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last night's gig

Miss America Sings, Dances, Entertains Leagues of Gay Men

Bethlene Pancoast (Miss New York 2006) and Kandice Pelletier (Miss New York 2005) last night at Joe's Pub.Photo by Drew Pisarra

“Does anybody here want a short, fat Jew?” asked the baby-faced piano player midway through Concert for the Crown, last night’s benefit for the Miss New York State scholarship fund. But “Does anybody here want Miss America?” was the question on everyone’s mind. Both the icon and the pageant have seen hard times of late. Dumped by ABC in 2004 then by Country Music Television earlier this year, the prettiest girl in the room has found herself, somewhat bewilderedly, without a telegenic escort (and at odds with her more popular sister, the for-profit Miss USA pageant.) Such was the case again last night at Joe’s Pub where a mere 40 or so attendees — half, as event producer Kenny Mack pointed out, gay men who wanted to be Miss America — listened to former winners' bad singing, good singing, and an anecdote about a contestant who sprayed too much adhesive on her ass to get her bathing suit to stick. The closest thing to an excited reaction came from performer Nikki Snelson, whose belt poked out from below her camisole. If she’s going to survive, Miss America has some serious decisions to make: Does she get racy, like Susan Powell, the 1981 winner who sang last night about banging the super for a lease? Does she go back to her roots, “the high-school auditorium with a palm tree” that Katie Schindle (Miss America 1998) derided? Desperate times call for desperate measures, not just 36-24-36. Until she asserts a new identity, Miss USA has her literally trumped. —Drew Pisarra