Magazine article The Advocate (The national gay & lesbian newsmagazine)

The Battle for the Tiara

Magazine article The Advocate (The national gay & lesbian newsmagazine)

The Battle for the Tiara

Article excerpt

L.A.'s famed, fabulous dragfest turned fund-raiser has fired its last rhinestone, Thank God for cameras

Not just a renowned drag-queen contest, the grassroots Battle for the Tiara has, in its last six years, rallied to raise $500,000 for the Los Angeles organization Aid for AIDS. Last year L.A.'s 2,200-seat Wiltern Theatre was filled to capacity when the event celebrated its tenth--and final--year with nine wildly dressed contestants vying for the rhinestone-studded head topper. The extravaganza had grown so fashionable, celebrities such as Seinfeld's Julia Louis-Dreyfus, Mitchell Anderson, and Opposite of Sex star Christina Ricci clamored to chime in as judges.

Pretty impressive considering this battle started with less than a bang in 1989. "My friends and I were sitting around playing cards in my sleazy little rent-control apartment one Friday night," recalls founder Alexis Pittman, a Beverly Hills hairdresser. "Someone said that the Miss America Pageant was on the next night, and someone else suggested we should all sit around in gowns and watch it. And then we decided, How about [wearing] bathing suits as well, and we'll make it a real contest?"

The evening proved to be such a bitchy hit that it became an annual event. By the third year the beauty-pageant spoof was forced to move to a bigger living room to accommodate the growing number of fans. Still, there were humbling moments. Pittman's neighbor Patrick Rush, a casting director, served as emcee because he was the only one with a tuxedo, and "color commentator" Dalton Robertson, an interior designer, put out a bucket with a DONATIONS FOR AIDS sign. The fund-raiser was born.

In an era when every city has activist fund-raisers thinly gowned in drag themes and even more cross-dressing extravaganzas posing as benefits, the Battle was an awkward ingenue in high heels. …

Search by... Author
Show... All Results Primary Sources Peer-reviewed

Oops!

An unknown error has occurred. Please click the button below to reload the page. If the problem persists, please try again in a little while.