this kind. Democratic principles have been abandoned entirely and the premiere Flushing beauty will be selected by a small committee of hand-picked connoisseurs. Dorothy Derrick is a granddaughter of the Right Rev. Bishop William B. Derrick of the African Methodist Church. She is a student at Hunter College and was an honor student at Flushing High School, of which she is a graduate. She is said to be handsome in her way.
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Forms of Western theatre staging like theatre-in-the- round have made use of incursionsinto audience space in order to increase the intimacy and physical reality of theperformance, but this incursion is usually accomplished by positioning actors in theaudience seating area or having them make their entrances through the aisles/vomitoria atthe level of the audience. While this can increase the intimacy and/or the reality of theperformance, it also diminishes the stature (both literal and figurative) of theperformer, by putting him on an equal footing in relation to the audience:
  
Apparently the merchants and townspeople of Flushing, however, had lessprejudice than the socially prominent organizers of the festival and a day after thecontest was called off, they revived it:
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"Subway" entrances lack the dramatic effectiveness of the hanamichi and do not possess its varied possibilities for use, since they are not part of the stage, not platforms, but simply doorways, allowing access to the stage without the possibility of exhibiting the actor.
  
The popularity contest...called off by the Green Twigs, an organization of socially prominent women, will be continued by Flushing merchants, who will give prizes to the winners.  
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The hanamichi bridge of Kabuki theatre however, does put the actor "onexhibit" so to speak. While the bridge extends out into the audience area from thestage to the back of the house, it does so at a level elevated to audience head height.This allows the performer to make close physical contact without losing stature. On thecontrary, with the dazzling glare of troughlights on the performer, and the performerwalking with feet at the level of the audience's heads, the performer seems towering andalmost super-human. Leonard Cabell Pronko in Theatre East and West observes:
  
Officers of the Green Twigs said they had terminated the contest because of bitterness it had stirred up. At that time Miss Violet Meyer, of Jewish parentage and whose father conducts a corner newsstand, was in the lead, and Miss Dorothy Derrick, a negress, was third. As a result it was charged that racial and social prejudice had prompted the Green Twig's action.  
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The hanamichi cannot be compared with Western forms of central staging, or with Western uses of the theatre aisles or even with the strategic placement of theatre seats for interaction among actors in different parts of the auditorium and/or on the stage, because the hanimichi is always a platform related to, but set apart from, the stage. It does not put the actor on the same level as the spectator, thus destroying the actor's distance and glamour. The Kabuki runway brings the actor into very close rapport with the audience, but it guarantees him at the same time his own place as an artist and creator of theatre magic.  
  
Certainly, racial prejudice has barred many contestants from pageant competitions, mostnotably the Miss America Competition, which was "lily-white" until 1970. In thewhole history of the Miss America Pageant there has been only one Jewish winner (BessMyerson, 1945), and three Black winners (Vanessa Williams, 1984, Debbye Turner, 1990, andMarjorie Vincent, 1991) as compared to 59 "lily- white" winners. There has neverbeen an Asian, Hispanic, or Native-American winner in the whole history of the Pageant.''[note, this was true when I wrote my dissertation in 1991, it is not truenow]'' This is embarrassing evidence of the essentially racist image of what constitutes ideal"American" beauty.  
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However, there is one very important difference between the Hanimichi bridge and thetype of runways most commonly used in stripshows, fashion shows and beauty competitions:The Kabuki runway is used for exits and entrances only, and it is connected to the back ofthe theatre to allow for this. The runways used in strip, fashion and beauty shows usuallyconnect only to the stage, and are used solely as a means to annihilate distance in themanner Southern recommends. Performers coming forward on this type of runway have no otherpurpose in using it than to demonstrate to the spectators that "You are the object ofthat advance. For you he [or she] came forward." This physical arrangement allowsperformers using the runway to control the heightening of physical intimacy with theaudience while actually adding stature, and glamour. This naturally can contribute toidealizing the performer into an abstract superhuman image that is made to seem physicallylarger, taller and more overwelhming by virtue of the performer's physical position inrelation to the audience. Since this is what strip, fashion and beauty shows try to do,the raised runway has an obvious advantage over other types of staging for these forms.  
  
It has even been pointed out that both Williams and Turner have bone structure andfeatures which are more commonly "white" features than black ones. In addition,the choice of Williams was attacked by some black critics because of Williams' green eyesand light skin that conformed to "white" standards of beauty. However, it islikely that neither of these women, although both extremely beautiful and talented, wouldhave had as good a chance of winning if they had worn their hair in braids, or corn rows,or some other style that is associated with their ethnic heritage. Unfortunately, the MissAmerica standard of beauty is a white standard and any contestant who doesn't fit thatstandard has to "mold" herself to fit it as best she can or forgo any chance ofwinning.  
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Runway staging was not common in American theatre until it was used regularly infashion shows. At present it is used quite routinely in fashion shows, strip shows andbeauty pageants. Modern strip show stages are usually small (because they are located inbars and clubs) and now include a metal pole at the end of the short runway. Fashion showstages are tremendously varied in type, but still most often use a single medium lengthrunway attached (forming a T) to a small stage with steps. Large beauty pageants sometimeshave a very long runway (Miss America contestants go down a 140 foot platform) extendingfrom a large stage, usually in a T-shaped configuration.  
  
Debra Johnson, Miss Compton 1985, who participated in the Miss California Pageant ofthat year, described the problem of being black in a traditionally white pageant in aninterview in the documentary Miss...or Myth?
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Since most runway stages are attached to a traditional proscenium "stageproper," this form of stage also has the uses and advantages of a proscenium stagefor the maintenance of public distance. Even in an ordinary proscenium space, the bright,active, noisy, magical performance space of the stage, totally overwhelms the dark,inactive, silent, ordinary observing place of the audience. Donald Kaplan likened theaudience area of such a theatre to a stomach, passively awaiting the actors performancelike predigested food coming through the mouth-orifice of the proscenium arch. As thetheatre fills up and the performers prepare to go on, a voracity in the auditorium isabout to be regulated from the stage by an active exercise of some kind of prescribedskill. In such a context, the runway can be likened to spoon- feeding the hungry audience.
  
Well, Miss California has been around for 62 years and they have not chosen a woman of color yet. I think that they have an idea of what a Miss California is supposed to be. Black women, or women of color, minority women don't fit into that image. And I never went in thinking, "I'm not going to win because I'm black." I never had that attitude. Until you become a part of it, and then you think, "Oh, so that's what's happening here," you know. What you did feel was that they look at you more as a threat, instead of just another contestant. Especially if you were good. You got the feeling that no matter how good you were though, you were not going to win. And I don't mean to say that everybody in the Miss California Pageant is a racist. There are beautiful people in the pageant. But this is an American problem, and the Miss California Pageant is part of that problem...it has its weaknesses. And hopefully this year, next year, four years, five years down the line, they're going to strengthen those weaknesses. And they have the potential to be a very good, positive program for American women.
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Raised runway stages use the proscenium dynamic of distance and then use the platformextending out into the audience to violate that distance with sudden intimacy. Thisactually heightens the proscenium's overpowering effect on the audience, by theencroachment of the performer's space/power into traditional audience space.  
  
In 1989, reporters at USA Today tried to figure out exactly what the ideal imageof the Miss America Pageant was:
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Before fashion shows, burlesque, and beauty pageants began to employ runways as part oftheir staging, these three forms of theatre simply employed staging that didn't require arunway. Each form used a different type of playing area than the other two. Runways ineach case appear to have been employed first in order to provide a larger quantity ofseating where audience members could get a closer look at the clothes (or the girls'flesh, depending on the type of performance). The three sections of this chapter willexamine why a stage with a runway was a superior playing space to the previous playingareas for these three forms of theatre and how the performers in each area have made useof the runway to heighten the impact of their performances.
  
She's an "ideal," says Miss America Pageant director Leonard Horn..."If you're gonna have an ideal, it's not going to be the Hunchback of Notre Dame." To create a three-dimensional composite of that ideal 1990 American Miss, USA TODAY interviewed all 51 contestants---on subjects ranging from her looks to her favorite snacks to her beliefs about abortion. She'll agree with the pageant's decision not to use measurements in the competition. She'll want to get married and have two to three children. She'll never have smoked a cigarette, except to try one. Beyond that, the 1990 winner is likely to be brown-haired, white, a Protestant, a Republican who supports the right of a woman to choose an abortion. She'll probably have a musical talent, will have last read a non-fiction book (most likely something motivational) and think sex before marriage is "always" or "almost always" wrong. She'll probably be one of three children and be planning to work outside the home while she raises her own family. All the women exercise rigorously---14 hours a week on the average. Two contestants work out just five hours a week; two, an amazing 35 hours. Rounding out the picture: Our average Miss America 1990 contestant is the youngest in her family, was a member of her high school honor society but not a member of her college sorority, and didn't wear braces on her teeth. And she most likely disapproves of women posing nude for magazines.
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Runway Staging and Fashion Shows
  
Since pageant people don't usually think there is anything wrong with their standards,they also don't find anything wrong with people trying to live up to them. They generallyregard the process of a woman transforming herself into an image of a "perfect"beauty queen as a positive one that helps women to learn how to be attractive, impressothers, and succeed in the masculine- dominated outside world of business, politics, andthe media. And it is undoubtedly true that it does just that. Beauty pageant winnerscontinue to become lawyers, corporate executives, and television journalists, due to thepractice they get at dealing with the public as contestants and winners. Even in areaslike business and television, women are still judged primarily on how they look, howgracious they can be, and how "adaptable" they are to the other people (ie. men)around them, before they are judged on their abilities. While men have to do good work,women in traditionally masculine professions have to do good work and look good if theyare to be accepted. In this sense the conservative, upper-middle class WASP training inhow to be non-threatening that the pageant provides is valuable training for today'supwardly mobile woman. In that sense the pageant system is a very realistic reflection ofthe modern ideal of the American woman, and the pageant is far less at fault for trainingwomen to fit this standard than the public in the outside world is in expecting it ofwomen in the first place. Many pageant contestants accurately see pageants as excellenttraining grounds for women to learn how to survive in an America that already is subtlyracist, sexist, and increasingly class-conscious.  
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Before runways came to be used in fashion shows, most shows were either staged byparading models through the aisles of seats, allowing patrons a close look at thematerials of the garments, or within a decorated proscenium stage, which offeredopportunities for the glorification of the models and gowns. In order to gain oneadvantage the other was automatically lost. Innovative producers like "Lucille"Duff-Gordon often attempted to combine these two forms of staging in order to work aroundthis problem. Lucille's salon shows began with models framed (and "glorified")on a lit stage, from which they descended to audience level in order to show their gownsin better detail (see fig. 4-2).  
  
The image of women demanded by pageants is a reflection of the image demanded of womenby American society. While few people actually expect women to conform to the image of thefashion model or the stripper in their daily life, there is a persistent myth that anylittle girl can grow up to become Miss America if she tries hard enough (like the mythabout growing up to be President), and that every woman really should at least make theattempt. Women who do not attempt to become "pretty" are regarded as peculiar,if not openly hostile to society. Wearing makeup, dieting, and altering one's natural hairin some way are all considered part of the "normal" behavior of females in oursociety:
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Good as this was, it obviously was not as effective as maintaining glamour at the sametime as showing detail. As soon as the model descended she lost some of her physicaldominance and magic. With the runway added to a stage, or standing on its own, she lostnothing; she could be seen better by more people, while at the same time appearing on ahigher plane in both the prosaic and metaphoric sense. Early runway shows in departmentstores generally impressed customers who had previously been invited to couture showingslike Lucille's, even when the early models had problems adjusting to the demands ofwalking onto a runway:  
  
A woman who rejects makeup, stops shaving her legs, or stops wearing a bra redefines herself and is relegated to a special category. Her pale lips or hairy limbs pronounce her an anomaly...a woman who fails to play her proper part...will soon be seen as a threat to the whole system.  
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The orchestra struck a discord in true Turkish style. The curtains parted. Inside the doorway, an alcove hung in scarlet satin was flooded with dazzling light, concentrated upon a figure that...seemed to be out of the "Arabian Nights"...The Spectator gave his critical attention to Paul Poiret's latest vagary, amid a buzz of interest rising from the packed audience. She slithered down the steps with a balancing, careful motion---The Spectator noticed that all the models found difficulty in getting down those steps with dignity---and paraded swaying along the narrow platform. One evening gown after another...posed in the fierce light and descended the steps...like a group of proud and painted peacocks curiously removed from humanity, the models moved back and forth on the winding platform, and the crowd massed and augmented behind the seats. "I saw the models in Paris this summer," said a dressmaker behind the Spectator. "They had a small stage and music at Lucille's, but nothing like this."
  
While this attitude persists in society, the ideal of Miss America and other pageantswill continue to require significant enhancement of a woman's physical appearance bymakeup, hairdressing, dieting, and exercise, bringing the modern woman's drive, ambition,and determination into the area of personal beauty. This is not a carry-over from thedistant past, but (in pageant terms) is a recent development. Back in the early days ofpageants audiences preferred sweet, innocent, (passive and pliable) "homegirls," and a driving ambition to make oneself pretty was as unacceptable as adriving ambition was in any other field. Naturally, then, at that time contestantspresented an image that was in line with the audience taste that regarded bobbed orbleached hair and a face with makeup as sinful. And nearly every beauty contest (in theearly Twenties) selected finalists and winners with long brown hair and"natural" beauty.
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Impressive as this show seemed to the Spectator and dressmaker, it is obvious that themodels had some difficulties traversing the narrow runway stage and the steps leading toit. After runway shows became more common, however, models developed a method of moving onthe runway that is still used today:
  
Contestants caught on to these image requirements, and presented their own imageaccordingly. Wise contestants made a point of entering without makeup and with long hair.At the second annual Miss America competition in 1922 only three contestants out of 57 hadbobbed hair. Also there is no record that any contestant admitted to using cosmetics, and"almost the first words of Mary Catherine Campbell of Columbus, the new MissAmerica" reported The New York Times were "I don't use cosmetics."This was obviously a politic statement at a time when the conservative Timeseditorial section suggested that the judges should bar any contestant who used makeup fromentering in the first place.  
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There are certain basic model's skills. There is, of course, that walk, expendable for studio work but crucial for the runway. Everyone knows the stride: the funny lope where one foot goes directly, precisely, in front of the other, as if trying to crush a slow moving beetle with one toe.  
  
Winning beauty contestants in Miss America have carefully groomed their image to matchthe conservative public taste in makeup and hair, never going to a high fashion extreme.Miss America winners didn't choose to sport teased beehive hairdos until the fashion hadalready gone "out" among girls in their age group, and then they continued towear them for nearly ten years. It took five years after American college-age girls firstwore long straight hair in 1965 before a winner (Phyllis George, Miss America 1971) wasseen wearing it. Consistently, beauty queens pick hair styles pioneered as much as tenyears earlier in order to cater to the conservative pageant image. Now that conservativepublic taste toward makeup has changed, the situation with regards to cosmetics hasreversed its 1921 stance: a contestant cannot even win a preliminary competition withoutmakeup, because makeup is worn by conservative women and a clean face is regarded by manyas the sign of a militant feminist.
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The tightly narrow walking style "where one foot goes directly, precisely, infront of the other," is standard practice for traversing a runway. It is so standardthat models can now perform it with little rehearsal time, and only cryptic diagrammatic"scripts":
  
Pageant winners are now judged not on how nature made them look, but on how well theyhave used makeup, hair, dress, dieting and exercise to make themselves look "the bestthey can be." So contestants are extremely open in describing the efforts (exercise,diet, makeup, etc.) they took to improve their appearance. The artifice of makeup in thecontext of a beauty pageant is seen as symbolic, not of deception, but of a striving forperfection. Natural obstacles, like fat, imperfect facial features, social or physicalgracelessness, and social or physical handicaps, from illnesses to racial stereotypes, areall obstacles that are meant to be conquered by the contestant in her search forself-perfection. In this context cosmetics are seen as primary tools in a struggle againstthis imperfection, and they assume an almost religious virtue for some contestants as aresult. Pam Eldred, Miss America 1970, now gives advice in pageant magazines on usingmakeup for pageants. One article of hers demonstrates the pageant theory of the purpose ofmakeup (and pageantry) as part of a program of self improvement:
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The show's called for 11:00 A.M. and the models must arrive between 8:00 A.M. and 9:00 A.M. From eight to ten, "We work the girls," says Arceneaux. This amounts to a quickie run- through based on the show's script...Arceneaux instructs the models where to enter, where to walk, to count to ten as they stop in certain parts of the stage to "work the clothes," and when to return. Each model has a rack of clothes, each with a card prepared by Arceneaux indicating by color whether to enter stage left or stage right. It carries a diagram with arrows showing the step- by-step route onstage as Arceneaux noted previously.
  
Now that you have properly showcased [with makeup] the special you, don't forget to smile, relax, and enjoy the other girls. The only person you are competing against is yourself. No matter what the outcome, you have challenged yourself and met that challenge.
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These diagrams include a kind of standard modeling shorthand for the usual moves:
  
The physical image of the beauty queen requires more than just makeup and hairspray,the body image requires much more drastic shaping than that of the hair and face. Beautycontestants' bodies are usually plumper and more curvaceous than fashion model bodies, andless top-heavy than the ideal for strippers. As women organizers and judges have becomemore common in pageantry, (more in line with today's audience, which is two-thirds female)the winning contestants have been looking more like fashion models and less like stripperseach year. The typical male and female pageant judge responses to a given figure area,like the bust line, illustrates how having a larger proportion of female judges thanformerly, can change the ideal:
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1/2 T ....One-Half Turn
  
What is the optimum cup size? June Wylie [swim- wear coordinator for Miss USA 1990], who has 27 years of pageant experience, feels it's "a nice rounded B." Dan Isaacson, fitness consultant to the stars and a [Miss USA] pageant judge this year, thinks on a larger scale, "The ideal pageant size is a 34 C."
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3/4 F.T.S...Three-Quarter French Turn (Sway)
  
Fortunately for beauty contestants, they can pad out to their preferred size, unlikestrippers, and are no longer required to get surgery or dangerous injections in order tolive up to the ideal. This was not always the case. Until the Fifties, Miss Americacontestants were disqualified if they padded their swimsuits, and the Miss USA/MissUniverse organization only lifted the padding ban in 1990. The first Miss USA to win underthese rules, Carole Gist, freely admitted to using padding in her strapless evening gownbecause the usual 5 pound weight loss, which excited contestants often have in pageantweek, made the gown loose enough it "would have fallen off" on stage.  
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E.T.....European Turn
  
The Miss USA/Miss Universe organization lifted the padding ban due to feministpressure. As anti-pageant advocates like Ann Simonton pointed out, underendowedcontestants felt they had to undergo dangerous cosmetic surgery in order to becompetitive. While only a few women did this when breast surgery was a high costproposition, the price has dropped considerably, and a growing number of Miss USAcontestants were opting for the surgeon's knife. Women within the established pageantstructure regarded this as a negative trend and were relieved at the rule change. BarbaraPeterson Burwell, Miss USA 1976, who was a judge in 1990, said: "What's great is thatpadding allows any woman to have the equal opportunity of participating in a beautycompetition." And Carolee Munger, Miss Alaska-USA's state director, took the viewthat, "If we take any steps to prevent a young woman from making a permanent decisionabout a one-night event, we're doing the right thing."
+
C.T.....Carousel Turn
  
Unfortunately, while pageant women are very supportive of feminists' objections tocosmetic surgery, on average they have no sympathy for fatness. As more judges in pageantsare female, the trend towards skinnier, flatter contestants becomes more pronounced. Notsurprisingly this means that a high percentage of contestants develop eating disorders.Pageant people sometimes regard eating disorders as just yet another problem to beovercome on the road to perfection, not realizing that the pursuit of perfection oftenleads to the disorders. An article in Pageantry magazine celebrates the "triumphover" eating disorders experienced by Debra Linn Tingey before she went on to win theMiss Utah-USA 1990 title:
+
P.4....Pivot Four
  
During this time Debra experienced the not unusual pressure to be beautiful and THIN...the pressures took the form of the eating disorders known as anorexia nervosa and bulimia. One evening, while performing...stress and lack of nourishment took its toll. Debra collapsed on stage. At the hospital, the cause was apparent... a mild cardiac arrest. This tragic event encouraged Debra to forget what "society" wanted her to look like and begin to rebuild her body.  
+
M.P....Model's Pivot
  
Yet, obviously, she still does conform to what "society" wants her to looklike, or she wouldn't have won the state title. Her picture, which accompanies thearticle, shows a thin sculpted face and a long skinny neck. Even though she supposedly hasrecovered from her eating disorders, she is still striving to conform to the thin beautypageant image.  
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3/4-1/2 T...Three-Quarter Half Turn
  
Pageant magazines, aware of the problems that beset their readers, are careful tostress weight loss through exercise and balanced (even hearty) eating. Most winningcontestants get "pageant perfect" bodies by spending hours each day"pumping iron"--the very antithesis of the old traditional image of beautyqueens as helpless little females. Debbye Turner, Miss America 1990, claims to have runand exercised six days a week for years to get the athletically slender body that won herthe swimsuit competition. The staple of how-to books and magazines on becoming a beautyqueen is exercise information, not dieting information, as in most modeling books. Thiscaution reflects a real concern in the pageant business with the problems of eatingdisorders among contestants, because the very goal that pageants strive for:self-perfection through self-control, is a goal that most women with eating disordersshare. Predictably, despite all the well-intentioned advice on controlling weight throughexercise, pageants foster eating disorders by reinforcing the notion of slender bodies assymbols of perfection. Lisa Davenport, Miss California 1985, admitted to falling prey tobulimia in her first pageants, but didn't see the connection between her problem and herwork in pageantry. On the contrary, like others in the pageant field, she considered thatthe Miss America program helped her overcome this problem:  
+
A diagram using these abbreviations may look like this:  
  
When I filled out the application for Atlantic City, there was no real way for me to get to the real essence of who I was, and how I've come to be the young lady that I am, without discussing the bulimic issue, which I'd never really discussed before. (pause) Because it's not something I'm proud of. (pause) And I was afraid......to let people know that I may be.......a little less than perfect. When I first entered into...some of the pageants...I felt...uh...a tremendous pressure to (long pause) be thin, to be attractive, and felt that was how I'd be accepted. But what I'm saying is that because of the Miss America program and my experiences in it, it helped me overcome bulimia. It may have encouraged those things in the beginning, but in the long run it helped me get over it.
+
RUNWAY FORMAT A
  
What Davenport chooses to ignore, is that while pageantry may have helped her overcomeher bulimia, she never would have got it in the first place if she hadn't participated inthose first pageants. Ann Simonton, predictably took a similar view of Davenport'sproblem;
+
Audience
  
When I first heard about Lisa Gayle Davenport talking about her bulimia experiences, I felt, "Wow! They've got something out of her that she must be really upset about. Because how can Miss America have made herself vomit? Whether she's doing it now, if she ever has, that's an image they won't want her to be representing. I also felt very proud of her for being able to talk about it. Because it's something that needs to come out. We need to understand the psychological and physical damage that's happening to women that are trying to be perfect, trying to emulate an ideal. [Emphasis mine]
+
Enter..5.E.T. 3.1/2 T. 1.E.T. 4.P.4. 2.T.3/4-1/2 Aud. ...Exit or C.T.------------------------------------------------------
  
While Simonton's views are sometimes extreme, they generally contain a lot of truth.Contestants do sometimes suffer in the pursuit of the ideal, and in a competition, theymay suffer even more for falling short of the ideal. A former pageant winner, LisaJohnson, Miss Maine 1984, and now a follower of Simonton, described what it was like tocompete and lose in Atlantic City:
+
Audience
  
The prelim nights and the nationals...what women would do is tape their breasts up, pad, so they'd look more voluptuous, larger, bigger than life. They would tape their buttocks up, starve themselves for the day so that they'd have absolutely no stomach. So I remember the night of the pageant. They were naming the top ten. We were tense. I didn't make it. They kind of cattled us off stage, just off stage. And the women threw up, they were crying hysterically, black makeup running down their faces, it was a horror show. It was horrible.
+
This translates to the following:
  
Certainly trying to live up to an ideal of beauty that requires starvation and ducttape for some to maintain is not healthy either physically or psychologically, yet manycontestants do these things. And a few go to the more dangerous extremes of dieting andsurgery. Yet these extremes are also practiced by women outside of the beauty field, andnot all contestants or winners need to or wish to go to such lengths in order to achievethe contest image. It is, however, another proof that beauty pageants are a form oftheatre and that the images of the contestants and winners are theatrical illusions, heldup by makeup and costuming for some, duct tape and dieting for others. No woman wakes upand gets out of bed looking as artificially perfect as a Miss America winner does, as shewalks down the runway in rhinestone tiara, hair sprayed coiffure, made-up face, and abeaded gown. The image is an illusion, created to represent and glorify the vague, prettycompromise image Americans see as the ideal American "girl". The T.V. viewingpublic never sees or imagines contestants vomiting in the wings, beyond camera range.  
+
1. Walk to the middle of the ramp and do an easy European turn. 2. Walk down to the end, and do a smooth Carousel Turn or a Triple Three-Quarter Half Turn. 3. Walking just past the center, do a Half Turn. 4. Finish up with four steps for a Pivot Four, which, of course, is another Half Turn with four steps between. 5. Walk down to the stair end of the ramp, do a smooth European Turn and go off.  
  
Besides the physical component of the beauty pageant ideal, there is now (in the MissAmerica Pageant, especially) a significant portion of the ideal concerned with thecontestants' other attributes. Back in 1923 the qualities judges looked for in AtlanticCity were "form, carriage, health, features, simplicity, character, personality,training, adaptability, and distinctiveness," none of them very assertive orthreatening qualities. The "adaptability" of a biddable nature was already acriteria even in the days before Miss Americas were subsequently hired by the pageantorganization to make appearances. As audiences have altered their ideal image of theperfect daughter from the early image of youthful innocence and sweetness to the presentimage of a striving, ambitious hard worker, the queens have changed, not only in reality,but most especially in the publicity used to describe them. Back in the Twenties, whenSamuel Gompers was describing Margaret Gorman, Miss America 1921, as "the type ofwomanhood America needs---strong, red- blooded, able to shoulder the responsibilities ofhomemaking and motherhood," nearly every person in America would have considered thisa perfect description of the ideal daughter. After nearly 70 years of change in the roleof women in America, however, the 1990 Miss America, Debbye Turner, was described as aperson who "appears to be the antithesis of the type of young woman who would enterpageant after pageant in search of that coveted rhinestone tiara....She is only a fewmonths away from earning a Doctor of Veterinary Medicine Degree. And with sass, humor, andwit, she can articulate her views on almost any topic thrown at her." The indicationis that there was a change not only in the type of woman who would win a beauty pageant,but also in the way the winner was described to the public.
+
These techniques of walking and moving in a tight straight line that will fit on anarrow runway (even two abreast) were described in books on modeling as early as the1930's and 1940's when modeling agencies and schools started emerging and standardizingmodeling techniques:
  
For a contestant to successfully compete now, at the national level, she must exerciseher ability to speak publicly and in interview situations. While pageant critics imaginethese interview questions don't "really encourage creative intelligence," thefact is, they do require considerable creative intelligence on the part of thecontestants. Since contestants know that they cannot possibly guess all the judges'different opinions and answer each person with the opinion they would most like to hear,they have to find an opinion of their own, and a way to state it in such a way as not tooffend anyone who disagrees with it. Like politicians, they have to find a method ofanswering that best displays their own knowledge, doesn't offend the voters, and yet doesnot sound weak, vague, or lacking in courage or compassion. Few Vice Presidents manage tolearn this, yet it must be admitted that most Miss Americas do.  
+
Here is how to do a half turn. We shall start with a left pivot. Place your left foot directly in front of you, toe pointed about two inches to the left. Place your right foot in front of, and at right angles to, your left toe so that the instep of your right foot is approximately one and one half inches from the toe of your left. Any variation of this placement results in an incorrect pivot. After you have the correct position, raise both heels about an inch from the floor and turn on both toes until you are facing in the opposite direction.  
  
This is why Miss Americas make thousands of dollars for personal appearances throughouttheir "reigns". For the rest of their year they are never seen in a swimsuitdisplaying the "perfect" body they have struggled to achieve. Instead, they makespeeches at store openings, public works projects, and special events. The quality thatMiss Americas sell to the organizers of these appearances is not sex, but the ability tomake whatever is being opened, started, or celebrated, to be seen as non-controversial yetpositive, strong yet tasteful, classy but not snobbish---in short, equivalent to the imageMiss Americas can generate for themselves. This aura cannot be generated by a beautifulfool. Despite the public image that many people have of beauty contest winners (forinstance, the feather-brained newswoman character, Corky Sherwood, in the T.V. show MurphyBrown), national winners train their brains the same way they shape their bodies on benchpresses. Debbye Turner "read every news journal I could get my hands on," astandard tactic of pageant contestants. The Beauty Pageant Manual recommends thatcontestants regularly read The New York Times' national and world sections, Time,and Newsweek from cover to cover, watch 60 MinutesToday, and GoodMorning, America and any news specials on particularly important current events, aswell as keep up with current information important to their local area as well. Anycontestant who has trouble digesting all this information is recommended to get a collegehistory teacher to be a "current events coach" and help the contestant to wadethrough this weekly pile of information. Contestants are also expected to study thehistory, famous landmarks, famous people, industry, and other high points of their localarea in order to be better spokeswomen for their states or towns. For internationalcompetition, a contestant is also advised to learn basic greetings and phrases in thelanguage spoken in the place where the pageant is to be held, the names of the keyofficials of that town and country, the outstanding current events and concerns of thelocal population, and information about the country's business, industry, food, andcustoms. If a contestant wants to be really prepared for her interview, there are bookssold with the hundreds of interview questions which are most likely to be asked. Awell-prepared contestant will think about each question and formulate an opinion beforethe interview so she doesn't waste interview time having to think over her reply. Many ofthese interview questions do in fact encourage creative intelligence:  
+
This very tight, unnatural method of turning is still in use today, because it is theonly graceful way to turn on a narrow platform. This style of turning, however, is carriedover into fashion shows which take place on larger staging areas, simply because withrunways the most common staging pattern, the style of movement adopted for the runway isseen as the standard method for modeling. These methods came into use because of theattendant difficulties of models moving abreast on a runway without knocking one anotheroff the stage while doing turns. Diehl in How To Produce A Fashion Show points outthat the most common shape of a fashion show stage provides physical difficulties for themodels traversing it:  
  
If you could change one thing in your country what would it be?
+
The T-Shaped Runway---gets its name from the "T" formed by the stage and runway at right angles to each other. While it is the most common shape, it is also the simplest; Unless the runway is built wide, it is difficult for two models to appear abreast or pass each other. A simple variation on this shape is to butt a platform or widened area at the foot to allow several models to appear there simultaneously or to give them space to make wide turns (a good idea when wide full-length skirts are being shown).
  
If you were on a television talk show and could get only one message across to your listeners, what subject would it be on?
+
There is, of course, an enormous variation in the type of runway stages used by fashionshows, much more so than in beauty pageants and strip shows. Apart from the simplerunway-only style stage shown in the diagram on page 270, and the T-shaped runways whichare most common (see fig. 4-3) are variations (see fig. 4-4) on the T, Y, X, and I shapes:
  
If you could choose to have any talent, what would it be and why?
+
The Y-Shaped Runway---two runway arms are placed at angles to the stage, either abutting it or branching out from a connecting runway, to form a "Y" shape. It has the advantage over the T- shaped runway with a very large audience. The model can traverse the entire "Y", which gives a fairly close view of the show pieces to all parts of the audience. Since it is longer...groups of models should appear in close order...walking both arms of the "Y" simultaneously.
  
How do you perceive the role and responsibilities of a beauty queen?
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"T" and "Y" Variations---varying these basic patterns is an easy way to add an element of interest to a show. The long arm of the T- shaped runway can be zigzagged for a new twist. Or the "T" can be up-ended, with models walking straight down the long arm to the perpendicular crosspiece at the end---the platform or stage area being on the audience side rather than the stage side.
  
Give three events (positive or negative) that have influenced your life.
+
An "X" or cross can be formed by adding angled center sections. Another type of runway uses the theatre in the round principle to involve the audience in the show. A platform is set up in the center of the audience where clothes can be seen from all sides simultaneously.
  
What is your philosophy of life?
+
While fashion shows are often still performed either on a proscenium stage or byparading through the aisles, runways are the common staging of choice, and they areconsidered by fashion coordinators to be the staging plans which are the most dramatic andimpressive to an audience. This can be explained through the understanding of people'sreactions to various distances when observing models as artistic objects. Maurice Grosserin The Painter's Eye sees that:
  
What is your biggest fantasy?
+
At more than thirteen feet away...the human figure can be seen in it's entirety as a single whole...we are chiefly aware of it's outline and proportions...and see him as something as having little connection with ourselves. At this distance whatever meaning or feeling the figure may convey is dominated...by the position of the members of the body.
  
Who would you like to be for one day and why?
+
And to begin with, that is the way the designer wishes the audience to view the modelwearing the clothes. The first audience reaction desired, is that of a critical observerof the "outline and proportions" of the clothing, not a personal reaction to themodel as a human being. So the model is posed briefly on the stage proper at publicdistance (done as early as the Poiret fashion show mentioned earlier) for a preliminarydistancing effect, before launching the model out on the runway into the area of socialdistance where her stage personality can "sell" the clothes in a more personalway. Grosser describes the effect of this closer distance when used in art:
  
Of course, like politicians, beauty contestants often give deliberately evasivereplies, because offending anyone will cost them votes. Still, winners are receiving moreencouragement to express their opinions than they were 30 years ago, when the Miss AmericaPageant chose Nancy Fleming as Miss America 1961:
+
Four to eight feet is the portrait distance...near enough so that his eyes have no trouble in understanding the sitter's solid forms. Here, at the normal distance of social intimacy and easy conversation, the sitter's soul begins to appear.
  
Nancy Fleming not only refused to make a choice between John Kennedy and Richard Nixon, but soberly informed reporters that she was unable to decide for herself which was the better- looking.
+
There is however a limit to the closeness which is comfortable while trying to view aperson (even clothed) artistically:
  
The Miss America title now includes a "forum", as promoters put it. Thereigning title holder is expected to make public appearances addressing a public issue ofher choice. Debbye Turner's "platform" of "Motivating Youth toExcellence," in which she encouraged teens to strive beyond racial prejudice andsucceed in life, was not a particularly controversial one, but Kaye Lani Rae Rafko, MissAmerica 1988, decided to use her forum to educate the public about AIDS, which was, andis, a hotly debated subject, especially in the Bible Belt, where Miss America makes themajority of her appearances. A Miss America discussing a "social" diseasepublicly would have been impossible even twenty years before, and a Miss America actuallytouring the country encouraging the public to practice "safe sex" ismind-boggling, even now.  
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At touching distance, the sitter's personality is too strong. The influence of the model...too disturbing...touching distance being not the position of visual rendition, but of motor reaction of some physical expression of sentiment, like fisticuffs, or the various acts of love.  
  
Not only national winners reflect the new ideals of assertive women mandated byaudience opinion. State winners who have come to Atlantic City as contestants recentlyalso have ambitious career and political goals, and are typically driven, goal-orientedwomen; Janet Ward Black, Miss North Carolina 1980, is now an assistant district attorney;Debra Cleveland Molskness, Miss South Dakota 1984, is now an engineer testing fighterplanes for MacDonald Douglas; Charmaine Kowalski, M.D., Miss Pennsylvania 1978, is chiefresident in Psychiatry at Harvard Medical School's Beth Israel Hospital; and Kristi ReindlVetri, Miss Maryland 1973, won the Mayoral race for her home town, O'Fallon, Illinois,while she was still in Law School. If the American public continues increasingly tosupport women's rights, and idealize beautiful, ambitious women, the Miss Americacompetition will eventually produce the first popular choice for the Presidency who looksgood in a swimsuit. While this sounds like a ridiculous concept, it is, in fact, thedirection in which Miss America is heading. It is also the direction American politics hasbeen heading, in demanding a more and more flawless "image" for candidates.  
+
Obviously, at intimate distance the model's physical bodily presence would completelyovershadow the clothes, and so she remains standing on the runway, always remaining atleast at social distance from audience members. This confirms and supports her role as aperson of high social standing, cool, distant, and on a pedestal. Her behavior on therunway may be smiling and friendly, but always at a distance that allows her to retain herglamour and dignity as an idealized figure.  
  
In fact Miss America is "ahead" of the politicians in this respect. MissAmerica contestants now typically are intelligent, talented women who have altered theirappearance through exercise, dieting, cosmetics, and sometimes even surgery to create theperfect doll-like image;
+
As a result, even the slow-to-change Parisian couture industry has finally turned torunway shows for the launching of their "collections." Mikel Rosen in Fashion 86declared that "The majority of the competitive fashion world feel it is necessary tolaunch their designs by presenting their collections in the form of a show on acatwalk." Part of the reason for adopting this more dramatic theatrical form is sothe designer may display a coherent theatrical concept/context for the clothes.  
  
Contestants have had their ears pinned, their upper lids enlarged, buttocks tucked, cheeks and chins implanted, and eyes widened. Does cosmetic surgery constitute cheating for a pageant aspirant? Dr. Billie says No: "It's easier to take an extremely talented girl and do a thirty minute nasal operation than take a flawlessly beautiful girl and teach her to sing or play piano." With the basic externals pulled, pushed, and sutured into place, contestants can turn their attention to saying and doing the right thing... And with talent and interview comprising 70% of the points awarded by judges, saying and doing the right thing is what lets one tucked, sutured woman win out over another.
+
Whether volatile or staid, a runway show illustrates a designer's individual aesthetic universe. Once sold, clothes are displayed in stores in ways that are out of a designer's control. They're bought by women who wear them in their own style. Only on a runway can a fashion designer present fashion as he ideally envisions it.  
  
Anna Stanley in The Crowning Touch; Preparing for Beauty Competition (1989)gives twelve pages to the interview, as compared to four pages to swimsuit competition inher chapter on "Major Areas of Competition." Stanley asserts:  
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Rosen describes two contrasting "concepts" used by British designers in 1985,and the staging used to create them:  
  
The most important category in any pageant is the interview. It is the opportunity for the judges to evaluate personality and general awareness. Pageants are won and lost in the interview. A girl can be an idiot and photogenic, but a beauty queen must be intelligent.  
+
Roland Klein Each model girl was booked for having the same look, with scraped back hair and the same color red lipstick---one face merged with another and did not overpower the clothes. To create a feeling of space the runway was extended...the audience viewed the clothes from the left and right. Almost like being around a boxing ring. The models stormed or glided down the catwalk from a tunnel effect at the end. From a gap in the distance they came towards you and the power of the color hit you immediately.  
  
Karen Kemple notes, "If you are in a close race with another, the girls who hasthe better interview will probably win." While interview does count for the mostpoints, physical beauty still counts for more than many feminists would like. Afteranti-pageant demonstrator Michelle Anderson won the title of Miss Santa Cruz County 1988,she competed in the Miss California contest in order to unfurl a banner reading"Pageants Hurt All Women," live, on television, just before the new MissCalifornia was to be crowned. Her pageant experience shows how far pageants will have togo before they begin to promote a completely liberated ideal:  
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From this deliberately aggressive show, styled to "hit" the audience with thedesigns worn by carbon copy models who "stormed" along a "boxing ring"stage, we go to Rosen's account of a show which seems to have a self- conscious theme offriendliness and universal harmony:  
  
People always think of pageant queens as being extremely beautiful. Actually they aren't. I'm a good example; I'm not commercially beautiful, but I learned how to play their little game...With the help of heavy make-up to cover my acne scars, enough hair spray to defy gravity for four hours, tape to hold up my boobs, and spray adhesive to hold down my swimsuit. Being transformed into a beauty queen made absolutely clear how artificial and dangerous and self- denying that beauty standard really is. In order to win I not only had to transform my appearance, but also my attitude. I was told I was too masculine, too aggressive, too assertive, that people were intimidated by me, "even judges, even men."
+
Wendy Dagworthy The models danced up and down the catwalk in an entertaining way, getting off on the music, finding each other along the way, making a friend and having a dance. The clothes looked like fun to wear. The models are now joined into small tribes---the blonde girls, the dark girls and the men. They enter the stage as a coordinated unit and then break apart to mix and match with other partners to show how the clothes can be worn by a whole population.  
  
Until the general American public sees this kind of image manipulation as undesirable,Miss America contestants will continue to be judged as a compromise choice, a"composite" of brains and beauty, an attractively packaged soft-sell for thealmost-liberated woman. This is the modern image of a beauty queen. Her externalappearance may be based on the image of a Barbie doll, but a "perfect" modernwoman, as most Americans see it, including pageant judges and audiences, is also informed,intelligent, talented, and assertive, in addition to the old apple pie qualities ofkindness, compassion, humor, and congeniality. With this huge list of idealcharacteristics, it is amazing that they ever have found candidates capable (or willing)to live up to the ideal for a whole year.
+
This second show seems to satisfy the contention made by Nadine Frey in "RunawayShows," about the purpose of having a fashion show: Fashion shows are invertedtheatre:
  
Year after year, thousands of women try to match the ideal and win "beauty"titles. Few out of the thousands of women who try actually win, and each level of thecompetition weeds out more "rejects," a sometimes painful process for the womenthemselves. Still, the process does promote to the top those women who are most dedicatedto the ideal. This gives pageants an advantage over less strenuous and moresurface-oriented forms of theatre such as fashion shows and strip shows, in havingperformers who often do closely resemble their ideal image. However, even beautycontestants will freely admit to being performers. They "train" like athletesfor the perfect body and the perfectly informed mind. They use "tricks" likeVaseline on their teeth (to make them glitter), and Preparation-H on their eyebags (toshrink them). They buy or make costumes for each of the areas of competition (like figuremolding "pageant" swimsuits) in order to shape their image. They perform"talent" presentations of singing, dancing, or playing a musical instrument,that they have practiced for months to perfect. They even rehearse interviewing beforevideo cameras in order to improve their interview style, all things that they would not bedoing if they were not competing, and performing in a beauty contest.  
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a commercially targeted performance art where the seats are free but almost everything onstage is for sale. More than just a walking 3-D wardrobe, fashion shows are a seamless sales pitch, a kind of giant mood ring, in which atmosphere and wares pull together to convey a designer's utopian, hence fully clothed, world.  
  
Even the act of winning is something that some contestants think requires aperformance:
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Obviously, in a fashion-show world the central focus is usually on the women in it.Designers, when asked to "explain" their shows and clothing collectionsinvariably use the same words (or most properly, word) year after year: "I think thatglamour is back, femininity is back"- -Adrienne Vittadini; "I like very femininewomen--That's the ideal woman in my mind"--Caroline Roehm; "It's very feminineand very summery and softer"--Marc Bohan. "The big mood for me this season isfemininity"--Adrienne Vittadini; "Very feminine, amusing, fun clothes--sexyclothes"--Oscar De La Renta; "Clothes that feel great and a lot morefeminine"--Donna Karan. "It's adventurous femininity, elegance and Frenchchic"--Lolita Lempiicka and "It's a very feminine season"--Eric Javits.This isn't just a case of reading the same old rehearsed lines every time."Femininity" is the concept that designers are called upon to perpetuallyre-design. This is why designers go to such trouble to stage fashion shows. In order tosell the clothes, they must define them as part of a desirable image. And a runway fashionshow, with its elevated staging plan, helps designers exhibit the ideal"feminine" image embodied in a model of their choice, by glamorizing andshowcasing the performers in their "utopian" clothes.  
 
+
One of the young queens inquired of the other how she felt at the moment she realized she had won. The second replied that she felt no emotion whatsoever, neither elation, gratitude, nor surprise, because she was completely preoccupied with trying to remember exactly what motions her predecessor had made at this point the year before---That is, how she cocked her head to receive the crown, how she reached for the roses, and to what extent she smiled and nodded thanks.  
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All this concentration on the image would not be necessary if the image were not anartificial one which requires theatrical methods like rehearsals, costumes, music, makeup,etc. to support it. Again, pageants, like strip shows and fashion shows, are theatricalrepresentations of an ideal, not a literal reflection of the reality of the performers.Performers bend their own reality by artifice to create an image of an ideal, whilepageants celebrate that ideal through a theatrical production.
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Conclusions on the Ideal of the Performer
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Each of the three forms of theatre that form the topic of this study, fashion shows,strip shows, and beauty pageants, are forms that showcase an ideal of womankind throughtheatrical methods. The performers who enact the ideals are not perfect examples of theideals themselves, but are normal imperfect human beings who can perform in such a way asto represent the ideal. Using costuming, makeup, body-shaping through diet, surgery, andexercise they approximate the external physical images of the ideals. Through gesture,body language, and in some cases, speech, singing, and dance, they enact the internalpsychological image of the ideal. Fashion models represent a desexualized, healthy,striving, young, upper-middle class image through upper- middle class body language, realyouth, thinness and an assertive walk. Strippers usually create an aggressively sexualizedideal image through "sophisticated" costuming, aggressive body language,bust-centered dance movements, curvaceous bodies, suggestive songs and props, andseductive removal of clothing. Beauty queens invest themselves with the image ofconformity, ambition, striving for perfection, health, talent, intelligence, and beauty,by guarding their tongues, practicing likely interview questions, training like athletes,practicing like musical performers, altering their appearance through makeup, padding,surgery, dieting, or exercise, and "cramming" all necessary information. None ofthese performers comes ready-made, like Venus on the half shell, being an ideal of amodel, a stripper, or a beauty queen. All require at least minimal training in thetheatrical methods used to promote these ideals. The next chapter will describe the effectthat runways have had on the staging of these performances of "ideal" womanhood:What the staging was like before runways, how staging changed by being performed on arunway, and how runways effect the result of the performance.  
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[[1pagesDissertationChap4a| Chapter IV part a.]]
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[[1pagesDissertationDissch1b| Chapter IV part b.]]
 
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==Product Links==
 
 
[http://www.amazon.com/exec/obidos/ASIN/6305374848/thecostumersmani|Amazon.com: buying info: Video: The Secret World of Beauty Pageants]
 

Revision as of 01:36, 23 January 2014

Chapter IV: The Runway part a

File:H.t

Fashion Shows, Strip Shows and BeautyPageants:

The Theatre of The Feminine Ideal

by

TARA MAGINNIS

Chapter IV: The Staging Context

The Intent of any kind of theatre performance is to manipulate the audience with thesensory content of the performance into feeling and thinking what the artists wish theperformance to convey. The negative side to this is described by Anita Block:"Theatre consciousness is the condition of being entranced by the glamour and theoften spurious trappings of the theatre--such as clever acting, smart dialogue, dazzlingcostumes and effective scenery-- into a drugged indifference to the values of the playcontent." The audience is most easily moved by those "trappings" which itdoes not consciously recognize as being part of the performance, since its critical focusis likely to be centered on what it sees as the "performance". Audience membersrarely question or analyze the theatre building itself as part of the performance unlessit intrudes upon their notice (as in the case of hard seats, poor sightlines or anextremely unusual playing space). Consequently the physical layout of the playing space ina theatre, unless abnormally awkward or intrusive, can have an enormous effect on theaudience's unconscious attitude toward the performance and the performers. Steven Josephin New Theatre Forms (1968), insists,

In a theatre, actors and audience meet each other at the moment of performance, they share the experience and each contributes something towards it. Real actors, acting in the presence of a real audience: this is the essence of theatre. In designing a theatre this meeting can be seized upon and developed so that the presence of the actor is more strongly felt and the contribution of the audience is increased.

Richard Southern has written:

Whenever you put on any sort of theatrical show the thing which matters most (on the material side) is not the scenery but the stage--its shape, its nature, and its relation to the audience...the stage affects the acting--it conditions the look and the `reach' and the concentration of a show; It can endow the actor, and thus the action, with an essential command of appeal.

Different stage shapes (and their relation to the position of the audience in thehouse) act upon audiences differently: an indoor proscenium theatre has a completelydifferent audience dynamic than an outdoor theatre-in-the- round. Other less drasticdifferences in theatre space also produce varying kinds of effects on audience reactionsto a performance. Performers also are obliged to work differently on different types ofstages, depending on their varying position in relation to the spectators.

Sociologists have given clues as to the way space, body position and distance betweenpeople affects the way audience members view performers. Edward T. Hall for example,describes the social values applied by Americans to certain distances between people asfalling into four main categories:

Intimate distance (0-1&1/2 feet), Personal distance (1&1/2-4 feet), Social/Consultive dis- tance (4-10 feet), and Public distance (10 or more feet).

These four categories of distance form the basis of the theoretical understanding ofspatial relationships between people both onstage and off. Hall describes some of the maincharacteristics of each of these distances and how they affect one's view of the personseen at that distance:

Intimate Distance The presence of the other person is unmistakable and may at times be overwhelming because of the greatly stepped-up sensory inputs. Sight (often distorted), olfaction, heat from the other per- son's body, sound, smell, and feel of the breath all combine to signal unmistakable involvement with another body. This is the distance of love-making...the high possibility of physical involvement is uppermost in the awareness of both persons.

Personal Distance ...the distance consistently separating the members of non-contact species [like humans]. The three dimensional quality of objects is particularly pronounced. Objects have roundness, substance and form...surface textures are also very prominent. Subjects of personal interest and involvement can be discussed at this distance.

Social Distance--Close Phase Details of skin texture and hair are clearly perceived. Impersonal business occurs at this distance. It is also a very common distance for people who are attending a casual social gather- ing. To stand and look down at this distance has a domineering effect.

Social Distance--Far Phase This is the distance to which people move when someone says, "Stand away so I can look at you." Business and social discourse....has a more formal character.

Public Distance--Close Phase Fine details if the skin and eyes are no longer visible. 60-degree scanning includes the whole body.

Public Distance--Far Phase Thirty feet is the distance that is automatically set around important public figures...there are certain adjustments that must be made, however. Most actors know that at thirty or more feet the subtle shades of meaning conveyed by the normal voice are lost as are the details of facial expression and movement...the nonverbal part of the communication shifts to gestures and body stance.

Runway stages have the almost unique facility of allowing the performer to create orannihilate distance between all four of these distance categories without having to leavethe stage. This is possible because of the runway's intimate proximity with the audience,and the stage proper's height and public distance from them. A performer, simply by movingforward onto the runway, or even, ultimately, lowering herself onto it at audience eyelevel, can travel through the areas of interactive distance from the "public"through to the "intimate." Southern comments:

It is useful for an actor to be able to create or annihilate distance between himself and his audience as he chooses...it is not so easy to achieve this sense of withdrawal and advance on a picture-frame stage. Here [on a thrust stage] we may have control of distance--acting back- wards and forwards; that is to say playing on different scales--large acting at the back, spread wide, coming to small acting at the front, pin-pointed and concentrated...here the actor has a most potent weapon offered him, the weapon of direct address. You are the object of that advance. For you he came forward; to you now he speaks.

The runway stage is, of course, a form of thrust stage, indeed the most extreme formsince it is generally too narrow to be used for conventional action, and is purely used asa method for advancing on the audience. The closest parallel in stage shape to the runwaystage is the hanamichi bridge (see fig. 4-1) in the Japanese Kabuki theatre, however, notthe less formal Western incursions into audience space like theatre-in-the-round. Runwayshave been used in Japanese theatre for centuries in order to bring performers physicallycloser to the audience, without putting the performers on the same level or destroyingtheir stature and glamour.

Forms of Western theatre staging like theatre-in-the- round have made use of incursionsinto audience space in order to increase the intimacy and physical reality of theperformance, but this incursion is usually accomplished by positioning actors in theaudience seating area or having them make their entrances through the aisles/vomitoria atthe level of the audience. While this can increase the intimacy and/or the reality of theperformance, it also diminishes the stature (both literal and figurative) of theperformer, by putting him on an equal footing in relation to the audience:

"Subway" entrances lack the dramatic effectiveness of the hanamichi and do not possess its varied possibilities for use, since they are not part of the stage, not platforms, but simply doorways, allowing access to the stage without the possibility of exhibiting the actor.

The hanamichi bridge of Kabuki theatre however, does put the actor "onexhibit" so to speak. While the bridge extends out into the audience area from thestage to the back of the house, it does so at a level elevated to audience head height.This allows the performer to make close physical contact without losing stature. On thecontrary, with the dazzling glare of troughlights on the performer, and the performerwalking with feet at the level of the audience's heads, the performer seems towering andalmost super-human. Leonard Cabell Pronko in Theatre East and West observes:

The hanamichi cannot be compared with Western forms of central staging, or with Western uses of the theatre aisles or even with the strategic placement of theatre seats for interaction among actors in different parts of the auditorium and/or on the stage, because the hanimichi is always a platform related to, but set apart from, the stage. It does not put the actor on the same level as the spectator, thus destroying the actor's distance and glamour. The Kabuki runway brings the actor into very close rapport with the audience, but it guarantees him at the same time his own place as an artist and creator of theatre magic.

However, there is one very important difference between the Hanimichi bridge and thetype of runways most commonly used in stripshows, fashion shows and beauty competitions:The Kabuki runway is used for exits and entrances only, and it is connected to the back ofthe theatre to allow for this. The runways used in strip, fashion and beauty shows usuallyconnect only to the stage, and are used solely as a means to annihilate distance in themanner Southern recommends. Performers coming forward on this type of runway have no otherpurpose in using it than to demonstrate to the spectators that "You are the object ofthat advance. For you he [or she] came forward." This physical arrangement allowsperformers using the runway to control the heightening of physical intimacy with theaudience while actually adding stature, and glamour. This naturally can contribute toidealizing the performer into an abstract superhuman image that is made to seem physicallylarger, taller and more overwelhming by virtue of the performer's physical position inrelation to the audience. Since this is what strip, fashion and beauty shows try to do,the raised runway has an obvious advantage over other types of staging for these forms.

Runway staging was not common in American theatre until it was used regularly infashion shows. At present it is used quite routinely in fashion shows, strip shows andbeauty pageants. Modern strip show stages are usually small (because they are located inbars and clubs) and now include a metal pole at the end of the short runway. Fashion showstages are tremendously varied in type, but still most often use a single medium lengthrunway attached (forming a T) to a small stage with steps. Large beauty pageants sometimeshave a very long runway (Miss America contestants go down a 140 foot platform) extendingfrom a large stage, usually in a T-shaped configuration.

Since most runway stages are attached to a traditional proscenium "stageproper," this form of stage also has the uses and advantages of a proscenium stagefor the maintenance of public distance. Even in an ordinary proscenium space, the bright,active, noisy, magical performance space of the stage, totally overwhelms the dark,inactive, silent, ordinary observing place of the audience. Donald Kaplan likened theaudience area of such a theatre to a stomach, passively awaiting the actors performancelike predigested food coming through the mouth-orifice of the proscenium arch. As thetheatre fills up and the performers prepare to go on, a voracity in the auditorium isabout to be regulated from the stage by an active exercise of some kind of prescribedskill. In such a context, the runway can be likened to spoon- feeding the hungry audience.

Raised runway stages use the proscenium dynamic of distance and then use the platformextending out into the audience to violate that distance with sudden intimacy. Thisactually heightens the proscenium's overpowering effect on the audience, by theencroachment of the performer's space/power into traditional audience space.

Before fashion shows, burlesque, and beauty pageants began to employ runways as part oftheir staging, these three forms of theatre simply employed staging that didn't require arunway. Each form used a different type of playing area than the other two. Runways ineach case appear to have been employed first in order to provide a larger quantity ofseating where audience members could get a closer look at the clothes (or the girls'flesh, depending on the type of performance). The three sections of this chapter willexamine why a stage with a runway was a superior playing space to the previous playingareas for these three forms of theatre and how the performers in each area have made useof the runway to heighten the impact of their performances.

Runway Staging and Fashion Shows

Before runways came to be used in fashion shows, most shows were either staged byparading models through the aisles of seats, allowing patrons a close look at thematerials of the garments, or within a decorated proscenium stage, which offeredopportunities for the glorification of the models and gowns. In order to gain oneadvantage the other was automatically lost. Innovative producers like "Lucille"Duff-Gordon often attempted to combine these two forms of staging in order to work aroundthis problem. Lucille's salon shows began with models framed (and "glorified")on a lit stage, from which they descended to audience level in order to show their gownsin better detail (see fig. 4-2).

Good as this was, it obviously was not as effective as maintaining glamour at the sametime as showing detail. As soon as the model descended she lost some of her physicaldominance and magic. With the runway added to a stage, or standing on its own, she lostnothing; she could be seen better by more people, while at the same time appearing on ahigher plane in both the prosaic and metaphoric sense. Early runway shows in departmentstores generally impressed customers who had previously been invited to couture showingslike Lucille's, even when the early models had problems adjusting to the demands ofwalking onto a runway:

The orchestra struck a discord in true Turkish style. The curtains parted. Inside the doorway, an alcove hung in scarlet satin was flooded with dazzling light, concentrated upon a figure that...seemed to be out of the "Arabian Nights"...The Spectator gave his critical attention to Paul Poiret's latest vagary, amid a buzz of interest rising from the packed audience. She slithered down the steps with a balancing, careful motion---The Spectator noticed that all the models found difficulty in getting down those steps with dignity---and paraded swaying along the narrow platform. One evening gown after another...posed in the fierce light and descended the steps...like a group of proud and painted peacocks curiously removed from humanity, the models moved back and forth on the winding platform, and the crowd massed and augmented behind the seats. "I saw the models in Paris this summer," said a dressmaker behind the Spectator. "They had a small stage and music at Lucille's, but nothing like this."

Impressive as this show seemed to the Spectator and dressmaker, it is obvious that themodels had some difficulties traversing the narrow runway stage and the steps leading toit. After runway shows became more common, however, models developed a method of moving onthe runway that is still used today:

There are certain basic model's skills. There is, of course, that walk, expendable for studio work but crucial for the runway. Everyone knows the stride: the funny lope where one foot goes directly, precisely, in front of the other, as if trying to crush a slow moving beetle with one toe.

The tightly narrow walking style "where one foot goes directly, precisely, infront of the other," is standard practice for traversing a runway. It is so standardthat models can now perform it with little rehearsal time, and only cryptic diagrammatic"scripts":

The show's called for 11:00 A.M. and the models must arrive between 8:00 A.M. and 9:00 A.M. From eight to ten, "We work the girls," says Arceneaux. This amounts to a quickie run- through based on the show's script...Arceneaux instructs the models where to enter, where to walk, to count to ten as they stop in certain parts of the stage to "work the clothes," and when to return. Each model has a rack of clothes, each with a card prepared by Arceneaux indicating by color whether to enter stage left or stage right. It carries a diagram with arrows showing the step- by-step route onstage as Arceneaux noted previously.

These diagrams include a kind of standard modeling shorthand for the usual moves:

1/2 T ....One-Half Turn

3/4 F.T.S...Three-Quarter French Turn (Sway)

E.T.....European Turn

C.T.....Carousel Turn

P.4....Pivot Four

M.P....Model's Pivot

3/4-1/2 T...Three-Quarter Half Turn

A diagram using these abbreviations may look like this:

RUNWAY FORMAT A

Audience

Enter..5.E.T. 3.1/2 T. 1.E.T. 4.P.4. 2.T.3/4-1/2 Aud. ...Exit or C.T.------------------------------------------------------

Audience

This translates to the following:

1. Walk to the middle of the ramp and do an easy European turn. 2. Walk down to the end, and do a smooth Carousel Turn or a Triple Three-Quarter Half Turn. 3. Walking just past the center, do a Half Turn. 4. Finish up with four steps for a Pivot Four, which, of course, is another Half Turn with four steps between. 5. Walk down to the stair end of the ramp, do a smooth European Turn and go off.

These techniques of walking and moving in a tight straight line that will fit on anarrow runway (even two abreast) were described in books on modeling as early as the1930's and 1940's when modeling agencies and schools started emerging and standardizingmodeling techniques:

Here is how to do a half turn. We shall start with a left pivot. Place your left foot directly in front of you, toe pointed about two inches to the left. Place your right foot in front of, and at right angles to, your left toe so that the instep of your right foot is approximately one and one half inches from the toe of your left. Any variation of this placement results in an incorrect pivot. After you have the correct position, raise both heels about an inch from the floor and turn on both toes until you are facing in the opposite direction.

This very tight, unnatural method of turning is still in use today, because it is theonly graceful way to turn on a narrow platform. This style of turning, however, is carriedover into fashion shows which take place on larger staging areas, simply because withrunways the most common staging pattern, the style of movement adopted for the runway isseen as the standard method for modeling. These methods came into use because of theattendant difficulties of models moving abreast on a runway without knocking one anotheroff the stage while doing turns. Diehl in How To Produce A Fashion Show points outthat the most common shape of a fashion show stage provides physical difficulties for themodels traversing it:

The T-Shaped Runway---gets its name from the "T" formed by the stage and runway at right angles to each other. While it is the most common shape, it is also the simplest; Unless the runway is built wide, it is difficult for two models to appear abreast or pass each other. A simple variation on this shape is to butt a platform or widened area at the foot to allow several models to appear there simultaneously or to give them space to make wide turns (a good idea when wide full-length skirts are being shown).

There is, of course, an enormous variation in the type of runway stages used by fashionshows, much more so than in beauty pageants and strip shows. Apart from the simplerunway-only style stage shown in the diagram on page 270, and the T-shaped runways whichare most common (see fig. 4-3) are variations (see fig. 4-4) on the T, Y, X, and I shapes:

The Y-Shaped Runway---two runway arms are placed at angles to the stage, either abutting it or branching out from a connecting runway, to form a "Y" shape. It has the advantage over the T- shaped runway with a very large audience. The model can traverse the entire "Y", which gives a fairly close view of the show pieces to all parts of the audience. Since it is longer...groups of models should appear in close order...walking both arms of the "Y" simultaneously.

"T" and "Y" Variations---varying these basic patterns is an easy way to add an element of interest to a show. The long arm of the T- shaped runway can be zigzagged for a new twist. Or the "T" can be up-ended, with models walking straight down the long arm to the perpendicular crosspiece at the end---the platform or stage area being on the audience side rather than the stage side.

An "X" or cross can be formed by adding angled center sections. Another type of runway uses the theatre in the round principle to involve the audience in the show. A platform is set up in the center of the audience where clothes can be seen from all sides simultaneously.

While fashion shows are often still performed either on a proscenium stage or byparading through the aisles, runways are the common staging of choice, and they areconsidered by fashion coordinators to be the staging plans which are the most dramatic andimpressive to an audience. This can be explained through the understanding of people'sreactions to various distances when observing models as artistic objects. Maurice Grosserin The Painter's Eye sees that:

At more than thirteen feet away...the human figure can be seen in it's entirety as a single whole...we are chiefly aware of it's outline and proportions...and see him as something as having little connection with ourselves. At this distance whatever meaning or feeling the figure may convey is dominated...by the position of the members of the body.

And to begin with, that is the way the designer wishes the audience to view the modelwearing the clothes. The first audience reaction desired, is that of a critical observerof the "outline and proportions" of the clothing, not a personal reaction to themodel as a human being. So the model is posed briefly on the stage proper at publicdistance (done as early as the Poiret fashion show mentioned earlier) for a preliminarydistancing effect, before launching the model out on the runway into the area of socialdistance where her stage personality can "sell" the clothes in a more personalway. Grosser describes the effect of this closer distance when used in art:

Four to eight feet is the portrait distance...near enough so that his eyes have no trouble in understanding the sitter's solid forms. Here, at the normal distance of social intimacy and easy conversation, the sitter's soul begins to appear.

There is however a limit to the closeness which is comfortable while trying to view aperson (even clothed) artistically:

At touching distance, the sitter's personality is too strong. The influence of the model...too disturbing...touching distance being not the position of visual rendition, but of motor reaction of some physical expression of sentiment, like fisticuffs, or the various acts of love.

Obviously, at intimate distance the model's physical bodily presence would completelyovershadow the clothes, and so she remains standing on the runway, always remaining atleast at social distance from audience members. This confirms and supports her role as aperson of high social standing, cool, distant, and on a pedestal. Her behavior on therunway may be smiling and friendly, but always at a distance that allows her to retain herglamour and dignity as an idealized figure.

As a result, even the slow-to-change Parisian couture industry has finally turned torunway shows for the launching of their "collections." Mikel Rosen in Fashion 86declared that "The majority of the competitive fashion world feel it is necessary tolaunch their designs by presenting their collections in the form of a show on acatwalk." Part of the reason for adopting this more dramatic theatrical form is sothe designer may display a coherent theatrical concept/context for the clothes.

Whether volatile or staid, a runway show illustrates a designer's individual aesthetic universe. Once sold, clothes are displayed in stores in ways that are out of a designer's control. They're bought by women who wear them in their own style. Only on a runway can a fashion designer present fashion as he ideally envisions it.

Rosen describes two contrasting "concepts" used by British designers in 1985,and the staging used to create them:

Roland Klein Each model girl was booked for having the same look, with scraped back hair and the same color red lipstick---one face merged with another and did not overpower the clothes. To create a feeling of space the runway was extended...the audience viewed the clothes from the left and right. Almost like being around a boxing ring. The models stormed or glided down the catwalk from a tunnel effect at the end. From a gap in the distance they came towards you and the power of the color hit you immediately.

From this deliberately aggressive show, styled to "hit" the audience with thedesigns worn by carbon copy models who "stormed" along a "boxing ring"stage, we go to Rosen's account of a show which seems to have a self- conscious theme offriendliness and universal harmony:

Wendy Dagworthy The models danced up and down the catwalk in an entertaining way, getting off on the music, finding each other along the way, making a friend and having a dance. The clothes looked like fun to wear. The models are now joined into small tribes---the blonde girls, the dark girls and the men. They enter the stage as a coordinated unit and then break apart to mix and match with other partners to show how the clothes can be worn by a whole population.

This second show seems to satisfy the contention made by Nadine Frey in "RunawayShows," about the purpose of having a fashion show: Fashion shows are invertedtheatre:

a commercially targeted performance art where the seats are free but almost everything onstage is for sale. More than just a walking 3-D wardrobe, fashion shows are a seamless sales pitch, a kind of giant mood ring, in which atmosphere and wares pull together to convey a designer's utopian, hence fully clothed, world.

Obviously, in a fashion-show world the central focus is usually on the women in it.Designers, when asked to "explain" their shows and clothing collectionsinvariably use the same words (or most properly, word) year after year: "I think thatglamour is back, femininity is back"- -Adrienne Vittadini; "I like very femininewomen--That's the ideal woman in my mind"--Caroline Roehm; "It's very feminineand very summery and softer"--Marc Bohan. "The big mood for me this season isfemininity"--Adrienne Vittadini; "Very feminine, amusing, fun clothes--sexyclothes"--Oscar De La Renta; "Clothes that feel great and a lot morefeminine"--Donna Karan. "It's adventurous femininity, elegance and Frenchchic"--Lolita Lempiicka and "It's a very feminine season"--Eric Javits.This isn't just a case of reading the same old rehearsed lines every time."Femininity" is the concept that designers are called upon to perpetuallyre-design. This is why designers go to such trouble to stage fashion shows. In order tosell the clothes, they must define them as part of a desirable image. And a runway fashionshow, with its elevated staging plan, helps designers exhibit the ideal"feminine" image embodied in a model of their choice, by glamorizing andshowcasing the performers in their "utopian" clothes.

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Chapter IV part b.

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"The Costumer's Manifesto"
by Tara Maginnis