Comment: The everlasting appeal of Kylie’s pants

PinkNews Staff Writer February 19, 2007
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Put your hand on your heart and tell me – is the Kylie exhibition at London’s Victoria and Albert Museum worth going to see?

The most opinionated man in the PinkNews universe, Ben Leung, casts his critical eye over an exhibition that has got the Radio 4 crowd in a tizz over whether or not la Minogue is worthy of a retrospective at the age of 38.

There’s an old saying in Hollywood that if there’s a nuclear holocaust, only two things would survive – cockroaches and Cher.

Personally, I’m not so sure about the latter since there’s nothing left of the old Cher anyway.

On the other hand, I think I may have found just the right candidate to replace the ageing and cosmetic surgery-loving diva – Kylie Minogue.

OK, Kylie’s ageing as well, but, I reckon she’s as qualified – if not more so – than the American for the “post-nuclear world.”

I certainly can’t imagine Cher being half as popular as Kylie is across the age spectrum.

I came to these conclusions after a trip to the VA last week for Kylie – The Exhibition because for years, I belonged to the “I like her but I don’t understand why she’s that popular” camp.

Like many, I vaguely remember her from the 1980s – not from Neighbours but rather her live performance of Hand On Your Heart during an obscure beauty pageant event I was present at in Hong Kong. (which, amazingly, is on YouTube)

I also bought the odd record and CD, and even saw her at a Radio 1 road-show in sunny Leicester six autumns ago during the height of her comeback for Can’t Get You Out Of My Head – albeit from a distance.

But I never quite worked out why some people go absolutely berserk for her, or how she attained the gay iconic status.

Nor did I appreciate why people insist on treating her concerts like a giant party.

Now, I know.

It wasn’t the stunning outfits or the catchy (some say annoying) songs at the exhibition which made me realise just how out of touch I’d been over the years.

Instead, it was the crowd who had swamped the VA in their thousands on a weekday afternoon just to see her pants.

I’m sure that half-term holidays had a lot to do with the sizable crowd I encountered last week at the museum.

You may even argue that a combination of widespread publicity and free entry is a sure-fire bet to drawing in the masses.

Ultimately though, I reckon the name “Kylie” is enough to draw in the crowd. In hindsight, how did I ever underestimate her appeal?! And what a crowd!

For a start, they were old. Not 30-old but more like 40, even 50-old.

Some were even pushing 70! It was as if I’d stumbled into a Women’s Institute meeting!

The majority of them went with their children and grandchildren, and I’m certain that many of them don’t even like Kylie.

But her name alone is enough to pull in punters – most of whom wouldn’t be seen dead at her concerts. That, is a feat which not many celebrities can boast in this day and age.

Besides, I can’t think of a better place to visit with a bunch of unruly and hyperactive kids during half-term.

As an exhibition, there are plenty to wow the crowd. It has enough materials to keep them entertained for at least an hour, if not 90 minutes.

They could gawp at the daring and iconic outfits, watch all her music videos on a loop (in which case the tour will take about three hours, as some foreign students did) and marvel at the memorabilia and images taken from different eras of the 38-year-old’s career.

Personally, I enjoyed seeing the outfits because I’d never have imagined that she really was that short!! (Where else would you be see mannequins that are 5’1″ in height?)

For example, the white jersey hooded jumpsuit for Can’t Get You Out Of My Head was even more daring that I’d envisaged. I wondered who else could wear that AND get away with it?

Elsewhere, the Fee Doran-ribbon dress she wore for In Your Eyes was so flimsy that I’m sure you could see through them in the video.

Plenty of dresses made famous by the paparazzi are also on show. Three outfits disappointed me though – those golden hot pants for Spinning Around deserved to be 50 pence at a jumble sale, whilst the respective dresses for Hand On Your Heart and I Should Be So Lucky’ should have been incinerated years ago. The latter looks more like something a baby would wear for the christening!

My personal highlights, however, were the awards and accolades that were on display in the far-corner of the main exhibition hall.

There are a few Brits and Arias for her musical achievements both in the UK and back home in Australia.

There are also a few Logies (Australian TV awards) including a Golden Logie, which is awarded to the most popular TV personality Down Under.

But the real highlight was seeing the Grammy that she won for Come Into My World in 2004.

Having never seen a Grammy award before, this was a special and very pleasant surprise. It was a shame that they were tucked away in a quiet part of the main room.

But one thing that Ms Minogue can be extremely proud of is that she has single-handedly alleviated many parents and grandparents from the pain of wondering what to do with the restless youngsters during half-term.

As an exhibition, it is just about suitable for all ages. The little ones might be advised to look away from the more daring outfits and images, but there isn’t anything at the show which would offend even the snootiest of middle-England.

Then again, a lot of these women actually attended the event to pay private homage to a singer who has helped them in different ways down the years.

Some were there for nostalgic reasons, some out of curiosity. And I’m sure one or two were eager to try and relate to a public figure who’s endured her fair share of triumph and tragedy down the years.

But, a lot of mums were there to thank Kylie: I overheard a few saying how grateful they were to the star and to Neighbours for “sorting out the kids” as they prepared for supper 20 years ago.

But there’s also a slightly unnerving feel to the whole show as it’s the kind of exhibition that you’d see if a person’s dead.

Thankfully, Kylie’s still with us. So, let’s hope – for everybody’s sake – that she will enjoy years of good health and great fortune ahead, and hopefully many more exhibitions of this kind.

You never know, one of those 40-plus ladies I saw could be heard telling to their future grandchildren 20 years from now, “I took your mum here when she was your age…”

Lastly, a word of advice, book ahead for the free tickets – don’t just turn up on the day!

The Kylie Collection is showing at the VA from the 8th of February until June 10th. Admission is free.

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