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Back to Section One | Back to Arts & Entertainment
posted Friday, May 28, 2010 - Volume 38 Issue 22
Lily Armani wins La Femme Magnifique title
Arts & Entertainment
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Lily Armani wins La Femme Magnifique title

by James Whitely - SGN Staff Writer

La Femme Magnifique and
La Femme Magnifique Plus
May 23
Neighbours Nightclub


On Sunday, May 23, patrons packed Neighbours Nightclub on Capitol Hill for the La Femme Magnifique Washington Pageant hosted by Portland's Darcelle XV and produced by Gaysha Starr. Local Entertainer Lily Armani took the La Femme Magnifique title and Katrina Duall took the title of La Femme Magnifique Plus Washington State. The pageant raised $363 for the Gay Lesbian Straight Education Network.

"I am extremely proud of the evening," said Starr. "We had six lovely contestants that all brought their best, some exciting out-of-town talent, and some of Washington's best drag entertainers on stage. The energy in the room was electric, and I think Seattle was ready to see a fierce show with elaborate costuming and pageantry."

The evening opened with a parade of the former regional and International La Femme Magnifique and La Femme Magnifique Plus titleholders from Oregon and Washington. Darcelle XV and Starr introduced the five judges together: Seattle Gay News Editor in Chief George Bakan; cosmetologist Danielle Brown; La Femme Magnifique Seattle 1992 Fendi; La Femme Magnifique 1986 Misty Stevens; and former Emperor of Spokane Mark Surreal.

"There was an Evening Gown Competition, Theme Wear [from] "The Garden of Eden," a Talent Presentation, and then Las Vegas Showgirl. In between each set we had former La Femmes and special guest entertainers perform, including Regent Empress Madison Lane, Miss Gay Seattle 45 GLAMAZONIA, and Miss Latin Look International 2009 Layla Manila," Starr told SGN.

Entertainment was provided by former La Femme Magnifique titleholders from across Washington and Oregon.

"I think that there was some tough competition since the key to winning this pageant is being consistent in each of the four categories," said Starr.

The La Femme Magnifique Pageant is the most prestigious pageant in Washington state. Darcelle XV of Portland, Oregon searches for the most beautiful and glamorous female impersonators for her International Pageant, which is held Labor Day Weekend. Both the winner and the first runner-up (Lady Chablis) will go on to represent Washington in the international competition.

"As you can imagine, my team and I are still beaming from last night's victory. We planned, worked, glued, nailed, stapled, cemented, taped, tucked, plucked, stuffed, sprayed, and crammed for this - and that was just to get me into the showgirl!" said Lily Armani about her win.

"All kidding aside, it was a beautiful and emotional evening. Being southern, I'm no stranger to hard work, and fortunately neither are the members of my team," said Armani. "I have been incredibly blessed to be surrounded by some of the most brilliant and talented people you'd ever want to meet. It takes a village to make all of this happen, and being crowned the first La Femme Magnifique Washington wasn't just my victory."

"I have a great amount of respect for my fellow contestants. However, my mission wasn't to be in competition with any of them," said Armani. "I was focused on being in competition with myself. I had a clear vision and goal in mind. I knew what I wanted for myself and I focused solely on that. I strive to be greater than I was yesterday - and the day before, and the day before - each time I present myself on stage."

According to Starr, there have been three winners from Washington state: Coco Vaughn from Tacoma in 1986, La Vanda Dela Rosa from Seattle in 1996, and Starr herself in 1994.

"On a personal note, it was a personal highlight for my mother to come and see me perform and co-host a show for the first time in my 17 years of drag. I am still overwhelmed about how well she was received and that she was able to share an important part of my life," Starr told SGN.

"Drag is making a strong comeback in Seattle with weekly and monthly shows at Chop Suey, Neighbours, Rebar, R-Place, and at restaurants like Julia's. & Pageants like La Femme Magnifique give a creative outlet where groups can come together to help prepare contestants as well as an audience that knows that the show production and value will be higher than a typical bar show. La Femme Magnifique is our drag Miss Universe!" Starr told SGN.

"The art of drag has been my passion and career for the past nine years. Being crowned La Femme Magnifique Washington is a tremendous honor. It is a 'promotion' in my profession - the same as in any career," Armani told SGN.

Armani is already gearing up for the international competition in September. Armani hopes to bring the La Femme Magnifique International title back to Washington state; the last titleholder, LaVanda Dela Rosa in 1996, is Armani's drag mother.

This is the second event that Starr has hosted for GLSEN in 2010. All events Starr is producing this year under "Gaysha Starr Presents" will be fundraisers for GLSEN. "I think they do some very important work that will only benefit our community in the future," said Starr.

"I am proud of the six girls for taking a chance and putting themselves out there and being gracious under pressure throughout the evening," said Starr.

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