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Thread: Child beauty pageants: fun or fiendish?

  1. #2896
    Elite Member Grimmlok's Avatar
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    it wont let me post
    I am from the American CIA and I have a radio in my head. I am going to kill you.

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    Elite Member McJag's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by cheetopia View Post
    A board even nastier than the Pink Board but at least some of the posters have at least a passing acquaintance with grammar and spelling..
    I loved the one where Betty "helped someone with a series illness"!
    Several people on here have a series illness!
    I didn't start out to collect diamonds, but somehow they just kept piling up.-Mae West

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    Hey, at least she spelled 'illness' right. Sometimes on the Pink Board I need a Universal Translator Edition to figure out what the poster is trying to say.

    Do you think the next time I need to make an excuse to blow off work I can get away with saying I have a series illness? Like American Idol Fevah?

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    OMG! its not pink! my eyes are saved!

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    Quote Originally Posted by cheetopia View Post
    A board even nastier than the Pink Board but at least some of the posters have at least a passing acquaintance with grammar and spelling..
    You've got to be kidding me.

    That is some nasty mud slinging!
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    Elite Member McJag's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by cheetopia View Post
    Do you think the next time I need to make an excuse to blow off work I can get away with saying I have a series illness? Like American Idol Fevah?
    Or Pageant Pneumonia or even the dreaded Fanny Overhang Flu.
    I didn't start out to collect diamonds, but somehow they just kept piling up.-Mae West

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    Elite Member Just Kill Me's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by cheetopia View Post
    A board even nastier than the Pink Board but at least some of the posters have at least a passing acquaintance with grammar and spelling..
    Wow I'm not blind but omfg those are some seriously mental bitches.

    Despite the "neutral" color scheme a brief attempt at reading and making sense of it brought on a nauseated headachey feeling.
    KILLING ME WON'T BRING BACK YOUR GOD DAMNED HONEY!!!!!!!!!!

    Come on, let's have lots of drinks.

    Fuck you all, I'm going viral.

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    Saw a thing about Britney Spears on VH1 this afternoon and they said that Britney is a former pageant girl, had ugly pinata diarrhea pictures and all. Family bankrupted, etc, typical pageant family.

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    ^ yep and her mom whored herself out to music producers in order to score britney (who was ugly and untalented) a record deal. worked. moms set for life now; at the cost of 2 normal daughters. alcoholic father.

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    I actually remember Britanny as a child winning on Star Search and she had an amazing voice. That was just before the Mickey Mouse club, so she was maybe around nine years old? I had never heard she was in pageants, but I know Justine Timberlake was.

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    The series had photos and video of Britney doing the pageant circuit pre Star Search. She wasn't exactly the prettiest of girls either.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Rica View Post
    Where's my christmas tree
    Wow, I haven't been on here for awhile, glad to see this is still an active subject.

    The Christmas tree thing.....did you see that on Wife Swap? This couple keeps their tree up all year and gives their daughter a present every day. The mom does all her homework so the daughter can focus on "sparkling"

    Back about 3 1/2 years ago my daughter did a national pageant that this family (Gustafarro)was at. They got a directors award for being the "best pageant parents". Their daughter got a really high title too, but can't remember. They aren't too friendly.

    My daughter had nothing but positive experiences because we never went overboard and did it as a hobby. (I'm still writing the book). We don't compete on that level anymore (she did the county fair pageant, she enjoys them and they focus on public speaking). When they started going completely overboard with the photos, and the outfits, it just sickened us. It's really sick to put little kids in skimpy bikinis and parade around on stage. The prices for these outfits are ridiculous. The way these pageants have evolved is sickening. Alot of people that we knew that did them (mostly hobby, for fun, and could afford it) have gotten out of the circuit now because it's just gone too far. I've seen it all.............

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    OMNG guys!!!!! how could we have missed this momentus event!

    Today it finally (would have) happened!



    Wahh wahh wahh WAHHHHHH

    *runs*
    I am from the American CIA and I have a radio in my head. I am going to kill you.

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    Eyewitness
    Queen of Tots

    Gay men are the unsung heroes of the child beauty pageant circuit

    By Lee Bailey
    PAGE 1 / 6


    Swan Brooner, featured in the controversial documentary Living Dolls: The Making of a Child Beauty Queen
    "You live in a world of excess where more is more and less is much less."
    —Pet Shop Boys, "Flamboyant"
    From the outside, the Clarion in Louisville, Kentucky, seems like any other chain hotel in a midsize Southern city: The parking lot, dotted with minivans, abuts a Dairy Queen Grill & Chill restaurant on one side and a Hummer dealership on the other. But for a few days each year, the Clarion's doors are a portal to another world, that of the Enchanting Stars National.
    Enchanting Stars is a children's beauty contest—part of a storied and robust Southern tradition incomprehensible to outsiders, who have called kiddie pageants everything from weirdly inappropriate to downright perverse.
    For some gay Southern men, child pageantry has offered them a livelihood, acceptance, and a venue in which to practice their considerable talents. It has also brought them excessive amounts of scornAfter years of media scrutiny, pageant people are press shy in the extreme. Parents have been known to go berserk at the sight of alien cameras, and ballroom doors like those at the Clarion are checkpoints impassable to all but registered contestants and their families. It is, of course, a form of show business, but unlike most in entertainment, pageant professionals fight their flashbulb-seeking impulses and tend to shun publicity. And though they are the most influential figures in this rarefied world of spray-tanned toddlers and sequined seven-year-olds, gay men are far and away pageantry's most elusive breed.
    When veterans of the pageant process talk about its merits, they emphasize the gains to the young girls who compete: poise, confidence, and sociability are just some of the many dividends (not to mention wicked expertise with hair curlers and eyelash glue). But some gay Southern men have benefited in equal measure from child pageantry: It has offered them a livelihood, acceptance, and a venue in which to practice their considerable talents. It has also brought them excessive amounts of scorn.
    The men of the Southern pageant world live out loud, as I found when I first tried to contact them. Nashville resident and emcee extraordinaire Tim Whitmer (also known as the Voice of Pageants) doesn't have voice mail—at least that's not what he calls it. "You've reached Tim's hotline!" he exclaims on his phone's message, outgoing in more ways than one. Michael Butler, one of the circuit's most sought-after makeup artists, doesn't even speak on his machine in Alabama; instead, an extended cut from Marvin Gaye's "Let's Get It On" plays before the beep.
    And callers are encouraged to "Have a winning day!" when they reach the voice mail of Florida's Michael Galanes, pageantry's hardest-working multihyphenate. (He coaches more than 300 title-seekers, produces a full slate of contests throughout the country, and also appears a "den mother" on MTV's Making the Band.)


    PAGE 2 / 6


    GLITTER AND BE GAY In Living Dolls, an aspiring pageant girl receives a lesson from her coach
    While flamboyance is fundamental to these men's personalities and professions, it has also landed them in hot water in the past. Most of the men contacted for this story were extremely reluctant to speak with me. Only a handful submitted to formal interviews. Others simply said no, while some never returned my calls. Enlightenment came upon viewing two television specials—the fallout from which seems to have sent the men of Southern pageantry into the shadows. VH1's 2005 feature Little Beauties: The Ultimate Kiddie Queen Showdown was made with the cooperation of both Tim Whitmer and Michael Booth, a makeup artist and highly respected pageant director. The program shows Whitmer doing his stage routine, enthusiastically announcing little girls as they prance down the catwalk for judges. ("Kynnedy's favorite food is pizza Hot Pockets! Her ambition is to be a cheerleader!") He also narrated the special.
    Whitmer, an exceedingly polite veteran of the U.S. Air Force, was the most resistant to my invitation to participate in this story. He declined repeated requests for interviews, saying that he was exhausted by the blowback from previous media exposure. "I'm tired of receiving hate mail," he said, adding that he has had to shut down his website so as to discourage detractors from haranguing him online. He was clearly burned by the VH1 special; perhaps his narration made him seem all the more complicit in what many viewers considered the exploitation of children.

    BETTER LIVING THROUGH PAGEANTRY Michael Galanes
    Though Little Beauties presented some problems for the men featured, its tone is frothy compared to the downright damning Living Dolls: The Making of a Child Beauty Queen. Aired in 2001, the HBO documentary scored an Emmy for its portrayal of a pushy pageant mom and the over-the-top gay couple she tapped to coach her four-year-old to queendom. The two men, Michael Butler (he of "Let's Get It On") and Shane King, are depicted as adamant Svengalis to their young protégées, who include Butler's own daughter. (The whereabouts or role of her biological mother are never specified.) King, a master of stage presence and what can only be called hair sculpture, hoots and hollers for his clients at competitions. "Git it gurl!" he shouts in a deep-fried twang.

    Living Dolls was one of the most talked-about documentaries ever shown on HBO, and while it clearly depicts Butler and King's genuine affections for the girls they coach, America made up its mind: These men were bad news. Online bulletin boards condemned them and the parents who hired them. Gay newsweekly the Advocate maintained that the film "confirms one's worst fears about this most glamorous form of child abuse." Once again, it seemed that any publicity was bad publicity for pageant professionals.


    PAGE 3 / 6



    Galanes, the Floridian pageant mogul and self-styled "King of Queens," feels that almost all of the media exposure that child pageants have received has been unfair. "People see a four-year-old child in excessive hair and makeup and immediately conclude that that's wrong," he explains. "But that's a very shallow interpretation. These girls grow, become more articulate, make friends, and come out of their shy shells." Addressing what is the long-lived elephant in the room in any serious conversation about pageants—the 1996 murder of JonBenét Ramsey—Galanes makes a point: "If JonBenét had been a Brownie, would the Brownies have gotten all the bad press that pageants did?"
    Casting aspersions on child pageants and the adults who make a living from them is shooting fish in a barrel. It is so easy that it has become boring—and it is indeed in many ways unfairUltimately, casting aspersions on child pageants and the adults who make a living from them is shooting fish in a barrel. It is so easy that it has become boring—and it is indeed in many ways unfair. As alien as they may seem to coastal sophisticates—the same people who look down their noses at NASCAR and Billy Ray Cyrus—children's pageants have served an important role in the lives of Southerners of a certain class, people whom Los Angeles television producers and New York journalists tend to mock. "There are a lot of tacky redneck people in this business," admits Michael Booth, the makeup artist. But in truth, many of the participants have been short of educational opportunities, and also have had a hard time finding another venue in which their supersized personalities are accepted.

    I meet Ray Smith at the Louisville Clarion, where several dozen girls are competing for $15,000 in prize money offered by the Enchanting Stars pageant. We speak in my hotel room, discussing the pageant world above the din of children squealing and stampeding in the hallway outside. It is the night before competition, and excitement is in the air.

    Smith, 41, has judged children's pageants in Kentucky, West Virginia, and Indiana for close to a decade, and was briefly featured in the VH1 special. With a mustache—and without industry-standard blond highlights—he is somewhat more sedate in appearance than his colleagues in pageantry, perhaps because his role is not to promote or glamorize, but instead to evaluate.
    When Smith was 19 years old, he was a high school dropout with few prospects, having grown up the youngest of four in Portland, a Louisville neighborhood that was very much on the wrong side of the tracks. "It was no place for a young gay man," he recalls.
    His mother worked a minimum wage job to support her children, and his father was out of the picture. Through a friend's lesbian sister, Smith heard that a Louisville gay bar, the Downtowner, was searching for a male performer to complement its revue of female impersonators. "I was interested, considering that my family was pretty destitute and I had no education," he recalls. "I thought, Well, I can sing. That is one thing I can do." For two years Smith belted out numbers on stage, his act climaxing in a killer George Michael impersonation.


    PAGE 4 / 6

    KING OF QUEENS Female impersonator Kelly King
    Though he never performed in drag, Smith learned a lot from the cross-dressing chanteuses with whom he spent hours backstage. One of them was Kelly King, "the most famous female impersonator in the history of Louisville, Kentucky," Smith drawls, momentarily lost in reverie. King always raked in more cash than any of the other performers, including Smith. Her secret? She arrived at work in drag—customers never saw the man she was, even as she came through the front door. "I think we all have a little Kelly in us," Smith says. "As a child growing up in poverty, I didn't want people to see the real me. I was always performing in some way."
    'No matter how much you think people don't know, they do.' says Smith. 'I mean, if you're involved with hair and nails and makeup and pumps, then most likely—yeah'In addition to a lifelong mate—he met his partner of 22 years backstage at a drag show—Smith accrued some unique credentials. It was his background in performance, along with a beauty school certification, that led him to judge at pageants. Organizers were impressed by his background: "If a man can do something in a dress, I seen it," he says with an air of savvy. "I seen 'em do just about everything except shit fire."

    Smith sees some parallels between drag and pageantry, and not just because of the kabuki maquillage common to both realms. "They both have a sort of particular history here in Kentucky," he says, noting that the legacy of pageants in the area is rivaled by Louisville's surprisingly long history as a capital of female impersonation. (It is home to Entertainer of the Year, a longstanding national competition for drag queens.)
    Over the years, Smith has adapted the tenets of quality drag to formulate three criteria for judging the young girls he sees on stage: "Be original, show true confidence—'cause anybody can fake confidence—and be prepared."
    Through this lens, Smith's belief that pageants are, on balance, beneficial experiences for young girls seems plausible. "The world is competitive, and parents want their kids to be able to get by without them," he explains. "That can be done through giving them the best possible education or by straightening their teeth with braces, and I think pageants are just another way to help them get an edge in life."

    As for overbearing stage mothers, Smith says they get rooted out of the system more often than not. "I came up in a world where I needed to know what you're about the minute I met you," he says. "Whether you were gonna stab me, kill me, or give me a piece of bread to eat. So I'm pretty good at telling whether a parent is pushing a kid to do something she doesn't want to do. And the ones that are being forced? They don't come back."
    Though Smith makes no secret about his sexuality, he says that there are some men in the pageant world who are uncomfortable discussing the issue. "It's that old fear that some Southern homosexuals have. 'It's okay to be who I am, but I'm not going to come out and admit it.' It's a kind of jail you build for yourself. No matter how much you think people don't know, they do. I mean, if you're involved with hair and nails and makeup and pumps, then most likely—yeah."
    Indeed, the gay men of the Southern pageant circuit have faced every challenge in the playbook, from being closeted soldiers to raising a child "with two daddies," as Michael Booth and his former partner did. One prominent makeup artist is even rumored to be undergoing gender reassignment.


    PAGE 5 / 6


    If there's any discomfort around issues of sexual preference, it hasn't hampered gay men's success in pageants. "It's a complete nonissue," Michael Galanes says when asked about his orientation and his profession.
    Galanes is quite simply a force of nature. One senses that he obliterates with sheer will whatever obstacles fall in his path. He is equal parts Tracy Flick, Ryan Seacrest, and Nomi Malone. His first experience in pageantry came as a teenager, when he helped girls from his high school compete for the crown offered by the winter carnival in his native Brattleboro, Vermont. Some years later, he saw an advertisement for the Miss Vermont USA pageant. "I couldn't enter myself, of course, so I found a friend who I thought would do it," Galanes recalls. "I coached her, and she won."
    Galanes says he has 'worked with pageants in every state of this great country of ours, and my sexual orientation never comes up. That is not a factor in my mission to facilitate the dreams of young ladies'More than any other subject of this story, Galanes, 37, lives and breathes pageantry. His feelings about the industry have coalesced into a philosophy of what he calls "the journey." Everyone is in on "the journey"—contestants, parents, coaches, hairstylists, seamstresses, makeup artists, and photographers. His manner of speaking, even on the phone, is grandiose and highly formulated. Not a second lapsed after I asked him a question before he started a polished, self-promoting response stuffed with 10-cent words. Exempli gratia: "I've just started an entirely new national pageant, in every state, qualifying 10 young ladies to compete for the respected and coveted titles of America's Perfect Teen and Miss." Children aren't just children—in Galanes-speak they are lionized as "children, the pride of the present and hope for the future."

    If he talks like a beauty contestant in the interview portion, it's because he himself has been there. Galanes used to compete in pageants for men, and once represented Florida in the contest for Mr. Gay All American. He is completely at ease with his sexual identity and says that he has "worked with pageants in every state of this great country of ours, and my sexual orientation never comes up. That is not a factor in my mission to facilitate the dreams of young ladies."
    Galanes has also watched as several children of same-sex couples have successfully competed in pageants. He says that families of all compositions have been welcomed into pageantry. "I think that pageants can be a forum for people from all walks of life, where they can come together in pursuit of a common goal: to benefit young ladies and to work in the service of the community. I am honored and humbled to be part of that journey."


    PAGE 6 / 6


    Sometimes the most telling indicator of how gay men are accepted is what straight men have to say about them in private. At the Clarion in Louisville, late the night before Enchanting Stars, I knock on the door of Jason Zarifis, who had previously identified himself to me as "the only straight guy—married with children—in this business." Zarifis is a rising young emcee, one of the few to give Tim Whitmer serious competition. (The two are friendly, Zarifis says, and indicates that there is plenty of work for both.)
    The two straight men of the Southern pageant world are more than happy to chat about their gay brethren. 'The hair and makeup guys? They're all homosexual, and they're very, very good at what they do,' says oneZarifis' room is smoky, his suitcase half unpacked and remnants of room service strewn about the coffee table. "I'm usually super-neat," he says apologetically. At 37, Zarifis has the handsome face of an Abercrombie & Fitch model, albeit a bit overgrown, and overfed: After polishing off some fried cheese and soda, he says he's packing on pounds in order to audition for the Ultimate Fighting Champion competition. But his blond tips and puka shell necklace affect a certain youthfulness that has helped make him a popular choice for pageant directors.
    The first of them was Michael Galanes, whom Zarifis credits with his discovery. Jason Z, as he's known onstage, has a distinct country and western orientation, and often chooses country numbers for his shows. (His mobile phone's ringtone is Lonestar's "I'm Already There.")
    Visiting the emcee's room at the same time is Robert Lester. Zarifis' claim to being the business' only heterosexual notwithstanding, Lester is as straight as they come, a genuine good old boy, Vietnam veteran, and former insurance salesman from Brandon, Mississippi. He travels the pageant circuit almost every weekend as a sought-after audio technician and videographer. I had asked Lester earlier in the day about the role of gays in pageants. His face fell, and he said only, "No comment." He mumbled something about political correctness, leaving me with the distinct feeling that he disapproved of the gay proclivities of his pageant peers, and that he knew little about their lives.
    In that first impression, I was completely wrong. Once Zarifis starts talking about the issue, Lester pipes in repeatedly. Whereas many of the gay men I had sought for interviews never talked, the two straight men of the Southern pageant world are more than happy to chat about their gay brethren.
    "The hair and makeup guys? They're all homosexual, and they're very, very good at what they do," Zarifis says.
    "If you're gay and in pageants, it doesn't matter," Lester adds. "It's kind of like Hollywood. Sexuality is very accepted in this business. Of course, I don't know any gay people outside of work, because I don't go where they are."
    "What matters to the parents and all the other people in pageants is that these guys are fantastic at what they do, and they really and truly do love the kids," the emcee says.
    Half an hour later, Lester and I are leaning against the wall, as he pulls on a cigarette. Unbidden, he warmly reminisces about the gay men in the business. "One time, oh, about 10 years ago, there was this Halloween deal," he recalls, chuckling. "All those guys dressed up and came out in full drag at a party. Dang, I couldn't believe it. I just looked at them and thought, My God. You're beautiful."

    08/06/08 11:54 AM
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    Elite Member Grimmlok's Avatar
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    As for overbearing stage mothers, Smith says they get rooted out of the system more often than not. "I came up in a world where I needed to know what you're about the minute I met you," he says. "Whether you were gonna stab me, kill me, or give me a piece of bread to eat. So I'm pretty good at telling whether a parent is pushing a kid to do something she doesn't want to do. And the ones that are being forced? They don't come back."
    What a crock

    and gay men are only accepted by these bitches if they can get their little prostitot to win.. otherwise, you've seen the mouths on these cows.. faggot this, faggot that, going to hell, jesus hates you, etc.
    I am from the American CIA and I have a radio in my head. I am going to kill you.

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