Deep in the heart of the Cape’s most violent ganglands sequins are being sewn, hair arranged, tiaras polished, stilettos worn in, lashes glued and shimmies perfected: all for a night of glitz, glamour and the honour of being Miss Gay Western Cape. Award-winning author Beukes (her novel, Zoo City, has just taken the Arthur C Clarke award) turns a filmic eye on a few of the contenders during the prelim rounds who bravely present their glittering inner lady to the world, and ask to be crowned. Kat Gilardi is the previous year’s princess and has her eye on the prize but a family illness could derail all the work her and her hubby have put in. Miss Eva Torez works by day as a mechanic, by night she scrubs off the grease and shines, and Miss Kayden van Eden, winner of many straight female pageants, is preparing for the ultimate operation and still manages to glimmer and sashay down the catwalk.
As 14 contestants battle it out for the title of Miss Gay Western Cape in South Africa’s biggest female impersonator pageant, we follow three contestants through the prelim rounds, into the back-stories of their lives, all the way to the outrageous spectacle of the big night.