Sunday, January 16, 2011

There She is........

Miss America 1958
Marilyn Van Derbur, Colorado
Last night a heard a new Miss America was crowned.  I missed it.  


When I was a teenager back in the Fifties, I used to follow all the beauty pageants with a passion which was not unusual for a 14 year old gay kid who didn't know he was gay.  I can't say exactly why beauty pageants fascinated me.  Perhaps it was the beauty and glamour.  The fantasy come true of a Cinderella becoming a princess.  What I was pretty sure was that I didn't picture myself in that role.  Except for a brief period on elementary school when I wanted to wear a big, white, puffy, crinoline dress on my Halloween trick or treat excursions, I never have had the desire to go in drag.  But I do appreciate feminine beauty.

Miss America 1921 -bathing beauty
Margaret Gorman, Washington, D.C.


The first year I remember following beauty pageants was in 1954.  I would follow my local Miss Chester County (PA) beauty pageant and try and pick the winner.  Then I would follow the Miss Pennsylvania pageant.  I remember so clearly that year that the Miss Pennsylvania pageant was held in West Chester, PA which was where I was born an also near where I lived in Downingtown, PA.  I remember perusing all the county winners and pointing out Evelyn Ay, Miss Ephrata.  I told my Mother, "Look at how ugly she is, she will never win Miss Pennsylvania, let alone Miss America!"   Well, guess what?  Evelyn Ay, Miss Ephrata won Miss Pennsylvania and then went on to win Miss America in the very first televised pageant.  I was shocked.  So much for my beauty picking skills.
Evelyn Ay, Miss America 1954 and her court
From 1954 on I never missed a televised Miss America pageant.  I eagerly looked forward to them each year.  Sometimes I would pick the winner, sometimes not.  I enjoyed so much sharing this activity with my Mother.  We even attended in person once a Miss Chester County pageant.  I was thrilled.  


1951 Miss America Contestants

Where I began to lose it with the Miss America pageant was when it became a scholarship pageant.  What was that all about?  I'll tell you, it was about political correctness.  To me a beauty pageant is about beauty. What's so hard to understand about that?  Apparently the old men who ran the Miss American pageant out of Atlantic City, New Jersey didn't understand that.  
2010 Miss American Contestants - definitely a different attitude
The last time I watched a Miss America pageant was when the final contestants were all standing around in matching pants suits.  Man oh man.  Talk about losing your focus.  
Miss America 1951
Yolande Betbeze, Alabama

Well, it was with no surprise that television viewership fell off and eventually the Miss America pageant lost its TV slot.  Several years ago it was banished to the nether regions of cable TV.  I was never able to find it.  I gave up. 
Miss America 1952
Coleen Hutchins, Utah




Now I don't know if the old man who used to run the Miss America pageant is still alive (I think his name is Albert Marks or something like that) but if he is pushing up daisies now he surely would be turning over in his grave if he could see the Miss America contestants today.  The beauty if back!


Miss America 1953
Neva Jane Langley, Georgia

Miss America 1954
Evelyn Ay - the last Miss Pennsylvania to win Miss America


Miss America 1955
Lee Ann Meriweather of California



Miss America 1956
Sharon Ritchie, North Carolina



Miss America 1957

Marian McKnight, South Carolina






Miss America 1958
Marilyn Van Derber, Colorado

Miss America 1959
Mary Ann Mobley, Mississippi

This year for the first time in several years the Miss America pageant was televised nationwide.  I still missed it but I won't miss it next year.  
Hey, I may be gay but I still appreciate a beautiful woman and nothing compliments a beautiful woman more than a beautiful gown.  


Miss America Contestants Gown Competition (my favorite)
And last but not least, what would a Miss America Pageant be without this dear man singing "There she is!  Miss America!" as the newly crowned Miss America walked down the runway in the Atlantic City Convention Center and acknowledged her new subjects, tears streaming down her face while she tried to keep her recently placed crown from falling off of her head.  Those memories I will never forget.  


Bert Parks
1914-1992









16 comments:

  1. I'm with you, I used to love watching this as a kid, but I stopped watching years ago. I was flipping through the channels yesterday and caught about 10 minutes of the semi-finals, it's just not the same...

    ReplyDelete
  2. Oh yeah, and I forgot to add, Miss Arkansas was robbed! Not only is she far prettier, but her ventriloquist yodeling act was so damn BIZARRE. At least she stood out. And the 80's straight-out-of-Dynasty jumpsuit seals it for me.

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=KusWJSnmjLE

    ReplyDelete
  3. Ron,

    Gee, a gimmick instituted by a corrupt administration in a corrupt wide open bootlegging Roarin' Twenties resort town to lure the suckers in after the summer season ended with a 16-year-old ringer winning the first contest.

    Miss America, she's our ideal indeed.

    Evelyn Ay had a much more interesting face than most the cookie-cutter bleached blonds winning the job of corporate shill.

    Caught a few moments last night on ABC of a contestant answering those stupid questions. Boring.

    Not my cup of tea, but I guess by now you guessed that. :)

    Lar

    ReplyDelete
  4. Do you know Miss America was crown Miss World 2010. You should be proud of. I also love beauty peagants because of the female beauty and their intelligence.

    ReplyDelete
  5. First, I choose Miss America 1951. She was gorgeous in an exotic way.
    I think all gay men love beautiful women because gay men can appreciate true beauty without mixing it up with sex.
    I love having a beautiful daughter and I love buying clothes for her. She's my own little Miss America.
    Your Friend, m.

    ReplyDelete
  6. Nathan,
    I used to look forward to the Miss America pageant each year as much or more than I did Christmas. All the magic left during the 80's. I still have my scrapbooks from the Fifties of newspaper clippings I cut out of winners of beauty contests. I'm probably the only person in the world who has such scrapbooks. They were part of my fantasy world in the Fifties when I was the Only Gay Guy In The World.

    ReplyDelete
  7. Nathan,
    Thanks for sending the You Tube of Miss Arkansas. She can sing! And to do it with ventriloquism yet. You're right, she is prettier. She's not blonde though. I think the powers that be decided it was time for a blonde.

    ReplyDelete
  8. Tai,
    No, I did not know that Miss America was crowned Miss World. When did that happen?

    ReplyDelete
  9. Mark,
    You make a good point in why most gay men appreciate beauty pageants. It's not because we want to be in them (I certainly don't) but I do appreciate female beauty (along with male beauty I might add). And you're right, we don't mix up sex with it. And you do have a beautiful daughter my friend. Maybe she will be Miss America one day!

    ReplyDelete
  10. Must be the gay gene in me Lar. I've always liked beauty contests. I think the only gay gene I was short changed in was the Broadway Show Tune Gene. I can't stand Broadway show tunes. BORING.

    ReplyDelete
  11. Ron, it was just last year. She is the recent Miss World.

    ReplyDelete
  12. Ron,

    Ah, see there is where you can tease me. I like Broadway Show Tunes. I guess they gave me your gene for that by mistake.

    Lar

    ReplyDelete
  13. Thanks Tai. I'll check. That is something that I did not know. Very interesting.

    ReplyDelete
  14. Never did get the gay beauty pageant gene. I always found it a bit disgraceful, for the women. But then again if it were a bunch of men I'd probably feel different.

    ReplyDelete
  15. Rick,
    I never felt beauty pageants were disgraceful for women. I've always felt it was a way for some women to have their beauty and talent recognized much the way we men like to be recognized for our attractiveness and whatever talents we have. I just never felt that this kind of competition was degrading for anyone involved.

    ReplyDelete
  16. Anonymous12:53 PM

    As a family we would watch the pagents and after the gown competition my father would always pick out "Miss Congeniality" the contestant that had little chance of winning!

    ReplyDelete