A bounty of beautiful boys in bathing suits vied for the coveted title of yet another of Philadelphia's monumental firsts. The Declaration of Independence, "Annual Reminders" protests, The Gay Raiders, the first proclaimed gay family vacation weekend (see related article
) all preceded the naming of the city's first gay rep to compete against the nation's leading gay contenders as Mr. Gay Philadelphia.
"I am always looking for events that involve the community," says Mr. Gay Philadelphia producer Bruce Yelk. "The Mr. Gay competition allows businesses and organizations to sponsor a contestant, thus getting more of the community together for an enjoyable night out."
Arriving at the Mask and Wig Clubhouse Saturday, March 10, 2007, attendants to Philly's first gay pageant likely didn't expect the impressive and prestigious production that was to follow. The club's dark wood/beer stein themed décor, folding chair-filled theatrical space and plastic-cup-served chardonnay out of Igloo ice coolers wasn't evocative of Philly's finest in show. Local Diva Brittany Lynn launched the evening with an impressive vaudeville opener of lip-synching and scantily-clad back up dancers before introducing her soft spoken co-host, Reichen Lehmkuhl.
Joining the star-studded line up with Lynn and Lehmkuhl were celebrity judges Michael Musto from The Village Voice, Radio with a Twist's Will Wikle and Sirius Out Q's Frank Decaro.
Seventeen contestants were submitted to a trio of tests fielding prowess in the art of donning eveningwear, bathing suits and lingerie. However "lingerie" took poetic license with the contestants, as was the case with runner up Corey Welch. Welch defined lingerie as a camo-colored thong accented by a camouflage codpiece.
Come evening's end, Andrew Petruzelli was named both Mr. Congeniality and Mr. Philadelphia. The title affords Petruzelli the opportunity to again parade his wears while representing the city of Brotherly Love during the Mr. Gay U.S.A. contest in California held in the fall of this year. He better lay off the cheese steaks ‘till then.
Photos By C. Sembrot for the Greater Philadelphia Tourism Marketing Corporation; www.gophila.com.
Corey Welch by Jason P. Freeman.