In 1920s New York, actress Dorothy MacKellar was offered the lead part in a play depicting a marriage between a white woman and a black man – a partnership that was illegal at the time.
“She is said to have accepted the role on the condition that a white actor and burnt cork play opposite her. When she was told that it was intended to have a real Negro fill the bill, she retired without more ado.”
Around the same time the “Green Twigs“, a group of socially prominent middle class ladies, set out to choose a queen for a community fiesta via a popularity ballot. Early on, the tally showed 17 year old honour student Miss Dorothy Derrick was pulling ahead. This was a cause of great consternation as Miss Derrick was black.
Dorothy Dandridge NOT Dorothy Derrick
After another day of voting she had fallen to third place, having been overtaken by a Miss Violet Meyer. The Green Twigs were still not pleased as Miss Meyer was a Jew. The contest was abruptly cancelled.
Ultra Violet NOT Violet Meyer
Fast forward to the beauty contests of the 1950s. The catholic church was in an uproar about them and threatened to expel college students who participated.
Mrs Edward Belitz, whose daughter Mary Jean withdrew from the Miss Nebraska competition because her education was jeopardised said “I’m just sick. I’ve trained her so long.”
But in New Mexico, 20 year old Sue Ingersoll elected to remain in the Miss Universe contest despite being told she would be denied the sacraments for a period of time unless she withdrew.”
Now in Thailand pretty boys in Pattaya compete for the title of Miss Tiffany with the aim of creating human rights awareness and promoting a positive transvestite image to the world. Sometimes it’s easy to forget how far we’ve come but Marine Marine Monroe, Barbara Style Sand and Donna Summer are there to remind us.
2009 winners found here
A few years ago in Sydney, Boaz Stark published a book of inspired drag queen names.
“Having a Drag Queen baby but no idea what to call her? Uma Gawd! This Trudy Light of a book has literally hundreds of names to suit Drag Queens of every shape (Justine Ormous), age (Terri Daktil), race (Fu Ling Yu) and religion (Cath Lick). Your Drag Queen is destined to be the Bella DeBall with this Paige Turner!”
But my favourite will always be my son, Cherry Ripe.