Documentary on One

May The Best Queen Win

In March the music died in the Olympia Theatre Dublin, the glitter ball stopped spinning and the last high-heel echo drifted through the empty spaces - the Alternative Miss Ireland beauty pageant was no more.

May The Best Queen Win

The curtain fell on what had been billed as the last ever, Alternative Miss Ireland beauty pageant.

The Documentary on One was there, following the efforts of two of the competitors: Paul Craig, A.K.A. Big Chief Random Chaos, and Sinead Burke, A.K.A. Minnie Mélange, as they prepare for the battle for the coveted Medusa Crown of Shamrocks.

Paul Craig, web designer by day and burlesque cabaret artist by night has set his sights on the big prize. For 8 of the 18-year history of the show he has been a finalist. On two occasions he was runner-up. This is his last opportunity to wear the crown but the road to the final is a long one.

On the night he'll be wearing a white tutu and a red Mohican and his approach is, as his name suggests, random and chaotic.
Paul's alter ego is Big Chief Random Chaos, but reflecting his planned stage act, he has renamed himself Big Chief Willy Girl for the night.

He teams up with a former Miss Ireland, Amanda Brunker who offers advice and mentoring in the lead-up to the final. However, Paul's ideas for the pageant prove to be too bizarre even for Ms. Brunker's taste.

Sinead Burke is a little person. Like Paul, she doesn't fit the usual demographic of Alternative Miss Ireland. But Paul and Sinead could not be physically more different: Sinead is 3 foot 5 inches tall. And their approaches to preparing for Alternative Miss Ireland are also very different.

Sinead has meticulously planned a quirky twist on the Snow White tale, in which Snow White is played by a little person (herself) and the seven dwarves are played by average height people.

This annual event has been the highlight of the Irish gay calendar. Affectionately known as "Gay Christmas", the spirit of the contest is one of "expanding definitions of beauty through spectacle and gender augmentation".

Panti-Ireland's Grande Dame-is presenter and, on the occasion in question, Mothers' Day, is also self-appointed mother to competitors, judges and audience alike as he/she manages the emotion-charged atmosphere in the full-to-bursting theatre.
There have been 17 queens crowned in past shows and whoever wins tonight will carry that crown forever.

Many contestants have been planning, rehearsing and fine-tuning their acts for months ahead of the event; some are even more determined in their preparations.

There are Daywear, Swimwear and Eveningwear rounds to be competed in. These will be judged on Poise, Personality, Originality and ultimately, Insanity. In his eagerness to win, Paul stretches the limits of these criteria to breaking point.

But, unknown to Big Chief Willy Girl there are others equally determined to wear the crown and competition is building behind the scenes from a most unlikely source.

When the curtain finally falls, it does so on a mixture of sadness and laughter, togetherness and cheers in the bitter sweet, grand finale to this riotous, anarchic evening.

The documentary, May the Best Queen Win, celebrates the last ever Alternative Miss Ireland, its colorful contestants, its thrills and spills and of course.its surprise ending.

Produced by Joe Kearney

Production supervision by Nicoline Greer

Sound supervision by Richard McCullough

First broadcast: July 7th 2012


Paul Craig presents the next show of "The League of Decadent Bastards" on September 29th in the Sugar Club, Dublin.

'Documentary on One is the home of Irish radio documentaries and the largest library of documentary podcasts available anywhere in the world. We tell stories in sound, mostly Irish ones, and each documentary tells its own story'

Documentary maker: Joe Kearney

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Documentary maker: Nicoline Greer

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