Memoirs of a Pageant Princess
Emma Khourey @ Gluttony – The Bally
5:30pm, Sat 16 Feb 2013
It’s late in the day – like, just before I entered The Bally – that I learned that performer Emma Kourey was pregnant… really pregnant. And as soon as she appears onstage in her Miss Wollongong persona, I started wondering whether she’s actually last the entire performance; despite the best efforts of the Bally staff and their multitude of electric and handheld fans, it was still bloody hot in that tent… and Khourey looked ready to burst.
To call Miss Wollongong dim would be an insult to five-watt lightbulbs. Whilst she attempts to mimic the traits of the beauty queens that have preceded her, she has trouble even dealing with scissors – her ribbon-cutting ceremony was almost like watching a dizzy kid attempt to pin the tail on the donkey. Opening with a photo display of her head photoshopped onto various less-than-flattering shots of Wollongong, this self-appointed Princess of Steel proceeded to demonstrate her “talents” to the small audience, before being distracted by her favourite things – sparkly butterflies, and “sparkly things in general”.
Her speech at an opening (that accompanied the ribbon-cutting) was a ditzy laugh, with her cue-cards being a poorly organised mess; and (of course) I was plucked from the crowd to act as a judge in a talent competition. After almost trashing the stage and then completely mis-reading the first cue-card (I read “My name is Steve, for example” and substituted my own name, which resulted in a puzzled frown from Miss Wollongong until I corrected my “mistake”), I got to quiz the Princess of Steel on her hopes and dreams… before feeding her spoons that she attempted to flip into a bowl on her head.
We went through a lot of spoons, but I got a commemorative Miss Wollongong teaspoon as a token of appreciation.
There’s a moment of sadness – leading to bleak laughs – as she reads out a letter from the officiating body of Pageant Princesses decrying her self-appointed status… but then there’s more sparkly things, and a happy – if ditzy – ending.
Look – it feels really awful to say anything negative about this performance; after all, it was a stinker of a day, and Khourey was heavily pregnant. But there’s no denying that transitions between scenes were slow and clunky, leading to a stop-start feeling in the show; I also got the feeling (and the press release suggested) that the show was supposed to be far more physical in nature, with some of those elements removed due to the impending birth. And whilst I’m happy to give anyone on a stage as much positivity as I can muster, by the end of the show I was almost worn out; Miss Wollongong would be a fun support character, but fifty minutes with her was almost too much.