The Orion Griffiths Show and a Bunch of Other Things About the Broadway Beauty Pageant

After years of watching the videos and reading the post-event coverage, I decided to nut-up and actually attend the 7th Annual Broadway Beauty Pageant this past monday, also a fundraiser for the Ali Forney Center. And let me tell you...great cause and all, but we were in it for some high-camp, gay entertainment like no other. I'll be over here refreshing the Internet all day for videos to confirm that it actually did happen and it wasn't my subconscious granting me my deepest desires.

One of several stars of the show: Tovah Feldshuh, the hostess. Remember her? Yeah I know, I can't recall her last stage credit. But honeys, I couldn't even with her...girl was on fire the other night. No, she wasn't a terrific hostess in the conventional sense with a lot of polish and grace (the production and run-through of the show were deliberately informal). But she was the best kind of hostess; the self-pitying, no-holds barred, one-liner dishing, occasionally inappropriate hostess with great improv and comedic timing as she was called upon to fill in the silence and guide the proceedings. Call me Tovah; I have a position open in my life for a funny, jewish mother and I think you would be perfect for the job.

I don't think I have ever mentioned that I like Michael Urie. That's because I never did. To go off of that, I never had an impression of him nor saw him in anything on stage or in TV/movies...but I plan to change that soon and go see his one-man show, Buyer and Cellar. Last night, dude was so adorable in his outfit and so game to participate as one of the celebrity judges. Charming, witty, humble and a total doll equals get in my pants I'm an instant fan.

Speaking of another celebrity judge, can we just hand the keys to the country over to Andrea Martin? I forgot how much I love her in her natural "I'm just me" habitat, but was instantly reminded the moment she stepped out on stage in a cute outfit with an above-the-knee skirt. She is just like all the rest of the old broads out there. Except not really. And girlfriend boosted the energy last night, chiming in whenever she wanted to and taking over hosting temporarily as needed. I think she is at the age where senescence is slowly trickling in and even so, her franticness only makes me diva-love her more. Bow down...

Moving on to the very subtle event. Well, you can't say it wasn't determined to give the audience - about 97% gay males - what it wanted. You know, like when the young-twenties soaking, wet "contestant in training"/event aid was wearing only his underwear and moved about on stage and...and held the raffle ticket bucket for drawings. And moved a chair. And stood still and breathed. Any complaints? If so, you can't sit with us.

Obvi, it was all about the talent and swimsuit portions of the pageant. Screw sophistication; as Lucy would say in Jekyll and Hyde, bring on the men. And the men were brought on and brought it. My favorite non-Orion Griffith moments? Yurel Echezarreta from Matilda gave two high-energy, drag homages to Beyonce and Britney. Callan Bergman of Silence: The Musical was a good sport and did a song-and-dance about off-Broadway before following that up with a striptease into a Silence of the Lambs-inspired swimsuit. Wouldn't have expected anything less. And Matthew Goodrich, the understudy for The Nance, served up vintage screen star-realness with a William Inges monologue, a comedic striptease (kind of) and a swimsuit portion of him de-robing into a little orange number while twerking his gum. That is a weird paragraph to type.

But the performer of the night was Orion Griffiths and not just because he was eventually crowned the winner. Currently in the company of Pippin as one of the stand out trapeze acts, he is one to look out for. For many reasons. Man is gorgeous; he knows it and we DEFINITELY know it. You should have seen the audience go collectively flaccid the moment he shared with us that he was *gasp* straight and *louder gasp* married. I'm sure Orion apologizes for your deflated hard-ons and utter frustration.

Before you go all "Orion can do everything and look perfect while doing it," the night started off with him stumbling in the opening, choreographed number. And by stumbling, I mean he flat-out sucked. He later revealed that this was his first time dancing, as if we couldn't tell. He can balance on cans and wooden planks five and ten feet off the ground, but he struggles with a two-step. Different mediums, I know, but I don't understand it and neither should you.

And speaking of not understanding, that is what happens nearly everytime Orion opens his mouth. His thick accent alone qualifies for a translator as it is, but I'd go as far to say that it is an ESL type of scenario. But that is okay because when Orion broke out into his trapeze trickery during the talent portion, it was game over. And we even got some unintentional hilarity when Orion kept yelling "UP," like some World War drill sergeant, at the event aid tossing him his cans for his balancing act. Now, that I heard and understood clearly. 

The best part about Orion's talent portion? Andrea Martin, bless her, was shocked and awed by his talent, something I'm sure she has seen him do for months. I wanted to whisper to her, "Honey, he's in your company. Like, on stage with you eight times a week." Remember when I mentioned that Andrea Martin is getting a lil' senile? So either she still remains jaw-droppingly impressed at Orion's circus artistry (which is understandable) or she really had no idea that this muscle-bodied, swoon-worthy performer with porn-ready abs was in her show. Either way, I love Andrea even more.

Imagine him with less clothing.
Yep, I know.
Oh, but the swimsuit portion...well first, he came out full dressed and started talking about how his wife (*moment of flaccidness*) was uncomfortable with him stripping until he informed her it was mostly gay men in the audience (or at least I think that is what he said). And then he showed off some of his flexibility and addressed the age-old question of whether or not he can blow himself, and if he has ever tried. You know, the usual.

After about 2 minutes of him stretching and talking about how is is NaWt GaWnNa STreEp, he took to the handle bars and started, like, posing like an Asian Olympian gymnast. While still suspending himself in air, he removed his shoes. Followed by his shirt. And then his pants. Orion "body of death" Griffiths was doing a handstand and posing in nothing else, but a little black speedo. That. Just. Happened. I think I speak for the audience when I say we could of sat there staring at him until the end of time like he was sort sort of bendy statue of David. If that image of Orion doesn't inspire you to go to the gym tomorrow, nothing ever will.

The moral of the story? Make Orion the star of his own one-man show. For 90 minutes, he can talk about wutevs and stretch and balance and flex and other stuffs. Investors? The money will come pouring in, rest assured.

Orion won with the audience vote, he did a little victory "dance" (using that term as loosely as possible) and everyone went home and tried not to yell his name at the top of climax during sex with their partners. Or something. Shante, you stay Broadway Beauty Pageant, you glorious, fan service-y event you.

Photo Credits: Jonathan Tichler
Photo Credit: Joan Marcus

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