The annual Miss Adams Morgan Pageant shows a hidden side of Washington that few people get to see. Taking place in the International Ballroom of the Washington Hilton, this might be gay Washington’s biggest social event of the year. And while the show itself is a sight to behold, half the fun is in the hotel lobby beforehand, as it fills up with the competing drag queens and their entourages. Held a week or two before Halloween, the audience also gets into the act. Many dress up in drag, or other fun costumes, sometimes as little as underwear and body glitter. And others (like myself) just throw on a tuxedo. The event is not advertised, and the only way to get tickets is from one of the reigning queens or contestants. Here are a few scenes from the chaos in the lobby.

Sierra Braxton, one of the hostesses
Sierra Braxton, one of the hostesses

Cat on a Leash
A lion tamer and his unruly lion

Texts from Hillary
Hillary Clinton, à la Texts from Hillary

Diondra's entourage
Diondra’s entourage

Two Sailors
Two Sailors

Two firefighters
Two firefighters

Birdie LaCage (right) and another drag queen
Birdie LaCage (right) and another drag queen

Super Mario and Luigie
Super Mario and Luigi

The show itself consists of three acts. The first performance is from the reigning queen, followed by other former title holders. Then they have the parade of states, where each contestant competes in a hilarious beauty pageant. For the second act, each contestant gets to perform her own number for the talent competition. The third act ends it with more of the former title holders performing routines, and finally the crowning of the new queen.

Felicia Beefeater, Miss Oregon
Felicia Beefeater, Miss Oregon

Malia, Miss Vermont
Malia, Miss Vermont

Shuga Unleashed
Shuga Magnolia, Miss Adams Morgan 2011

Captured Queen
Bambi, Miss Adams Morgan 2004

And the winner is… Diondra! Presenting Miss Adams Morgan 2013:

Life on Top
Diondra, Miss Louisiana, and now Miss Adams Morgan 2013

The show doesn’t end at the Hilton. Two blocks away, drag queens and other revelers go to the Duplex Diner for the after-party, where drag queens spill onto the sidewalk in Adams Morgan.

Olsen Twins Gone Wrong
Ann Coulter merged with the Olsen Twins?

Back at the Cabaret
Liza Minnelli à la 1972’s Cabaret

More photos via the mamp2012 tag. See also mamp2010, mamp2009, mamp2008, mamp2007, and mamp2006.

Insanity Reigns Supreme at Drag Pageant

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