Thursday, March 30th, 2023

Pageant: an enduring classic


Written and Directed by
Ron Davis and Stewart Halpern

Premiered January 19, 2008 at the Slamdance Film Festival
85 min.


Review by Jack Clark

July 17, 2015.

Pageant is a 2008 documentary produced by Ron Davis and Stewart Halpern that follows a handful of hopeful contestants as they compete for the title of Miss Gay America.

Established in 1972 and held yearly in Nashville, TN, the Miss Gay America pageant, “Where Boys are Boys and Female Impersonation is an Art!,” is the longest-running drag pageant in America.

This classic documentary presents many of the contestants of the 34th  annual competition though interviews both on the scene and in their homes. Partners both on and off the stage are introduced, including the performer’s families, painting a well-rounded image of the motivations and challenges faced in competition.

We also see some of the backstage drama usually not visible to the public, such as the “Masculine Interview” (an out-of-drag panel interview required of each contestant), flippant words of shade or encouragement, and emergency wardrobe repairs.

Particular stories elaborated include Victoria De Paula, Alina Maletti, and Victoria “Pork Chop” DePaula. Other backstories are also explored, from why they wanted to do drag in the first place to what their plans would be if they were to win. By the end of the film, it is easy to pick out a favorite and cheer them on.

The pacing of this film preserves the suspense—who will take the crown? And, running a little over 90 minutes, it’s the perfect length for a weekend viewing with friends.

Pageant has won numerous awards including Best Documentary at ten different LGBT film festivals from all across the country. You can count on this film to become an enduring classic.

Whether you are a drag queen yourself or just a fan of the art, Pageant is a fun, informative look at what it means to become Miss Gay America.

©2015 by Jack Clark.
This review has also been published by Out In Jersey.

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