Made famous in the 1993 film, 'The Adventures of Priscilla, Queen of the Desert', the tour bus, 'Priscilla', was used to culminate the 'Parade of Icons' in the Closing Ceremony of the Sydney Olympic Games. This adult tricycle, which resembles a floral stiletto shoe, was modified and embellished at the Ceremonies Workshop to lead the tour bus onto the arena. It comprises an adult tricycle, a steel frame covered with wire mesh, fabric and artificial flowers, and satin lining. Also part of the procession, four similar bikes were adorned with thongs, mirrors, imitation fur and imitation 'liquorice allsorts'.
Set Designer, Ross Wallace, developed the shoe bikes along with the large red wig and eyelashes that dressed the bus, and the oversized powder puffs, mascara bottles and lipstick carried by the team of 'Pit Chicks'. Designed by Michael Wilkinson, the costumes were worn by well-known Sydney drag queens and were embellished with vibrant props, fabrics and trimmings. This image captured the spirit of Sydney's Mardi Gras and echoed the eccentricity of the film.
The Closing Ceremony of the Sydney 2000 Olympic Games took place on Sunday, 1 October, at Stadium Australia, Homebush Bay. It included solemn formalities, an informal parade of athletes and a farewell party that took the form of an unregimented parade with floats that celebrated and often mocked aspects of Australian popular culture. The intention was to conduct the ceremony with decorum until the extinction of the Olympic flame, and then to unleash a party. The artistic director of the closing ceremony David Atkins explained: 'The athletes have finished competition, and are ready to party, and we have set about creating a party to end all parties. We have decided to invite everyone into our giant Australian backyard - fully equipped with Hills Hoists, barbecues, an eclectic mix of music, performers and all manner of Australiana. Australians have a tradition of throwing great parties, and this one will be imbued with a sense of fun, larrikinism and goodwill.' According to Ric Birch (speaking on Channel 7's 'Olympic Sunrise'), the Opening Ceremony was to represent Australia at large, but the Closing Ceremony was Sydney's show.
As the ceremony unfolded the proliferation of suburban images, such as Hills Hoists, blowflies, lifesavers and thongs, was treated with self-deprecating irony rather than clich‚. The wit and quality of the 'Parade of Icons' - a gala of Australian celebrities - reflected the influence of the late Peter Tully and his experience as artistic director of the Sydney Mardi Gras. The 'pit chicks', for example, donned silver hot pants and stiletto shoes and carried giant eyelashes and mascara for the Priscilla Bus - a prop that celebrated the Australian film, 'Priscilla, Queen of the Desert', as well as local gay culture.
After Vanessa Amorosi's performance of 'Absolutely Everybody', the arena was transformed into a huge dance-floor as 960 ballroom dancing couples in fluorescent costumes danced the samba, tango and jive to the beat of John Paul Young. Accompanying the dancers, were 208 giant dancing feet and the incongruous assembly of oversized kewpie dolls.
The opening ceremony told a mythic story of nation-building that dwarfed individuals. It was evocative and subtle. The closing ceremony, however, celebrated personality, celebrity and attitude. Loud and brash, more like a rock concert than a profoundly theatrical event, it was an extravagant send-off - fun, festive, shamelessly excessive and, for an international audience, decidedly weird.