City Lights: Get a move on for competition

All right, I have three months to move to Huntington Beach.

During interviews, sources often ask me whether I actually live in Surf City. I tell them no, I live in Costa Mesa, but that's "close enough." Nonsense. The first Mr. Huntington Beach pageant in nearly 20 years is coming to town Nov. 18, and I want in.

After all, I have talents to spare. I can sit on a beach chair wearing a Gumby costume and have an assistant fit a kite string in my hand. I can write and sing a horrible rap song. I can even walk a tightrope, provided that the rope is lying on the floor. Don't think I'm being silly — Mr. Huntington Beach contestants did all those things in the past, and no one laughed at them.

Or, rather, everyone laughed. The pageant, in Festival Hall at Old World Village, is meant as a parody of beauty contests. Competitors have to display a talent to the three-judge panel and present themselves in evening wear and a swimsuit, and they're invited — no, downright expected — to make a sham of all three. But it's all for a good cause; funds raised go toward the serious Miss Huntington Beach pageant, and also to the nonprofits and service groups that sponsor each of the contestants.

"It's a parody of a pageant," said Cindy Cross, the event's organizer. "It's not a pageant-pageant. Except they do get a crown and roses."

Cross, you may remember, is also the woman in charge of the Huntington Beach 3/1 Marines Foundation, which benefits the troops the city adopted a few years ago. And the first-ever Mr. Huntington Beach was Don MacAllister, who co-runs the Surfing Walk of Fame downtown. That's part of the fun of being a reporter, discovering the hidden sides of people.

It's also part of the fun of Mr. Huntington Beach. And maybe there's no venue in town that would do it justice except Old World Village. The first time Cross held the pageant in the 1990s, it proved to be a rollicking evening. The event moved to the Hilton Waterfront Beach Resort for the second year, but the atmosphere proved a little too restrained.

"When you go to the Hilton, you kind of act on your best behavior," Cross explained. "People weren't really yelling back at the contestants."

Old World Village, though, seems to specialize in oddball, informal events — dachshund races, improv comedy and the like. So when the shenanigans kick off again, Cross is hoping for a raucous good time.

It could turn out to be a profitable night, too. Contestants in the previous pageants were backed by the Chamber of Commerce, Rotary Club, Kiwanis Club and others, and contestants can sell votes for $1 apiece, with every $100 they raise adding a point to their score. There will also be a $35 charge for spectators, which includes dinner.

And at the show's end, the audience gets to enjoy the rare sight of three men wearing sashes and carrying roses, with the middle one sporting a glittery crown.

Gumby suits are, of course, optional.

City Editor MICHAEL MILLER can be reached at (714) 966-4617 or at

How To Contact

For information on how to enter the pageant, e-mail Mr. Huntington Beach organizer Cindy Cross at

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