ATLANTIC CITY - The revived Miss'd America Pageant made up for lost time Sunday night, delivering heavy doses of flair and raunch from Boardwalk Hall and needling its more famous counterpart, "that pageant in Vegas."
"My God, there's more people here than watched the (Miss America) pageant on TLC!" exclaimed television personality Carson Kressley, hosting the drag-queen show and nonprofit fundraiser for the first time.
More than 1,200 people packed the building's second-floor ballroom to watch seven contestants show off evening wear, perform talents and answer interview questions.
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Scott Cooper, aka "Michelle Dupree," was the winner, pulling off a Monroesque blonde bombshell look - complete with a 30,000-rhinestone dress - and dedicating his appearance to his adopted infant son.
"Tiny hands are great for bead work," Kressley said.
Miss'd America began in 1993, always the day after its more famous counterpart. When Miss America left Atlantic City in 2005, Miss'd America went on hiatus, but returned this year in a larger venue for the first time.
"The real queens are taking back Boardwalk Hall!" sequin-shirted creator and producer John Schultz said.
Vineland boxing promoter Diane Fischer recalled the smaller Miss'd America pageants at Schultz's Studio Six club in the mid-1990s, and she marveled at Sunday's turnout.
"I think (the pageant) should always have been here. It's part of Atlantic City," Fischer said. "You have to do something in Atlantic City to keep it going, with gambling going into the other states."
Director Bob "Sandy Beach" Hitchen had a message for "that pageant in Vegas": "Please come back to Atlantic City. We'll gladly share the runway with you - because if you think I'm having a parade in (expletive) January, you're crazy."
Language was salty throughout, although the most graphic conversation was probably Hitchens' description of his emergency abdominal surgery last week.
The humor was topical, sexually explicit or both. Tiger Woods, Dina Matos McGreevey, Carrie Prejean, Ann Coulter and Andrew Lloyd Webber were among those roasted in the first 10 minutes alone. As for the contestants, they kept Kressley on his toes.
"Tell us what you're wearing!" Kressley gushed to "Dee LaMour," who replied with no trace of irony, "I'm wearing a silver metallic dress."
LaMour then took off down the runway, the one used in Boardwalk Hall's Miss America shows.
"It probably still has Vanessa Williams' DNA on it," Kressley said.
Philadelphia resident and Margate native James Stewart, 31, said of the pageant: "It's bigger and better. I think the area's gotten more accepting."
Peter Sherwood and David Freiberger, both 42, traveled from Manhattan this weekend out of curiosity. They don't get to drag shows much. Still, "it's not as much of a novelty as it once was," Freiberger said.
Kressley sported a sleek suit. Hitchen wore a series of dresses that required less precise tailoring.
"When you're pretty, you can wear anything," Hitchen said, as yelps came from the crowd. "And when you're ugly, you do."
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