Wednesday, December 07, 2005

Heidi Konnt XXXmas


There is something disturbing about interviewing people “in character”. You know the drill: a well known character from a show – a pantomime turkey, or a drag queen, say – decides to talk to journalists while “being” that turkey. Or drag queen.

Usually, this leaves the journalist with some questions: like “who should I be while do the interview?”; “Am I in character now?”; and of course “Will I pretend to be Bob Woodward for this one?”

Anyhow, time to suck it up, so to speak. So, Heidi? “This is Neil.” Well, thank God for that. Instead of the fearsome German mistress of the obscene, excoriating put-down, on the phone is a nice young man called Neil Watkins.

“Yeah, I wasn’t really sure about doing Heidi over the phone. I mean Heidi can really be very vicious and totally obscene. And that’s OK when I’m in the room with an audience and I can control it. But over the phone…”

Watkins started performing Heidi Konnt back in March. Since then, the character that has cut a great filthy swathe through the Dublin drag scene, culminating in being crowned the Alternative Miss Ireland, at the raucous beauty pageant for Drag queens and kings.

And the act will move onto the next level next year when Heidi and Neil will both star in a new RTE comedy show, The Unbelievable Truth, a mockumetary from the makers of The Blizzard of Odd.

In the series, Heidi will play a bitchy gossip columnist while Neil (who is perhaps most famous as the letting agent in that McDonald’s ad about tiny flats) will appear as Michael Flatley. “I play him as a sort of superhero: Flatman”.

But before all that, Heidi and Neil will magically recombine for The Heidi Konnt XXXmas Show, an “alternative” Christmas show which will explore Heidi’s youth, and her innocent dalliance with the young Cardinal Ratzinger.

The show has been created in conjunction with Corn Exchange’s Annie Ryan, which might seem to explain why Heidi has tended to sport Ryan’s company’s distinctive commedia del’arte war paint.

But, as it happens, the look came courtesy of another Corn Exchange regular, Mark [Adam and Paul] O’Halloran, who was called in to do makeup for Heidi’s successful Alternative Miss Ireland bid.

“He came in and did me and my entire entourage – in a commedia del’arte stylee,” explains Neil, exhibiting a bit of Heidi-style double entendre.
(Photo: Will St. Leger)

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