The Miss America pageant—that bastion of hair spray so wholesome that contestants couldn’t wear bikinis in the swimsuit competition until 1997—ain’t got nothing on the Miss L.E.S. Pageant. Who needs scholarship money when unlimited drink tickets, a 99-cent tiara, and $100 are on the line? Who needs baton twirling when a contestant (like one from 2003’s pageant) dramatically retrieves her personal statement from her vagina? Who wants Bert Parks to host when you can have the “hardest working middle-aged man in show business,” Murray Hill? Recently proclaimed “Downtown’s New ‘It’ Boy” by The New York Times, Hill has been presenting and hosting this cheeky pageant for L.E.S.(bians) and other downtown ladies for years. This year’s pageant will be his fond farewell to Fez—the cabaret venue closes March 17. Before it shutters for good, Miss Delancey, Miss Houston, Miss Allen, Miss Rivington, and Miss Orchard (whittled down from 1,500 applicants) will duke it out in swimwear, evening gown, interview, “platform statement,” and (time permitting) talent categories. Between the edgy panel of celebrity judges (including the Voice‘s own Michael Musto, performance artist Mike Albo, drag-transgendered performer Linda Simpson, musical-circus performers the Wau-Wau Sisters, and Le Tigre’s JD Samson) and the Pontani Sisters’ accompanying burlesque show, prissy Miss America would be quaking in her dyed-to-match heels.
This article from the Village Voice Archive was posted on February 22, 2005