Miss'd America Pageant returns Sunday, Jan. 16 at Boardwalk Hall.
At the end of the day, organizers of the Miss’d America Pageant really aren’t doing anything different with their tongue-in-cheek drag show than the creators of the Miss America Pageant did 90 years ago.
They’re staging an event designed to boost tourism in Atlantic City.
But where Miss America was merely looking to extend the summer season for a week beyond Labor Day, the Miss’d America folks have a more targeted goal.
“It’s all part of taking a proactive stance to promote Atlantic City as a gay-friendly destination,” says Miss’d America executive producer Richard D. Helfant, who also serves as president of the Greater Atlantic City GLBT Alliance.
Traditionally held the night after a new Miss America is crowned, Miss’d America features a half-dozen drag queens — men dressing and performing as women — competing in the usual pageant categories, including evening gown and talent.
The show was created in the early 1990s by former Atlantic City Councilman John Schultz and his partner, Gary Hill, and held at their old Studio Six nightclub, once considered the epicenter for gay life in Atlantic City.
But when the Miss America Pageant left town six years ago, it signaled the end of Miss’d America, too. The departure of the venerable beauty pageant and scholarship competition cut deep into Atlantic City.
Last year, though, the Greater Atlantic City GLBT Alliance decided it was time to bring the classy drag show back to life. With the backing of several casinos and the support of the Atlantic City Convention & Visitors Authority, the event was booked into the Boardwalk Hall ballroom, whose 1,200 seats makes the venue six times larger than the old nightclub pool deck where the event was originally held.
Contestants were selected, a few production numbers were thrown together, TV lifestyle personality Carson Kressley was recruited to help host the show and more than 1,000 people showed up to watch as a new Miss’d America was tearfully and cheerfully crowned. The event raised over $30,000 for charity.
Openly lesbian comedian Suzanne Westenhoefer will host Sunday’s pageant (Jan. 16) along with veteran entertainer Bob Hitchen, who’s been performing under the nome de stage Sandy Beach for years. Hitchen is also writing, producing and directing the show.
The pageant’s theme will be “Boardwalk Empress,” a spoof the Atlantic City-centric HBO series Boardwalk Empire. Eight contestants, with stage names like Kitty Hiccup, Victoria Venom and Gusty Winds, were picked from around the country to vie for the Miss’d America crown.
The show will also include a half-dozen production numbers, which will include the contestants, the hosts and six professional dancers from New York.
“We’re bringing a touch of Broadway to the Boardwalk,” Helfant adds.
Like many, Helfant never wanted to see either pageant leave. But when Miss America packed her bags and shuffled off to Las Vegas six years ago, many local people felt betrayed and there was too much resentment to continue to spoof Miss America.
“The [Miss America] pageant has been gone long enough so that the sting is gone,” says Helfant, who not only was a Miss America volunteer but who also volunteered his time and talent to help Miss’d America grow.
Putting the event in Boardwalk Hall’s ballroom was a key to resurrecting Miss’d America, Helfant says.
“If we did it anywhere else, it just wouldn’t have worked,” he explains. “Putting in [Boardwalk Hall], we were able to play off the slogan ‘the crown is coming back.’”
Proceeds raised from ticket sales to Miss’d America will be distributed to five charities and non-profits, Helfant says, including the National Gay and Lesbian Taskforce; South Jersey AIDS Alliance; Broadway Cares, Equity Fights AIDS, the Schultz-Hill Scholarship Foundation and the Atlantic City GLBT Alliance.
Resorts Casino Hotel, newly acquired by casino turn-around expert Dennis Gomes, has signed on as the presenting sponsor of Miss’d America.
Part of the plan calls for the entire renovation to be a reality TV show from creative process to the grand opening, streaming live over the Internet from Atlantic City. Once open, we broadcast live entertainment, showcasing our creative genius and youth.
Recently making mainstream media: Chick-Fil-A has spent millions of company dollars campaigning against gay marriage. Their CEO and founder’s son Dan Cathy has publicly proclaimed gay marriage wrong. Now, Social media is forcing the story to the forefront ...
We can easily become the gay honeymoon capital of the world if we act positively and quickly. And, if that happens, there will be a lot more things to do, and a lot more creativity centered in the town.
Video, photos and more from Saturday's Miss'd America Pageant.
J. Edgar Hoover, perhaps one of the most powerful politicians in Washington, sometimes considered more powerful than the presidents he served under including Roosevelt, Kennedy and Nixon, was also rumored to be a cross-dresser with numerous stories having emerged about Hoover dressed in drag in New York City, usually in red dresses he called "Mary."
Meet Me at the Chez Paree will take place from 6-11pm and will also include a free “Tribute Wall” for those to post photos and information about their loved ones.
“I don’t like queers, period.” That’s how my neighbor, 60ish, greeted me one day. It was one of the nicest things he ever said to me.
ATLANTIC CITY — Caesars Entertainment has again assembled a weekend full of fun events focused on Atlantic City’s gay community. It starts Friday night, Sept. 23, with a four-course dinner party at House of Blues’ Foundation Room featuring the Hearty Boys — a gay couple who host a cooking show on the Food Network — and several other segments served up in a festive atmosphere and hosted by famed Las Vegas drag queen Frank Marino. This is the third annual OUT In AC event put on by Caesars Entertainment (an organization that regularly receives high commendation from the Human Rights Campaign Corporate Equality Index), and one of many GLBT (gay, lesbian, bisexual, transgender) events to materialize on the Atlantic...
It’s a partnership that has become almost legendary in Atlantic City — John Schultz and Gary Hill ....
John Schultz is quick to point out that the Brass Rail, a 12-seat bar sited off a one-way side street in midtown Atlantic City, was not the catalyst to what was once a thriving social scene for the area’s gay community. That existed long before he purchased the bar in 1971, he says.
ATLANTIC CITY — Paint the town rainbow — the gay community is flocking full force back to the city that’s always turned on! Recently Atlantic City's first in-casino gay bar, Prohibition nightclub at Resorts, opened its doors to tremendous hoopla, and with that club’s success came the emergence of another GLBT-themed establishment — one that had been a pioneer during the first giant wave of gay clubs that helped spawn a thriving GLBT community in the seaside resort during the 1970s and 1980s. Can lightning strike twice? The Brass Rail — once part of the Club Tru complex created by John Schultz and partner Gary Hill — will have its formal grand re-opening in a weekend-long affair starting Friday, July 29, with an invite-only party from 7-9pm Friday. After 9pm the club opens to the public, and the fun doesn’t end until Monday, Aug. 1, at 6am. Presented by Stoli vodka, the gala will include an appearance by Claudia DuMont, who will be accompanied by the New York City Strippers, starting midnight Friday. On Saturday at midnight “Faresa” performs, and on Sunday from 9pm-1am guests will be treated to the outlandish antics of Lady La Belle — one of the popular contestants from the recently resurfaced...
Now, due in large measure to the establishment of the Greater Atlantic City GLBT Alliance in 2009, and the foresight and ambitious marketing strategies of Resorts CEO Dennis Gomes (who recently created the first in-casino gay nightclub, Prohibition) and others, the GLBT community is officially back in “flow” mode.
Female impersonators are nothing new in the Atlantic City landscape. Bally’s hosted An Evening at La Cage for 11 years and the town has hosted the Miss’d America Pageant, a spoof of the Miss America Pageant featuring cross-dressing gentlemen. However, the town has never hosted a show as enticing and hilarious as 'Believe - Divas In A Man’s World.'
'Everything we do as a society is based on love. I want to welcome everyone. Our arms are open to all aspects of our culture.'
Plus the latest on the map of the Atlantic City Tourism District, DrewToonz takes on Snooki and the Situation (and the Jersey Shore), and the Album of the Week: Emmylou Harris' 'Hard Bargain'
Entertainment will become a real drag at Resorts Atlantic City beginning May 5. Not that there’s anything wrong with that. That’s when the born-again First Game in Town will debut the gender-bender production show 'Believe: Divas In A Man’s World' for an extended run.
At 25, David walked away from doing huge events for companies like NARS, a top makeup company, and Saks 5th Avenue. Jim McGowan and he moved to Atlantic City five years ago because they wanted change, immediately starting the renovation of an Arctic Avenue property. Turning quartz into a diamond. Why Atlantic City?
With summer almost here promoters Bill Cradle and Keith Werner hosted an underwear and swimwear fashion show for the GLBT community this past Tuesday at Redding's on Pacific Avenue.
Funny thing is, it’s the casinos and land speculators who first closed and knocked down gay businesses that thrived for 100 years in Atlantic City. Now, money’s tight, and they’re sorry they did.
“To me, I live in such a gay world. And the way that I communicate and the way I talk about myself and the way that I am is very gay. And everything around me is gay. So I don’t know what it’s like to be in a world where that’s somehow a bad thing.”
I’m a 29-year-old single straight man. Over the past year, I have become very close friends with a gay man close to my age. We have a blast hanging out, and I value our friendship. But things are changing.
Sometimes, recessions can present unexpected opportunities. For members of the Atlantic City region's gay and lesbian community, what might be called a civil rights struggle, an attempt to form a real community or even just an effort to create some kind of gay social life in the area, also has one other good thing going for it.
There’s something magical that happens when Atlantic City businessmen start thinking about pageants — and marketing — at the same time. Beloved and cherished traditions that last for decades can be born.
Years ago, the gaming halls had targeted alternative lifestyle guests as an untapped market. While they’d never say it publicly, behind the scenes some executives were reluctant to do anything on a broader scale for fear of repercussions from guests and gamblers who don’t embrace the lifestyle or find it offensive.
So last week, there was Hitchen, head to toe decked out as “Knockers Johnson,” filming the opening skit for this year’s pageant on the beach. Other characters were Lucy Luckyano and Ally Capone, possibly the first time some of America’s most famous gangsters ....
Definition of a drag queen? A man who likes to eat, drink, and be Mary! It may sound funny to some and it’s easy to crack a joke here and there, but until you get to an event such as this past weekend’s Miss’d America Pageant, you cannot imagine the talent, sincerity, and camaraderie that fills the room.