Way before RuPaul’s Drag Race catapulted the art form into the mainstream, pageants have been featuring drag performers’ charisma, uniqueness, nerve and talent–and then some.
Last month, I attended my first ever drag pageant: the 31st Miss’d America Pageant in Atlantic City. And, gurrrl, it left me giddy with gay glitz and glamour.
The last time I’d visited Atlantic City was September 1998 to attend the Miss America pageant (not the one with the “d”). My high school bestie, Lissette Gonzalez, was competing as Miss Florida and would eventually be crowned Second Runner-Up to Miss America that night. It was all pretty exciting.
I’ve now been to Atlantic City twice in 24 years–both times to attend a pageant. I’ve also only attended two pageants in my life.
The weekend was bookended by Drag Queen Bingo on Friday with the outgoing queen, Amanda Pörq; and brunch on Sunday to celebrate the new winner. Saturday night was the main event, hosted by the hilarious Carson Kressley. Eight contestants competed in categories including swimsuit, evening gown, interview and, of course, talent. There was dancing; there was singing; there were full-on production numbers. And there was even a little drama when the tabulation system malfunctioned. I mean, what’s a drag pageant without a little hers-trionics.
Eventually, the fabulous Miss Elaine was crowned Miss’d America 2023 and all was well with the world.
More than just a show, the Miss’d America Pageant is also a fundraiser and, since its inception, has donated over $500,000 to LGBTQ+ supportive charities.
The entire experience was a blast! Keep an eye out for the exact date announcement of next year’s event in September 2023 and, who knows, you might even catch an appearance by the Lingonberry Ladies…