After weeks of planning, rehearsing, gossip, and shopping, the Miss WESA pageant happened on Saturday night. Over the last 20 years, the pageant has taken on a life of it’s own, a league within a league with a set of customs and traditions.
Our Miss WESA team pre-party was at Fry’s place. It was easy to find; there was a dress hanging on the front door. The highlight of the party came when Fry put one of his wigs on our assistant coach.
Our assistant coach is one of those guys that would never be caught dead in a dress; I was surprised he let Fry put the wig on him. He didn’t look half bad in it either, but instead of Farah Fawcett, he looked more like the lead singer of Poison.
There’s a reason why the Miss WESA pageant is so successful: it has a structure and it sticks to it. Contestants are judged in two categories: bathing suit and talent. The top three are then asked a skill testing question, the winner is crowned, and most of the players go up the street to Pumpjack or 1181.
One of my favourite parts of the competition is listening the contestant’s bios as they cross the stage in their bathing suit; it’s that moment the contestants’nerves wear off and they get into character. Most of the contestants will come from a trailer park, or Surrey, with dreams of glamour, fame, and fortune. They strut for the audience, usually in a one-piece with a skirt, shoulders hunched, like a Communist-Russia runway model, winking suggestively or putting two fingers on their lips like they just said something naughty.
The theme of the show was “Divas Past and Present”. I assumed everyone would do an old Madonna or Whitney Houston song, but they reached into the vault and dug out some classics, like “I am What I am” by Gloria Gaynor, “You Think You’re a Man,” by Divine, and something by Bette Midler when she was fresh out of the baths.
In a sign of the times (and Glee), there were a lot of mashups this year which, when I thought about it, is a great idea, because you get the advantage of starting off with a slow number and kicking it up a notch with something with more octane. Miss Oasis started her number with Nancy Sinatra’s “Bang Bang” (who doesn’t love that song) and ended with a remix of Leslie Gore’s “You Don’t Own Me”. But Miss Celebrities stole the show with her “I Wanna Dance with Somebody”/ “Proud Mary” mix.
I made the right decision not taking one for the team and entering the competition, because the bar was pretty high this year. You have to be good even if you plan on being bad to be in Miss WESA.
Just about every contestant had five or six backup dancers behind her doing their best Solid Gold dancer routines. I actually find that aspect of the show really heartwarming; it’s great when gay men let their hair down and act silly on stage. It’s like “Up With People” but gayer.
And then there were the extravaganzas. Phyllis Hull made her entrance from a story book that looked like it belong on the set of Wicked. The whole time I was watching it I kept wondering how long did it take to build, where did they keep it, and how much did it cost. Although I wouldn’t have been surprised if someone told me it was just lying around the house.
I’m pretty sure Phyllis Hull would have won were it not for Miss Celebrities’ Tina Turner number. I’ve always said there’s as much entertainment in a fringed mini-dress as there is in a million dollar music video, and Miss Celebrities proved it.
It was one of those numbers that looked really complicated but was actually quite simple in its execution. She choreographed just enough moves that her backup dancers could keep up and remember, but what nailed it was the classic Tina Turner move where she looks like she’s diving into a pool.
Fry says the secret to answering the skill testing question is to come to rehearse a canned response and use it no matter what you’re asked. I have a feeling Miss Celebrities and Miss Oasis were given this piece of advice because both of them did a two minute comedy routine when it was their turn.
It didn’t come as a huge shock when Miss Celebrities won. The right queen won, but it was a close race.
I was relieved when our games were rained out the next day. I wasn’t terribly hung over, but I was exhausted from standing in one spot for two hours. Plus we were scheduled to play Team Celebrities and they probably would still have been riding the endorphin rush from the night before—or hungover, it’s hard to say.
And now I’m off for a week while I go on a much needed vacation to the Yukon. I hope I don’t get rusty while I’m gone.