ATLANTIC CITY, New Jersey — Fifi Dubois sashayed down the runway of the Music Box stage at Borgata Resort Casino and Spa Saturday night, having just won Miss'd America, the drag queen pageant.
The bell-curved crown sat atop Dubois' head at the end of the night, threatening to fall off her golden brown hair.
It's really her hair; she bought it after all, as New York City's Dubois (aka James Mullady) told the receptive crowd.
Being crowned Miss'd America, an ambassador not only for the LGBT community but also of Atlantic City, was her No. 1 wish, as Dubois stated in her question-and-answer segment with host Carson Kressley.
Miss'd America's executive producer and founding member of the Greater Atlantic City GLBT Alliance, Rich Helfant, told The Press of Atlantic City (http://bit.ly/1iUwnyl) before the event that organizers wanted sex appeal and entertainment, especially with the Borgata as its new venue. The contestants, hailing from around the country, along with the Miss'd America dancers, did just that.
Dubois was one of nine Miss'd America contestants, vying for the title formerly held by Honey Davenport.
The competition operates much like its older sister event, the Miss America pageant. Each contestant showed off their individual talents, wowed in swimwear and evening gowns, with the top 5 answering interview questions.
That first-place theme ran through the evening for Dubois; that was the number she drew to perform in each category.
Kressley, of "Queer Eye for the Straight Guy" fame, said multiple times throughout the night this year's pool of contestants were the best in history. He injected the night with topical humor, coming out to start the show in a Pope-like cape, referencing the papal visit to Philadelphia over the weekend.
He continued with Kentucky county clerk Kim Davis shout-outs, jokes about "Doing AC" in a dirtier-than-intended way outside of the popular marketing phrase.
"Usually at least one person sucks, but they're all awesome," he said about the contestants. "You have a tough job tonight," he told the ten judges for the night.
All the competitors displayed their talents more than any kind of gimmick: Alexis Michelle and Tina Burner channeled Broadway stars, with Burner making at least four costume changes in minutes to tunes like "42nd Street"; Vita Summers and Sapphira Cristal donned headset microphones and sang, instead of lip-synching.
Dubois, like Pattaya Hart and Sandra Onassis Lopez, went with dance-heavy performances. Such a show played to Dubois' strength as a professional dancer and ballerina.
Perhaps one of the most moving tributes of the night came from Margeaux Powell of Massachusetts. While a slideshow of LGBT advocates flashed behind her, Powell lip-synched to Christina Perri's "Human." The crowd of about 900 was hushed through the performance until the last note, when many attendees stood in an ovation to Powell.
"We need to remember our history," she said.
Along the same lines, a lifetime achievement award was given to judge Mark Segal, publisher of the Philadelphia Gay News and longtime LGBT activist.
"I realized black people were fighting for their rights, Latino people were fighting for their rights, women were fighting for their rights," said Segal, of his involvement in the Stonewall demonstrations of 1969. "We needed to fight for our rights."
Information from: The Press of Atlantic City (N.J.), http://www.pressofatlanticcity.com