Monday, June 27
Ain't no pageant like a Miss Georgia pageant, 'cause a Miss Georgia pageant don't stop.
I was down in C-Town this weekend, visiting family and seeing the new baby of a couple of friends I've known since high school, but there was a third purpose to the trip -- the Miss Georgia pageant. My college friend Kristen, who works for the AP bureau in Atlanta, was going so that she could relay the names of the winners back to HQ, and she was like, "Do you want to come," and I was like "Yeah," so . . . we went.
And it was crazy, and cheesy for all the reasons you more enlightened folk have been criticizing beauty pageants as cheesy since the beginning of time, but you know what? It was fun. An assload of fun, even. I don't know if Miss Georgia is representative of all statewide beauty pageants, or even all statewide beauty pageants in the Southeast, but here are a few reasons why the Miss Georgia pageant is awesome:
1. The audience alone makes for some of the best people-watching around. I mean, Columbus as a whole is a pretty great people-watching town -- though in the same way people go to NASCAR races hoping to see a fiery car wreck -- but the typical Miss Georgia audience is just a fascinating little microcosm of the South. The audience is two-thirds to three-quarters female, and every female between the ages of 15 and 35 -- as well as a few "outliers" -- come dressed as if they're going to a freaking inaugural ball. Kristen and I were trying to figure out why this was, and I think it's because some of those girls honestly think they may be yanked up on stage at any moment. Like, if Miss Emanuel County or somebody fractures her tibia or gets a cerebral hemorrhage backstage, and the stage manager runs out onto the stage and yell, "Is there anyone here from Emanuel County?!" -- when he makes that BellSouth Call to the Bullpen and grabs some lucky girl out of the crowd to take her place, you'd better be dressed to the nines if you want it to be you! So far it's never happened, but that doesn't mean it couldn't!
2. The qualifying pageants for Miss Georgia are a pretty eclectic mix. There are the citywide pageants (Miss Atlanta, Miss Columbus, Miss Augusta), the countywide ones (Miss Cherokee County, Miss Fulton County) and even some college/university pageants (Miss UGA, Miss Georgia Southern), but beyond that you start getting into some highly abstract geographical constructs like Miss North Georgia Mountains, Miss Heart of Georgia, Miss Magnolia Midlands, et cetera. There's even a Miss Mall of Georgia, for cryin' out loud. Hear that, Yankees? You like to snicker about how we're all backward hicks down here who are only now discovering the joys of such things as indoor plumbing, but we've already built a mall so big it has its own freaking beauty pageant. There's no Miss Mall of America or Miss Del Amo Fashion Center, is there? No, there isn't! So cram it!
3. The Miss Savannah Pageant shut down, re-organized and came back as the Miss First City Pageant because the last Miss Savannah was arrested for murdering her ex-boyfriend. Read the story: She shot her ex-boyfriend in the ass, claimed self-defense, and was acquitted. Miss Savannah, ladies and gentlemen! I wish I'd gone to the '03 pageant so I could've seen what her talent was.
4. Speaking of which, the girls who compete in the pageant are (with a few exceptions) mostly pretty talented, though all the talents seem to fall into three categories: 1) tap-dancing, 2) jazz dancing, and 3) singing. I'm waiting for some contestant to break the mold by stepping forward with a really groundbreaking talent, and I have a few suggestions: singing something a little bit edgier than the standard fare, like something from "Avenue Q"; something hip-hop-oriented, like breaking or record-scratching; or doing one of Will Ferrell's "GET OFF THE SHED!" sketches from "Saturday Night Live" as a dramatic monologue.
5. I'd be willing to bet that at least a third of this year's contestants have some kind of University of Georgia affiliation. There were a bunch of Georgia Southern girls, a few Georgia Staters, even an Alabama and an Ole Miss, but a sizable plurality of the contestants cheered for the Dawgs (and openly expressed this over the course of the pageant). Did anyone profess any kind of Georgia Tech love? They did not -- there's not even a Miss Georgia Tech pageant at all, probably because if there was, the contestants would be two girls and a gay dude (and the gay guy would be the best-looking one of the three).
6. Kristen and I had this year's winner pegged less than 10 minutes after the pageant started -- Monica Pang, a former Miss UGA and a fellow graduate of the Henry W. Grady College of Journalism and Mass Communication. She killed. She fucking annihilated. And will do the same at Miss America, whenever that is. Monica, we love you. Holla.