What is the fascination with Madame Tussauds? A large proportion of tourists visiting London will always flock to this museum, installation or even freak show, we could call it. Passing by the queue outside, which often winds round the corner out of sight, I am baffled by how people, often persuaded by their guidebooks, feel that spending their time and money here during their trip will enhance their experience of the city. But if we look at the way this concept ties in with celebrity culture and the public’s obsession with fame and stardom, the attraction is obvious. Madame Tussauds gives us the chance to touch the untouchable. To momentarily close the distance between ourselves and the celebrity world, which, other than through the media, we will never have real access to. These celebs are built up by the media to be larger than life; immortal, unfazed by problems that normal people encounter. As a consequence we have become intent in discovering their “normal” characteristics and how they do in fact, relate to and resemble us. Many have developed an irrational interest in these celebrities, and follow skewed or invented information on a daily basis, hanging onto every word or revelation by tabloids and gossips magazines such as Heat and OK!
The latest star to be unveiled is Rihanna’s wax replica at the Berlin venue. “Rihanna stands for confidence and sex appeal,” says Nina-Kristin Zerbe, spokesperson for Madame Tussauds Berlin. This portrays perfectly why Rihanna has become an icon to many: through how she has been presented to us and the emphasis on specific admirable qualities. Her wax double allows us to see this idol, who by now we almost feel a personal acquaintance with, ‘in the flesh’ or ‘in real life.’
There are 8 wax figures of popstar rival and fashion icon Lady Gaga located around the world at various branches of Madame Tussauds, in total costing the museum $2.4 million. Take a look at the making of Gaga’s wax replica: