Once upon a time, I worked at the Renaissance Faire. And when I say “once upon a time”, I mean “back in the days when an accurate portrayal of documented historic events and persons was actually considered important to the overall production”.
Back in once upon a time, we had a wardrobe mistress who had been seen drawing thick-lined black Sharpie X’s on the exposed body parts of performers when those body parts were not supposed to be exposed. We had live chickens that we carried around with us all day. We had ale, not Budweiser. And we had a woman playing Queen Elizabeth I who was actually... a bit homely. At least when she had her full “I Am the Queen” makeup on, she was.
Which was good. Because, you know what? It’s been pretty well documented that Elizabeth I had one foot on the fugly side, and the other on Ye Olde Banana Peele.
Yes. This is a portrait of Elizabeth I, as a teenager, when theoretically she was at her most attractive, painted during her lifetime, when the artist would have had to hear about it from her personally if it didn’t look good
and this was still the best he could do and have it be believable.
As you can most likely tell from the above portrait, Queen Elizabeth I was not pretty.
Flash forward past many a Renaissance Faire where the organizers, for whatever reason, felt like they had to find more
attractive redheads to play the queen, and when I saw this one
taken by a friend at a Faire she attended with her daughter, I finally snapped. And when I snap, I blog. I used to buy shoes, but this is much cheaper.
So let me repeat, with caps lock on because that seems to be the only way some people on the Internet understand that other people on the Internet are serious, QUEEN ELIZABETH I WAS NOT PRETTY.
Striking? Maybe. Regal? Yes. Well dressed? Hell yes. Pretty? Not even close.
Guess what? She didn’t have to be pretty. We should all be so lucky as to ever have such a lack of need to be pretty. It’s like the old joke about not needing a Porsche if you have a big dick. Just substitute “pretty” for “Porsche”, and “control of the British Empire” for “big dick”.
But the times, as Mr. Dylan so astutely noted, they are a-changin’. So, Renaissance Faire Powers-That-Be, let me offer you a small bit of advice. If you insist on hiring progressively hotter redheads to portray one of the least hot women in the history of civilization for the sake of peddling as much cheap beer and mutton curry as is humanly possible in the course of six summer weekends, consider this:
Gia Genevieve is the chase, and you should just cut to it. Put her under permanent contract to play your Elizabeth I and call it a day. If you’re going to do it wrong anyway, you might as well do it wrong right.
*Yes, I know that was Victoria, not Elizabeth I. The difference between me and most of the people running historical reenaction events is I know that.
Gia Genevieve photo by Varga Photography
UPDATE: It has been brought to my attention that the woman in the third photo is actually portraying Mary I of Scotland, not Elizabeth I. But I still think those first two Elizabeths are way prettier than they should be.