Wax museum revels in ridicule as critics lampoon its statues

Wax figures of the Dalai Lama, right, and Mahatma Gandhi stand at the Dreamland Wax Museum on Monday, Aug. 28, 2017, in Boston. Officials at the new wax museum say they're embracing the extra attention brought by online hecklers who have lampooned some of the attraction's likenesses. Critics say some of the statues missed the mark. Museum vice president Michael Pelletz says some are imperfect because they're based on photos and not actual measurements. (AP)
Updated 30 August 2017
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Wax museum revels in ridicule as critics lampoon its statues

BOSTON: A good roasting hasn't caused a meltdown at Boston's new wax museum.
Officials at the Dreamland Wax Museum say they're embracing the extra attention brought by waves of online hecklers who have lampooned some of its less-than-flattering likenesses.
"It's absolutely been a blessing to have all of that controversy," said Michael Pelletz, the museum's vice president of sales. "Even if it's negative press, it's working wonderfully."
Photos of the museum's life-sized wax figures have been circulating online since it opened its doors in July, in some cases inspiring scorching ridicule.
It started with a wax portrayal of President Donald Trump that some say looks more like South Carolina Sen. Lindsey Graham.
Then it was a statue of New England Patriots quarterback Tom Brady that some called "creepy," with one online critic saying it looks like someone who "would murder you and hide the body."
Now it's a figure of former Boston Celtics forward Paul Pierce, which one sports-news website simply said "looks like someone who's not Paul Pierce."
Pelletz says some of the figures aren't perfect because they're based on photos instead of actual measurements from the celebrities. And if the sculptors aren't keenly familiar with every contour of Brady's face, he said they can be forgiven — most are based overseas, in London and Paris.
Still, Pelletz said even the imperfect statues are works of art that take months to create.
"I'm proud of every single wax figure in here," he said. "Some people love Picasso, some people don't. It's perception."
Going forward, most new models will be created only after artists sit down with the subject to gather dozens of dimensions. The goal is to add about five statues a year, mostly of stars with roots in Boston.
So far, the jeers have targeted only a small fraction of the museum's 101 wax models of musicians, actors and historical figures. Several others have drawn admiration for their impeccable likenesses.
Brandi Zeitz of nearby Saugus was at the museum with her two sons this week when she stopped cold before a seated statue of rapper Snoop Dogg.
"He's spooky looking. He looks like he's going to stand up," said Zeitz, whose sons posed alongside the statue for a photo.
Some researchers say wax models inspire mixed feelings because of a phenomenon called the "uncanny valley," an idea that people are unsettled by human replicas that look nearly — but not quite — real.
Pelletz thinks that might help explain the online hoopla. But some visitors have said they left feeling disappointed, not unsettled, by the statues.
"We weren't impressed," said Donna Mulvey, of Dedham, who went with her 11-year-old son for his birthday in July. "It seemed as though several of the people's heads were small."
Dreamland is in good company when it comes to wax museums that have drawn ridicule: The internet is littered with reviews claiming that others in England or Canada or California are the world's worst.
Still, it has made for a surprising start for the museum, which marks the first foray into the U.S. by a Brazilian company that owns 30 wax museums in Brazil and Mexico.
Instead of driving people away, though, Pelletz says the attention is drawing curious crowds to the site, which sits steps away from Boston's historic Faneuil Hall and other busy tourist attractions.
"Pictures and videos, sometimes they don't do it justice," Pelletz said. "When people do come, they absolutely love it."


Muslim soccer fans celebrate Eid in World Cup host country Russia

Updated 15 June 2018
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Muslim soccer fans celebrate Eid in World Cup host country Russia

  • Egyptian and Moroccan fans were hopeful that the festival would bring their national teams good luck in their matches on the day — which nearly transpired for Egypt but for a late, late goal from the Uruguayans.
  • The Egyptian team, staying in a hotel in Yekaterinburg, invited the imam of the city’s Copper Mosque to hold an Eid service in the conference room of their hotel.

YEKATERINBURG, Russia: Muslim soccer fans visiting Russia for the World Cup celebrated the end of the fasting month of Ramadan on Friday, with Egyptian and Moroccan fans hoping the festival would bring their national teams good luck in their matches on the day — which nearly transpired for Egypt but for a late, late goal from the Uruguayans.
“We’re all happy. Our happiness is double now because we are celebrating Eid and celebrating Egypt’s first match in the World Cup,” said Khadi Osman, 27, from Cairo, in the Russian city of Yekaterinburg for the game.
Osman, who’d used Google maps to locate the nearest mosque to the World Cup stadium, said he would slip in a special prayer for the team’s star player, Mohamed Salah, during his Eid Al-Fitr celebration prayers.
“We’re not looking for the final or anything but we’re hoping good luck – good play, a good match. It’s something big to us. We will pray for our team to win, God willing,” Osman said.
In the early afternoon on Friday about a dozen Egypt supporters in their red, white and black soccer kit, some with the national flag draped over their shoulders, joined worshippers at a low-slung, green corrugated mosque tucked inconspicuously near Yekaterinburg’s city center.
While locals welcomed them politely, the imam made no reference to the foreign guests as he launched into an address in Russian that focused on behavior and personal hygiene when entering a mosque.
An Egyptian fan in Yekaterinburg, who had risen early to attend a 5 a.m. service at the mosque, said he received a warm welcome from the hosts.
“It’s very strange, it’s the first time to celebrate in a foreign country. So it was a bit different but it was good to find this number of (local) Muslims here in the mosque,” said Ahmed El-Sakka.
The Egyptian team, staying in a hotel in Yekaterinburg, invited the imam of the city’s Copper Mosque to hold an Eid service in the conference room of their hotel.
“I was asked to go there because the team can’t travel to the mosque, it’s too far and today they have a match with Uruguay,” imam Artur Hazrat Mukhutdinov said. He added that the service would take half an hour.