OK, so Shakira (above at her appearance at Madison Square Garden this summer) wasn't necessarily in the house but her spirit was certainly channeled as you can very well see in the picture below (click on it for the full technicolor effect).
Saturday night saw us just as mesmerized - at least before the midnight mark - by the (in)famous "2006 Miss Riis Park Beauty Pageant" before a full house at the 400-seat theatre owned by the Colombian restaurant Natives in Jackson Heights, Queens.
According to legend, the Miss Riis Park pageant was born back in the late 1990's when a bunch of friends who met playing volleyball at the gay area at the Riis Park beaches began staging amateur drag beauty pageants in the parking lot (how we got from playing dress up in a beach parking lot to an event in which one of the participants was rumored to have spent as much as $10,000 on a single dress is a mystery, alas).
Some parts of the show certainly matched the gaudy grandeur of a professional beauty contest, despite the organizers repeated reminders that these were not professional drag performers and that they were just simple guys who had signed up online to have a chance to become the next Miss Riis Park. The organizers seemed to be a bit under-staffed as well which proved fatal in the later parts of the contest since there were repeated musical and video projection miscues, stage malfunctions and difficulties with a particular inebriated spectator - all of which dragged the show to a close a full six hours after the starting time (we stuck to the end and left the theatre around 2:15 in the morning).
We were there to cheer for "Miss India," who'd been involved in the Colombian Lesbian and Gay Association a few years ago, and who we knew had poured a lot of energy and effort into his participation. We were there also for our friend, Marlene Forero, who had been helping "Miss India" with everything, from the dress changes to the choreography, and had also put in a few sleepless nights.
There was some humor too. During the finalist question and answer segment, one of the participants was asked "If you were sent to the moon for six months, what three things would you bring with you and why?"
Her response? "Oh, I definitely know what I would want to bring to the moon; I know that I would definitely bring some water, I would also bring some fire and, in addition, I would also bring some dust."
Hm, what? Oh wait there is more! "Oh! And I would definitely also bring a sample of DNA just in case living beings are eventually found on the moon, and I would make sure that I would bring elements of all the world's religions, Judaism, Christianity, Islamic faiths, for the betterment of mankind." Weeepa!
We didn't capture that dramatic response but we do have photos here [REMOVED, see note below] and a few videos on YouTube as well:
[NOTE: UNFORTUNATELY I HAVE HAD TO REMOVE ALL VIEOS FROM MY YOUTUBE ACCOUNT AND THE LINKS PREVIOUSLY PROVIDED IN THIS BLOG POST UNDER THREAT OF LEGAL ACTION BY THE EVENT'S ORGANIZERS]
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