Rotting flesh, stilted movement, and high fashion: the trifecta for a zombie beauty queen. The undead have become a pervasive part of our culture, and so it only seemed natural for Sam Antics, a local makeup artist, to create and organize a zombie beauty pageant, appropriately dubbed “Ms. Living Dead.” Not only would the pageant deconstruct societal norms about beauty, but it also would contribute 100 percent of its proceeds to Pets without Parents, a local no-kill animal shelter.
“I love zombies, I love animals, and I love makeup—how can I put all of these things together and do something good?” Antics asked herself. She has a lot of experience with doing makeup for beauty pageants, so creating a zombie pageant was a bit of a no-brainer.
In collaboration with Panda, a professional photographer who lives in Columbus, and Joe Knapik, aka the Zombie Priest, aka Father Seymour Rot, who has been a major player in Columbus’s annual Zombie Walk, what began as an entertaining idea has now manifested into reality—a full on zombie bash for a good cause.
“What it’s all about is charity—Pets without Parents. Sure we are having a ball, but what better way to reach out and help others than zombies?”
The competition will consist of three parts: swimsuit, talent, and evening wear. The judges are industry experts and local celebrities, including the Zombie Priest himself. Even better, it will be hosted by local newscaster and former beauty queen Monica Day, who is more excited than anyone. The event will conclude with a runway show featuring local designers who have selected special “GORE-geous” pieces for their models. The winner of the pageant will be crowned Ms. Living Dead for the year, and she will make appearances at local events, including sci-fi conventions, Gallery Hop, and the annual HighBall costume bash.
Some of the contestants are everyday fashion models, others are single moms, and some are just folks who live (and die and come back from the dead) for zombie culture, who have spent a lot of time working for Haunted Hoochie and other horror-themed attractions.
“A big part of what I enjoy about the zombie subculture is that it brings people together that normally wouldn’t interact in daily life,” Antics said. But the common thread is that they all wanted to come together and do something for a cause.
“What it’s all about is charity—Pets without Parents,” Knapik said. “Sure we are having a ball, but what better way to reach out and help others than zombies?”
Local businesses like Evolved, Columbus Air Brush, Rendezvous Salon, Big Fun, Aveda, Seabolt and Co., and many others have already signed on and donated resources to make the first annual Ms. Living Dead pageant a success. The Garden Theater is only charging the bare minimum required to break even on its daily overheard.
“Pets without Parents do not do anything that is non-volunteer based, and their current facility is just a dilapidated home,” Antic said, wiping her eyes. “They have been trying to save forever to get a new facility to care for their animals.”
“We were looking for someone in special need,” added Knapik. “These people are desperate. They need help now. And after all, who doesn’t like puppies and kitties?”
And so everyone is donating their time and money to make this event as successful as possible. After all, gathering together and watching a handful of decomposing models flounce around elegantly in summer swimwear can be a meaningful experience. This is one of those times. •
Ms. Living Dead will be held September 19 at the Garden
Theater. For tickets and more
information, visit shortnorthstage.org.