It’s been a while since I’ve done a pinup pageant so as travel slowly begins to return to normal, I started keeping an eye out on what vintage events were being held around Australia. I remember seeing the Hot Rod and Customs Pinup Pageant last year and although I wished to apply, I couldn’t quite get the timing to line up with my schedule so this year, when I saw the event was on again, I jumped at the opportunity. The Hot Rod and Customs Auto Expo is Sydney’s biggest auto event and it’s a weekend long celebration all things Hot Rod, Custom car and motorbike. On the Saturday, hosted by the iconic pinup Bettie Butcher, there is to be a pinup pageant featuring two rounds and three titles to be won. Let’s go for it.
When doing a pageant, it’s worth noting what kind of event it is held in because that will give you a clue as to the crowd and what they like to see. As I knew this was a big auto event, I wanted to challenge myself and push into the rockabilly side of vintage as opposed to my normal cutsey pinup style. There are two rounds in this pageant, day wear and swim/beach wear which allow us up to three minutes on stage with a theme of our own choosing. I was on a bit of a time crunch so there was no way I could order something online and have it arrive in time especially with the way post around Australia is at the moment. In saying that, I did have to express ship something from overseas but we will get to that later.
Let’s start with round one, daywear. When I first heard that we got to choose our own music and we had up to three minutes on stage, I knew what I wanted to do. For over a year I’ve been toying with a Jurassic Park pageant routine but I needed a pageant with a time frame of longer than a minute on stage and a chance to play our own music. With both those boxes checked, this was my moment to put this idea into a reality. As I’ve tried to bring this idea into reality before, I already had almost everything I needed. I had already a khaki coloured playsuit from Violet’s in May so that was the base of my outfit. I paired it with plain stockings and my soldier boots. To drive the dino theme home, I wore a dinosaur Erstwilder brooch and dinosaur earrings. Would you even be surprised to know that the song I chose to perform this to was the Jurassic Park theme song?
I guess I’ll note something now, as I’ve been really ill, I’ve had constant migraines for weeks straight meaning that I can’t curl my hair due to pain and that means I also can’t sleep with curlers in for the same reason. To make things a little easier for me, I decided to use a few faux hair pieces that I had to make things easier for me. I was able to give myself a victory roll right on the center front of my head and for round one, I wore a clip in pony tail, and for round two, I added a poodle. I made sure with the event co-ordinators if fake hair was ok or if we were being judged on our own hair and I was told it wasn’t a problem and we weren’t being judged on doing our own hair. I was very happy when I heard this as it just helped me calm down.
Back to round one, for my routine I came out with a map where one side read “Mon Mon’s Dino Tours” and on the other side there was a map showing where dinosaurs could be found. It was then time to embrace my binoculars and go hunting for ancient objects of which two were hidden on stage. My dad and I made up two ‘shrub’ props which were self standing and just big enough to hide something behind. Behind the first shrub, I had a vintage hubcap which I played with on stage. It’s certainly worth noting that half way through my plane trip I had a sudden realisation that I had left my hubcap in the drying rack in my kitchen after I had given it a final clean up. In a blind panic, I asked a friend if she had a spare hubcap laying around and she did! Probably the weirdest question she’d been asked in a while but by golly was I happy when she saved my butt. Special thanks and shout out to Miss Laura Jean for saving the day! After the reveal of the hubcap, I continued to hunt the second dinosaur artefact, the item that will outlive us all and never die, a Nokia phone. As a special surprise in my routine, I timed my performance so suddenly, the Nokia would start ringing and who was on the other end? My credit card company telling me my account was overdrawn of course. Let’s just say when I hung up on that call, the cheers from the crowd made me realise I wasn’t the only one who hated such calls.
Round two was swimwear/beachwear and the round I was most daunted by. All my swimwear is super cute and bright so I pushed myself to find something a little bit different and I eventually stumbled upon a replica of true vintage spiderweb bikini set from one of my favourite swimwear companies, Red Dolly. They very kindly express shipped my swimsuit to me and I got it with time to spare from the UK (unlike the items I got from Aussie sellers which arrived a week after the pageant despite telling me it’ll reach me within 4-5 days). Paired with my swimsuit, I wore a cape that I made way back in 2017 for a Halloween shoot that never happened. I decided it had waited for it’s moment for too long and all I did was add some extra rows of ribbon so it looked more like a spider web and of course, a few sparkles scattered about. To finish my outfit, I had spider earrings, a spider in my hair, nude coloured fishnets and black tiki shoes from Lucky Lou.
My routine was pretty simple, goth girl summer. I came out on stage, showed off my outfit and cape, then I built a sandcastle. Of course, there was a spider hanging about who became my friend and that’s about it. As for music, I found a swing dance remix of a Disney Halloween song which was a lot of fun and a fun choice.
After round two, we were done for the day and had a little break before crowning. We had a chance to get changed and I was really excited to wear a two piece set custom made from Turning Heads by Carolina. I was so thrilled with this set as it featured fabric I had purchased way back in 2017 for a Halloween party which got cancelled due to rain and I had always wanted to see it made up for something special. This was it’s chance to shine and I wanted to make sure it shone it’s brightest. To help it shine, I paired my outfit with nude flesh fishnets, bamboo hoop earrings and matching bangles, and my tiki shoes from the round before. For my hair I wore my ponytail from round one and a headband with some sparkly flowers I wore to a pageant quite some time ago.
I have to say, the best part of the whole pageant, was the breaks between rounds because all the contestants got to spend time together and get to know each other. I can honestly say this was one of my most favourite pageants I have ever done mainly due to the people involved. It was so lovely to chat, laugh and goof around with people I now consider friends. Everyone was so honest, open and fun to be around. Everyone was so supporting, understanding and uplifting of each other. If someone shared a problem, many offered help and it was so wholesome to see. All the girls involved were so sweet, kind, smart and funny that I kind of wish we could have just chatted all day. When one of them were on stage, we all cheered on the sideline and we were so truly happy for each other.
No matter how amazing Bettie Butcher, our fantastic host, even she cannot run such an event on her own. Being the main figure of Pinups of Australia, she has an amazing team who come together and put these events on including finding judges, sponsors and putting it all together. I absolutely have to mention the amazing judges for our pageant as each one is an incredible inspiration, an icon and a big figure in the Aussie pinup scene. First up was the legendary Betty Bang Bang who I have always looked up to, then Miss Lexi Heart who was last years Hot Rod and Customs Pinup Pageant winner, and her runner up and burlesque bombshell, Miss Cherrybomb. We were very lucky to have some incredible sponsors for our pageant this year including Shannons Insurance, Kool Kulture Sydney, Pinups of Australia and Sailor Jerry. It’s also worth giving a special shoutout to our incredible photographer Photos by Insight Imaging Newcastle.
When it was finally time for crowning, we were all super excited and a little bit jittery. We all knew this was a tough competition and each one of us had done something incredible on stage and we all looked incredible whilst doing so. I honestly think that each contestant deserved to win and I do not envy the job the judges had because I would not have wanted to make that choice. We had three titles on offer, Pinup’s Choice/Best dressed, Runner up and of course, winner. As a special extra, we had an extra prize for a junior audience member who was very well dressed and oh my gosh, Miss Mimmie was so cute I just wanted to hug and squeeze her. It is super exciting to announce that our Pinup’s Choice Best Dressed went to Miss Lulu who had an incredible vintage wardrobe and some fantastic stage presence. She reminded me to slow down on stage and to take my time and I’ll remember that for my next pageant. Our incredible runner up was none other than iconic pinup Miss Lola May who was simply perfection on stage and I adored her outfits and beachwear routine. I am beyond honoured, thrilled and full of jumping beans excited to announce that somehow, I now hold the winning title for the Hot Rod and Customs Pinup Pageant 2022.
It came as absolute shock to be announced but became an honour to be crowned by fellow WA pinup, Miss Lexi Heart. I was shocked and elated for such a moment and it truly made me so happy. This pageant was a whirlwind from start to finish and even though I definitely could have used an extra week to plan everything, I somehow managed to get it together on time and still have so much fun. This pageant meant so much to me; growing up in a family of vintage car enthusiasts, such a pageant gave me a chance to work with my dad and come up with a fun routine, props that make an impact but can also fit in a suitcase and of course, a break from the rut of my normal life.
All of us competing were super spoilt with a cute prize pack from our sponsors including a bottle of Sailor Jerry (you’re welcome Dad), some sweet merch from Pinups of Australia and Betty Butcher, and heaps of vouchers. I was so happy when we all received a finalist sash as honestly, it’s my favourite thing from a pageant and I’d gladly give up a crown for a sash. In saying that, my crown was massive and now proudly sits on my mantle before it’ll be moved to it’s home amongst my other crowns. If you have been wanting to do a pageant run by Pinups of Australia, I would highly recommend it. They are the most organised and inclusive of event runners who really strive to make everyone feel comfortable at all times. A category such as swimwear may be daunting for some but they will never force you to go out on stage if you don’t feel comfortable, they allow you to use the theme to your own personal preferences which is fantastic. They communicate so well with everyone so come pageant day, you know exactly whats going on and what to expect. It’s not easy organising such an event and I imagine it being the same as herding cats; a nightmare. But Bettie and her team make it look effortless, calm and professional and I can’t wait to see the community grow, become a safer space for all and share the love of all things vintage, pinup, rockabilly and fun.
Travelling with my Dad also gave me a chance to spend time with him and of course, go out and eat as much as humanly possible around Sydney. It was a really quick trip as I technically should still be recovering from my recent poor health so I was only away for the weekend. This pageant has honestly given me so much joy and refreshed my love of doing pageants, even though I was not feeling the best, it could not have come at a better time. I needed this pageant, after all I’ve gone through over the last few months to remind me that I can still do incredible things. I can still have fun doing a pageant, I can still travel and of course, be creative on stage.
It’s honestly felt like a lifetime has gone by since my last pageant but this once certainly made me fall in love with them all over again. I want to thank all those involved from the organisers, judges, sponsors, event holders and of course the contestants I shared the stage with. A special shout out to Miss Laura Jean for lending me a hubcap in my time of need, she really saved the day. I also need to thank my Dad for helping me make and transport props as well as always being available for manic brainstorming and putting up with my ADHD brain going a million miles an hour.
Note: This is not a sponsored post. All opinions and thoughts expressed are solely my own and not influenced in any way. There are no affiliate links and I do not benefit from any link clicks or purchases made.
3 thoughts on “Hot Rod and Customs Pinup Pageant 2022”