The heavy rains that pounded Sydney last night did little to dampen the mood at the annual Mardi Gras Queen of the Night, held at Petersham RSL Club.
Outside the clouds darkened the skies but inside, the candidates were shining bright: all of them sashayed on stage in their shimmering sequined gowns, stardust make-up and blinged-out jewellery.
Competition was tight. Some were returning candidates while others have won other pageants, like last year’s Miss Transexual Australia 2012.
But the crown ultimately went to NSW-based fashion designer Victoria Martin, who scored the highest marks in total across three categories: swimwear, evening gown and Mardi Gras costume.
Victoria also won “Most Photogenic”, as chosen by the event’s official photographer Ramil Balingit, as well as “Best in Swimsuit” and “Best in Evening Gown”.
“It was an amazing experience. Winning the crown was a dream come true and I was so proud that all my hard work for the pageant paid off,” said Victoria.
First runner-up and winner of the Rainbow Princess title was Melbourne-based Erica Duque, who also clinched the Best Catwalk and Best in Naughty Costume.
Rounding up the top three was second runner-up Sharleng Gonzalez, who scooped not one but three titles: Pink Triangle Princess 2013, Miss Charity Queen 2013 and “Darling of the Crowd” on the night.
Gonzalez wowed the crowd in a black asymmetric swimsuit, her rendition of Tina Turner’s “Simply the Best” and her performance during the Miss Naughty segment.
Last year’s winners, Mardi Gras Queen of the Night 2012 Daniella Antiers, Rainbow Princess 2012 Jana Fox and, from Japan, Pink Triangle Princess 2012 Chato Fuji, also graced the evening in stunning outfits to pass on the titles to their successors.
There were several highlights, not least the Question and Answer portion where all eleven candidates had to answer tough and confronting questions relating to safe sex, society and the gay and transgender community and personal identity issues. Not just a beauty contest, the event is supported by ACON, Australia's largest community-based gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgender (GLBT) health and HIV/AIDS organisation.
Albert Prias, managing director of the Filipino Lesbian And Gay Community + friends organisation (FLAGCOM) and co-organiser of the event, said that the event aims to promote “safe sex” education and raise awareness around health and living within the community.
FLAGCOM’s finance director Charles Chan agrees, hence a Q&A segment devoted entirely to this issue.
While the lights were flashing for the main winners, the evening was truly for the audience, who had a great time, and the candidates, who had an experience of a lifetime.
Other winners include Sade Chalotorn for Best Mardi Gras Costume and Sandy Charlotte Diocareza for Best Talent.
The entertainers featured on the night included Lauren, Jay, The Regroove Band, Sidney, the Mindanao Ethnic Dance Group and the VSD Dancers. Co-emcees were Christine C. and Russell Viray.
Supporting the event were FLAGCOM, ACON, press group ADHIKA, the Alliance of Philippine Community Organisations (APCO), InLife Magazine and Ang Kalatas newspaper. Check out the video of the night on www.kalatas.com.au
Photo Credit: Ramil Balingit, writer's own.