Jasper is very much a 21st century kind of guy, so when he hears of old tropes like “beauty pageants” he usually turns up his nose in distaste.
But when a pageant has been turned on its head the way that Larry Hembree, past executive director of the Nickelodeon Theatre and incoming executive director of Trustus Theatre,* has turned this year’s [Vista] Queen of the Night Pageant, you can safely assume that many of the tired old trappings that typically make beauty pageants so declasse have been tossed out with the trash. (Apologies to Chris Bickel, pageant contestant.)
Starting with the gender and sexual orientation of the contestants.
Hembree is taking us back to the glory days of the Vista Queen Pageant when hetero gentlemen the likes of Jakie Knotts and Sheriff Leon Lott donned their gay apparel and fought it out like proper the proper bitches they are for the crown and the title of Vista Queen. Recent pageants, though exceedingly entertaining, have featured, let’s just say, gentlemen to whom lip gloss and eye liner felt a little more natural.
Contestants hiding their candy this year include Chris Bickel (featured as the centerfold of Jasper #002,) the mighty Tom Hall, our buddy Otis Taylor, news anchor Anderson Burns, actor Gerald Floyd, and Historic Columbia’s director of Cultural Resources, John Sheerer.
Clay Owens is the stage manager, and Terrance Henderson (featured in Jasper #001) is the choreographer — Alexia Bonet and CJ Grant will be serving as out hosts.
Judges are Ya Ya Queen Debbie McDaniel, who is also a generous sponsor, Sarah Luadzers from the Congaree Vista Guild, playwright, Robbie Robertson, and City Counselor Cameron Runyan.
The winner of the title of Vista Queen will be adorned with a beautiful sash, sponsored by your friends at Jasper Magazine and handcrafted by the hardest-working-artist-in-Columbia, Susan Lenz.
Tickets to the event are sold-out, as well they should be, but for those lucky enough to have scored a ticket, doors open at 6 and the show starts at 7.
For additional information, visit www.trustus.org or visit the event page “(Vista) Queen of the Night” on Facebook.
*(Full disclosure – this blogger sits on the Trustus Theatre board of directors.)