For some people, Labor Day means a last chance to relax, chill out, chow down on some barbecue and enjoy the last days of summer. It means seeing the Jerry Lewis telethon on TV. But for peeps involved in the pageant community, Labor Day means it's time to roll into Chicago for the Miss Continental Pageant. It's one I've always wanted to attend for years, and this year's pageant was held September 2 and 3 in Chicago's Park West Theatre.
The winner was Necole Luv Dupree. The 2007-2008 first alternate was Armani, with Alexis Gabrielle Sherrington as second alternate. Necole has a long list of pageant titles to her credit and was first alternate in last year's Miss Continental Pageant.
The Miss Continental Pageant is considered the creme de la creme of the transgender pageant world. It got its start in 1980, when Jim Flint, the owner of Chicago's Baton Show Lounge organized a pageant for female illusionists who couldn't compete in the Miss Gay USofA or Miss Gay America systems because they banned the use of female hormones, silicone injections below the neck or breast implants. Ironically, its first winner, Chilli Pepper was a classic drag artist, but over time transwomen came to dominate this system.
Unlike the mainstream Miss Universe or Miss America systems, it didn't take sistahs long to make their marks in this pageant world. In 1982 Tiffany Arieagus became the first African-American winner of the Miss Continental title. In fact, Necole is the ninth sistah to win the Miss Continental pageant and the third in a row since 2005-06. Other African-American winners have been Lakeisha Lucky, Cezanne, Paris Frantz, Tasha Long, Tommie Ross, Domanique Shappelle, and last year's winner Victoria LePaige, the first Chicago native to win the title.
Twenty-seven years later, the pageant has grown into a system that conducts preliminary contests across the United States, in Canada (Toronto) and Puerto Rico (San Juan). The Miss Continental title is considered a crowning achievement for anyone who's in the pageant world. Some legendary names have won this title that include my fellow Texan Erica Andrews, fellow Houstonian Tommie Ross and Domanique Shappelle.
So all hail the new queen of the Miss Continental world for 2007-08, Necole Love Dupree.