For reasons both banal and obscure, Mrs Brit and I visited Madame Tussaud’s last week.
Never again. It scared the bejesus out of me as a kid and it did so again this time. The Chamber of Horrors, even with the jumpy-out actors ‘live’ section is not remotely frightening, but the rest of it is bloody terrifying.
You walk through a series of uncanny valleys, bizarre mocked-up cocktail parties littered with such incongruous guests as Elvis Presley, the Incredible Hulk and Chris Tarrant. Charles Darwin stands next to Neil Armstrong. A grotesquely accurate Stephen Hawking sprawls cheerfully in his chair.
Always there is the spine-shiver of eyes upon you: either the super-real glass stare of the waxworks, or, if you stay still too long, the puzzled look of a tourist wondering who you’re meant to be. The half-familiarity of the figures is what makes it such a strange experience, especially the realistic ones (Samuel L Jackson is freakishly lifelike; James Dean is appalling). More disturbing is the semi-erotic aspect. Girls drool and drape themselves over an ossified Orlando Bloom. Boys gawp at Jennifer Lopez’s plastic rump.
I simply don’t get what Madame Tussaud’s is for. The most interesting game seems to be discovering how tall everybody is: Christina Aguilera is a dwarf; Ronald Reagan was a giant. Other than that, the popularity of the place is a mystery to me. Can anyone explain it?