Above, an occasionally shirtless gallery of photos from The 7th Annual Broadway Beauty Pageant.
Monday night was The 7th Annual Broadway Beauty Pageant, a ribald affair that pits chorus boys from various Broadway shows against each other based on their talent, their ability to sell the good in a swimsuit and their answers to random questions. It raises money for The Ali Forney Center, so attracts a lot of support. The show's celebrity judges don't hurt, either—this year featured Andrea Martin (Pippin), Michael Urie (Buyer & Cellar—best play I've seen in years) and Billy Porter (Kinky Boots—I hate that I could not get review tickets to this show, of all shows!), all of whom had just won Drama Desk Awards for their performances the day before.
For the first time, the event was held at NYU's Skirball Center in the Village. Timing being what it is, the event fell on the same day that people from all over the city were gathering down the street to protest the wave of anti-LGBT violence that has swept NYC, including the cold-blooded murder of Mark Carson. It was quite a night-and-day experience for anyone who managed to hit both events, a chance to experience rage and grief before settling into irreverent tomfoolery and balls-out (not literally, unfortch) entertainment.
We arrived early for the red carpet. An adorable couple macked on my companion (why do people assume we're not together?), I had a juicy political chat with an anybody-but-Christine-Quinn operative and I saw my buddies Curtis and Peter. The carpet was somewhat disappointing this year in that two of the judges avoided it, I somehow missed the superdreamy Max von Essen and even the contestants only popped out for a brief photo op. (In the past, I've sometimes interviewed the guys before the show and have had access to the judges.) But on the bright side, the one judge I did get, after she sat with Cindy Adams for a Q&A, was the one I was dying for...the legendary Andrea Martin!
I have not yet seen Pippin (I'm gonna!), but I have heard nothing but raves. Martin, a household name among households with taste for her SCTV past alone, was a total delight. Before our brief interview, she did a pic-with and used it as a way of checking her hair and makeup. "I wish I had someone do that for me tonight!" she fretted, before saying her dress was ridiculous, too. (It wasn't. She is 66 and looks amazing!)
After I'd reassured her that my video camera had a cheap light on it that would blow her out like an Andy Warhol Polaroid of Joan Collins, she answered my questions warmly and gamely, including my query about what, if anything, in her career was something she still can't believe she did or is even embarrassed to admit she did. Who knew that she made a movie in 1971 for Ivan Reitman called Foxy Lady in which she had a brief nude scene? (She claims no one has ever seen it.)
Paul McGill, Andrea Martin, Seth Sikes & Tovah Feldshuh: What a great cast they'd make!
I was also excited to connect with Paul McGill, whom I had encountered when he was plugging his 2009 role in the remake of Fame. He's an amazingly gifted dancer; if you never saw his beauty in the reenactment parts of the spellbinding documentary Man on Wire (2008), you're missing out.
Inside, we were treated to box seating, which was great for the view but less than ideal for shooting. (The judges were stage left, as were we, so I got precious few shots of them.) Great venue, though.
Mike Ruiz & Martin Berusch looking faboosh.
Jane, Joseph & James Clementi, the family of the late Tyler. James told me he loved the show.
Carl Siciliano said my Encyclopedia Madonnica was a staple of his youth. Wondering what he looks like nekkid is a staple of my oldth.
Oink Tank: Dave Hughes (VP of marketing & PR) & co-founder David Lauterstein of Nasty Pig.
Former Mr. Broadway Marty Cummings shows off both of his best sides at once.
Kinky Boots queenpin Billy Porter.
Nathan Lee Graham flips out.
For the sixth year in a row, Tovah Felshuh, 60, was our filthy emcee. The show is set up very loosely, so there's plenty of awkward time to fill. Tovah is the ideal host for the times when you need someone with a faulty filter to vamp.
Tovah really has a way with cum jokes.
Before getting raunchy, though, Tovah gave a moving speech in remembrance of Mark Carson that brought down the house and reminded us all that along with fun and games, our community knows how to get pissed off and get involved.
The show was a hoot, as always, from its Our Gang-esque let's-put-on-a-show opening (McGill was the evening's volunteer choreographer) to featured performer Nathan Lee Graham's appearances as a Diana Ross-esque "Fairy Godmother."
"Oh, we are the chorus, we hope you like our show..."
The eventual winner allegedly didn't know it was a contest until the day-of.
Watching six performers trying to outdo each other on the same stage is bliss.
The guys competing for the title of Mr. Broadway were:
Callan Bergmann (from Silence! The Musical), Orion Griffiths (Pippin), Julius C. Carter (Spider-Man), Matthew Goodrich (The Nance), Paul Heesang Miller (Mamma Mia) and Yurel Echezarreta (Matilda).
Urie was particularly devilish with his critiques and questions.
Tense moments. These bitches wanted to win!
Michael Prince wasn't even a contestant, yet he won the big-dick contest. Gulp.