Womanless pageant a beauty

Published 9:25 pm Tuesday, January 20, 2009

From a logistical point of view, Saturday night’s beauty pageant at the Suffolk Armory had everything you would expect to see at such an event.

There was a stage, there was a catwalk and there was a judges’ table. The contestants modeled in casual and evening garb. There was a talent competition, and the contestants were asked about femininity, goals and romance. There were high heels, nylons, tights, skirts, dresses, lipstick — and maybe just a little too much rouge.

But if you attended the pageant yourself, you probably noticed something right away.

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Was that facial hair?

Yes, it was.

Saturday’s event was the Womanless Beauty Pageant, an event that has been produced by the Nansemond River Pilot Club for the last nine years, and which benefits the American Cancer Society.

According to Suzanne Moore, the Pilot Club’s president, the event last year raised more than $10,000 for the Cancer Society. The Olive Garden franchise at Chesapeake Square donated all of the food for this year’s event, so the proceeds from ticket sales went straight to the cancer research. About 350 people paid $20 to attend the pageant.

Competing were Michael Clark as “Mischievous Michelle,” Jack Neild as “Jaquelyn Parton,” Joe Alvarez as “Tilly Screams,” Barry Potter as “Beth LaHam,” Tommy Savage as “Sultry Sally,” Mark Mulvaney as “Ultra Classic Clara,” Steve Lindblad as “Fannie Farkle,” and Bob Wash as “Ima Gem.”

Finding clothes that fit was an issue several of the “ladies” found challenging.

“That is a hard part,” said Wash, a rookie to the pageant. “There’s not that many buxom women that wear a size 28 in an evening gown. And if she is (that size), normally she won’t go for it.” He said thrift stores were a good place to look for larger women’s clothes.

“I couldn’t fit into any of my wife’s clothes,” Wash said. “She’s a size 8 and a 10, and I’m a 28.”

Potter joked, “I got my clothes from my ex-wife.”

Dave Parker, of US 106 (WUSH-FM), and Gail Williams, of the Nansemond River Pilot Club, served respectively as master and mistress of ceremony. The judges were Richard Harrell of Suffolk Forest Products; Janice Holland, a retired employee of Suffolk Public Schools; and Kenny Campbell, last year’s pageant winner and Ms. Relay for Life 2008.

The 2009 Relay for Life will be held May 15 and 16 at Nansemond-Suffolk Academy.

For the contestants, the fight against cancer affected them on a personal level as well.

Potter said he is a cancer survivor, and has been cancer-free for five years. Two of his brothers got cancer, and one died from the disease. Potter said he also lost his father-in-law to cancer.

“I’m excited about contributing to the cause,” Potter said. “I had a great time. I got second-place as a rookie, so I’m proud of that. I gave it my best shot.”

In the end, the third time proved to be the charm for Alvarez, when “Tilly Screams” was crowned Ms. Relay for Life 2009.

“I feel great,” Alvarez said afterwards, “because it’s a good cause. And that is the most important thing, supporting something you can with your whole heart and helping out other people.”

Alvarez said he lost both his mother and his father to cancer.

“Everything I can do to help these people, I will do it,” he said.