By Wayne Harada
Hawaii’s most flamboyant pageant, where boys dress as girls, unfolds at 7 p.m. Saturday (June 23) at the Hawaii Convention Center’s Kalakaua Ballroom.
It’s the most astonishing event of its kind, noted for extravagant costumes (couture cocktail to Las Vegas showroom) and phenomenal performances (live singing and lip-syncing). It outshines most traditional all-women pageants.
Ten men, dressed as women, will parade, primp and strut, seeking the title of Universal ShowQueen, now in its 29th season. The Boy Beautiful phenom, reflecting the ultimate in the art of female impersonation, continues to attract global interest.
The finalists — five from Hawaii, five from the Mainland, Asia and Mexico — will try to outperform and outdo each other in a wave of inventive, extreme and edgy couture cocktail, evening gown, and Las Vegas Showgirl costumes. Talent often makes the difference, since only few sing live, while most lip-synch to pop hits.
The evening, with $10,000 in prizes, is a lot more glamorous and glitzy than conventional contests like Miss Universe or Miss America because of the transvestite twist. Not surprisingly, a sell-out crowd of 1,500 is anticipated.
It’s equally outrageously chic and often camp, and some competitors look convincingly like groomed and glamorous women.
I know; I judged last year’s event, when Dee Ranged (Robert Hopper took the honors, fueled by her dual personalities production: alternately singing like a he and a she, with split-down-the-middle make-up, costume and demeanor.
This year’s attraction will likely feature dances and reenactments of Lady Gaga and Rihanna.
Of special note: Brandy Lee, one of the Islands’ enduring transvestite talents from the Glades era, will sing live as one of the 10 finalists. When most seniors have retired their showgirl gear, Brandy goes on and on and on.
There will be some stroll down memory lane, too. Kelly Ray, the 1992 ShowQueen winner known for her Diana Ross impersonation, will mark the 20th anniversary of her win with a guest appearance. Another veteran, Yoshiko Oshiro, who was the1987 ShowQueen, will celebrate the 25th anniversary of her victory with a performance.
Alakai’i, Maui’s popular deejay with a sense of humor befitting the ShowQueen vibe, should be as much of a riot as the contestants. Kawika Trask will guest-perform and Al Waterson will be the evening’s announcer.
Judges will be Kenny Choi, KITV news anchor; Edgy Lee, film producer; Tunei Tully, choreographer; Presten Meneses, Hawaii-born make-up artist for Janet Jackson; Angela Laprete, a producer with CBS-TV’s “Hawaii Five-0”; Brandie Cazimero, Miss Hawaii USA; and Jordan Segundo, entertainer who was the first Hawaii contestant on Fox’s “American Idol.”
Bonus: some members of the audience also will be decked out in feathery or rhinestoned finery, so not all action happens on stage.
29TH ANNUAL SHOWQUEEN PAGEANT
7 p.m. Saturday June 23; doors open at 6 p.m.
Hawaii Convention Center’s Kalakaua Ballroom
$40 and $60, at the door