A few weeks ago I turned on the TV and found myself at the very beginning of the Miss Universe Pageant. My first reaction was: “There’s still a Miss Universe Pageant?” My second reaction was: “It’s on network TV?” My third reaction was: “It’s three hours long?!”
Naturally, I hurried to the kitchen to rustle up some snacks because there was no way I was going to miss this!
I hadn’t watched a beauty pageant since I was a kid. They used to be major events back then…and I didn’t even grow up in the South! Miss America was a big deal! Although, in retrospect, it was probably a big deal in the way quicksand is an important concern when you’re a kid. You have no sense of perspective so you focus on weird things that you will never encounter in your adult life, like quicksand and beauty queens.
My grammar school friends and I would wager candy on who would be crowned Miss America. We’d watch Miss Universe, too, of course, but there was no wagering. We all agreed Miss United States would win. I was a child of the Cold War, so that was a given. I’m fairly certain that a member of the Reagan goon squad would have assassinated us if we cheered on anyone else.
Back to present day: The show kicked off in a melee of color, shrieking, and jerky camera angles. The announcer said that the most beautiful women in the world had come to Doral, Florida (!) for this pageant. But instead of showing the beauties, the camera scanned the audience, which was made up of Latin men and old perverts. There were only a couple hundred of them spread out in what appeared to be the banquet room of a Day’s Inn.
And then, without preamble, we went immediately into the costume portion of the program.
It reminded me of the first time I saw a Kabuki show. I was mesmerized by the atonal weirdness for about fifteen minutes and then I got a migraine. The ladies paraded to the stage in alphabetical order, starting with Albania. Most were in elaborate get-ups constructed of sequins, feathers, and cardboard. They looked like a cross between a pterodactyl and a carburetor. Only the Northern Europeans tried to keep it classy. Austria looked as virginal and stern as Baroness Von Trapp. If a middle-aged lesbian is attracted to you, it’s a pretty good bet that you don’t stand a chance of making it to the semi-finals.
We finally got our first look at Miss United States — not Miss USA, which, apparently, is an altogether different thing, according to Wikipedia. I tried to read the entire 20-page Wikipedia article (note: the same length of Wikipedia’s Nobel Prize article) so that I could write an informed review, but drifted off after the first paragraph.
Sadly, there was absolutely nothing interesting about Miss United States. So, I decided to root for Miss Italy, who was clearly peri-menopausal. At one point the announcer said that Miss Italy had been a professional dancer for 15 years! It was the only time the other contestants broke their frozen smiles. They each scrunched their brows to mentally calculate how old that would make her.
“The announcer is trying to sabotage Miss Italy,” I exclaimed to my viewing companion, who glanced up from her book, declared the competition a cross between a slave auction and a porn movie, and demanded I turn it off.
I gave her the side-eye, muttered “Feminist,” and returned to my program.
I’m almost out of column space, but I have so much more to say about this event! I haven’t even touched on the judges, who were clearly sleeping with the contestants, or the low-rent advertisements, which featured products straight out of the classified section of a comic book. So, I’ll just end by saying I absolutely adored this show and have a grand idea for Miss Lesbian Universe, which I’ll propose in a future column.