This article was run in the West Australian newspaper 1st March 2011
Colin Barnett may be State's supreme leader but he appeared to have met his match in Empress Stah, the ruler of the decadent underworld of burlesque performers.
In keeping with the adage that opposites attract, the Premier and the showgirl joined up at the weekend to mark the close of Perth's first fringe arts festival for many years.
The London-based Stah said it was 12 years to the day since she had been in Perth and it was nice of Mr Barnett to pop in to mark her anniversary.
Over the past three weeks, more than 20,000 people have crammed into the century-old Pearl Spiegeltent to see more than 150 performances at the Fringe World precinct in the new-look Urban Orchard in the Perth Cultural Centre.
Fringe World director Marcus Canning attributed much of the fringe's popularity to the atmosphere of the Spiegeltent, one of only a handful in the world.
Mr Barnett and Lord Mayor Lisa Scaffidi unveiled a plaque to mark the tent's purchase from Belgium for the people of WA with plans to take it to other events around the State later in the year. Lotterywest funded the $360,000 purchase through alternative arts producer Artrage.
"This will obviously tour regional centres and I hope it gets a lot of use," Mr Barnett said.
The fringe's success reflected the growing diversity of events in Perth to match the physical changes such as the sinking of the railway line and the waterfront redevelopment, he said.
His message to people who still used the "Dullsville" label was: "Open your eyes and see what's going on and take part."
Ms Scaffidi, who saw a fringe show at the start of the festival, said she loved the vibe of the Spiegeltent.
"Its design is so intricate and sophisticated and decadent," she said "The way it slots so perfectly into the Urban Orchard is like it was always meant to be here in Perth."The Spiegeltent will be the hub of an expanded fringe festival to include venues throughout the city next February.