The "oldest living profession" was the backdrop for the oddest existing beauty pageant.
Nine gals were vying for the nation's most coveted award: Miss Hooker 2012. The competition was held at the Dragonfly Bar in Hollywood, California. Questions darted through my head. Where was the tenth shady lady listed on the event flyer? Was she strolling down the runway at the county jail? Was Donald Trump her "one phone call"?
Was this a battle of beauty, brains and bedroom skills; or something altogether different? And if turning tricks was a pageant prerequisite, what about an arrest record? Would this mean bonus points or disqualification? Might someone win Miss Congeniality; or were all gals deemed "congenial" by thriving in this "people person" profession in the first place?
After arriving at the contest, I learned my preconceived notions were premature: none of the girls were hookers. In fact, during backstage interviews with several contestants, I learned they had never even met a call girl.
"Frankly, I'm more qualified to be Miss Hooker than you," I told Miss Anthropy, a tall brunette immersed in silver sequins. "At least, I've known prostitutes."
Another competitor told me she had a serious crush on Johnny Depp, thus if given the opportunity, would charge him zero for her services. I informed her she clearly lacked the business acumen to work in this specialized field.
The talent competition was another area of consternation. One girl ate a hot dog. Another read a book on stage and still another twirled the hula hoop--clearly not the skills I expected from Heidi Fleiss wannabes.
Yet, when contestant Miss Kitty Cadillac worked the stripper pole and set her breasts on fire, the show climaxed. The crowd roared; and the judges were mesmerized. Then Kitty purred through her interview question with a raunchiness that made her the ideal candidate for the crown. She was asked at what point a girl becomes a woman, and replied that it required mastering a particular sexual position (details which I cannot disclose without alarming the moral majority). Kitty's erotic answer sealed the deal. She had come from humble beginnings in her lifelong quest (or rather her two-month quest) to be Miss Hooker 2012; and she had prevailed.
However, the competition was more than frivolity, gigolo jokes and roasted mammary glands. It was an opportunity to explore the deeper questions of life, such as "Where the heck is contestant number ten and can she meet bail?" I was told she'd never shown for rehearsals, thus proving two things: she had not taken prostitution training seriously, and she'd opted not to "show up" in life.
"Showing up" is a field of study unto itself. I've been informally examining it for the past eight years--since being elected into local political office and working as a Los Angeles city commissioner. Although women comprise 51 percent of the population, they are glaringly absent from political, legal and community events. Women fought tirelessly for the vote during the 19th and early 20th century, and they yearn for equality; but today they earn 77 cents on the male dollar. They claim to want leadership roles in society; but comprise only 16.4 percent of U.S. Congress and only 22.1 percent of executive positions--a number that has decreased in the past decade, according to the Center for American Women and Politics at Rutgers University.
Politics is where the power is, so if women desire that power, why does testosterone consume the room when it is time to affect change? Why are political events crammed with dudes? Do most ladies lack interest in these matters? Are they secretly content with letting men lead? Or are they intimidated by a society-wide "males only" mentality?
Miss Demeanor, who had hula hooped her way to a loss in the Hooker pageant, told me that women don't "show up" because the world is a boys' club. Women are quietly edged out of the arena. "My mom said I could be whatever I wanted, but not every girl gets this sort of encouragement."
Regardless of whether Miss Demeanor is right, the first step towards true equality is realizing where the power is and "showing up" to grab it. Females must burst into the public sphere, frequenting political meetings, community events and legal forums. They must run for political office; and elect each other. They must assert their opinions, rather than let males dominate the conversation. They must stop muffling their voice.
I was glad I "showed up" to meet the beautiful and empowered women who participated in this admittedly bizarre pageant; they were independent, stylish and strong. I congratulated the winner Miss Kitty Cadillac, who flaunted her leg tattoo, leopard print leotard and rhinestone wand from the edge of the stage. She gave me reassurance that she was the right gal for the job, confiding that she had once met a call girl and had no interest in Johnny Depp.
"Good for you," I smiled. "You're as qualified as I am to wear that crown."
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