Observations from Catwalk Tragedy

Yeah. Hurray for “alternative beauty.” Photo by Mojokiss.

Catwalk Tragedy 4, the East Coast’s biggest “alternative beauty pageant,” took place in Philly last weekend. Having been to the first Catwalk Tragedy, which was the closest I’ve ever seen my beloved goth scene morph into a drunken frat party in a trailer park on Mardi Gras weekend, I was curious how this larger-scale endeavor would play out. With more of everything – sponsors, judges, contestants – would it be a be a creative talent show or an even bigger sleazefest?

The judges this time were a respectable and diverse bunch, which gave me hope: my friends Kambriel, Apnea and Philip (Lithium Picnic) were on the panel, as well as two individuals less known to me; Jayla Rubinelli from America’s Next Top Model and Joey Martini, a burlesque emcee/performer.

Kambriel: “I think Joey’s face pretty much says it all with whatever was going on in that moment!”

With such a mix of judges I hoped that the event would be more classy this year, but alas! This year, it was the contestants dropped the ball. A belly dancer Tempest tells it:

The competition was set up boys and girls – meaning each gender had it’s own category. The contestants were given a top from one of the sponsors to alter as they wish, as long as the logo was intact. There was somewhat of a slut factor involved in the presentation of some of the girls, but I didn’t think much of it. Short micro-mini’s are rampant (or were, they seem to be going out from the latest batch of Gothic trends), but it was mainly a lot of boob gesturing, but hey, if you got ‘em, flaunt ‘em right? The boys were more tame in general. Both groups seem rather inexperienced with the concept of modeling, especially with walking, but hey, competitions can be nerve-wracking right?

The third round was freestyle – the model’s own choosing and to really show off their stuff. It was here that my brain had nothing short of a minor meltdown. Out of perhaps 20 girls, no more than 3 didn’t do something akin to stripper routine, and even then, they were borderline. Again, I don’t have anything against strippers, and I love burlesque, but this wasn’t burlesque, and I’m sure better strip shows could be had at the Foxy Lady’s “Legs & Eggs” morning strip events. (New Englanders everywhere just cringed massively.) Apparently “crowd reaction” was a judging category for this round, and the great majority figured that the best way to do this was to strip. After the first few, it was “oh look, another set of boobs and pasties” again and again. I was surrounded by male colleagues and they weren’t impressed in the least (and yes, they were mostly straight). I wondered what the boys would do…

The boy’s third round was a much different story. Yeap, there were a few strip routines in there, but the majority of them danced and really showed off their moves, their agility, and their PERSONALITY…mainly, it was a reversal of the girls’ round.

Oh, Philly girls. How you disappoint! Unless you were all from Jersey, in which case I understand. But the story has a happy ending. “In the end,” Tempest writes, “the winners were the ones who showed personality and really showed off the clothes in how they presented themselves (and for the most part, kept their clothes on.)” Kudos to the judges for making that call. And don’t get me wrong; you know we love hot girls in corsets! It’s just when those crucial ingredients of creativity and ownership are missing that it becomes a little sad.

To end this on a light note, here is a video of male stripping from Catwalk Tragedy that made me want to laugh and weep at the same time.

7 Responses to “Observations from Catwalk Tragedy”

  1. Kambriel Says:

    I actually had quite a bit of fun that evening thanks to many of the people in attendance and going with an open mind. Having not been to this event before, I didn’t have pre-set expectations. There were quite a few models with lots of personality/looks/presence, but I have to admit when I heard the 3rd round would be “performance based”, visions of a gothic talent show of sorts came to mind! Seeing many choose to use this opportunity to just “flaunt their assets” was a bit of a let down with the potential there was to do/show something different ~ because the “shocking and extreme”, when done again and again, becomes repetitive and ultimately forgettable.

    Like I’ve said before, things have to reach an extreme before change comes about. Just like in centuries past when ladies wore their panniered skirts, and the skirts got wider and wider until it reached the point of absurdity – *that’s* the moment people realized in order to stand out they’d need to go in another direction. Afterall, if you conform to nonconformity, then ultimately you’re just blending in.

    The event’s got potential ~ the ingredients are certainly there, so it’s just in the hands of those involved to make it whatever they ultimately want it to be. (That said, I think there should be an age limit, as one model was said to only be 10 years old. Thankfully, she was absent from the 3rd round.)

    *The banana dance was totally equal parts laughter and tears! When I saw it live, I thought Joey was putting slices of bread on him rather than dollar bills at the end ~ turning him into a giant sandwich! :)

  2. Zoetica Says:


    I can see why I’d never heard of this thing until now – it’s like a little but horrible secret of the underground, best kept under a rug. The video at the end, however? Priceless.

  3. Chernobyl red Says:

    Tempest is awesome. If she’d been an entrant, I bet she would have won, hands down.

  4. Mark Says:

    Le sigh.

    /minimalist pressimistic dan ashcroft-style ‘the idiots are winning’ blog

  5. jaborwhalky Says:

    This is what I had said when we came home from it,

    “catwalking girls should wear less whipcream and more clothing.
    It was a very well run event from what I saw but like I said girls need to wear more clothing as its just more classy that way.”

    But it was still fun to hang out with some of the good people who where there.

  6. Daniela Kenzie Says:

    Hey, not all of us took our clothes off…so this talk doesn’t exactly pertain to me, but rather the fact that a lot of girls treated the event like a strip show. I agree with this. However, I can’t help but feel that I am being lumped into the mass of “Philly girls” who took their clothes off for the third round (and yes, there were A LOT of them). I made it a point to emulate three aspects of the “goth” scene in my modeling that night; First round: Deathrock, Second: Victorian/ Vaudeville (tempest was sweet enough to make my skirt right onto me ^_^) and Third: Fetish.
    Now, I had no idea that the third round was going to be a pick your own performance thing…if I had, I would have broke out my electric violin or even the piano if the venue had allowed it but unfortunately I was working on limited means…so what did I do? I didn’t take my clothes off like the majority of the other girls did, I made a purposeful spectacle of fetish modeling. I guess some people found it funny.
    Don’t get me wrong there were some of the people who are writing this stuff who said to me “Good for you for keeping your clothes on” ect ect but it still makes me feel weird that the whole event is becoming about girls who took their clothes off and I don’t want to be associated with something I didnt do.

    Heh, just my two cents, I suppose.

  7. Nadya Says:

    Daniela, thanks for your thoughtful comment. Of course I spent many a Wednesday night at Shampoo so I know exactly what them Philly bitches is like, believe you me! So I am totally qualified to make that joke. :)

    Aww. I miss Philly.