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Back to Section One | Back to Arts & Entertainment
posted Friday, May 20, 2011 - Volume 39 Issue 20
La Femme Magnifique celebrates 30 years
Arts & Entertainment
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La Femme Magnifique celebrates 30 years

by Shaun Knittel - SGN Associate Editor

Join La Femme Magnifique International 2010 Lily Armani and La Femme Magnifique Washington Plus 2010 Katrina Duall along with Darcelle XV and the most beautiful female impersonators in the Northwest on May 22 at Neighbours in Seattle to see who will be crowned the next La Femme Magnifique Washington and Washington Plus.

'This year's pageant promises to be a packed evening of glitz, glamour, and show-stopping performances as we have five contestants running,' said Gaysha Starr, a past La Femme Magnifique International titleholder and the event's organizer. 'Throughout the evening, there will be performances from former La Femme titleholders and special guests Empress Precious Cargo, Penelope, and from Julia's Le Faux show, Isaac Scott and Robbie Turner!'

This year, Lady Chablis, Jada Starr, and Diamond St James will compete for La Femme Magnifique Washington, with Athena Kiss and Celys St James competing for La Femme Magnifique Plus Washington.

There are four categories that contestants must compete in: evening gown, theme wear, a five-minute talent presentation, and Las Vegas showgirl.

'There are so many factors that go into the shaping of a queen,' said Coco Vaughn, a Seattle drag legend and past titleholder. 'A La Femme has to have not only looks and be able to entertain people, they also have to be a person who is well-rounded and can give back to the community.'

Coco said, 'the community gives us so much, and we as entertainers have a responsibility to give back all the love and support we receive.'

Preparation for the competition is important, said Coco. 'Some people have what it takes naturally, and then there are people who may not be as natural, but work very hard and often times surpass those with natural talent because of their work ethic.'

'True queens are some of the hardest-working people you'll ever meet,' said Coco. 'I've had the privilege to work with Darcelle XV for the last 27 years, and she has taught me much about business, responsibility, work ethic, and most importantly, how to inspire those around us to want to do more and be better people through this wonderful world of drag.'

According to Coco, the pageant itself has grown by leaps and bounds over the years and has become the pinnacle of what a drag queen can aspire to be.

'Those who have been there know it's just the beginning, and it is completely up to you what you do with the title once you receive it,' she said. 'So I encourage those who are running to be the very best they can and learn from those around you and give back. That is what will truly make you a real star.'

The road to La Femme Magnifique International starts with the regional pageant this weekend. The reigning La Femme Magnifique 2010-2011, Lily Armani, says that in order to win you have to do the time, so to speak.

'We started the plan and prep for the regional La Femme at the end of March,' she said. 'Then we worked from that point on all the way up to the competition in Portland, finishing that night.'

Echoing some golden advice from Darcelle, Lily says that in order to win, you've got to smile.

In addition, she said, 'make sure that you have all of your pieces on, then fluff and fuss in the mirror afterward. Also, take a few minutes to breathe and calm down and be in the moment.'

Each year, contestants choose to run for different reasons. For Lily, the history and pageantry is what initially attracted her to the competition. 'Winning La Femme Magnifique Washington and La Femme Magnifique International is something to be proud of,' she said.

'As the 2011 La Femme Magnifique International and La Femme Magnifique Plus International Pageant approaches, we are elated to be celebrating our 30th year,' said Marcy Kraft, La Femme Magnifique Tacoma 1987. 'I have worked hand in hand with Darcelle XV, Roxy, and the La Femme Magnifique planning committee for nearly five years.'

'I remember the pageant when it started these 30 years ago. I was 18 years old and I stood outside of Darcelle and Roxy's club getting every glimpse I could of the event to see who would be chosen as the most glamorous female impersonator in the world,' she said. 'The club had met capacity, and they had to prop the door open as people spilled out onto the sidewalk. At that moment, I was able to see a Marilyn Monroe impersonator named Loreli Lee crowned the first La Femme Magnifique International.'

Now, 30 years later, Marcy Kraft says she still remembers that night like it was yesterday, and the impact it had on her as a female impersonator.

'Over the years, there have been winners from many cities, like Portland, Oregon; Seattle and Tacoma, Washington; Los Angeles, California; Honolulu, Hawaii; Las Vegas, Nevada; Salt Lake City, Utah; and Denver, Colorado,' she said. 'The pageant has grown from an event in Darcelle's nightclub to one of the most anticipated and widely attended functions of the year in Portland. People come from all over to both compete and witness the pageant where the most glamorous female impersonators in the world are crowned.'

As the contestant/pageant recruiter, Marcy says she is pleased to announce the 30th anniversary of the La Femme Magnifique Pageant.

'There are five preliminary pageants under our umbrella,' she said, 'Oregon, Washington, Northern California, Hawaii, and Las Vegas. I am honored to be a part of this most glamorous family.'

Doors open at 6 p.m. with the pageant scheduled to begin at 7 p.m. Tickets for the event are priced at $15, with partial proceeds benefiting GLSEN Washington.

First place will award $250 for each title, and $100 for each first runner-up. The winner and first runner-up in both titles will represent Washington state at the La Femme Magnifique International Pageant in Portland, OR, over Labor Day weekend.

The 2011 La Femme Magnifique Washington is sponsored by Neighbours Nightclub, Seattle Gay News, Rob and Mark Surreal, and www.gayshastarr.com.

For more information about La Femme Magnifique International, go to www.darcellexv.com.

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