Nov. 24, 2019

LIFE IS MORE AND MORE SHOCKING SO... EXPECT THE "UNEXPECTED".

If you’re too naïve— you won’t be ready for many of life’s realities. It’s always smart to be as flexible as possible when life turns “upside-down” then rudely throws the impossible—squarely in your face.

For a few years in the mid- eighties, I lived in Atlanta, Georgia.   I moved there on a whim…completely unaware that Atlanta was now the most-popular “hot” spot for singles of all ages, sexes, and-- everything “in between”.

 Having lived in New Jersey and worked in New York, I thought of myself as “street wise”.  Soon after settling into Atlanta’s Social Scene…I quickly learned otherwise.

Believe me when I tell you that--finding employment in “hot-lanta” wasn’t easy for a single woman in her late thirties. I accepted temporary jobs until finally agreeing to a part-time development job with Georgia Public Television as an on-air fundraiser.

It wasn’t long before I received an invitation to judge the first “Miss Scarlett” Beauty Pageant.  Because Atlanta was the home of Margaret Mitchell, the author of GONE WITH THE WIND, Atlanta remembered the famous writer and her best-selling book—every year-- with elaborate events.   

Unlike most beauty pageants, the Miss Scarlett Contestants would not participate in interviews, swimsuits, or talent competitions. The contestants (of which there were 25) would be judged on poise, beauty, elegance, and gowns. As judges, the six of us were told to look for a woman who most-closely resembled Vivian Leigh….the actress who portrayed Scarlett O’Hara in the movie version of GONE WITH THE WIND.  Not only was Atlanta well-known as the home of the book’s author, Margaret Mitchell, but Atlanta had the distinct honor of hosting the World Premiere of GONE WITH THE WIND on December 15, 1939. In fact, History books claim Atlanta as holding the record for the most extravagant Movie  Premiere in America.

The night of the Miss Scarlett Pageant, the Fox Theatre was over-flowing with attendees. Tickets to this first-ever event had sold out months earlier.  Excitement was everywhere. 

The orchestra played the original music score from “GONE WITH THE WIND” as the curtains opened on a stage full of lovely young ladies wearing elaborate Southern Belle Gowns. One by one, each contestant modeled her gown as previews from the famous movie played on a large screen behind them.

At last, after every contestant had modeled, the Master of Ceremonies declared a short intermission before the winner was announced. Those of us at the judges table hurried to confirm our decision. It seems that all six of us were in agreement as to the winner.

The houselights dimmed and everyone returned to their seats.  Finally, it was time to learn the name of  the contestant who most-resembled GONE WITH THE WIND’S MISS SCARLETT.

When the announcement was made, the Winner immediately raised both gloved-hands to her mouth and began blowing kisses to the judges and then to the audience. She performed a deep and graceful curtsy before rising and twirling, several times—full circle—as she traveled to the microphone.  Somewhat surprised, the master of ceremonies stepped back to give the winner a chance to say an unexpected word or two.

AND THEN…the new Miss Scarlett did and said more than the unexpected:

For one second...Miss Scarlett was standing there,  looking refined and elegant, and the next second she was ripping off her ante-bellum gown to expose her tattooed and muscular chest; her tight men’s jockey-thong and--before anyone could catch their breath---the  look-alike movie “queen”….jerked-off her long, curly wig and…threw it into the audience….as "she" yelled:

“WOW---- THIS WAS FUN!  YES, I’M QUEER….AND QUITE FRANKLY, MY DEAR... I DON’T GIVE A DAMN SO... WHO CARES”?!?!?!?!?!?!?

In simple terms, the results of that pageant were totally unexpected.  For months, the Miss Scarlett Pageant was the hottest topic in Atlanta. As we all know, some performances aren’t worth repeating so….that was Atlanta’s first and last Miss Scarlett Pageant.

PS: As one journalist so-dramatically stated:  “That Pageant was truly “Gone with the Wind”.