The World's Most Exotic Male Beauty Contest
The usual ingredients are all there, more or less. There's lots of makeup, dazzlingly fancy outfits, an inordinate amount of strutting, and lots of perfect teeth on display. But there's also exaggerated eye-rolling, and a stunning dance routine that mimicks the poise of the egret. Oh, and all the contestants are men, who may, if picked by the women judges, get a wife, or just a fling.
The Gerewol, practised on rare occasions in the Niger, on the drought-prone fringe of the Sahara Desert, is an old ritual celebrating the fertility the hoped-for rains bring every year.
One such gathering was captured in glorious film by the BBC and will be screened in the UK and available on the BBC's iPlayer here this week, if the tech works properly.
The Wodaabe people are nomadic and only gather like this when there's sufficient water for a few hundred people. The all-male dancers follow a precise set of rules on their appearance: ostrich plumes and pompoms emphasise height, black eyeliner and eye-rolling exaggerates sexual appeal, faces are painted with ochre, black and yellow patterns, and white regular teeth are bared against black lipstick.
As a spectacle, there's little to beat it. And who cares if the ladies get the prizes...not us. Well, not too much.