A crowd of more than 900 people burst into a raucous applause as community leaders, tourists, and LGBT activists showed their support for not only the Miss’d America contestants, but for the resilience of this seaside resort city that’s constantly reinventing itself and trying to move forward from hard economic times and constant negative media attention, while simultaneously embracing its historic past and promising future. This year, though, was a celebration. It marked the the third-year return of Miss America—which had abandoned the city after 84 years—taking away with it many people’s livelihoods and a strong sense of the city’s cultural identity.
When the pageant left, a smaller tradition also failed to take place—the Miss’d America Pageant. The alterna-show gave boys who had to literally “missed” participating in the pageant (many of whom worked for the Miss America Pageant) a chance to show off their goods after the Miss America Pageant. The small gathering began in 1993, but didn’t take place after the show moved to Vegas. Five years ago, the Greater Atlantic City GLBT Alliance revived the drag show, dusted off the old runway, and the community whole-heartedly welcomed back the queens. With the return of Miss America and Miss’d America this year, the two pageants are reunited, and Atlantic City sure has a lot to be proud of.
This year’s host, Carson Kressley of Queer Eye fame, comfortably commanded the show as MC, his jokes poked fun at the Pope’s traffic-nightmare-causing visit to neighboring Philadelphia, Kim Davis, and the city’s Do AC slogan “wink wink,” but consistently used his quick wit to keep the Music Box at Borgata entertained.
With a record number of participants, it was ultimately New York’s Fifi Dubois who received the crown from last year’s always-stunning Honey Davenport. It wasn’t a quick rise to the top, though; the nine participants fiercely fought for the crown. From an opening number, swimwear/eventing and talent to the dreaded Q&A, the ladies demonstrated a higher level of poise and urbanity than in years past. D-level humor was happily missing and replaced with gorgeous dance routines (Pattaya Hart, Fifi Dubois, and Sandra Onassis Lopez), live singing (Vita Summers and Saphhira Cristal). One notable performance also came from Margeaux Powell who lip-synched to “Human” with a heartfelt tribute to gay right’s activists served as her backdrop.
Wrapping up the evening’s activities was the after party that Borgata spared no expense in throwing. Complete with cocktails, killer DJs, drag, and a non-stop feeling that the hotel knew how to keep the LGBT community’s pageant-hair high excitement going.
While a new queen was crowned Miss’d America 2015, Borgata Hotel Casino & Spa has secured itself as the epicenter of LGBT cool thanks to its innovative program “Out at the Borgata.” Guests don’t even need to hit the slots to enjoy this entertainment resort with calendar-packed list of events (Madonna and Alan Cumming), over-the-top dining like at Sunroom brunch where waitress Jordan can surely give your thirst quenched with her special mimosas, thumping nightlife (mur.mur), community support (IGLTA, Greater Atlantic City GBLT Alliance), and a come-as-you-are attitude that is not only courting new gay and lesbian visitors, but has created a revolving door of repeat visitors and locals alike.