On January 3rd, at the Cake Shop on Ludlow Street in NYC, the 15th Mr. Lower East Side was crowned. This annual pageant (and freak show) was begun by Reverend Jen, an author, artist, and legendary fixture of the Manhattan neighborhood. The Reverend, a self-described feminist, says she started the pageant in response to all the female flesh on display in the Lower East Side. (And, of course, the world.)
As in any other beauty contest, participants were assessed for their talent, their ability to rock a swimsuit, and their responses to the judges' questions. Sub-categories included Best Male Tits, Congeniality, Best Nutsack, and Worst Q&A. Contestants like Chuck Funk and Tommy D Naked Man (who is just that) also curried favor with “boylesque” routines. Mr. Funk even placed real needles in his chest during his act. Encouraging signs like “Show us Your Balls!” and “No Balls!” were toted by assistants and judges alike.
Last year's winner, Johnny Bizarre, wooed the judges with the use of his rectal thermometer, and a “urine drinking” act. This year, the alleged F train resident and self-proclaimed “sex pervert” lost the title, despite his stylish swimsuit choice of an Elmo Speedo.
Minister of A$$, another contestant, wore tassles on his bum in the evening wear competition and subsequently lost–though he did have a great pageant Dad cheering him on. The Minister's Q&A devolved into an emotional collective mourning of the bygone NYC freaks, lending the evening a fleeting tinge of nostalgia.
This year's adorable winner, Mr. Matthew Silver, is a 34 year-old street performer from Bergen County, New Jersey. Mr. Silver dreams of appearing on America's Got Talent as a “village idiot,” and his bumbling charm could very well get him onto the show. His winning moves included his choice in costumes (a heart-studded onesie, and a T-shirt with the word MOTHER on it) and his final dance routine. The latter included a Hitachi magic wand, and ended with full-frontal nudity. In an egalitarian move, Mr. Silver called for the acceptance of all sizes of genitalia during his award acceptance speech.
Though you might think many of this year's would-be-kings weren't taking their campaigns seriously, there was one exception to the goofy boylesque rule. Mike “Clamato” Amato expertly mimed intercourse on a blow-up doll. He then picked up a copy of She Comes First and went straight to business on the female figurine, calling this a “personal and political statement.” All in all, a riveting and revealing evening.
By A. Pinsker-- visit her here on the Interwebs. Photos by Lexi Hello.