Photos by Double Take
“All dreams can come true! Just because you don’t succeed at one thing doesn’t mean you will not succeed at something else,” Miss’d America 2013 winner Victoria “Porkchop” Parker said referring to her loss last year and her quick elimination on RuPaul’s Drag Race. “So I would like everyone to continue their dreams and never give in cause I certainly have not. I was first runner up last year, and I decided I wanted to win this contest. I went home and I worked for a year and a half to come back here and luckily tonight I was blessed,” a clearly moved Pork Chop adds to a room filled with press.
A crowd of more than 1,500 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 post-Sandy tourism numbers, while simultaneously embracing its historic past. This year, though, was a celebration. It marked the 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 “miss” 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. Three years ago, the Greater Atlantic City GLBT Alliance and the Schultz-Hill Scholarship Foundation revived the drag show, dusted off the old runway, and the community whole-heartedly welcomed back the queens after five years. With the return of Miss America of Miss America this year, the two pageants are reunited, and Atlantic City sure has a lot to be proud of.
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This year, the show left its home at Boardwalk Hall for the House of Blues located inside the Showboat Hotel and Casino, which proved to be a positive step for the evolving show. Despite the massive number of people, the space never seemed too crammed and the crowd reveled in the high-quality sound system and elaborate stage. And show director Mark A. Dahl took advantage of it, particularly during the opening sequence where last year’s winner Sable Scities and the 14 contestants took the stage amid some high-flying acrobatics. That’s right, youths from New Jersey Acrobatic and Contortion Company spun rapidly while the queens were introduced—a special moment that gave the event a family-friendly feel in comparison to years past. But the PG vibe soon gave way when the contestants introduced themselves to the audience by expressing their favorite curse word.
This year’s host, RuPaul’s Drag Race host Michelle Visage found herself comfortably commanding the show, maybe because the New Jersey native felt right at home with the contestants and the audience, mostly all of whom hailed from the East Coast. This year’s talent portion was bigger than ever. With some performances that included more back-up dancers dressed in spankies than a Lady Gaga video. The talent varied from lip-synching Top 40 hits and elaborate stage dances to Tina Turner’s “We Don’t Need Another Hero” to live singing of Whitney.
If the 14 drag acts weren’t enough to bring the crowd to their feet, “Finally” singer CeCe Peniston gave a seat-vibrating performance. It was so fierce that one overzealous (or overly drunk) fan jumped on stage to perform with the singer.
Michelle Visage must have brought the RuPaul luck with her as the judges awarded the title of Miss’d America to the first contestant ever eliminated from the hit LOGO show—Victoria “Porkchop” Parker. Last year’s winner, Sabel Scities, placed the crown on the new winner’s head as the packed house erupted in applause. Second runner up belonged to New York’s Dallas Dubois and first runner up Margeaux Powell.
The competitive spirit, though, soon assuaged at the after party at Showboat where all the girls happily posed for pictures—including Visage.
Special thanks to the Showboat Hotel and Casino as well as Double Take photography for the fabulous pictures