Wednesday, February 10, 2010

Why Dress in Texas?

DC Agenda (successor to the venerable Washington Blade) has an interview with two Arlington residents who help contestants in female beauty pageants.  One of their "projects" is the new Miss America, Caressa Cameron.

The story, by Tyrone Ford, begins:

Chip Brown and his partner, Scott Freda, have achieved their dream by helping someone else achieve theirs.

The two gay men recently assisted 22-year-old Caressa Cameron of Fredericksburg, Va., as she worked toward becoming the latest woman to win the Miss America crown. Brown and Freda, who started the Miss Arlington Scholarship Organization nine years ago in keeping with their love of pageants, worked with Cameron as the Miss Virginia champion prepared last month to compete for the Miss America title.

A member of the Miss Virginia and Miss America families, the Miss Arlington Scholarship Organization previously helped three women take the Miss Virginia title. Cameron is their first champion to win the Miss America contest.
Later we find this curious exchange:
Agenda: After being in the pageant business for nine years now, what do you personally do to assist these young women?

Brown: We help them with their platforms, we take care of the paperwork, we do mock interviews and we help them shop for outfits. Every year, I take Miss Arlington to Texas and I buy her a dress or have one made by a dressmaker in Texas.
If any answer cries out for a follow-up question, it's that one.

Why Texas? Not that there's anything wrong with the Lone Star State (my visits there have been pleasant and educational) but it's not exactly known for haute couture. One's inclination is to think that, if you want to dress up a beauty pageant contestant, you'd go to New York or Paris or Milan. But why buy a dress in Texas?

The answer is probably that Mr. Brown knows a fashion designer in Austin or Laredo. But Ford doesn't ask the implied follow-up question.

In related news -- since, unless things have changed in the 30 years since I last saw a Miss America Pageant, there is still a swimsuit competition -- the Sports Illustrated annual swimsuit issue is out, and it's a big moneymaker for the magazine and its parent company, Time Warner.

The cover model is Brooklyn Decker, opposite-sex spouse of tennis player Andy Roddick, and the issue is, as usual, getting a lot of buzz.

Dylan Stableford reports on The Wrap:
Make no mistake: the swimsuit issue is big business. Here are some hard numbers.

The issue generates 7 percent of the annual ad revenue SI generates. This year, SI sold 67 ad pages into its swimsuit issue, which was flat over last year. (In 2009, though, pages were down 33 percent -- so maybe that’s a sign the ad market is stabilizing.)

The magazine points out that more than a dozen advertisers created custom packages for the issue -- making it something like the print equivalent of the Super Bowl broadcast for print creatives on Madison Avenue.

And at the newsstand, the magazine usually sells well over a million single copies, or about 10-15 times how many regular issues of SI are sold.
I make no claim to understand the motives of heterosexual adolescent males, but aren't there a lot of other outlets for soft porn on the Internet? Perhaps the SI swimsuit issue is just a ritual or rite of passage, like getting a driver's license or a boy's first hangover.
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