A score of Lady Gaga look-a-likes and garden-variety gay-listers packed Uptown Park's nightlife mecca, Belvedere, to the brim on Friday. Typically the domain of Houston's prowling cougars, the lounge was turned upside down in celebration of the decade's most celebrated diva.
"It's a gaggle of Gagas," exclaimed judge Todd Ramos, "and it's fabulous!"
The night's action surrounded a contest in which each entrant was granted a moment to strut their stuff behind velvet ropes, while the team of judges, which also included cosmetics head Edward Sanchez and fashion plate Evelyn Gorman, postured poker faces and recorded careful notes between cocktails (a portion of the bar tab benefited The Center for AIDS).
And what a parade it was. In an unprecedented testament to Lady Gaga's diverse collection of getups, each contestant portrayed a different iconic look. Regarding the artistry represented, Ramos reported, "It's absolutely phenomenal. I love to see that there were more women than guys! And the fact that they really put so much thought into it. You always expect that out of the boys. But the girls really brought down the house tonight.
"I love a good tranny show, but they stepped it up."
The competition was just as fierce as Gaga herself. After a tense intermission, finalists were called upon to answer Gaga trivia and articulate their dedication to the disco-stick-wielding singer. Ultimately, a black-hooded and broken-mirror-masked Rachel Walton was declared runner-up. Nicole Barcas took away the grand prize: Four tickets to the sold-out Monster Ball concert at the Toyota Center on July 25.
"This is an amazing turnout," effused Gorman, who had flown in from New York, "People just put together such lovely semblances of Lady Gaga and went all out. Our winner is our winner, and she is fabulous. Fab-u-lous!"
Barcas glowed through her red lace body suit: "It's the first time that I've ever won anything! It's wonderful." She'd taken off from work and spent the entire day sewing together her elaborate ensemble.
No Gaga went home unhappy, though — contestants and their comrades danced to the bad beats of DJ Blake Davidson until Belvedere sent them back where they came from.