THE KILLOUGH CHRONICLES | THE INDIA FILES

by James Killough

My Fellow Denizens of the Blogosphere —

Lest we ever give up, the Rigging Miss India post finally seems to be having some impact via an Indian beauty pageant forum called missology.org.  It would appear that the pageant organizers themselves are #comment-595″ target=”_blank”>commenting; there are some very well informed opinions floating around on that particular thread.  For instance, someone mentions how the 1993 pageant didn’t have computer tabulations of the judges’ votes, despite the fact there were computers on site; they conveniently went down just before the show.  I’ve heard that excuse before, with the exact word ‘tabulations’… when was that?  Oh, right.  When I hosted the 1993 Miss India Pageant.

Still one of the most beautiful women in the world, Aishwarya Rai was only the second runner-up in the Miss India Pageant the year after I hosted it. Why she wasn't the outright winner for the whole decade is another question for the Times of India. She laughed all the way to the bank with that L'Oréal contract, though.

Guys, as you well know, we were there for over four hours taping that show.  There was plenty of time to count the votes of a few judges accurately by hand.  Just as there was enough time for the judges to write me notes about who the real winners were.  What you did was not only wrong, it was sloppy; I’m still carrying a grudge that I was sent out on that painted plywood peacock stage in front of a billion people without a rehearsal.

I am also being accused of trying to pull off a “publicity stunt” by blogging about this.  My PFC posts about how disappointed I was that India hadn’t woken up yet to the story were quoted.  I had to explain in my own forum reply on Missology that our shameless attempts to lure readers with pictures of Amanda Seyfried’s breasts (still a top ten search link to our site), shirtless gay Brazilian models, and turning Gaddafi into a disgruntled black drag queen are actually running jokes, not publicity stunts.  The original post of the Miss India piece was a riff on this year’s disastrous Oscars show, which is just a wee bit more salient for a film company in Hollywood than a nearly twenty-year-old beauty pageant in a country many time zones away.

The Miss India story is not a running joke, however.  It’s a cracking good yarn, though.  How many Americans ever get to do something so absolutely off-the-wall?

The intent of this blog is clear from the subhead above: “everything has a story.”  The rigging of the Miss India pageant is one of my favorite stories, not because it was any fun, but because it was such a surreal, dramatic thing to ever have been a part of.  And that is the only reason it was written; our target audience is far more interested in Galliano’s coke habit and Mama Gaddafi’s choice of muumuu than a clumsily executed beauty pageant in a fairytale land far, far away.

Had I wanted to take advantage of the Miss India pageant, I would have posted the original piece on the day of this year’s event, not on February 28, almost two months before.  Yes, I reposted it the day after the event this year, but that’s because I was too hungover and uninspired to whip up another one thousand five hundred words for a post on a weekend, when our readership drops substantially.

If it isn’t just my delighted paranoia, and the Times of India/Miss India pageant people really are monitoring this blog now — and that would indeed seem to be the case from a comment left by #comment-595″ target=”_blank”>”Dave” a few minutes ago — my advice to you is to just ignore it and let it die down.  If not, you know how easily the flames get fanned in India, and it makes not a stitch of difference to us here in LA what goes down there.  Of course, I’d be delighted to supply more details and drop heavier names to bolster my case; you can haul me up for crimes of hyperbole, tautology and over-writing, but don’t ever try calling me a liar.

A recent image of Mehar Bhasin, the probable real winner of the 1993 Miss India Pageant, as the commenter "Dave" admits, even though he says he doesn't find her beautiful.

Yes, the hits to our site have substantially increased over the past twenty-four hours since Missology picked the Miss India piece up.  It’s pretty clear why everyone from William Randolf Hearst to Perez Hilton has had to create news themselves to keep circulation buoyed: scandal is the stuff of ratings.  But, Dear Riggers in India, you know me well enough to know that isn’t my style.  I would rather buy one of my beloved schizos on the corner of Sunset and Vine a fifth of Jack Daniels and a bible to thump Lindsay Lohan on the head with, and blog about that instead.

Now that I’ve denied that the Miss India piece was a publicity stunt, it pays to remember that PFC is an internet content company for both text and video.  I’ve made it clear from the start that we are experimenting with search engine optimization with this blog, and so far we’ve had decent results.  So, yes, from a professional point of view it is interesting to see what effect salient content has.

By creating this, we originally wanted to show existing and potential clients what we do, but this blog has grown into something of a daily beast of its own.  The intention now is to turn this into an online magazine with more than just one anchor post every day, at which point we’ll probably have to change the name from Pure Film Creative to something like The Constant Savage just to give Tina Brown a run for her money.

Speaking of which, a new installment of my fiction piece Render The Savage is up on Diane Pernet’s site.  As I’ve mentioned before, Diane wanted me to write a story with a fashion element to it, which at first I thought was too daunting.  Maybe it’s because the fashion world is too strange for fiction, an ephemeral parallel universe that just isn’t relatable.  Not to be defeated, I went back to basics by embracing the cliché “write what you know,” and began fictionalizing my time as a young features editor of a fashion magazine.  And, whaddaya know, I’ve got Devil Wears Prada as might be rewritten by Brett Easton Ellis.

This third installment is the continuation of a thinly veiled account of how I worked with Faye Dunaway on a shoot for Taxi Magazine, and then embarked on a wacky odyssey with her, which will be just as thinly veiled in upcoming installments.  The real shoot I have chronicled was with Faye and her ex-husband, photographer Terry O’Neill, which was at least as arduous and madcap as how I’ve fictionalized it.

La Dunaway in an iconic picture taken by her ex-husband Terry O'Neill the morning after she won the Best Actress Oscar for "Network." Whenever I look at this picture, I hear Peggy Lee singing "Is that all there is?"

One of the great things about writing and editing this blog has been watching its voice emerge.  With the addition of Tuttle and Baker, we’re almost a barbershop quartet, and I’m liking the harmony.  The basic rules are: the story has to be current; it must relate in some way, no matter how small, to personal experience; above all, it must be humorous.

The former magazine editor within me is always mindful of what magazine readers expect, but that is the beautiful difference about a blog: you can really be yourself, just tell it the way you see it.  As we move more towards a magazine format, there will probably be some obvious changes; for a start, my content won’t be as personal.  Our initial changes coming up soon will be that the Friday slot is reserved for a review of a film or theater piece opening that night, Saturday for an interview with someone we admire.  At the end of this week, we’ll start covering events in LA from our particularly jaded and warped point of view, which will hopefully expand to other cities, and will allow us to mooch free airfare and hotel rooms.  Our morals and standards are very lax at PFC: give us free goodies, we’ll sing your praises.  Give us hard cash, and you can have sex with Eric Baker.

May God bless our union.  Love you all, never change,

James Killough
Host, Miss India Pageant, ‘93