I feel nothing but pity for people who don’t “get” Twitter, anyone who has ever rejected me, and most of all, those who missed the 2nd Annual Vagina Beauty Pageant that happened this past week at Club Rouge in Portland, OR. I generally have a strong disdain for gimmicky strip club events and formal exotic dance pageants, but I feel like a child on Boxing Day now. I haven’t been able to get out of bed since realizing that I have to wait an entire year before I get to celebrate again.
I had considered entering when I read that the top vagina gets $500. I wasn’t sure what competing entailed, but felt like I had a solid entry. Plus, I thought maybe I could start charging extra for dances after I flashed customers my blue ribbon* (which I would carry on my person for the rest of my life, ready to show cops who pull me over for speeding, my future husband’s parents, etc). I boasted to a friend that I could win with toilet paper stuck to my junk, which I figure is the vaginal equivalent of doing a one-armed pushup. Ultimately, I was too confused (read: wimpy) to compete, but I did stop by to check it out just for the fresh blog material.
I was a little wary and suspected that the whole thing might have too much of a casual misogyny vibe to enjoy, which tends to go with the territory whenever an event revolves around rating women’s body parts (however ironic or funny it’s intended to be). But I left feeling less like I had stomached a wet t-shirt contest and more like a women’s studies major who just saw The Vagina Monologues for the first time. I didn’t see any Certified Muff Diving Instructor shirts or hear so much as a mustache ride offer. There were lots of women there–and that’s by Portland strip club standards (we’re already known for having more female patrons than other cities). There were heart balloons and I scored an extremely large bottle of JO anti-bacterial toy cleaner, condoms, lube, and something called Beav-R-Light, which apparently is a non-toxic luminous gel for my lady parts. I’m wearing it as I type this.
When I go to strip clubs with friends, even though they are full-nudity, we don’t make a habit of staring down each girl’s genitals and discussing them at length. Not only did we look to see what everyone was working with, we ended up with personal favorites whom we found ourselves rooting for in the final round. The sensibilities of my friend were offended by girls with what she referred to as “dangling” labia, whereas I find a single lonely slit uninspiring. Plus, when I hear the word “dangling,” I think of a person holding on to a shrub on the side of a cliff, maybe earrings, maybe a penis, but not the female anatomy. Regardless, I’d prefer a woman who is dangling all over the place to a woman whose hoo-ha looks like a…I don’t know, a hotdog bun inside a sealed bag**. There’s just something that happens after talking freely about genitalia for several hours that leaves one feeling uninhibited and empowered, even. (It also becomes hard to stop once you get started, so be careful.)
How does a vagina beauty pageant even work, you might ask? Beforehand, I had considered some possible scenarios, including one that was similar to how a flower competition works. At rose shows, there are tables and tables of roses all splayed out and judges walk by and examine them, paying attention to color, substance, balance and proportion, size, foliage and stem. I imagined many beautiful women lying on their backs around Club Rouge, each with a little label, patiently waiting while aficionados perused and experts with clipboards made notes. I imagined a second scenario that involved a swimsuit portion, evening wear, an onstage question, and of course, a talent portion which would inevitably involve demonstrating kegel strength.
Truth be told, there was an organized judging system. There were six (local) celebrity judges and they even had laminated scorecards. I liked that audience participation and vote buying wasn’t part of the deal. Sorry, but deciding anything based on drunks making noise isn’t scientific at all. I’ve been to pole competitions where contestants have to sell Mardi Gras beads for a dollar and then each necklace counts as one “vote.” I’ve never understood what selling Mardi Gras beads has to do with pole dance abilities. This was the first competitive stripper event I’ve attended that didn’t have some bullshit popularity contest aspect; those top three vaginas won fair and square. Or at least, a team of five men and one woman found them the most personally attractive after two rounds. Granted, one of the judges was so drunk that he didn’t recognize me despite having known me for years, but who ever said you had to be sober to examine ladies’ crotches? (Besides the Medical Board and the American Congress of Obstetricians and Gynecologists.) The judges did have magnifying glasses. That sounds icky, but it was somehow cute and hilarious in context.
First the contestants each danced to two songs, doing normal stripper sets except with gratuitous spreading (otherwise known as my usual routine). They were narrowed down to a final seven, followed by a speed round where they each got one last chance to wow the judges for a song. There were two girls who entered together, wearing bride and groom bikinis and a pair of googly eyes adhered to their mons pubis regions. Another girl put a match on her hood and lit it. Nobody vajazzled for the event, but I’m pretty sure Jennifer Love Hewitt is the only sucker who actually tried that in real life. I don’t know if they tested for My Pink Button and booted those entrants out like shamed juiceheads (I should hope so!). I was disappointed that there was no full or even partial bush represented, but such is the beauty standard in this industry. I do know that a girl chose to dance to Amy Winehouse and that it seemed like an inappropriate occasion to pay tribute to the late singer, or the ultimate compliment, depending on how you look at it.
I appreciated that the whole event was streamlined enough that it didn’t challenge my attention span. I’ve been to plenty of these contests where the entries and results are stretched out in an obvious ploy to trap everyone in the building until the very end of the night. I liked that the host, DJ Dick Hennessy, didn’t have an overbearing presence or monopolize the mic. Too many strip club events end up with the crowd being subjected to the unending bad jokes of whoever who has control over the PA system. I also liked that the handbill has a dig at Portland’s topless club: “While a certain downtown club won’t show you any, Club Rouge is bringing you the BEST!” There is no legal reason that the club referenced*** has banned full nudity; it is simply because the owners pride themselves on being topless-only, as they think it makes their club “classier.” How classy can you really be when you offer $3 surf ‘n’ turf?
The announcing of the winners was glorious. Alan Parsons Project’s “Sirius” blasted as trophies topped with a ballerina doing an arabesque were handed out to second and third place. A former Miss Hooters/Miss Hawaiian Tropic USA appeared to present Miss Beautiful Vagina 2011 with a trophy that was probably almost to her waist without heels. I caught my friend clasping her hands together and exclaiming, “I’m so happy for her!” (To be fair, that was her favorite pussy.) Then “We Are The Champions” played while the winning vagina owner posed for photos and proudly beamed, knowing that she had won the highest, most arbitrary honor a woman can receive.
*They didn’t actually use state fair-style champion pig or pie ribbons.
**Please don’t leave me angry comments.
***They dislike vowels as much as visible vagina.