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Drag Queens to Vie for the Crown at Miss Hell's Kitchen Pageant

By Mathew Katz | March 26, 2013 12:44pm

HELL'S KITCHEN — Eleven daring drag queens will descend on New World Stages next week for the second-annual contest to name the neighborhood's most vivacious vixen.

Miss Hell's Kitchen, which began last year as a fundraiser at Therapy bar, moves to a bigger venue this year as part of an effort to turn it into a regular event.

Proceeds from the contest, which is expected to draw hundreds of people, will benefit the AIDS/LifeCycle, a foundation to raise awareness and knowledge about HIV/AIDS.

"It's definitely very quirky — it's not the traditional drag pageant," said organizer and executive produce Shane Terenzi.

"We all come together for one night of charity, trying to raise a lot of money. Of course, the drag queens decide what they want to bring to it as well."

In true pageant style, the contestants will show off four distinct looks throughout the show: Presentation, Talent, Evening Gown and Beachwear.

Drag star Peppermint will join last year's winner, Bootsie LeFaris, in hosting the event, while well-known queens like Kiki Darling, Dixie Nuff and Titania Steele will strut their stuff on stage.

Whoever is crowned will take home a $1,000 prize, along with a photoshoot with NYC Pinup Boys.

The contest started last year, when Terenzi decided to participate in a 545-mile bike ride from San Francisco to Los Angeles for AIDS/Lifecycle. To raise donations for his trek, he gathered friends from the drag queen community at Therapy, where he works, and eventually raised $7,000.

"It was a way bigger success than I thought it would be," he acknowledged. "This year, we're going to have choreographers, sound people, art directors, hosts, judges. Everyone from the Hell's Kitchen community is working for a similar goal."

Terenzi added that the pageant isn't just paying lip service to the neighborhood it's in — it's an event by and for Hell's Kitchen.

"It's about us coming together as a community," he said. "Unfortunately, HIV and AIDS is a big part of our community. If we can do anything to take it down or raise awareness about it, we should."

Miss Hell's Kitchen starts at 8 p.m. on April 2 at New World Stages, 340 W. 50th St. Tickets are $25 for general admission or $50 for premium seating, and are available online.