It all began and ended at the Pleasure Garden. There was the excitement a youngster might feel in days when the circus comes to town as the tents, bars and Chinese lanterns were unfurled beneath the Moreton Bay figs of Russell Square.
That was a mid-January reconnaissance mission by this writer the weekend before Fringe World started.
Five weeks later and the lights went down on the late, late show by the beautiful, brassy and very blue cabaret artiste Yana Alana, Between the Cracks.
Alana's musical cabaret was an uproarious touch of the nudie blues. Physically brave to match her musical chops, the Melbourne diva provocateur belted out a fitting Fringe finale, adorned with only a gigantic blue pompadour wig and matching body paint.
As she and sidekick accompanist Louise Goh took their bows after a show that was trashy, spectacular, political and, well, bluesy, it was
10 past midnight and the carnival was officially over.
The figures were telling. Hundreds of thousands of people had seen hundreds of shows at dozens of venues across the four weeks, turning over $3.2 million at the box-office. Many shows were sold out and many of those were local productions to boot.
While a few acts struggled to get bums on seats, the anecdotal evidence backs preliminary figures that performers were playing to half-full houses on average. That is an extraordinarily result for a fringe of such scale. In Edinburgh, for example, attendances average 10 per cent of capacity.
Not only was the Pleasure Garden and Perth Cultural Centre buzzing - this year's decentralised Fringe took in the JumpClimb team's hubs in Midland (11,000 attendance) and the Piccadilly Cinema, as well as Chrissie Parrott Arts in Maylands, and seemed to be attracting people all over.
"It's fabulous that the audiences were there," says Parrott, who also picked up the Fringe World performance prize for her show The Man.
"Considering there were 450 other events on, we did very well."
Parrott says attendances slowed down later in her seven-show season because of the sheer volume of choices at the Fringe and the Perth International Arts Festival.
She would adjust her programming accordingly next year, she says.
The Fringe has transformed Perth beyond what hopefully is the point of no return.
As director Amber Hasler said at the weekend: "The impact of Fringe World will continue to grow and Fringe-bingeing will become as synonymous with Perth in February as our beautiful beaches and sunshine."
At the Fringe World Awards on Sunday night, there should have been another category added. The Golden Handcuffs Award would have gone to Insp. Craig Parkin, the officer in charge at Perth police station.
In praising the impact on Northbridge, Insp. Parkin said continued arts investment was a proactive way to enliven the city and make it less attractive for people looking to start trouble.
That's a comment that could have come straight from the mouth of Perth's cultural leaders looking for the State to inject more cash into the sector.
Every show would have offered a memorable moment of some kind, be it hit or miss.
_The West Australian _ managed to cast a critical eye on more than 120 shows, either in these pages or online, with five-star ratings handed to several productions, including the hotel-room opera La Voix Humaine, the circus show Jerk and the category winner of the Arts Editor Award, Gillian Gosgriff's This Is Why We Can't Have Nice Things.
One we failed to see, to my regret, was the two-time Fringe World judges' selection Point and Shoot, by WA's Holland Street Productions.
Point and Shoot saw four actors take on more than 50 roles in a frenetic musical satire of the film industry on the brink of collapse. It won the Artrage Theatre Award and the overall top prize for WA acts, the $10,000 Martin Sims Award which includes development support to tour to fringes elsewhere. The judges said the American-style musical-theatre production wowed on multiple levels with an engaging and slick cast.
The Fringe's success in mainstreaming the arts is perhaps its greatest achievement. Early figures showed up to 60 per cent of ticket-buyers were first- timers.
There were as many highlights off-stage as on. Famous Sharron and the penguin-suited Xavier Toby leading their comedy tour groups were entertaining sights, as was Dado's Doorway Cabaret delighting the 20-something beer-drinkers with his pre-midnight clowning in the Pleasure Garden.
Then there was the mining- industry foot soldier having his first Fringe encounter - hitting the Pleasure Garden just for a feed and a drink, and relishing a tender and terrifically cooked
$20 rib-eye fillet from Hotmamahot! as a pair of burlesque hula-hoopers performed nearby. "This is bloody fantastic," he said.
It's just 11 months until we do it all again.
AND THE FRINGE WORLD WINNERS ARE...
Martin Sims Award
Second Finalist: The Velvet Sting
First Finalist: Second Hands
Winner: Point and Shoot by Holland St Productions
Woodside WA Emerging Artist Award
Winner: Violette Ayad from My Father's World
Lotterywest Independent Venue and Program Award
Independent Venue Award: JumpClimb and Tomás Ford for Midlandia and Noodle Palace
Independent Program Award: Summer Nights presented by The Blue Room Theatre and the Perth Institute of Contemporary Arts
Vinaceous Cabaret Award
Candice McQueen: Nasty!
Between the Cracks
Desperately Young at Heart
EastEnd Cabaret: Dirty Talk
Dado Presents “The Doorway Cabaret”
Twists & Turns
The Vaudevillians starring Jinkx Monsoon
Second runner-up: EastEnd Cabaret: Dirty Talk
First runner-up: Between the Cracks
WA Winner: Desperately Young at Heart
Overall Winner: Twists & Turns
Artrage Theatre Award
the boat goes over the mountain
The Epicene Butcher
Gym & Tonic
Point and Shoot
First runner-up: Gym & Tonic
Winner: Point and Shoot
Riverview Hotel Circus Award
Briefs: The Second Coming
Carousel & Clothesline
Fright or Flight
Kids Comedy Gala
Pants Down Circus - Rock
Second runner-up: Flight or Flight
First runner-up: Kaput
WA Winner: Kids Comedy Gala
Overall Winner: Briefs: The Second Coming
The West Australian Arts Editor Award
This is Why We Can’t Have Nice Things
The Epicene Butcher
Second runner-up: Swamp Juice
WA Winner: Diva
Overall Winner: This is Why We Can’t Have Nice Things
APN Outdoor Comedy Award
Abandoman: Moonrock Boombox
Boomerangs and Beavertails with Jacques Barrett and Bryan 0’Gorman
The Gina R Show (I'll do it for $2)
Jimmy James Eaton and Jason Geary in Sketchual Healing
Randy is Sober
Titty Bar Ha Ha
Second runner-up: Titty Bar Ha Ha
First runner-up: Comic Strip
WA Winner: The Gina R Show (I'll do it for $2)
Overall Winner: Randy is Sober
720 ABC Perth Performance Award
Pretty Peepers - The untraditional cabaret
Tag. You're It.
Second runner-up: Pretty Peepers - The untraditional cabaret
First runner-up: Absolutely
World Fringe Alliance Spirit of the Fringe Award
Winner: The Famous Sharron
Metropolitan Redevelopment Authority Community Award
Twilight Hawker's Market
Chinese New Year Fair
Second runner-up: Twilight Hawker's Market
Joint winners: Pride Fairday and
Chinese New Year Fair
City of Perth Dance Award
First runner-up: Rites
Rooftop Movies Film & Multimedia Award
Bohemia Outdoor Cinema for RAW
Bohemia Outdoor Cinema for ICS Screening Big Name, No Blanket
Outpost Film Festival
Tornado Vs. Cobra
World Press Photo - Multimedia Contest 2013
Second runner-up: Tornado Vs. Cobra
First runner-up: Bohemia Outdoor Cinema for RAW
Winner: Bohemia Outdoor Cinema for ICS Screening: Big Name, No Blanket
RTRFM 92.1 Music Award
Classical Vs Jazz- The Ultimate Harp Battle
Jamie MacDowell & Tom Thum
Someone To Be My Chewbacca
The Magnets: All This Time
The Rhythm Spectacular - The Music of Beyonce
This Song Is Mine
WA Winner and Second overall runner-up: The Rhythm Spectacular - The Music of Beyonce
First runner-up: The Magnets: All This Time
Overall Winner: Sam Perry
Little Creatures Visual Arts Award
Frock Stars: Inside Australian Fashion Week
Second runner-up: Pillars
First runner-up: De Collectie
Winner: Eat Me