With enormous hair, tons of attitude and a fox tail on the back of her over-the-top swimsuit, Sabel Scities was the standout queen who easily walked away with the Miss’d America 2012 crown.
“I always loved to sing, I’ve been dancing my whole life … but there was a huge part of my personality that was hiding,” says Scities, also known as Timothy Byars, 26. “It’s been eight years since I started doing drag, and now it’s all really coming together.”
For Byers, who works as a Long Island bartender when he’s not competing, pageants, he says, bring out the best in him.
“It’s a test for yourself,” Byars says. “To see how much you can learn and how far you can push yourself.”
Now, after a whirlwind year-and-a-half-long reign (extended due to the pageant’s new date), Byars is preparing to pass on the crown to a new queen, as the infamous counterpart to the Miss America Pageant — the Miss’d America Pageant — returns to Atlantic City this weekend.
The 2013 competition — this year with a circus theme — will come to the House of Blues at Showboat Casino-Hotel 8 p.m. Saturday, Sept. 21. The Greater Atlantic City Gay Lesbian Bisexual Transgender (GLBT) Alliance and the Schultz-Hill Scholarship Foundation present the competition, a hilarious spoof on the Miss America Pageant that always features some of the most talented drag queens around.
“The theme for the show this year is very similar to cirque — with people dangling from riggings and flying back and forth,” says Larry Sieg, president of the Greater Atlantic City GLBT Alliance. “The production team is keeping a lot of that under wraps and not giving away too much. I just know there will be lots of feathers and lots of fabric and lots of flying.”
The Miss’d America Pageant ran from 1994 to 2005 before taking a five-year hiatus once the Miss America Pageant left Atlantic City. The re-booted drag pageant returned in 2010 and has continued ever since.
Proceeds from the 2013 Miss’d America Pageant will be equally divided between the Greater Atlantic City GLBT Alliance and the Schultz-Hill Scholarship Foundation, and then split among various charities. Since its inception, the pageant has donated more than $200,000.
Michelle Visage, best known as a judge on the LOGO Network hit series “Drag Race” featuring RuPaul, will host this year’s pageant.
The evening will also feature an appearance and performance from singer CeCe Peniston, a former beauty queen best known for her 1990s club hit “Finally.”
For Byers, his year as Miss’d America was much more than he had hoped for, he says.
“I’ve become more confident,” Byars says. “I get to do a lot of Atlantic City conferences now — (my appearance) is usually something fun to break the ice, to break the tension. There’s something about a drag queen that automatically puts someone at ease. They want to have a good time around her. I felt like a real Miss America and not just a drag queen version.”
A contestant search for this year’s pageant was conducted throughout the region, including New Jersey, New York, Washington D.C., Baltimore, Maryland, Pennsylvania and Delaware. Contestants competing for the Miss’d America title will be judged in swimsuit, talent and evening gown categories and must complete a judges’ interview.
Along with the crown, the 2013 Miss’d America winner will receive cash and prizes and must be available for multiple appearances throughout her reigning year. Byars, as Sabel Scities, will crown this year’s winner and take to the stage for a farewell performance.
“I’m really excited to see who takes (the crown),” Byars says. “There’s something different from every contestant. I’m anxious to teach whoever wins the ropes, just like Kitty (Hiccups, Miss’d America 2011) did with me. She was so great with me.”
Immediately following the Miss’d America crowning, all ticket holders will receive complimentary entry into the afterparty at the Club Harlem Ballroom and Foundation Room, just adjacent to the House of Blues Music Hall.
“Atlantic City is really going through an amazing rebirth right now,” Byars says. “Something like this is a great opportunity for people to come out, have fun and see something they don’t normally get to see. It’s a wonderful place. I’ve spent a lot of time there over this past year, and everyone has been so great to me. I’m really grateful.”