What do you get when you mix a room full of grumpy cross-dressers, free booze and surprises left, right and centre? The launch of the Drag Industry Variety Awards (DIVA) 2006, of course.

The launch was held at Stonewall Hotel on Monday night, in a room full of un-cross-dressed cross-dressers and their mates, all eager to find out all the goss. Being the captain at the helm for the proceedings, who would be more qualified to pass onto you the lowdown than me?

This year’s DIVA will return to Star City on 28 August, with red carpet happening on Jones Bay Road from 7pm sharp till 7:45pm. Six belles from the red carpet will be chosen as finalists to compete for Belle of the Ball.

This year’s theme for the evening is Beauty Pageant, which was announced to the awaiting crowd by the unveiling of the poster. The brief for the poster was: limited Photoshopping and airbrushing, bringing us a good dose of reality.

Ten models were chosen to display their reactions as they won their first DIVA.

Models included Portia (she really was surprised or spooked -“ not sure which one), Candy (Sally Spectra blow-up doll now available), Mitzi (the muppet), Shelley (why such the long face at this exciting time?), Keren (fuck off, it’s my crown), Robyn Lee (giving her best Home Alone impersonation), Cindy (keep the noise down -“ you are hurting my old ears), Joyce (actually looks beautiful), Verushka (is close to tears about everything), and then there is me.

I was told I was to look like I had won my first DIVA. Actually, when I won my first DIVA I was as fat as a house, so the fact I look like a wildebeest in a tiara hits the nail on the head.

All jokes aside, I think this year’s poster is going to give birth to some of the best facial gymnastics ever at Star City. In fact, as I type madly now, I’m exercising my face to make sure I give 110 percent on the night.

If you want your favourite showgirl to win you have to vote, and this year voting will take place at the Colombian Hotel on 26 August from noon to 5pm. If you want to attend this year’s DIVA you can buy tickets at Ticketmaster, so make sure you pull your finger out and organise your tables now.

For the next four weeks, I suggest you keep out of the way of any showgirl with that DIVA look on her face. Let’s face it, at this stage she has probably already spent thousands of dollars and hundreds of hours and is still looking for two buttons to match her shoes. Watch out, I tell you, watch out!

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