My postman Dave has a part-time job as a security guard. He needs the money but there are occasional perks too. One Saturday morning, he rings the doorbell and presents me with two backstage passes for the Kylie Minogue concert at Wembley Arena! “Dave, that’s amazing!” I cry, beside myself with excitement. As a cross-dresser, I’m overawed by Kylie’s style, energy and femininity – I’m her biggest fan!
“My boss gave them to me, and I immediately thought of you and Ginny.” he replies, grinning.
Ginny doesn’t believe me when I tell her over the phone and she has to come round and see the passes for herself. They are in big plastic wallets you wear around your neck. They say ‘VIP Security Pass’ in big letters at the top. They have our names printed on them and there is even a space for a photograph. Ginny and I immediately set about taking portrait photos.
Ginny borrows my make-up and goes for the smart-casual look – she’s really good at that: elegant but not overstated. “Hey!” I say. “This is a perfect chance for me to wear my Charlene-from-Neighbours outfit!” I put on a pale pink T-shirt, denim dungarees and a pair of sneakers and dig out my long blonde permed wig. Ginny helps me put it into bunches and I practise being Charlene. I try bursting in through the kitchen door with an adjustable wrench and flopping down on the sofa.
“Yes,” says Ginny. “You do look just like Kylie, but this is only for a photograph” we set up my camera and tripod and snap away. “You do realise,” points out Ginny, as she takes my shot “that if you look like this in the photo you’re going to have to go to the concert looking like Charlene!”
“Not a problem!” I say.
The night of the concert arrives and Ginny comes round to my place so we can get ready together. She’s taken the afternoon off to go clothes shopping – I would have joined her but I have been under my car all afternoon practising being Charlene. I can see she’s been busy too. “It’s important to be comfortable at a concert.” she explains. She has bought a new pair of jeggings – leggings that look just like jeans. She wriggles into them and they are a perfect fit. Ginny does have a fantastic figure and I am rather jealous.
“They didn’t have jeggings in the 1980s.” I point out. “My dungarees are very comfortable too. Look!” and I put my hands in my dungaree pockets and flap them about. Ginny has bought a gorgeous pale pink top that goes really well with the pale blue of the jeggings. It is in a cotton knit close-fitting fabric like a T-shirt, but it has a low-cut neckline with a beautiful lace edging. “I thought this would look good with a necklace” she says putting one on. Ginny normally wears beautiful metal and glass creations but they are a little formal for a concert and instead she has chosen one made from a leather cord with wooden beads and a central pendant with an ethnic design.
“Good choice, Ginny.” I compliment her. “It makes you look as if you spend your life at the surf beach, even though you’ve never touched a board in your life!”
“That’s just the effect I was going for!” she laughs. I wish I could wear a necklace too and then I remember I have the craft necklace kit that Ginny bought me last Christmas. We make one together using a leather cord just like Ginny’s. We pick letter beads and thread them on. It says ‘SCOTTANDCHARLENE’.
I watch Ginny do her make-up, offering her advice as she goes. She seems to find it helpful – breathing deeply and counting to five after every suggestion I make.
“I don’t think Charlene wore make up when she was working at the garage.” I complain.
Ginny looks at me professionally. “I would just wear some foundation and subtle contouring – you do need to look like a teenager.” When I’m finished, Ginny puts some smudges of mascara on my dungarees ‘for added realism’ and, quick as a flash, puts a smudge on my nose. I complain but can see in the mirror that it looks quite effective.
We get a lift to the arena with Dave who is doing security all night. “Got your passes, ladies?” He asks as we get in.
“We certainly have!” We reply, waving them at him madly.
Dave keeps looking at us in the rearview mirror. “You’re looking very… ‘practical’, tonight, Lilly! Been working on the flat?”
“I’m Charlene, the car mechanic that Kylie played in Neighbours.” I say, a little put out Dave didn’t get this.
“Oh, I see. You look… great.” says Dave. “Well, you can work on my piston any time you like.”
I can see in the mirror that Dave is grinning to himself. Ginny tells him not to be crude.
When we arrive at the Arena, Ginny and I have to queue like everybody else. “The passes are only to get backstage,” explains Dave. “Come and meet me at the security entrance when the interval starts. There should be time to give you a quick look round.”
We join the enormous queue. There are thousands of people and everyone is in a really good mood, chatting away excitedly as we queue. There seem to be lots of men among the concertgoers, more than you would expect. Ginny and I comment on this “Kylie is gorgeous.” I say. “Lots of men fancy her.”
“I don’t think these are those kind of men,” says Ginny, and now she has said this I can see what she means. There is a party of men behind us in the queue. They are being quite raucous – I would say giggly. “Oh, I do love your hair!” One of them suddenly says very loudly and we realise this is directed at Ginny. We turn around.
“Why, thank you!” Ginny smiles back. “But it needs re-colouring.”
“No, it doesn’t!” the man replies. “It’s gorgeous!” And he touches Ginny on the elbow rather affectaciously. I feel a little uncomfortable at this.
“Come on, Ginny.” I say, tugging on her arm. “The line is moving forward.” We progress a few steps further. “Did you see he was wearing the same jeggings as you?” Ginny turns round to look and then quickly turns back again. She stares silently ahead and I know not to say anything.
When we finally get in we find that our seats are a long, long way back. I think we are both disappointed but we don’t mention it. “This place is incredible!” I exclaim. “I have never seen so many people!”
Ginny just keep saying “Wow! Wow!” as she looks around. It’s almost impossible to describe the scene. The vast arena is filled with people. Even though nothing has actually started yet the noise is tremendous, and you could cut the atmosphere with a knife, there is so much expectation hanging in the air.
“There must be 40,000 people here!” I shout.
The man in the seat in front turns round and says “51,759, according to Kylie’s website.”
“Gosh!” we both say together. “We didn’t think there would be that many.”
“The stage is so far away! And how big is that screen!” says Ginny.
The man in front turns round again. “It’s 900 m² – the biggest in Europe. And the stage is 211 m away!” Ginny and I look at him. He is wearing a long white flowing dress like the one that Kylie wears in ‘Can’t Get You Out Of My Head’, complete with a white scarf draped over his head. He has bright red high-gloss lipstick on.
“Lilly and I are having a private conversation!” says Ginny.
“Sorry!” he replies. “I thought you might like to know a few facts. I’m Micky Minogue. I’m Kylie’s biggest fan.”
“I think you will find I am.” I reply. “I know the words to all her songs!”
“So do I!” says Micky.
“I have dungarees like she wears in Neighbours. Look!” I say, waving my pockets at him.
“I have a copy of every costume she has in every video!” says Micky.
I struggle to know what to say to that and turn to Ginny.
“We have VIP backstage security passes!” she says, pointedly.
“No!” cries Micky, staring wide-eyed in disbelief. He stamps his feet and turns round again.
“Good one, Ginny!” I whisper. In a loud voice I say “We are going to meet Kylie during the interval!” There is a muted squeal from Micky. He folds his arms and huffs loudly.
Then, suddenly, there is a burst of noise from the speakers and an explosion of light as hundreds of fireworks ignite into life around the stage. Smoke pours on from either side, glowing so white in the powerful spotlights that it hurts to look at it. The stage is filled with dancers and for several minutes a medley of backing tracks from all Kylie’s hits booms out with a heavy dance beat. As the dancers leap and gyrate their energy is infectious and the entire crowd sway and shout. A giant number ’10’ appears on the screen and a countdown begins. The crowd start chanting “Kylie! Kylie!” The countdown reaches zero. There is a blinding burst of light and, as it fades, a diminutive figure appears at the top of the stage and the crowd go wild with a deafening roar.
“Ginny, it’s Kylie!” I blurt out. Suddenly, a giant image of Kylie appears on the screen and a great ‘Oooh!’ rises from the crowd. She is dressed as a Vegas showgirl, in a silver metallic costume, covered in beads and sequins, with a stunning headdress topped with an enormous feather plume. She is carrying a huge silver feather fan in each hand. “Isn’t she gorgeous!” I shout over the crowd. Kylie pauses at the top of a long staircase and then descends, step-by-step, kicking her legs out as she goes.
The concert roars into life. Kylie is an absolute dynamo, powering through number after number with no letup in her energy. The show is brilliantly put together. It’s dramatic, technical, arty, uplifting and sometimes funny, all at the same time. We are carried along on a wave of emotion. At one point I even hold hands with the woman next to me though I’ve not said a single word to her. Then there is a great crescendo of noise and light and, suddenly, the first half of the concert is over. Ginny and I sit there breathless and then we remember our passes! “Come on! Let’s go!” I say.
As soon as we can, Ginny and I make our way around to the security gate. Dave is there to meet us. “Good evening ladies!” He says, shooting us a smile. He always stresses ‘ladies’ when I’m ‘in costume’ – it’s his little joke though I have to admit I do like it! He ushers us inside, and we join a little group for a backstage tour. It’s led by one of the security supervisors and, as it progresses, we realise it’s not quite what we were expecting. “Here is the main CCTV system.” he says as we pass a room packed with glowing screens. “And this is where the passes are printed” he continues, by a desk in a corner.
“It’s all about security!” I say to Ginny.
“I know!” She says, “but it’s better than just being stuck in our seats, I suppose.” Dave is tagging along at the back. “Wait until you see the main control room.” he says. “It’s a real treat!” The tour continues. We pass the entrance to a side passage. I looked down it and see a large bouquet of flowers leaning against the wall by a door at the end. The others are listening intently to the guide explaining how they can talk to a police helicopter overhead if they have to. A sudden compulsion seizes me and I nip off down the passage, to look at the flowers. There is a card on them and I read it. “To Kylie, Good Luck tonight! Lots of love, Jason.” I get a sudden surge of excitement and look up at the sign on the door. ‘Miss Minogue’ it says ‘– Superstar’. “Oh My God!” I exclaim. I look back at Ginny and try to attract her attention, but she is too busy listening to Dave explaining all about the fire extinguishers. I listen at the door but can’t hear anything. I know I shouldn’t but I push it ajar and peek in. The lights are on but I can see it is empty. There are some sofas and a coffee table piled high with empty pizza boxes.
I push the door open further and step in. Against the far wall there is a dressing table and mirror surrounded by light bulbs. “I’ve always wanted one of these” I can’t help saying out loud. I sit at the dressing table to take a quick photo of myself in the mirror. “I can’t wait to show Ginny – she will never believe this!” I whisper to myself. There is a long dressing screen stretched right across one end of the room and I take a peek behind it. I will never ever forget the sight I see. There are a dozen glittering costumes set out along the wall. There is the metallic silver number that Kylie wore to make her big entrance. I suddenly realise there is a system. All the costumes are set out in order. At the beginning of the line, there is a pile of ordinary clothes just dumped on the floor: jeans, a T-shirt, a jumper and a pair of trainers. Then, in turn, is each of the costumes that Kylie has worn in the first half of the show, again just dumped in a pile on the floor. Then there are the costumes that Kylie must be about to wear in the second half, neatly set out on stands. “Oohh! Quick changes!” I whisper. I can just imagine Kylie dashing in between numbers and madly struggling out of one costume and into the next. “Wait till I tell Ginny!” I mutter excitedly.
Right at the end of the line there is a large bath towel and a silk dressing gown, draped over a chair. “Poor Kylie.” I say. “She must be exhausted after a show like this. I bet she enjoys a gorgeous long soak!”. I notice a yellow cord hanging from the ceiling and look up. The ceiling is marked out with a square of red and yellow hazard tape and a sign says “caution: trapdoor. Keep clear.” This must be a direct route down from the stage for all Kylie’s quick changes. How exciting! I go back to the line of dresses. The next one that Kylie is going to wear is absolutely gorgeous. It is pink and red with a bodice of heavily embroidered panels picked out in gold stitching. There is a knee-length tutu-like skirt made from tulle and covered in sequins and glitter. There are ostrich feather trimmings everywhere. There is a glorious glittering headdress topped with ostrich feathers and standing next to the dress on its own frame is an enormous fan-shaped spread of ostrich feathers that, I suddenly realise, Kylie must wear, clipped to her back like a peacock tail. I reach out and touch the feathers. They feel soft, feminine, exciting.
I must have been in the dressing room for nearly a minute. “I shouldn’t be here. I must go!” I tell myself. But I don’t move. An idea has occurred to me. “No I couldn’t! Yes, I know I really want to, but I mustn’t. It would be amazing, but I shouldn’t.” I reach out and touch the costume again. It would only take a couple of minutes and no one is here. My heart is racing. Suddenly, I am overcome by a surge of adrenaline and I go for it! Hands shaking, I unlace my work boots and take them off. I unbutton my overalls and let them drop to the floor and step out of them in my bra and panties. I bet the dress doesn’t even fit – Kylie is so petite.
I lift the dress from its stand. It is surprisingly heavy, with all its decoration. I lower it to the floor and step in. As I pull it up I realise it is actually very stretchy – there are strips of pink lycra between the panels of decoration the whole thing has been designed for movement. My heart is in my throat as I lift the headdress and lower it onto my head. I take the feather tail from its stand and hold it behind me. I walk over to the full length mirror in the corner and gasp as I see myself. “I am Kylie!” I sigh. But then, my heart misses a beat. There is a sound in the corridor! Someone is coming! What have I done! I turn and dash for the screen but am too late. The dressing room door opens and in walks a woman. She stops and stares at me in disbelief. She is tall and well-built – she’s definitely not Kylie. She is wearing a headset and microphone and carrying a clipboard and she looks like she’s very much in charge.
“Who the hell are you?” she cries. “What are you doing in here?” I don’t know why I say what I do next. In a situation like this I would normally dig myself deeper but for some reason I think I say the right thing. I just come out and say, “I am one of the dancers! Er, Miss Minogue wanted me to get something for her.”
The woman looks relieved. “So, you know about Miss Minogue? It’s a complete disaster! I have no idea what we are going to do! We spend millions designing a set, doing all those risk assessments and then Kylie goes and twists her ankle slipping on the floor of the ladies!”
I can’t believe what I’m hearing. “How bad is it?” I ask with genuine concern. “She will be able to do the second half won’t she?”
“Well, it’s bright red and swollen. We’ve strapped it up and she’s in the canteen, resting it. She is putting a brave face on it and wants to continue but the insurers and lawyers would have us for breakfast. We are going to have to cancel.”
Again, I don’t know why I say what I do now – I think it is my fate. “Could I help?” I say.
“Well, you could if you looked like Kylie, sounded like Kylie and danced like Kylie… but you don’t.”
“Well, I am a Kylie impersonator.”
“You are a Kylie impersonator? You?” she says in astonishment, looking me up and down. “Which Kylie?”
“I’ve done lots of shows for Ginny.” I say. “Look, I’ve even got mechanics overalls like when she was Charlene.” And I take her over and show her my dungarees and T-shirt which I have folded neatly in a pile next to Kylie’s own clothes.
“That’s amazing!” she says. “I love the soot marks. How have you done those?”
“Thanks! That was Ginny, with her mascara.” I say proudly.
She looks at me directly. “And what is your name?” she asks, nodding as I reply. “My name is Sheila.” she says. “I am Kylie’s Stage Manager. And Ginny is… your agent?”
“Yes, that’s right!” I say. I am not entirely sure what an agent does, but Ginny does look after me.
Sheila puts her hand on her chin and slowly tilts her head from side to side. I can see she is weighing up something important and I hold my breath. “Well, I suppose we have the video and soundtrack from the rehearsals.” she mutters to herself. “And we could use more smoke and pyrotechnics than normal.” She looks at me hard. “We will have to run this past Alpha One but, Lily, are you ready for the biggest adventure of your life?”
I can’t quite believe what is happening. I know this is a great moment of fate and that some poweful force is at work, weaving me into great events, and who am I to fight against it.
Without hesitation, I reply… “Yes, I am!”
To be continued…