SteynOnline celebrates its twentieth birthday later this month, and we're marking the occasion by announcing our first post-Covid Mark Steyn Cruise. No tests, no vax passports, that's all yours to choose or not; but just a week of fun on the high seas with Bo Snerdley, Michele Bachmann, Eva Vlaardingerbroek and other Steyn favorites. More information here.
We're also celebrating by strolling back through the last two decades of the SteynOnline archives. This piece was published in our first week - in fact, on our third day: November 30th 2002. And it's still with us twenty years later. A half-decade or so after writing this, I was doing some stage show somewhere and, being short of material by three minutes or so, I decided to take my throwaway parody lyric mentioned below and oomph it up into a full-scale production number. It went down well and, since then, I've done it all over the map, usually accompanied by some or other burqa-clad child-bride, in America, Canada, every stop on the Dennis Miller tour and on our first two cruises. We'll certainly be doing it on the next cruise, because Holland America's mainly Indonesian crew find it absolutely hilarious and always insist on having their photos with me and my burqa babe immediately afterwards.
But this is where it started, prompted by "the Miss World riots" of November 2002. I doubt you could even get such jests past the Telegraph today...
After escaping the riots in Nigeria, which claimed more than 200 lives, Miss World contestants were safely installed in their ever-decreasing numbers inside a Heathrow hotel yesterday... Last week, a reporter for This Day, a Nigerian newspaper, wrote an article suggesting that Prophet Mohammed would 'probably' have chosen a wife from one of the contestants, a comment which sparked the unrest...
A number of alternative venues, such as Alexandra Palace, Wembley Arena and the Grosvenor House hotel on Park Lane, are being considered.
Glenda Jackson, the Labour MP for Hampstead, said: 'They should call the whole thing off...' – The Daily Telegraph
"RUN THIS BY me again," I said as we circled Lagos Airport. "We're doing a new 'culturally sensitive' Miss World?"
"That's right," said Julia Morley. "I got the idea from all those stringy London feminists droning on about how we're only promoting a narrow exploitative western image of women. And to be honest, after a week in England listening to their bitching and whining, I'm glad to be back in Nigeria. The locals'll go crazy for this."
"I hope not," I said. But I was pleasantly surprised as we landed smoothly and taxied down the runway. "Look, Julia, a gun salute!"
"Duck, girls!" she yelled, as a SAM missile pierced the window, shot through the First Class curtain and took out the Economy toilet.
"Now don't you worry, Mark," she said once we were safely in the limo. "Your material's hardly been changed at all. Just remember, when you and Tony Orlando do 'Thank Heaven For Little Girls', there's a Sudanese warlord in a third-row aisle seat who's got a new twelve-year-old bride you don't want to be caught looking at."
"Got it," I said. The house band, made up entirely of Hausa band members, played the opening strains of Stevie Wonder's classic love song and Julia pushed the revised culturally sensitive lyrics into my hand. It was then that the first nagging doubts began to gnaw at the back of my mind.
But what the hell, I was in my tux and they were playing my song. I bounced out on stage, grabbed the mike and punched the air:
My Sharia Amour
Hot enough for Gulf emirs
My Sharia Amour
But I'm the guy she really fears...
The audience seemed wary and an alarming number appeared to be reaching into their robes. But I ploughed on:
My Sharia Amour
Got her from an imam in Lahore
One of only four that I beat raw
How I wish that I had five.
There was a momentary silence, just long enough for me to start backing upstage nervously. And then the crowd went wild! The guys in the balcony cheered deliriously and hurled their machetes across the orchestra pit, shredding my pants. An Afghan wedding party grabbed their semi-automatics and blew out the chandeliers, sending them hurtling to the aisle, where they killed a Japanese camera crew. Tough luck, fellers, but that's what happens when you get between me and my audience.
I took my usual seat with the celebrity judges, in between "Baywatch" hunk David Hasselhoff and Princess Michael of Kent. Lorraine Kelly said: "And now, ladies and gentlemen, let's give our panel a really big hand!" A really big hand landed on the table with a dull thud, courtesy of a Saudi prince in the royal box.
"How'd they like you?" I asked Princess Michael.
"Well, by the end of 'Man, I Feel Like A Woman', I had the crowd with me all the way. But I shook 'em off at Kaduna."
"Who's the bloke next to you?"
"Oh, he's a judge."
I rolled my eyes. "Well, duh!"
"No, I mean, he's a real judge. He's some Fulani bigshot who's here to decide who gets stoned."
"And which mother of a Mick Jagger love-child is on the panel this year?"
"That's Marsha Hunt. Had an affair with him in the late Sixties."
The small talk was somewhat stilted. "Have you ever been stoned?" asked the judge.
Princess Michael explained that the fellow on Marsha's left was Alhaji Abdutayo Ogunbati, the country's leading female circumcisionist, there to ensure every contestant was in full compliance, and next to him was Hans Blix, there to ensure every involuntary clitoridectomy was in accordance with UN clitoridectomy inspections-team regulations.
I glanced at my watch. "For crying out loud, when are they going to raise the curtain?"
"They have raised the curtain," said David. "Those are the girls."
I peered closer at the shapeless line of cloth, and he was right: there they all were, from Miss Afghanistan to Miss Zionist Entity.
I sighed. "How long till the swimsuit round?"
"This is the swimsuit round," said David.
~from The Daily Telegraph, November 30th 2002