OCEAN CITY - Miss Gateway Krysten Moore and Miss Tri-County Nicole Washington are both competing in the Miss New Jersey pageant. They also happen to be best friends.
"I talk to her every day," Moore said.
The two contestants met at a pageant in 2010 when Moore asked Washington's opinion on an outfit. The friendship, they said, was almost instant.
Both women said the bonds they have formed help debunk the stereotype that pageant contestants are busy backstabbing and sabotaging each other.
Instead, Washington likens the experience to joining a family.
"That's one of the best parts, because Miss New Jersey is so small we're like a sisterhood. We're really in each other's corners," she said.
Moore, 23, a native of Mahwah, recently graduated from the University of Massachusetts Amherst with a degree in electrical engineering. She plans to start a job with Raytheon come July.
While she was at school, Washington went to visit, and at other times the pair would routinely text or call throughout the day.
Washington, a graduate of Seton Hall, recalled that when she met Moore she had competed in the pageant once before and had gained some confidence along the way.
"This girl, Krysten, asks me what looks better, and we've been close ever since," she said.
The pair even helped with each other's talent portion of the competition for this year's pageant, where the finals will be Saturday night at the Music Pier.
Moore picked Washington's music for her dance number, "Show Me How You Burlesque," while Washington and her Aunt Sherri Ryan, director of the Miss Middlesex County pageant, helped choreograph Moore's tap-dance routine.
"She said, 'I'm helping you,' and I was perfectly fine with that," Moore said of the help Ryan offered.
Ryan and Washington would send Moore, who was still in Massachusetts, video clips of the dance number and Moore would record herself doing the step and then send clips back via iPhone.
Washington knows Moore's routine so well that she could fill in for her on stage, Moore joked.
And Washington has already decided Moore will be her maid of honor and godmother to her first child when that day comes.
"She's going to be the godmother to my second child," Moore added. "My sister gets the first."
The two take their pageant work seriously, but both know only one of the 23 contestants can win and that shapes their view about the outcome.
"We're going to the do the best we can. But if we don't win, what are we going to walk away with?" Washington asked. "Our friendship."
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