There she is, Miss America…

Posted on January 15, 2011


This evening, the Miss America Pageant is prepared to stomp dance on our faces once again, with its laminated toothy smiles and stiletto heels.  Oh whoops, am I being too hard on this tattered piece of Americana?  You bet.  I grew up with Miss America, and I have watched her slide from pure goodness and beauty into a hellhole of mascaraed kitsch.

Let me take you back to the Good Old Days, when the first successful political draft of the 20th century resulted in the election of a President whose name actually rhymed with “like,” and “Sixteen Tons” was a popular song, and not the weight of the average American family.  1957, to be exact.  Atlantic City in 1957, to be even more exact.  The Atlantic City Boardwalk sometime after Labor Day in September 1957 to be so exact as to be able to perform laser surgery with it.

The Atlantic City Convention Center on that weekend was the epicenter of the known world.  All along the boardwalk in front of the Convention Center, the humongous portable searchlights sent zillion watt beams into the sky.  Had a plane flown overhead, it would have thought it was entering heaven, which would have been ironic because the pilot would have been blinded and the plane would have crashed.  As we did every year, my mom and I sat glued in front of the TV in hour house in Philly, knowing that what we were watching was happening a mere 1 hour and 15 minutes away. For about eight years, from 1954 to 1962, watching the Miss America Pageant was the closest brush this blue collar Jewish (yes,  they do exist.  This isn’t a contradiction in terms) kid came to glamor and sophistication.

When my life and the Miss America Pageant did finally part ways, I became unaware of anything that was happening concerning the pageant, but a few things over the years did penetrate my consciousness.  In 1968 on the Atlantic City boardwalk, a group of feminists crowned a live sheep “Miss America,” and threw various beauty accoutrements, such as bras, into a trash can.  Contrary to popular myth, no bras were burned, but the sheep requested that she be able to keep the crown.

In 1979, Bert Parks, a cyborg created to MC the Miss America Pageant for eternity, was dumped.  In 1984, Vanessa Williams was forced to give up her crown because nude photos of her became public (incredibly enough, without the aid of uTube, Twitter or the E channel.)  In 2005, the pageant was dropped from ABC, packed up the World’s Largest Collection of Sequins and false eye lashes, and left Atlantic City for good.  In 2006 it found a new home on the Las Vegas strip, complete with skin tight dresses, surgically-enhanced cleavage, and strange talent segments.

Scholarships continue to be the big win of the pageant.  Most of the contestants are college graduates or close to getting their degrees. Here is the proof.  The following is a list of quotes that previous Miss America contestants have made.

“The world would be a better place if all blind people could see.”

“I would wish to meet Tom Hanks. Or did you mean a dead person?”

“No, I don’t think the Miss America Pageant denigrates women.  Well…maybe the ugly ones…”

“My best friend is my dog Robbie.  He is dead.  And I just KNOW he’s here tonight.”

“I have always admired you Mr Parker.  Especially your drive to get dogs neutral.”

“I’m studying to be an anchorman on the local news.  As you might well imagine, it’s a challengement.”

I can well imagine.  Although challengements are necessary for personal potentialment and self-knowledgement.  Just ask Robbie.