The Mr. Lower East Side Pageant Is The Campy Night Of Nudity You Didn’t Know You Needed (NSFW)

By Abigail Rowe

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“Ugh, menstrual blood. So 2008.”

Thus began the heckling of Dr. Vodka Pantene’s talent portion at last night’s Mr. Lower East Side Pageant, an evening of men pledging their allegiance to the neighborhood on stage. Yes, there was menstrual blood, and yes, we were in the “splash zone.” The pageant is not exactly What We Think About When We Think About Pageants, unless Miss Universe has gotten way edgier and now allows for full-frontal nudity and cock-and-ball rings. Nor is it in the LES, for the first time in its 16-year run, after getting booted from their spot at the Cake shop due to the “fun police” and “fears of penile exposure.” There goes the neighborhood, right?

Thankfully, the Mr. Lower East Side Pageant was welcomed with open arms at the Lucky 13 Saloon in Gowanus, Brooklyn. An attendee at last night’s show told us he was fine with the new venue, pointing out that “everyone who lived in the Lower East Side when it was cool moved to Brooklyn anyway.” Though 2009 pageant winner Mike Amato was more reflective on the changes, reminding us all that the old neighborhood’s telltale “smell of balls and failure… we brought that!”

Who else could host this bizarre and occasionally bloody event than the avant-garde superstar Reverend Jen Miller, whose iconic elf ears have also brought us the anti-slam, the Troll Museum, and “The Adventures of Electra Elf and Fluffer?” You might also recognize last year’s winner Matthew Silver from his performance art in Union Square, or maybe from this video.

Some highlights of the night:

Mike Amato sang the Heathcliff theme song.

Tommy D Naked Man bumped into us, entirely naked.

Johnny Bizarre performed an elaborate laundry-themed strip tease that ended in a clothesline unraveling from his fully-exposed genitals, which he hung several pairs of underwear from.

Jesus Christ, It’s Dan Glass! recounted the time he blacked out and got naked at Mars Bar, and then “flossed” a condom through his nose.

The Raven stripped down tastefully to the tune of “9 to 5,” which Rev Jen thought was a fitting image for our current economy.

Claude Debris hung three 1990s era computers off his balls while he stood on a chair and called his mother. Actually, that wasn’t a highlight. That was physically painful to watch. (A photographer next to us confirmed, “This is horrifying, right?”)

The Lower East Side might be at the mercy of “greedy landlords,” but so long as there are freaks in New York City, there will be a Mr. Lower East Side Pageant.

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Photos by Sophie Lilla.