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Cramming Glitter And Glam Into Harpa

Cramming Glitter And Glam Into Harpa

Published August 8, 2012

A drag queen named Jennifer Hudson Obama, clutching a red dildo like a microphone, captured the hearts of judges last year to win the Icelandic Drag Competition. This year, the fifteenth time that sequins and eye shadow will glimmer on stage, it’s anyone’s competition to win when the drag queens and kings file into Harpa’s Eldborg Hall on August 8.
But the nine competitors, who take part in a photo shoot, question-and-answer session and talent display, will have a tough time outmatching last year’s year champion, Ms. Hudson Obama, said competition organizer Georg Erlingsson Merritt. “The queen last year, at least in my mind, stands out as one of the best. She was just so brilliant. She made you laugh, she made you cry, she made you scream. She made you wish you were her,” Georg said.
Georg, who also won the competition in 1998, has run the event every year since his victory. To celebrate the Icelandic Drag Competition’s fifteenth year (it took a break in 2004), the event will get a piece of the spotlight, taking space in the main hall of Harpa, which shimmers just as brightly as the contestants’ outfits. For the anniversary, Georg chose a short and simple theme: drag. “So anything goes basically,” he said.
“It’s just a big carnival,” Georg added. “People are struck by glimmer and glamour and outrageousness. Everything has to be outrageous.
Some contestants go all out for the competition, buying wigs from out of the country “because we don’t have a very big wig market in Iceland,” Georg said. Others make their own clothes or use materials from home. Previous themes for the competition included Eurovision, burlesque and the Oscars.
The competition, one of the earliest events of Gay Pride Week in Reykjavík, is financially independent from gay pride, but builds excitement for the con-certs, parades and performances to come. While media and pop culture have popularized drag queen competitions, like in the American reality show “Ru-Paul’s Drag Race,” the Icelandic Drag Competition will also feature drag kings, who put on ties, moustaches and sailor outfits. Georg said Iceland is one of the few countries that include drag kings in drag competitions—showing the overall growth and increased acceptance of drag.
“People are realizing today that it basically is an art performance. People didn’t know that much about it and just thought contestants were just getting on stage, not prepared, and miming to their favourite song,” Georg said. “But people are registering today that it takes a lot of time and preparation to make your acts really good. They people are really putting it on the line to do their best and get the most out of it.”



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Two Days Of Criminal Activity

Two Days Of Criminal Activity

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People thought we were nuts at the time, when in reality we were suffering from good old Icelandic gung-ho enthusiasm. This year, we ought to know better. Three of us—Yrsa Sigurðardóttir, Ragnar Jónasson and I—got together last year to organise a small crime fiction festival in Reykjavík. After all, how hard could it be? We had all been to a few of these, and it didn’t look like it could be all that much of a headache. It had seemed odd to us that Iceland didn’t have its own crime fiction festival. After all, there are plenty of them elsewhere.

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A New Wave Of Protests

A New Wave Of Protests

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Tension has been rising in Iceland of late. An estimated 4,500 people attended a general protest against the government on November 4, almost completely filling Austurvöllur by Alþingi. This marks it as one of the biggest demonstrations this year. The event was initially inspired by a Facebook rant from singer-songwriter Svavar Knútur, wherein he bemoaned the current coalition government’s favouritism of the rich and powerful. Instigator Svavar Knútur began the demonstration by addressing the crowd. In his speech—which has been widely shared across social media since the event—he likened the rally to the first of three warnings his father used to

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Arrest, Injury, Aftermath

Arrest, Injury, Aftermath

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Standing by the door of a two-storey building in the Höfði industrial district and not finding a doorbell, I call Chaplas Menke, who says he’ll come down to let me in. My interview subject made local headlines this September, after being reportedly brutalised by the police. Since then, the story has gone quiet. A short while later, he invites me to his abode. He is of average height, dark-skinned, with sunken eyes and a svelte frame. He has a thick accent and speaks hesitatingly, picking his words carefully. I ask him how he’s doing, and he modestly says okay as

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News In Brief: November

News In Brief: November

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Icelanders have once again grown fed up with their elected representatives, staging a massive protest demonstration in front of Alþingi last Monday. Thousands stood at Austurvöllur, Reykjavík’s hip spot for protest meetings, to denounce a veritable cornucopia of bad policy decisions (police estimated 4,500 attendees at the protest, while some attendees estimated that they were in fact closer to 7,000). This particular time around, the political party actually leading the country–in this case, the Progressives–have most recently polled at just under 9%. Remember, folks: the last time a ruling coalition stepped down, it was because one party didn’t want to

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Who’s Afraid Of November 9?

Who’s Afraid Of November 9?

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After DV revealed that the police had just acquired some 150 submachine guns from Norway, Chief Superintendent Jón Bjartmarz—who refused to answer any of the newspaper’s questions—explained on RÚV’s Kastljós that they have possessed machine guns “ever since after the Gúttó-fight.” “The Gúttó-fight” was a violent clash between police and workers, who were protesting announced wage reductions, back in 1932. The reference is as significant as they get. An Icelandic State Police authority, as opposed to a municipal one, was established in the aftermath of that fight, to ensure that authorities would henceforth have the upper hand against demonstrators. This

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Pippa’s Wish

Pippa’s Wish

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A particularly heart-warming story made the rounds recently when a crowdfunding campaign called “Pippa’s Wish” hit its required target, after a month online. The GoFundMe campaign was started by family friend Tamara Antonelli Comerford to take Pippa—a disabled seven-year-old Sigur Rós fan from Missouri, who suffered a stroke at birth that left her with Cerebral Palsy, among other medical conditions—on the family holiday of a lifetime. During an extended convalescence after an operation to reshape her pelvis and straighten her legs, Pippa was in severe pain, but responded with fascination to the soothing beauty of Sigur Rós’ tour documentary ‘Heima’,

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