Lebanon's Waxwork Museum
Just outside Beirut, in the town of Jounieh, stands one of the Middle East's foremost tourist attractions. An oasis of opulence and grandeur, Lebanon's 'Hall of Fame Wax Museum' provides a bolt-hole for the unfortunate celebrities who find themselves stuck in a region wracked by civil war and buffeted by the winds of dramatic social upheaval.
Here's Egypt's Hosni Mubarak in better days, Saudi Arabia's Ibn Saud and Palestinian homeboy Yasser Arafat – together at last. The lads look like they're all over at Ibn's place testing out his new home cinema system. Judging by his smile, Transformers 2 must look even better on a new plasma widescreen than even he could ever have imagined.
This is a waxwork of Saddam Hussein. It's so realistic that the only ways to tell it apart from the real Saddam is that the real Saddam is dead, and if he wasn't dead he'd have ordered both his arms chopped off already for displaying so much subversive camp abandon.
There were also a bunch of 'world famous figures' that I could not discern for love nor money. Anyone want to point out my ignorance by telling me who this angel-haired beauty is? I'd love to lure this pretty little missy down from her balcony.
Who's this now? Oh, it's you, you're holding that thing all wrong, Gorbachev!
Here's Madonna, carefully trying to decide which chair she'd rather sit down and die in.
Bald Ben Stiller?
John Cleese seemed to find stamping around his cosy little hotel in Torquay stressful enough, so it's no surprise his nerves have been shot completely to shit now that he's stuck in the middle of a region-wide civil war. Look at those bags!
This model of former Iraqi Information Minister Mohammed Saeed "Comical Ali" al-Sahhaf was pretty good – its impressive animatronics moved his arm up and down. I don't know what information he was trying to communicate to us, but I'm certain it was important.
Fidel Castro with an empty chessboard being watched from afar by the Pope. Sounds like it should be a metaphor for something, but actually it's what's known in the museum curator's biz as a “Just shove it anywhere”.
The Hall of Fame's final salvo brought together the world's fattest man and the world's smallest lunatic in front of a drawing of the Eiffel Tower. The jaunty waltz of the Parisian cafe accordions that were being pumped in through an ailing PA system made for a nice reminder that, just because you and your Arabian brothers are engaged in a bloody civil war against your lunatic oppressors, doesn't mean you can't shrug all that loathing off and have some fun every once in a while.
WORDS: ALEX HOBAN
PICTURES: LEAH CALDWELL
If you’re doing something interesting in a place that isn’t Shoreditch and that might make for a good Atlas Hoods story, send pictures and info to firstname.lastname@example.org and we’ll be in touch.
Previously in this series:
THE THIRD KOREA
BOTSWANA’S COWBOY METALHEADS
THE CROATIAN GRANDMA TATTOO CULT
TSUNAMI GROUND ZERO
VENEZUELA’S SKYSCRAPER SLUM
THE GANGSTER PREACHER
TRANSNISTRIA PART II: WEAPONS SMUGGLING AND YOUTH CULTS IN THE COUNTRY THAT DOESN’T EXIST
TRANSNISTRIA PART I: THE COUNTRY THAT DOESN’T EXIST