Nice Jewish Boys, the local LGBTQ Jewish social organization, is accepting applications and nominations for its annual Mr. Nice Jewish Boy DC pageant through May 9.
Held annually in August, the pageant seeks talented people of Jewish heritage to sing, dance, tell jokes, and otherwise entertain the masses, answering questions from a panel of judges (and maybe pulling off the occasional group musical number) as they compete for honor, pride, and — new this year — a special grand prize.
“We secured a major sponsor to give a gift to the winner. Last year, there was no big prize, other than some press and bragging rights, if you will. This year, the contestants are competing for something substantial and exciting: VIDA Fitness has donated a full-year all-access gym membership that includes access to their pool and rooftop facilities priced at about $2,000,” says Jeremy Gilston, the runner-up from the 2017 pageant and chief organizer.
“I think that’s really going to excite the people competing, as well as the audience, who will see that there’s some skin in the game and will attend to show support for their favorite contestants,” Gilston adds.
Last year, the event, held at U Street Music Hall, was packed to capacity, with standing room only. It’s crucial that this year’s event bring at least as many people, as organizers are hoping to raise as much money as they can from ticket sales to beat last year’s cash haul of $4,000.
Proceeds from ticket sales will benefit Keshet, and LGBTQ Jewish organization, and its Shabbaton, or retreat for LGBTQ youth that serves as a community-building and leadership program. Last year, the event was able to pay for registrations for four youth who wished to attend but didn’t have enough financial support.
U Street Music Hall will again host the pageant, continuing its positive working relationship with Nice Jewish Boys.
“U Street Music Hall was glad to have us back,” says Gilston. “All the staff was super-friendly, and they even helped us clean up. They literally told us: ‘We can’t wait to see you again soon.’ So we asked again for this year, they received us with open arms, we went back and forth on dates, and it was a really easy process. Last year was harder because we were trying to find a new place that had everything we needed. We found that in U Street Music Hall, so it was a win-win for both of us.”
In keeping with NJB tradition, the current Mr. Nice Jewish Boy 2019 Jeremy Sherman, and last year’s runner-up, Zach Levine, have joined the planning committee and will help carry out the event. Sherman, as the reigning titleholder, will also co-host the event on Sunday, Aug. 4 along with New York-area drag queen Lady SinAGaga, a well-known Orthodox Jewish drag queen from NYC who was recently named one of the “Four Jewish Drag Queens You Need to Know” by the online website Alma.
“People in D.C. may not be familiar with Lady SinAGaga, but she’s kind of taken the place of Miz Cracker, who became a RuPaul’s Drag Race girl. And when you cut off the head of the dragon, another one appears,” says Gilston.
“Lady SinAGaga is a New York City queen, who doesn’t do many gigs in D.C., and we were looking for a well-known Jewish host, so she was the person who came to mind,” he adds. “And it turned out she was as interested in us as much as we were interested in her. We’re opening a whole new audience for her, and she’s bringing a whole new experience to us.”
While the pageant will largely remain the same, there will be some time allotted for a special performance by Lady SinAGaga. There will also be a silent auction, and portion of the proceeds from drink sales will go towards Keshet’s Shabboton.
While the final panel of judges has not been set yet, Gilston hopes to put together a three-person panel with a local D.C. Jewish resident, a prominent D.C. elected official or community figure (for the seat that was filled last year by Ward 1 Councilmember Brianne Nadeau), and at least one Jewish mother.
This year, the pageant’s after-party will be sponsored by the Dirty Goose, who will also donate a portion of drink sales from the after-party to Keshet, says Gilston.
Contestants are encouraged to fill out an application form at https://forms.gle/YDNZLt7h7MSUReuY6. In a new twist, pageant organizers are asking community members to submit the name of their own ideal Mr. Nice Jewish Boy by filling out a nomination form at https://forms.gle/SNJJBG8SB8FjMBsJ7.
The Mr. Nice Jewish Boy DC Pageant will take place on Sunday, Aug. 4, from 2-5 p.m. at U Street Music Hall, 1115A U St. NW. For more information about the pageant or Nice Jewish Boys, visit www.facebook.com/NJB.DC.