I’m not talking about Nicki Minaj the performer; she’s old news. I’m talking about Nicki Minaj the display at Madame Tussauds in Las Vegas (which is pictured at right).
Before I go on, I should confess that I have never understood the attraction of wax museums. First, why do tourists enjoy looking at vague likenesses of historical figures and modern cultural icons, posed stiffly in tableaus like the figures in the dioramas at the Museum of Natural History? It’s one thing if you’re peering in at a woolly mammoth or one of our distant ancestors; you don’t see them in revealing dresses at every televised awards show. Although that’s certainly one way you could get me to watch televised awards shows.
And second, why wax? Is there something about wax as a medium that tourists prefer over the usual materials of sculptural art? Do the people who visit wax museums–most of whom would never consider going to an art museum with actual sculpture–go in the hope of the air conditioning breaking down so they can watch Elvis melt?
Or do these folks simply believe that this is as close as they’ll ever get to the people they admire? They all take pictures with their favorites, as if 60-year-old Harriet Grimes from Iowa really traveled back in time to kiss Paul McCartney’s cheek when he was 22…and had extremely smooth skin and a blank expression. Does Harriet return to Des Moines, show the picture to her friends, and say, “And here’s me with Paul. He was so polite…”?
I mean, it would be easier, and the result more realistic, if Harriet just had her son Photoshop her into an old picture of the Beatles. But then she wouldn’t get to meet Paul McCandle in person. (I’m assuming here that Harriet’s son is more technologically adept than Harriet is. And that she has a son in the first place. And that she prefers Paul to John.)
Anyway, let me get back to Wicky Minaj.
Evidently, Madame Tussauds recently added waxy Nicki to their collection, displaying her on all fours in a scene from her “Anaconda” video (jungle backdrop included!). To promote the unveiling of their newest masterwork, the museum ran a selfie contest. They asked visitors to take a picture of themselves with the statue and tag it with #mtnickiselfie to have a chance to win a Nicki Minaj goodie bag. Unfortunately, some visitors helped themselves to Nicki’s goodies without bothering with the bag.
If you look at the Minaj exhibit above, I’m sure you can imagine the types of photos that were taken. Apparently the promotional department at Madame Tussauds could not. Some of the pictures included two live people, one doing something inappropriate at each end of the statue, sort of a “Minaj e trois.”
Of course, the lewd photos found their way into viralness. I would imagine that these racy pictures will create the need for a new term to describe this sort of, um, interaction. After all, if sex with a dead person is necrophilia, what do you call sex with a wax person? “Candelabra?”
The museum couldn’t have such photography sullying their reputation as a wholesome, family attraction, so it released this statement via Twitter, utilizing annoyingly haughty British spelling:
“It is unfortunate that this visitor decided to behave so inappropriately and we apologise for any offence this has caused. We do have staff monitoring guest behaviour in the attraction and do our utmost to ensure our wax figures are treated respectfully, but on this occasion clearly one of our hosts was not present.”
In other words, they are laying the blame squarely on the lifelike shoulders of the tourists who took the pictures. But the rapper Azealia Banks (not to be confused with the rapper Iggy Azalea or the flower, azalea), rightly called them on it and started a firestorm when she tweeted:
AZEALIA BANKS @AZEALIABANKS
As much as that woman has accomplished, they had to put her on all fours… Why not standing up with a mic in her hand ???
Well, obviously, the last thing you want when you’re running a wax museum is a firestorm. On the other hand, Madame Tussauds isn’t about to redo the statue, since it took nearly six months, 20 artists, and 300 body measurements to make it. (By contrast, Michaelangelo managed to sculpt The Pieta by himself in less than two years, and in far more detail. Although, in fairness, he didn’t have to worry about the jungle backdrop.)
So instead of reworking Nicki (who is quite a piece of work even in real life), the museum is reworking the display to discourage interactive picture-taking. I do not know if this “reworking” includes adding spikes to certain body parts or if that would even matter if they were made out of wax. It also doesn’t address Ms. Banks’ concern, which may or may not be valid considering that the real Nicki put herself in the same pose in her video.
In any case, I’m sure the new display won’t hold a candle to the original.
See you soon.