Lady Golden Gate
“Sometime, I wish that instead of Pilgrims a bunch of hula dancing Hawaiians had first stepped on Pilgrim Rock. The moral equation of this nation might have been improved immeasurably.”
That’s a quote from the late Sammy Crowningberg Amalu, Honolulu columnist and con man extraordinaire, a man who claimed descent from high ranking Hawaiian ali’i (nobility). And from what I’ve read about Mr. Amalu, he’d be tickled by the irony of a posthumous revival at the hands of a sexologist writing from Northern California (a region that includes Folsom Prison, where he’d spent a deal of time).
The Honolulu of Sammy’s day was the home of the fabulous Glade Show Club in Chinatown. The Glade was a haven for young mahuwahine who could hone their glamour and performance skills before appreciative audiences: gay and straight, tourists and locals, even American military families. It is easy to imagine Sammy Amalu stopping in at the Glade between prison terms: resplendent in white tropical linen, standing a round of drinks for cronies and marks while the legendary Prince Hanalei fire-dances on stage. In territorial Hawai’i, there was room—and even admiration—for those who lived large both on and off the stage.
The Glade Show Club is gone but the Universal Show Queen Pageant continues a tradition of transsexual entertainment at Hula’s, in Honolulu. It is now in its twenty-seventh year. According to the pageant’s website, it was founded “to enlighten the transsexual's experience as a contestant, fashion model, professional entertainer, and spokesperson.” Coco Chandelier, the Universal Show Queen winner of 2008, will be the MC for San Francisco’s own Lady Golden Gate Pageant, “where boys will be beautiful girls.”
The Lady Golden Gate Pageant happens at 7 PM, this Friday, April 30th, at the Clarion Hotel, 401 East Millbrae Avenue, Millbrae, CA. I spoke with Aunty Anita, a member of the pageant committee who handles publicity and contestant recruitment. She said reserved tables are sold out but that single-seat tickets, at $30 each, will be available when the Golden Gate Ballroom doors open at 5:30 PM. She says people need to come early if they want a seat. You may also try calling Aunty Anita at 510-431-3397 or email firstname.lastname@example.org, but you’d still better come early.
Most importantly, the pageant is incorporated as a non-profit organization which has the mission of raising funds for educational programs for LGBT youth in the Kingdom of Tonga. This pageant was originally called Ari’i O’e Hau, a name given to it by Hon. Lupepa'u Ari’i O’e Hau Vahine Purea Salamasina Hauoli Tuku'aho, grandaughter to the late King of Tonga, and is still given a great deal of support by the local Tongan community. Aunty Anita told me that until this year the pageant was strictly for Polynesian contestants. This year it is opened up to everyone.
The contestants hope to win the opportunity to compete in the MIss Air New Zealand Galaxy Queen Beauty Pageant held in Nuku’alofa, Tongatapu, Kingdom of Tonga. The first prize also includes $1,500 cash, air fare and two week’s worth of hotel accommodations for two in Tonga. The first runner up wins $700 and the second runner up wins $500.