Reviewer: Adrienne Sowers
Benefiting various women’s shelters throughout New York, the one-night engagement of The Miss Ogynistic Beauty Pageant sets typical beauty pageant tropes on their heads. With men as contestants, the pageant creates clever send-ups of patriarchal constructs outside of the pageant world using the beauty competition format as framework.
Featuring one former Miss America (Kirsten Haglund), two former Miss New Yorks (Joanne Nosuchinsky and Iman Oubou), and Sophia Body of VH-1’s Love and Hip Hop as guest judges, the pageant puts contestants Robert Punchur, Juannell Riley, and Troy Bond through four pageant-style events. A swimsuit competition during which the audience is encouraged to catcall them, an evening wear competition through which they are slut-shamed using a shock collar controlled by one of the emcees, a Q&A portion wherein they are interrupted via airhorn and mansplained, and finally a talent competition in which things are thrown at them to make them feel insecure about their performance. Each contestant is charming, talented, and game for the events, and the beauty pageant vets are fantastic guest judges, each in her own way shattering pageantry stereotypes.
The show is fun and clever, and Teresa Sheffield is a masterful and hilarious mistress of ceremonies, driving the energy and comedy of the evening while expertly interweaving the reminder of the serious cause the show benefits. She is joined by George Diaz, whose energy is in the right place, but often gives the vibe of #notallmen, making sure to point out to the beauty queens that he is a good guy. While undoubtedly he is, the unspoken need for validation of that fact skewed with the tempo of the show and sometimes resulted in moments of discomfort that slowed the pace of the event as a whole. Kudos to Diaz, though, for donning the slut-shaming shock collar himself after shocking Punchur, Riley, and Bond throughout their evening wear performances.
Conceptually and in its execution, The Miss Oygnistic Beauty Pageant is a fantastically fun evening that is putting its profits toward a terrific cause. The generosity of the performers shines, onstage and off. It is a hilarious, interactive, silly-with-a-purpose experience that one can only hope will be remounted in the near future.
Reviewed on 30 September 2017