Ladies of the Night

That guy's dress cost how much money?

At nearly 3 a.m., the room was full of glittery crowns, and we were awaiting the scores. The former Illusion winners had donned their crowning bling for the initiation of new royalty.

"They look more like drag popes than drag queens," I exclaimed at the sheer size of the head bling while contestants shifted in their heels and did their best to retain their poise despite the wait.

"They're bigger and brighter than regular crowns," Carlos postulated, "because they're bigger and brighter than regular women."

Tony Gleeson

Made sense.

When the winners were announced, it was anticlimatic. The contestants had waited so long, they'd been instructed to sit down (on the stage!) in their expensive evening wear.

The MC had even complained from her stool behind the podium, "If I keep sitting like this, the head of my dick is gonna fall off."

So there was no huge fanfare when Lonnaii and Marilyn were awarded Miss Congeniality in their categories. There wasn't a lot of to-do when Viva Mirage was named the classic queen. But when Vanessa D'Amour, the demure contestant who had done a Diana Ross number, was crowned as Miss South Florida Illusion 2006, her knees seemed to buckle under the weight of the title. Or was it the size of the crown?

Vanessa, in a shimmery, open-midriff gown, was still reeling from her victory: "Winners never quit, and quitters never win. As long as you strive for what you want and believe in yourself, whatever you want, you can achieve."

The illusion was complete: She'd spoken just like any beauty pageant queen! And like other pageants, the chasing of a dream had paid off in a cash prize and some pageant jewelry. As I congratulated the poised young lady with a kiss, her heavily made-up cheek grazed mine with its razor stubble. And that's all it took to dispel the illusion.

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