Nightlife » Local Events

Miss Firecracker Pageant Raises Funds for AIDS Help

by Winnie McCroy
EDGE Editor
Friday Jun 27, 2014

On Tuesday, July 1, drag queens -- and this year, for the first time, biological women -- will don their hottest outfits and vie for the chance to be crowned Miss Firecracker. The event raises funds for local AIDS service organizations, including AIDS Help of Monroe County.

"The pageant has generated over $100,000 to date for local non-profits, with AIDS Help its main recipient," said pageant producer Smyrna Emphezema, aka Terry Paulson. "And you know what? It's time for a makeover. Last year was the 25th Anniversary since its origination by Charlena Sugarbaker (the late Charlie Powell) in South Carolina. So many women in this community give to AIDS Help, in volunteerism, dollars and support, on this 26th year they too can celebrate Independence from gender rules."

The competition will be held at AQUA nightclub on Duval Street in Key West. The evening will include appearances by former Miss Firecrackers, the reigning 2013 Miss Firecracker Diamonique, plus the presentation of the Ronda Riviera Humanitarian award, named after the late Ron Wright (the 2001 Miss Firecracker). Hosting the festivities are Dana Douglas and Randy Roberts.

"This year, for the first time, The Miss Firecracker Pageant welcomes female contestants to the competition line-up. Not just Miss Thang, Blanche and gurl. Real, biological women," said Smyrna. "Personally, I cannot wait to see our local women take the stage in red, white and blue to compete for a prize package worth $3,000."

Aqua will begin selling general admission/standing room tickets for The 2014 Miss Firecracker Pageant at 7 p.m. (the pageant itself begins at 8 p.m.) Reserved table seating ($100/4 seats) is still available by calling Paulson at AIDS Help at 305-293-3666.

"Homegrown fundraisers like Miss Firecracker not only generate money for AIDS Help client services, but also educate the public on new challenges," said Executive Director Scott Pridgen. "Right now, the focus is on fine-tuning care for our 55+ demographic. Getting older, the gift never thought possible, has been achieved through healthcare breakthroughs, but the toll of pharmaceuticals begets new issues. The universal aging process makes cardiac, liver and kidney frailties and metabolic disorders more difficult, and we're aggressively exploring ways to keep our Senior clients vital and healthy. That takes a broader spectrum of medical case management, housing modifications and... money."

The Miss Firecracker Pageant will be held at 8 p.m. on Tuesday, July 1 at AQUA nightclub, 711 Duval Street in Key West. For information, visit

Winnie McCroy is the Women on the EDGE Editor, HIV/Health Editor, and Assistant Entertainment Editor for EDGE Media Network, handling all women's news, HIV health stories and theater reviews throughout the U.S. She has contributed to other publications, including The Village Voice, Gay City News, Chelsea Now and The Advocate, and lives in Brooklyn, New York.


Add New Comment

Comments on Facebook