We’ve seen beauty pageants before. We’ve seen contestants forget the words to the national anthem, state that the world needs more homes for the homely, make out with their lady friends at parties and we’ve even seen Miss America fall down the stairs.
On Saturday, July 12th, we finally got to see what we had been waiting for- dresses shaped like musical instruments, a beauty queen under 5 feet tall, giant chicken heads and, clearly, on-stage dildo insertion.
Hosted by Murray Hill, this year’s Miss Lez pageant filled The Zipper Factory’s stage with 6 contestants: Miss Victoria (Laryssa Husiak), Miss Wildcard (Sequinette), Miss Snapshot (Trina Rose), Miss I [heart] Brooklyn Girls (Cherry Bomb), Miss Hugz (Mel Huckabee) and Miss Choice Cunts (Scout Durwood). The ladies presented an evening reminiscent of old-school downtown- a downtown that isn’t afraid to be a little gutsy, a little dirty, a little brash.
In its eight years, Miss Lez has come to represent a segment of the queer community that holds its niche away from the corporate sponsored gay pride parade and away from the squeaky clean “gay rights = assimilation” groups. This is a celebration of old school NYC subcultures and new school queer core culture. Miss Hugz was butch while Miss I [heart] Brooklyn was femme with a gun strapped to her thigh. Officially a little person, Miss Snapshot performed the most traditionally burlesque act of the night, culminating in her swooning, topless under a rain of glitter on the stage, the word ‘midget’ ripped from where it had been attached to her body.
Each contestant represented a different queer party from around the city, bringing flashy mixes of cheerleaders, entourage members, backup dancers and stage crews into the arena. With all of the support and cheering and campy affection being thrown in every direction, it became especially difficult at times to tell who was actually in the competition- last year’s Miss Lez was caught schmoozing with the judges, Murray Hill was taking pics with the Pontani Sisters, backup dancers were flashing the audience- no one could tell who was in charge and nobody cared.
In the end, Miss Wildcard was handed the 2008 crown and everyone seemed genuinely happy to congratulate her. This was the “underground, wild queer community” we reference with fondness so often. This is the context that brought forth the first fierce femmes. Miss Lez is the stronghold of LES past and LEZ pageantry and I can’t wait to see what gets inserted next year.