PERTH, Australia - Yes, that was Virgin Group founder Sir Richard Branson dressed in flight attendant drag and serving drinks on a flight from Australia to Malaysia this weekend.
Branson, never one to shy away from a publicity stunt, made the eye-popping appearance after losing a 2010 Formula One autor-racing bet to pal and AirAsia CEO Tony Fernandes. Branson finally made good on the bet this past Sunday, donning a blazing-red shade of lipstick and shaving his legs -- but not his beard -- before serving passengers on a six-hour AirAsia flight from Perth to Kuala Lumpur.
Branson, of course, has deep ties to the aviation industry. His Virgin Group owns British carrier Virgin Atlantic and has minority stakes in a other airlines, including California-based Virgin America.
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While Branson has shown a penchant for success in most of his business endeavors, his drag career as an AirAsia attendant appears to have been short-lived.
When asked to assess Branson's skills as an attendant, Fernandes said they were "rubbish."
"Out of 10, maybe one, for a bit of humor," he added.
Fernandes also chided Branson after the British tycoon deliberately dumped a tray of orange juice on Fernandes' lap.
"He looked at me, I said, 'don't you dare,' and the next thing I know, he tipped the whole tray on me," Fernandes said. "He and the girls mopped it up, but I was walking around the flight in my underwear for a while because I didn't bring another pair of trousers."
"I wanted to kill him actually," a mostly amused Fernandes told reporters in Malaysia after the flight.
AP described the scene, saying "a cheerful Branson ... was tasked with pouring beverages, serving meals and making flight announcements. (He) posed with Fernandes and popped champagne after stepping out of the plane at Malaysia's main low-cost carrier terminal south of Kuala Lumpur."
Branson said he was "glad to have gotten the bet over with and (was) looking forward to getting back into my clothes."
"I always wanted to be an air hostess, but it looks like I have to get back to normality," Branson quipped about the episode, which he used to help raise money for the Starlight Children's Foundation. CNN reports the flight raised about $200,000 for the charity, which benefits hospitalized children and their families.
As for the bet, Branson and Fernandes challenged each other in 2010 about whose auto-racing team would perform better that year in the Formula One standings. Fernandes' team landed two spots above Branson's.
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