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LITTLE RIVER, S.C.—Beauty on Saturday night was definitely in the eyes of the beholders—the audience and judges who attended a womanless pageant, that is.
Staged at North Myrtle Beach High School, the first Kayla Marie Bennett Memorial Scholarship Womanless Beauty Pageant drew 22 “lovely” males who gussied up and strutted their stuff for the fundraiser.
The event paid tribute to the memory of Kayla on the one-year anniversary of her death. Kayla was a rising junior at NMBHS when she was killed on the night of July 26, 2007, in a one-vehicle crash outside Loris, S.C. The crash was attributed to speeding and drunk driving by another teen. Kayla’s grandmother, Deborah Hardee Causey, lives in the Calabash area.
Brunswick County competitors included David “Bubbles” Moore, Fred “Miss Buttermilk” Morris and Nick “Luscious Lilly” Randone.
Moore, of Shallotte, is Kayla’s uncle. Sporting long blonde tresses and a matching mustache, he pranced to the Pussycat Dolls’ hit, “Don’t Cha (Wish Your Girlfriend Was Hot Like Me)” in the talent portion of the competition.
“I know Britney Spears is jealous,” show announcer Joe Chestnut said at the conclusion of Moore’s performance.
Morris, who by day is Brunswick County’s code enforcement administrator, was named second runner-up after leaving the judges speechless with his “Little River Bluegrass” banjo-playing in a pink tutu.
Randone is the son of Brunswick County GIS Manager Steve Randone, who was Kayla’s church youth group leader. Nick wowed the crowd with his bright pink hair and questionable question-answering ability.
The winner of the pageant was Mark Grogan of Little River, S.C., aka “Miss Zulu Van Washington,” who performed a Church Lady routine to be named the first Miss NMB Drag Queen.
While the goal was laughter, which Morris said is the best medicine, there also was a serious side to remember Kayla in photographs shown on a screen and honor her parents, Greg and Connie Bennett, and other family members in attendance.
At 10:59 p.m., the time the 16-year-old died one year ago, the pageant’s cast and crew gathered with her family at IHOP in North Myrtle Beach to release pink and green balloons—Kayla’s trademark colors—into the late July night.