Contestants dress up, down or in drag for “The Alternative Miss World Pageant”

Forget Miss USA: Since 1972, British artist Andrew Logan has been holding The Alternative Miss World beauty pageant in London. The rules for the pageant are simple: There are no rules.

Contestants can be male, female, crossdressing or not even fully dressed — they just have to be fabulous.

The pageant originally started as a celebration of counterculture and homosexuality. Public displays of homosexuality and cross dressing had only been made legal in Britain a few years before the pageant, so Logan decided that a pageant would be a perfect forum to honor and showcase this burgeoning culture.

Over the years, the pageant has grown bigger in popularity, relevance, and I’m sure, budget. But, it’s nice to see that the basic principals of the pageant are still intact. On May 2, the 2009 Alternative Miss World competition will be held at London’s Roundhouse.

Former contestant Michele Hanson (pictured above in 1972) recently wrote about the pageant’s history for The Guardian, reminiscing about coming in second place, and detailing her competition:

Gay men have been contestants, and so have straight men dressed as women, and women dressed as men, or anyone dressed as anything, often with an additional cabaret of naked, painted, fairly voluptuous dancing women — The Binney Sisters. Any gender, with any background, of any age, or any species can win. A robot and a 75-year-old Russian woman have done so.

“This is not a gay event,” says Logan. “It’s a surreal art event, for all-round family entertainment. That’s the official description.”

Still, we’re more likely to see a drag king in this contest than Miss USA.

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