Miss Grand Marquise pageant set for March 20

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A pageant highlighting the glamour, elegance, prestige and beauty of female impersonators with more than $3,000 in cash and prizes will be held on March 20 at Play Dance Bar.

Contestants will compete for the title of Miss Grand Marquise 2005, first runner up, and second runner up. The title winner will not only be crowned with a signature marquise crown and scepter, she will also win $1,000 in cash, jewelry valued at $300 and a signature marquise award.

Category awards will be presented in presentation, talent, elegant evening gown and most beautiful. Contestants will be judged in four categories: Presentation (20 percent), Talent (30%), Elegant Evening Wear (40%) and Question and Answer (10%).

Carmella Marcella Garcia from Orlando, FL, Racquel Scott from Birmingham, AL, will co-emcee the event and keep the crowds entertained. Domanique Shappelle, Miss Grand Marquise 2004 will also provide entertainment.

The pageant, in its second year, is the brainchild of Bud East and Joey Brown, who envisioned a national pageant that would focus on the beauty and grace of the entertainer and less emphasis on the talent categories.

“The highest scored category is elegant evening wear,” East explained. “We’re revitalizing a pageantry system that is based on the fundamental concepts of elegance and beauty.”

With the highest scoring area that of elegant evening wear, East said judges will be looking for contestants who have original, elegant and fashionable evening gowns.

“Last year the gowns were just beautiful,” he said. “We’re looking forward to seeing even more beautiful gowns this year.”

Sponsors at press time included Ajax Turner Co., Inc.; Balloon Worx; Kahlua Bay; Holiday Inn Express; and Gordon’s Engraving,Inc.

Rita Ross will receive the pageant’s Lifetime Achievement Award, for her long-standing work in the community as an entertainer and life-long contributions to the gay community. She will receive it in honor of a yet-to-be-named past entertainer.

“The board feels that Rita deserves this award for her dedication, and loyalty to the female impersonation field,” East said. “She’s been performing for almost 30 years and we feel like she’s made great contributions to the field in teaching and educating throughout the United States.” 

East said Ross also started the “Closet Ball”, an annual event started almost 20 years ago that allows newcomers to perform and try their hand at female impersonation.

Unlike other competitions, there are no preliminary competitions. A non-refundable entry fee of $125 per contestant is due March 18, 2005. Entry forms can be found at Play Dance Bar. More information can be obtained from East, who can be reached at (615) 977-4830 or by email, budeast@comcast.net.