People saw things Saturday night at the Wendell Community Center that, frankly, cannot be unseen: A prominent local restaurant owner twirling a baton while bouncing on a trampoline in a sequin-clad dress; the managing editor of the local newspaper performing a tongue-twisting rap in a shiny, red blouse. The town’s police chief donning a boa, frolicking around in fishnet stockings to the tune of “Girls Just Want to Have Fun.”
It might not have been too terribly outlandish if the people performing those acts were women. But they aren’t.
Six local men did not disappoint as the East Wake Relay for Life’s Pirates of the CURE-ibbean team put on its second edition of a womanless beauty pageant. From the start of their month-long campaigns for the title of “Queen,” through the end of Saturday’s event, the daring group of dudes helped raise $10,529 for the fight against cancer. Donations from concessions and $393 that was returned to the cause by 50/50 raffle winner Debra Liles-Halley completed the grand total.
“Wendell never ceases to amaze us,” said Kathe Schaecher, co-captain of the Pirates team with Allison Klepchick.
Schaecher had concerns early on about how the event would stack up to the inaugural pageant, which raised just under $10,000 in 2013.
“I wasn’t sure it was going to be as exciting the second time around,” she said. “The contestants knew I was thinking that and they worked their butts off and proved me wrong.”
Peedie Edwards – “Pandora” to pageant goers – claimed the crown by raising a pageant-high $3,245. Had there been a podium, Edwards would have been flanked by Gene “Geneva from Italy” Steidl and police Chief Bill “Beatrice Lorraine” Carter.
But all the participants sacrificed a fair amount of dignity to make the event special.
For his talent, Fire Cpt. Gregg “Tesla” Bryant dressed up like the character Elsa from Disney’s “Frozen” and performed an interactive dance to the movie’s hit song, “Let It Go.”
The muscular Danon “Tess Tosterone” Prosser, whose wife Brandi assures friends he is into CrossFit and not cross-dressing, got the audience to join him for a suggestive song he strummed on an electric guitar, while wearing heels and a sparkly gold skirt.
Johnny “Joanie” Whitfield appeared to have a meltdown in the middle of his rap routine and was dragged (no pun intended) off the stage, and Steidl enlisted a team of young cheerleaders to help liven a dance/fitness act in which he sported a tutu.
Past contestant Mike Costantino even returned in character as a sauce-loving emcee for the evening.
“We got out there and did all we could, but really it’s Kathe and Allison who make it work,” Edwards said. “All we did was get out there out of our comfort zone. It feels great. If everybody would step out of their comfort zone we could fight (cancer) and raise enough money to help somebody find a cure.”