Very rarely does an event claiming to be a celebration of women forewarn its potential participants that they should prepare to "appear publicly in various states of undress" or "publicly simulate sexual acts, including but not exclusive to intercourse, fellatio, cunnilingus, Dirty Sanchez, Glass Bottom Boat, Cleveland Steamer, Rusty Trombone, Lazy Susan, Gobstopper, Bullwinkle, St. Louis Taco, Nina Totenbag and/or snuggling."
Enter the Nightingale Theater's "Ms. Center of the Universe Pageant."
The pageant is the brainchild of 50 Swats Writers Collective and Midwestern Theatre Troup members Julie Ann Seals and Cassie Hollis, who, in an attempt to mastermind a summer show that would attract an audience of more than 10 and make some money for the theater, joked about hosting a bikini modeling contest or a beauty pageant.
Then they stopped joking and decided to host a beauty pageant. Or, an anti-beauty pageant of sorts.
"It's a combination of theater fund-raising and satire. It's our chance to get in there and have fun exploring how society views women and women's roles," said Seals.
"Feminism can be cold and scary for some, so we opted for humor," she said. "We get our message across because people will actually listen to us. We're not terribly political. It's broader than the politics of the issue, but we do ask, 'What do women do? What is a woman's life like?'
"Beauty pageants don't represent women well. They don't represent beauty well."
The "Ms. Center of the Universe Pageant" spins regular beauty pageants on their heads, providing tongue-in-cheek commentary while honestly and genuinely celebrating the female form. Er, the female.
In its second year, the "Ms. Center of the Universe Pageant" loosely follows the format of a regular beauty pageant, requiring contestants to participate in a talent competition, an evening wear competition and a swimsuit competition--or some semblance of the above.
Last year's evening gown competition allowed the women to choose from gowns provided by Silver Screen Vintage, modeling the one they felt best represented their personalities. And the swimsuit competition consisted of a wet t-shirt contest.
The interim is filled with impromptu events, something resembling the improv games theaters play, like the "Secret Sex Challenge," where contestants drew a sexually-charged activity from a hat and had to perform it, and a "Domestic Obstacle Course," which required the ladies to talk on the phone, change a diaper and make a sandwich all at the same time.
Rather than representing states, the girls wear the sashes of local businesses, like Dwelling Spaces, Blue Jackalope, Mercury Lounge and other local businesses, which sponsor the event. The contest is emceed by Joseph Gomez and judged by Daniel Fritschie, graphic artist and comedian; Tiffany Taylor, last year's Ms. Center of the Universe; and Nightingale regular Greg Popor.
The winner will "represent the soul of Tulsa, its holy navel, the Center of the Universe--west of the Union Depot, in the center of the pedestrian bridge from Archer Street to First Street, over the train tracks."
According to the event's Facebook page (a highly reliable source of information), "Our Missionary Position is that all women deserve to be viewed as unique, interchangeable, sentient, proficient, limber objects that contribute equally together to the service of mankind. To honor that equality, we will elect one outstanding lady to be especially more equal than all others.
"We seek to empower women as humans, not merely products whose sole purpose is to prepare tasty meals, keep the house clean, change diapers, all while sexing it up in killer heels. We expect them to find fulfillment in doing these things and in climbing to the top of the corporate ladder. You have got something to prove, and 'The Ms. Center of the Universe Pageant' wants you to prove it. Reach for the stars to achieve our dreams. And yours."
Wanna know who's got what it takes? The "Ms. Center of the Universe Pageant" commences Sat., Aug. 15 at the Nightingale, 1416 E. Fourth St., at 8pm. Tickets are $7. More at www.nightingaletheater.com.
Hold on Tightly
On Friday, Loose Leaf Co., 328 E. First St., opens "Endless Struggle," an exhibit of new works by Klutch, a Portland, Ore.-based artist, with a reception at 8pm.
According to Loose Leaf Co.'s Aaron Wisner, "Klutch, best known as the cranky old punk responsible for the Vinyl Killers project, has been creating visual mischief for over two decades. From his work with the early 1980s hardcore punk scene and the legendary Skull Skates, to painting backgrounds for Nike advertisements, his work has appeared around the world on t-shirts, skateboards, city walls, magazines, and of course art galleries. In 2005 the suite he created at San Francisco's Hotel Des Arts was featured in Time magazine's annual 'Best Of' issue."
Klutch's work will hang at the gallery through Sept. 11. For additional information, including gallery hours, visit www.looseleafco.com.
Color and Light
On Thursday, Aug. 13, M.A. Doran Gallery, 3509 S. Peoria Ave., presents new work by two local artists, Ron Fleming and Bill Rabon.
Fleming works in wood and is a member of the American Association of Wood Turners.
According to M.A. Doran Gallery, "From the age of eight, Ron Fleming has explored art in various forms, from illustration and painting, to eventually working with wood and cast crystal.
"The primary inspiration for Fleming is the natural world. Fleming transforms objects in nature into stylized pieces that, in time, evolve into a series of work. Although nature is evident in Fleming's sculpture, it is his ability to use his creative ingenuity and signature style to achieve his gestures, textures, and forms."
Rabon, a painter who has worked under Alexandre Hogue, is inspired by both landscape and bustling city. He paints landscape, figurative work and abstracts.
"Rabon does not have a primary genre; he varies his work from pure landscape to figurative work and abstraction. In doing this, Rabon allows for a unique variety in his work that strengthens itself without limits to categorization. Rabon participates quietly in day-to-day life observing and speaking to the world through paint. The result is a conversation from the eyes of a quiet but prolific contemplator," said M.A. Doran Gallery officials.
The artists' exhibition will open with a reception from 5 to 8pm and be on display through Sept. 5. Find more at www.madorangallery.com.
Follow the Yellow Brick Road
Tulsa Spotlight Theatre, 1381 Riverside Drive, presents The Wizard of Oz August 14-16, 21-23 and 28-29, with Friday performances at 7:30pm and Saturday and Sunday performances at 2pm.
The play is directed by John Barker, Joshua Branson Barker and Mindy Barker and stars Victoria Hannath as Dorothy, Nicolas Conroy as Scarecrow, Joshua Branson Barker as Cowardly Lion, Mike McCarthy as Tin Man, Mindy Barker as Glinda, Charity Emanuel as Wicked Witch, and Steve Fernandez as the Wizard of Oz.
Tickets are $10 for adults, $9 for seniors and $8 for children and are available at 587-5030 or www.spotlighttheater.org.
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