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Gay pageant postponed

November 15, 2003|by TARA REILLY

tarar@herald-mail.com

A national gay pageant that was slated to be held at the Clarion Hotel in Hagerstown has been temporarily postponed, according to the Miss Gay American National Web site.

Exchange Clubs of Washington County members J. Michael Nye and Carol Norton said Friday the club was approached by the Clarion to host a Monte Carlo event at the Miss Gay American National 2004 Pageant. The Monte Carlo program includes musical entertainment and games for patrons and raises money for child abuse prevention, Nye said.

Nye said the pageant was to be held on Jan. 10, and Clarion officials told him the event would attract about 1,500 people to Hagerstown.

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A hotel manager, who declined to give his name, said the Clarion did not have a contract with pageant organizers and that the event would not be held there.

The hotel manager declined further comment.

Pageant officials did not return a phone call Friday.

The Exchange Clubs' Steering Committee decided to consider the Clarion's request to hold a Monte Carlo event at the pageant, Nye said.

"These people - they're well- dressed, they're well-mannered," Nye said. "They're just different. Their money's just as green as everybody else's."

"Basically, for us, they were another potential customer," Norton said.

The Exchange Clubs charge a flat rate for the event, and all of those proceeds go to the Parent-Child Center for child abuse prevention.

Norton said there was a miscommunication someplace in negotiations, and that pageant organizers had thought the Exchange Clubs would host the Monte Carlo event for free. When they found out there would be a fee, pageant organizers told the Clarion they would not be interested in having the Exchange Clubs at the event, Norton and Nye said.

Norton and Nye said the clubs had negotiated with Clarion officials, not with the pageant organizers. About 45 minutes before the Exchange Clubs were to meet with pageant organizers, the organizers canceled, Norton said.

Betsy DeVore, director of convention sales for the Hagerstown-Washington County Convention and Visitors Bureau, said the bureau had not been involved with the promotion of the event.

"If they want help, I'd be happy to help them," DeVore said of the pageant organizers.

DeVore said the Clarion was the largest place to hold such an activity, but that there are other places in Washington County that could accommodate a pageant.

According to carriefairfield.com, a Web site that includes information on pageants among other topics, the Miss Gay American National Pageant in Hagerstown would have been judged in five categories - a male interview, evening gown and comparative gown competitions and on-stage question and talent categories.

The Web site states the pageant would have been open to males who are "female impersonators" from across the country and who have not had any surgery that altered body parts below the neck.

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