NOTE: I want to warn readers that this is the longest and largest post that I have ever done. It has taken me hours to put together. This post contains 73 photos, whittled down from the original 371 taken by my good friend, Lisa of Minnesota. If you want to just skip today because of the amount of photos, I will understand. But you'll be missing some good stuff! So, if you care to stick around, on with the show!
A few weeks ago I received a phone call from one of my friends here on the island. She told me that the second annual LA PERLA MAS BELLA DEL CARIBE drag show beauty contest was going to be held here on Isla Mujeres this year. She was all excited about it and said that contestants would be coming from all over the Yucatan to compete. Would I like to contribute something towards the prize money? Sure. Why the hell not. What I didn't realize at the time was that in exchange for the donation, I got two free admittance tickets and a reserved ring side table. Cool!
I immediately sent an email to my friend Lisa and told her about it. She enthusiastically accepted my invitation to come over for the show and spend the night in the cabana next door. With that, the party was on! Of course, this being Mexico and all, and we being American and all, we believed that the start time of 10 PM was correct. When will we learn? We got there on time but the contest did not start until 12:15 AM!
We found our reserved table and I went to the fishing ponga that is used for a bar to get us drinks. I think though that they did not quite understand our names when we made the donation. This is what was on our table:
And here is why I did not take any pictures that night.
If people had remained in their assigned seats, all would have been fine. I did not have the best seat in the house. Lisa offered to switch but, hey, she has an SLR camera! Let her do all the work!
Getting us drinks was both frustrating and a bit on the hilarious side. There were three little kids manning the boat bar. At least they looked no more than 12 or 13. They spoke no Spanish, only Maya. They understood cervesa which was about all they needed to know. When I asked for a Margarita, they almost went spastic on me. They had to summon the manager who asked me in Spanish what I wanted. He then translated it into Mayan. Of course, NO HAY was the answer I got. It was quite the comedy trying to find something for B to drink since he is allergic to beer. But we did and the party was set. I should say here that this contest was held at a cantina in the middle of the island, far from where tourists go. In the USA we would call it a redneck bar. Tourists and local gringos do not go to this place and are generally not even welcomed if they do. So having half the place full of gringos Friday night was a nerve wracking experience for all the staff. (but boy did they make the money!) Once the waitresses figured out that Gringos tip, and tip well, they were all over us like bees on honey. I never had to go to the bar again all night!
So finally the contest started. It was hosted and MC'd by this year's King of Carnival.
He was helped in his duties by this beauty. I forget what she was Queen of, but she was a real beauty. And a real girl too!
First they outlined the rules. There would be a swimsuit competion, a talent part, then traditional dress, evening gown and finally The Question. (which is always fun!)
Then they introduced various former Queens that were in the house. This is Miss Chinatown 1968. Since she is the boyfriend of somebody I know, I will leave it at that.
Then we have the outgoing LA PERLA MAS BELLA DEL CARIBE. (the most beautiful pearl of the Caribbean) I liked the crown. It had to be that big because this was one big girl!
Then the swimsuits were modeled. We had contestants from Isla Holbox, Isla Mujeres, Playa del Carmen, Cozumel, Tulum and Phillip Carrillo Puerto.
Do I see a bulge?
I think that is supposed to be a smile.
The girls need some help with their wigs. Some were good but most looked like rat's nests that didn't quite fit.
Look at the guy's rapt attention. The audience was very supportive and appreciative the whole night. I would guess that 90% of those in attendance were/are straight. In fact, I was surprised to see none of the regulars from the Mexican gay community here on the island in attendance. I bet drag politics had something to do with it.
Then my favorite part. The talent competition.
See what I mean about the wigs. Make up your mind sweetie. This is not a becoming look at all. Unless you are into dalmations.
Not something I would like to see in a dark alley.
For the most part, if they follow drag etiquette, these girls make their own costumes. Some of them were downright sexy.
I love the movement Lisa caught here.
I really liked this gal. She did a bandera song. Or ranchero. I can never tell the difference. Music from Northern Mexico anyway.
I think was trying to hypnotize us with her boobs.
I forget what song she did. (all girls lip synched of course) I was too mesmerized by the wig.
And the boobs. Lisa, B and I finally decided that she was supposed to have flowers on them. Or maybe cactus.
When she came out, we knew immediately what song she was going to do. Can you guess?
Yup, the Tina Turner version of Proud Mary. I was scared. Really scared. I thought she was going to murder it. I mean, she had no back up dancers! Not one Ikette in side for the big chorus dance part. But she pulled it off. Not the best I've ever seen, but good enough.
Ever wonder what a drag queen wears under her dress? Me neither but we found out anyway.
She did a slow ballad. Never a good choice. She lost the interest of the crowd (and probably the judges) by the second bar of music.
Talent over, we got to see each girl's rendition of a traditional costume. Complete with headdresses that almost touched the ceiling. They definately were taller than the hanging balloons on stage.
Some of them even had wings.
I think she thought that she had us all under her spell.
Yes, those are palm leaves. I would have like to have seen a coconut bra with this!
How many peacocks had to die for this? She did a good job incorporating the wig into the headdress.
Can you tell what that blue part is?
How about now? No? It's a parrot.
Ok, I really felt sorry for this one. I like the huipil, no doubt about that. But it just didn't make it. Not when compared with the outfits worn by the other contestants. Even if we forgive the huipil, the headdress is sad, just sad. One giant flower?!
Ok, my second favorite part. Evening gown! I am constantly amazed by the time, money and effort these girls put into making their gowns. And boy are they fancy!
She always had this look on her face like she just smelled something bad but is going to struggle through it.
Miss Cancun. She's one of the few I remember where she was from.
We think she had butt implants.
Ok. Does it look to anybody else like a petunia exploded all over her?
Most of the gowns featured Balenciaga skirts and laced up the back. They must have had a meeting or something.
With a couple of notable exceptions. This is Ms Isla Mujeres.
Before you oooh and aahh too much, let me tell you something. She has broken an unwritten drag rule here. She bought this dress off the rack! A definate no-no. I think she was living out her dream to someday be somebody's real Bride. I've got news for her. Ain't gonna happen.
Again with that odor only she can smell.
This is my favorite photo of the evening. Lisa, you did good!
Except I swear this is her sister's Quinceanera dress.
One last look. (not pictured: the Quinceanera dress)
After the questions were asked, and some hilarious non-relevant answers were given, the final three were announced. Can you guess the winner?
Ms. Isla Mujeres! What a surprise that the hometown girl, in the hometown bar, with hometown judges and hometown prize money, won. But to be fair, except for the awful choice of a wedding dress, she was good.
We finally got out of there as soon as that crown was placed. It was 3:30 AM by then! The next day we spent on the beach and this was about all the excitement we could stand!