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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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Pagan Christmas

Pagan Christmas

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The idea of throwing a big celebration in honour of the birth of Christ is a relatively recent idea. Nobody knows exactly when he was born; guesses range from 7 to 2 BC and the date is a mystery. His date of birth was once estimated to be January 6, in an attempt to beat a competing holiday (the celebration of the virgin birth of Aion, the Hellenistic deity of eternity). In the process they borrowed the symbolism of the stables. Christianity is in the business of mergers and acquisitions. The date was later changed to December 25, partly because

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The Encyclopaedia of Icelandic Holidays

The Encyclopaedia of Icelandic Holidays

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Aðfangadagur (Ath-founga-dager) December 24, Aðfangadagur, is the day Icelanders celebrate Christmas (as opposed to December 25 in most countries). The first half of the day usually goes towards finishing off all of the last-minute preparations, making food, wrapping presents, bathing and putting on nice clothes. Children are often occupied by the television set, as most stations broadcast a non-stop programme of cartoons throughout the day. Six o’ clock marks the official start of Christmas in Iceland, marked by state radio broadcasting the traditional “ringing of the church bells.” This is when most households sit down to enjoy a pleasant holiday

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WAR ON CHRISTMAS: Finally, An Icelandic Front

WAR ON CHRISTMAS: Finally, An Icelandic Front

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Anyone who’s followed American politics, or switched to Fox News over the holidays, knows that a full blown war is raging at this very moment: The War On Christmas. On the battlefield, the godless forces of Politically Correct liberals—who want to take Christ out of Christmas and thus destroy the very fabric of American culture—fight the patriotic and pious people over at Fox. Of course nobody residing the reality-based community has ever encountered this “War on Christmas.” It exists only in the fevered imagination of loudmouths like Bill O’Reilly and Rush Limbaugh, who use it to fill airtime, drum up

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Wanted: The Icelandic Christmas Mood

Wanted: The Icelandic Christmas Mood

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When they stop stacking the Rjómi (heavy cream) neatly on the supermarket shelves, you know Christmas is just around the corner. The Rjómi hasn’t disappeared though. Entering the walk-in cooler (don’t forget your jacket!) you’ll see a huge container spilling over with cartons and cartons of Rjómi. Frankly, stacking it is a waste of time; soon you’ll notice the mountain getting smaller as every single person takes at least one, maybe two or maybe five. Our consumer needs are this predictable before, during and after Christmas, because almost every single Icelandic household has the exact same family traditions. This uniformity

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The Sinister Christmas Clan Of Iceland

The Sinister Christmas Clan Of Iceland

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In Iceland, there is no Santa Claus. Instead, there are thirteen “jólasveinar,” which can be translated to “Yule Lads.” They live in mountains and hike to town, one by one, for the thirteen days leading up to Christmas Eve. Their mother is Grýla, a troll known for eating babies and beating up her husband. In previous centuries, the Yule Lads were a bunch of scraggly, merry—sometimes thieving—pranksters that would get up to all sorts of shenanigans on their visits to civilization. In recent decades, the lads have mostly abandoned their mischievous ways—today’s youth mostly knows them as a group of

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Preparing for Global Leadership

Preparing for Global Leadership

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In 2012, Þóra Arnórsdóttir, a respected journalist for Icelandic State TV, RÚV, launched a formidable campaign for the presidency of Iceland, challenging the four-term incumbent Ólafur Ragnar Grímsson. Although many recession-weary Icelanders were eager to see a change of executive power at the time, Þóra’s entrance into presidential politics drew surprisingly intense public scrutiny for an unusual reason: she was eight months pregnant with her third child when she formally entered the race. Her bold decision to campaign while pregnant generated a slew of laudatory and skeptical headlines in Iceland and across the globe, for many media outlets questioned the

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