If you ever thought that being part of a Pageant was merely just a bit of fun, the you are in for real eye opener with this fascinating award-winning documentary that trails 5 of the 52 contestants who are determined to win the much coveted title Miss Gay America in the 34th year of the competition.
The rules are very simple. The men aren’t allowed to go through surgery or to use female hormones such as estrogen to look like women. Asides from that, as long as they have won a regional Final, they can dress quite scantily, pile on the make-up, stuff their bras, pad their butts, wear outrageous wigs and lip-synch as good as any lady, and whatever else they think they need to do to win the crown.
It takes an seemingly endless amount of sheer passion and determination, and a fairly large pocketbook to bankroll this week in New Orleans where all the contestants have to go through different competitions to make the final 10. Strangely enough the first one is when somberly attired in mens clothing and away from the prying eyes of any audience, they are interviewed by the judges . Then after that it is no holds barred later that night when at a nearby nightclub when they all dress up in the finery for the Evening Gown round.
Of the 5 hopefuls that filmmakers trailed, cute NY Robert Martin a.k.a. Chantel Reshae is the most nervous of this round. He comes to the Pageant totting his best friend/choreographer (and equally cute) who must be the only straight man in the place, and they know that they will at least score high marks in the Talent section. David Lowman a.k.a. Coti Collins has been working as professional female impersonator for over 20 years and his Reba McIntire is so good that the lady herself employed him to go on tour with him. The proud-to-be-plump Victor Parker who becomes Victoria on stage, (but mainly known by his nick-name Pork Chop) loves the old-school style of overly-dramatic lip syncing for which ‘I’m Not Going Anywhere’ from ‘Dreamgirls’ is treated as an holy anthem.
Anthony Brewer a.k.a. Alina Malletti had his husband and their 12 year old son in tow as he goes out to ensures that he betters his 1st runner up position last year. He vows that if he doesn’t win this year, he will not come back again, but he is not convincing either himself or us with that declaration. The final one of the five is hairdresser Carl Glorioso a.k.a.Victoria DePaula whose turn in the talent part is a spirited performance as Judy Garland as he knows that no-queens, pageant or otherwise, can ever resist her.
What strikes you most even though they all compete with such serious earnest and all invest so much of themselves, there is still such a wonderful joie de vivre and a great sense of companionship with them all. There is no sign of nastiness or backstabbing, and even though there are the inevitable tears at the Finale (of both joy and sadness), they all know that they will back having yet another go next year. Even Alina who will actually make her husband become a background dancer too.
And the winner? None of the five, and in fact she was a dark-horse entry from New Orleans itself, who introduced her act by asking for a moment of silence for other survivors of the Katrina disaster like she was. Very moving.