:01 – Welcome to Jonesboro, Arkansas, home of America’s Best Pageant. We open with the pageant director, who tells us this is a “low-glitz” pageant where “five-year-olds should look like five-year-olds…”
Looks like someone didn’t get the memo.
:01 – Speaking of whom… Meet Jasmine, 5, who informs us she is a “glitz girl.” You don’t say.
:03 – Lauren, 7, has her own “glitz entourage.” Something she and Elton John have in common. “If I don’t win a crown, it makes me sad,” says Lauren. Awww. But surely her parents will tell her there is more to life than winning…
:03 – “My 7-year-old little girl Lauren is big crown-bound and we’re gonna rock it out,” exclaims Lauren’s mom. Well, so much for that.
:05 – Taleah, 3, is a “rising star in the pageant world,” according to her mother. She admits the family would probably live in a bigger home if pageants didn’t cost so much. In less than a year, she has invested at least $15,000. But, hey, toddler pageants are a higher priority than shelter! Taleah’s mom grows starry-eyed: It’s “like this is her destiny.” I think it’s fair to say Gandhi is to freedom what Taleah is to sequins.
:05 – Jasmine models her new pageant costume:
See? Pageants even teach history to the little ones! Here, Jasmine is honoring Native Americans: The Village People Years.
:05 – We learn that all of Jasmine’s outfits are custom-made, costing between $5,000-10,000. And the return on that investment is almost as good as a Bernie Madoff hedge fund! Almost.
:06 — “I don’t know of anyone who goes too far to win,” Jasmine’s mom intones, her dark eyes glowing. I half-expect her to morph into Al Pacino in The Devil’s Advocate.
:06 – Taleah’s dad, Boone, “likes to give his family crap just to keep ‘em going.”
More pearls of Boone familial wisdom:
- “[My wife] is like, “You did good… and I’m, like, whatever. I think you suck.”
- “I mean, I don’t tell my kids they suck just because… I mean, they suck.”
- “I want to see [my daughter] lose.. I mean, come home with nuttin’.”
- “I just hate to pack that f*cking trophy all the time.”
Boone clearly missed his calling as an inspirational speaker. Also: Father of the Week.
Out of all these families, there is only one sane individual:
RUN, CASSIE, RUN! Make a break for it.
:08 – We meet Brandi Tutor-Brown, Lauren’s 31-year-old pageant coach AND fellow contestant. Yes! Brandi Tutor-Brown is competing against 10-year-olds. I can only imagine what Cassie thinks of this.
:09 — With her head clearly on straight, Brandi Tutor-Brown likes to impart life advice to her 7-year-old “pageant sister,” Lauren, telling her to “marry a nerd because they make a lot of money. . . You want to be a trophy wife!”
Somewhere, Melania Trump is nodding in agreement.
:14 — “Team Lauren” –- her pageant coach, hairdresser, mom and dad –- gather around the dinner table and strategize her pageant approach. If only the White House had such an organized and thorough War Room.
:15 –- Jasmine, whose mom is a dentist, gets refitted for her flipper (a.k.a. toddler dentures). Jasmine states that her flipper is so good because her mom makes it. “She’s a good mom,” Jasmine says, hugging her mom. “Awwww,” sniffs Mr. Candy, teary-eyed. I begin to wonder just how much wine Mr. Candy has had, exactly, when I’m distracted by…
Holy cleavage, Brandi Tutor-Brown! Suddenly, the fathers in the audience wake up.
:25 –- Brandi Tutor-Brown tells us she recently won Miss Grand Supreme — a title for girls ages 10+ — in another pageant and some of the mothers gave her flack for it. “I work just as hard as they do, so it hurts when people talk bad about me,” Brandi Tutor-Brown pouts earnestly. Yeah, suck it, ten-year-olds!
:26 – As Jasmine’s mom looks around at the other, more natural-looking competitors, she starts freaking out. Jasmine only has high-glitz dresses! And it’s a — HORROR — low-glitz pageant! She runs around holding two dresses, a lovely, low-key blue dress and a Vegas showgirl zebra dress, asking everyone which one they prefer. Only one person — a random old man — picks the high-glitz zebra number. “Yes! You’re right! We’re going with this one,” Jasmine’s mom concurs, relieved.
:34 –- Bad news: Jasmine’s mom’s informal dress survey has made them late for the Beauty competition, disqualifying Jasmine from winning certain titles. “Beauty is fifty percent of the score,” cries Jasmine’s mom. “I should have been better prepared –” She stops, choked up.
:35 – Lauren struts her stuff on-stage. “When she gets out there and she just lights up, it’s just the warmness out of my heart,” Lauren’s mom gushes. “Oh my God, it’s just the most wonderful feeling.” Coincidentally, many of the fathers said the same about Brandi Tutor-Brown’s performance. Only the warmness wasn’t in their hearts.
:42 – The show takes an unexpected turn when a little boy becomes so engrossed in his performance, he dances right off the back of the stage…!
Relax… he is okay. Although doctors say his pride may be permanently damaged.
:45 –- There is no microphone holder, so Jasmine’s mom has to hold microphone. “Whenever her talent goes well, I get goosebumps. When it goes bad, I grow devil ears,” confesses her mom. I KNEW it!
:45 –- After getting cold feet and refusing to sing, 3-year-old Taleah goes back on stage and tap dances instead. It’s more adorable than a panda cuddling a kitten. Boone is — no surprise — disappointed. He wanted to hear his daughter sing, doesn’t like the tap dancing. I bet he hates pandas, too. CUDDLY PANDA HATER!
:46 – Lauren performs a theatrical scene with her “special prop,” Miss Glinda:
Also: My new computer wallpaper.
:48 – Lauren wins “prettiest hair” and is “pulled” for bigger titles. Taleah: “overall personality” (obviously inherited from her father… *ahem*) and “prettiest smile.” Jasmine wins “most photogenic,” bumming the hell out of her mom because that means she’s not going to win an overall supreme. Meanwhile, my head is spinning, trying to understand how these damn pageant titles work. It is even more confusing than an episode of Lost.
:51 — Lauren’s mom is shaking with anticipation, feels like she is “going to have a heart attack.” And… Lauren wins Mini-Supreme for her age group! Her mom weeps with happiness. And then…
:55 — Lauren’s coach, Brandi Tutor-Brown, wins Mini-Supreme for the 10-and-over category! It is all too much for Lauren’s mom, who is sobbing at this point.
“God answers prayers.” — Brandi Tutor-Brown
:59 – “You know, we like this life. I don’t want a normal life. This is the life that I love,” says Jasmine’s mom, crying. “So we do pageants for that because we love it.”