I have always been afraid of mannequins, more specifically, those with the intent of being hyper-realistic. My fear has a name Anthropomorphobia, meaning 'a fear of recognising human characteristics in non-human objects.' Madame Tussauds felt the perfect location to dispel my fears and examine why people still idolise celebrities fashioned from wax.


Marie Tussaud started her wax modelling career in the late 18th Century by creating death masks of political personalities guillotined throughout the French Revolution. She subsequently went on to design The Chamber of Horrors, a wax model installation of notorious criminals and famous crime scenes. Her early work is far removed from the modern day circus of Madame Tussauds, a company now worth tens of millions. Instead, she focused on the dead and victims of violence rather than celebrating the living.


The commercial spectacle has a tomb-like atmosphere as if it were a site of pilgrimage. Among the hundreds of tourists, stand celebrity relics: Angelina and Brad Pitt broken apart by Benedict Cumberbatch and the disappearance of Zayn from One Direction. Queuing begins outside the building, and within moments of entering through the doors, the hysteria is palpable, even frightening. Camera phones, selfie sticks, and crying children fill what space is available and groups jostle to have their photo taken with one of the vacant-eyed static wax models.


This alternative repercussion-free reality allows visitors to touch, hug and even grope a celebrity replica and in doing so, they can establish a connection and live out a temporary fantasy. Female wax figures remain as flawlessly preserved as their botoxed counterparts and in that sense, the mirage of perfection continues.

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