By Jena Ardell
By Jon Campbell
By Alan Scherstuhl
By Tessa Stuart
By Roy Edroso
By Jon Campbell
By Albert Samaha
By Zachary D. Roberts
Everyone was open for business in Philadelphia, where I helped judge the U.S. Mr. Gay pageant, which was filled with half-clad hunks sashaying while pleading for equality. But first came a stop at the local Franklin Institute's Cleopatra exhibit, where they displayed centuries-old statues that were found underwater, plus a really nice photo of Liz Taylor. The audio tour is done by an actress playing Cleo and declaring, "I married my younger brother, Ptolemy XIII, when my father died." So Cleopatra was total trash, fit for The Jerry Springer Show?
On a loftier plane, we took a caravan over to the Voyeur club for the pageant, where the other judges included an African-American man running for City Council who told me, "Hopefully I'll be the Harvey Chocolate Milk of Philadelphia." (Another role for the ever-expanding Sean Penn.) We all held hands for a group prayer à la Madonna, upon which celebrity hairdresser David Evangelista inspiringly said, "I hope I suck Mr. Annapolis's dick tonight."
And then the contest began, with performers prancing around as a marching band played a medley of Lady Gaga songs. "I'm flashing back to high school and the people I wasn't allowed to sit with," lamented another judge, A-List: New York's T.J. Kelly.
There were other acts sprinkled through the night, all laced with a refreshing earnestness not found in New York, especially the male singer belting Nina Simone's "Feeling Good" as an elastic young woman did acrobatics on a gigantic Jewish star that doubled as a riser. (And, no, it wasn't anti-Semitic.)
But the co-hosts brought some intentional lunacy into the proceedings, like when one contestant said he wants to touch the youth of America, and drag star Brittany Lynn responded, "So do I!" And after another stud's stimulating Q&A exchange about gay rights, co-host Frank DeCaro effortlessly replied, "Great answer—now you need to get in my mouth."
The winner was the dimpled Mr. Columbia, South Carolina, a Rick Schroeder lookalike who's a slickly affable fellow right out of The Sound of Music via Election. The evening's resounding theme? "We are not the other." Or to put it less eloquently: "Fuck ass, willy, shit, fuck, and tits."