Sunday, June 28, 2009

Miss New York ... Update #2!

Ok, where did we leave off? Friday? Think so.


Talent tech rehearsals in the AM. These went well, 'nuf said. We took a tour of the Capitol Building today and it is gorgeous. I had already explored quite a bit of the capitol at Equality & Justice Day in Albany in April, but I had never actually been on the floor of the Senate or Assembly. These rooms are filled with hand carved wooden ceilings and stone and marble columns - just gorgeous. But hey, fear not, we didn't interrupt anything...there is still the big stalemate going on. Hopefully they get back to work ASAP because we have $2.7 billion on the line in the way of bills that we will lose by Tuesday if they are not in session. Here's a great photo from the million dollar steps.

Prelims. Opening number - snazzy of course. On-stage question followed. Mine was written by Leigh-Taylor Smith, Miss NY 2008 and read, "If your younger sister or brother came to you and told you they were having sex and wanted you to buy condoms, would you?" (Thought: Hannah is in the audience right now.) "Absolutely, yes I would. Teenagers are engaging in premarital sex at a younger and younger age and we cannot only be sending a message about abstinence anymore. We need to talk about condoms, birth control, etc in sex education in schools, but it starts at home. The duty of an older sibling is to be a role model and as that, I would take my sister to go buy condoms with her." whew. Immediate text to LT: Thanks, condoms. Jumped into Swimsuit (even on my off night) for the Swimsuit production number...yeah dancin' in a swimsuit to "Green Eyed Lady." And stretch. I danced my talent "Wonderful" and it was the greatest feeling!!! At one point, I got a little behind the music, but I didn't care at all because I was just holding my leg alllll the way up in the air, staring down a judge! hahaha Loved it and it was the best time I have performed it. At this point, all of our preliminary scores were in, and I could not be more proud of how I presented myself! That's the best feeling!!


Congratulations to Friday's Prelim Winners: Alpha Swimsuit, Alyse Zwick, Westchester County Omega Talent, Amanda Mason, Metropolitan Alpha Evening Gown, Danielle Rountree, Greater Gotham

Afterwards we went back to the hotel for our NVM|9 fitting and Eli Wedel arrived!!! Yayyyyyy best guy friend and I haven't seen him for a year :) amazing.

Meanwhile, my little nugget Lydia Daley was competing for Miss Indiana's Outstanding Teen -- and she won!! Yayyyyyyy!!! Congratulations!


First order of business, sleep in. Throw that hair in a rockin' ponytail and squeeze on my NVM|9 black wax skinny jeans and red heels for the NVM|9 fashion show. This was a blast. We did a show at Colonie Center Mall featuring our 21 contestants and Alexander Mazzuchelli, Miss NY Outstanding Teen 2008. She is a phenomenal singer!! Autograph signing then off to photos and the Cheesecake Factory <-- yummmm. And yes, we did all share a piece of cheesecake :)




Miss New York's Outstanding Teen Pageant was a blast ~ Everyone did a fabulous job! A special congratulations to my teen, Nirvanna - she represented Team Jubilee very well!! These girls definitely lit a fire under our butts because they verged on putting us to shame in talent AND on stage question! The teen pageants are always amazing to watch because they are so talented. These girls have so much confidence and just really go out there and lay it on the line. One may not be the most technical dancer, but she was DANCING so hard!! It was motivating, I'll tell you what. However, someone WAS the most technical dancer. I have to give a shout out to Ali Stroming. She is an ABT dancer and would win talent at Miss New York & Miss America -- not MAOT, I'm talking about the big girls in Miss America. She was stunningly gorgeous in a contemporary pointe dance. I can't wait to photograph her in the city. Congratulations for a GREAT show to all of the girls, and especially to the new Miss New York's Outstanding Teen, Kara Jae Kowalski!!! I will say this, it was pretty awesome to see how all of us Miss girls cheered on the Teens - they deserved it.


We attended the Miss NY Ball following with great gift baskets - all the girls did such a fab job getting their baskets together -- thank you Michael Nash for your donation!!! We had a great night of dancing and fun with the teeny boppers :) Everyone looked fantastic!! (I was rockin a Brooke Waddell original and lovin' it :) )

my dad and me - he's doing his "pageant pose" :)

Friday, June 26, 2009

Miss New York....Update!!


For those of you who haven't heard -- It's been a GRRREAT week!!

Early AM I struggled to get my HEAVY bag down the 4 flights of stairs to then stuff into Marina's car. And we were off!

We arrived in Albany at the Crowne Plaza Hotel to meet my roomie Melanie, Miss Southeast New York. Straight off to rehearsals for hours and hours with Kent Parnham, who absolutely rivals Bridget Bobel for the hottest walk. :) "Temptation Eyes" is the opening number and it is a DANCE number. A few of us have a SERIOUS dance break ... in heels. It's great though. Mid-way through rehearsals we get the news that we will be eating at a 5 star restaurant, 677 Prime, and that there will be lots of media there. Awesome. 9 hours of rehearsal and sweat ... television. So we all ponytailed it up and through on cocktail dresses (mine courtesy of Tennessee legend Brooke Waddell) and went out for a trolly ride around Albany with Henry Hudson and then to dinner. I was in the paper! I'll have to find the link for it and post it here soon. Cute photo with 5 girls at dinner. Dinner was... amazing. Good thing it was the first night! Back to more rehearsals - luckily this day was in tennis shoes.


Wednesday we did not leave The Egg theatre or our heels all day. Swimsuit walks & patterns, evening gown, opening number, parade of contestants, on stage question, talent run throughs, and wait for it....we started to learn our swimsuit production number dance. I got lucky -- I'm just in the walking group, not the dancing group. Get ready for that one. Anyway - hours upon hours of rehearsals and getting to know the girls better. I'm pretty sure I'll give Colleen Gagne, Miss Central Region, my favorite award. :) She's fantastic.


Interviews. Wait a second though - who knocked on my door while I'm in a towel and no makeup? The Insider for Entertainment Tonight. They are doing a "Behind the Scenes" spot on Miss New York. Art, our new PR director has done an amazing job of promoting the pageant in Albany and beyond. We talked to my sister Sarah in Africa on Skype, did my makeup - well eyeshadow and ONE eye in eyeliner...ummmm - and then I revealed my interview outfit, including the Judith Leiber belt I have on loan. Melanie and I had a funny little recap of our friendship, roommate proposal, and both of our desire for the title of Miss New York 2009. (She's a great roommate). So that left me 25 min pre-interview, in a towel. Hurry. I seem to do well under pressure though!! I had a great interview that was very personal and about ME. Not one current event question (oh well...thanks Marni for sending the questions) but instead the judges were very knowledgeable about each of us individually.

The dress. So one of my questions was about designing my own gown. I was able to tell the story of that process but also the test of flexibility that it has been. My dress arrived in a box in Albany at the hotel. And it did not fit. So, luckily, Sherri Hill's people were here from Red Carpet Pageant and Prom, and they saved my life. well, my dress' life. They altered away while I was in rehearsals (running gown with our swimsuit fabric stuck in my shorts to create a skirt to practice the stairs, etc). I get the gown and it fits!!! Two steps on stage....rrrrrip. Luckily we're still in rehearsals at this point, but I ripped a hole in the dress because it's way too long. So I have people to thank: Red Carpet for alterations, Melanie for her patience and walking with me to figure out where to pin my dress together so I wouldn't trip, Keelie for her sewing kit so that I could sew my dress together, Kristen for steaming my (and everyone's) dress. So after all of that, you could guess my utter shock when I won Evening Gown later that evening. (sorry to spoil that one...)


Prelims. Opening number was A BLAST!! So fun to get out there and dance and perform. I'm sure it looks amazing from stage in our blinding silver dresses! I did swimsuit and evening gown prelims tonight and felt great in both! I did come away as the Preliminary Swimsuit and Evening Gown winner in my group, while Talent went to vocalist Danielle Roundtree, Miss Greater Gotham. Sooooo exciting!!!! I need to divide my bouquet among those people I mentioned above for my gown award. And I think I'll give Chris, my trainer, a nice little flower when I get home :) Hard work pays off!!

It was wonderful to see my mom and sister afterwards!! yipeeeee!!!

OK - I realize I'm cutting this off...but I'ts 6:25 and I really need to go put some curlers in my hair and sit in the splits for a while. :) Talent Prelims tonight for me -- dancing my little feet off! And avoiding a Miss CA USA moment in On Stage Question...but you can still ask me about gay marriage...... snicker...snicker :)


Sorry - uploading my pics takes too long :( <-- they're on facebook now!

Wednesday, June 24, 2009


Miss New York 2009 is going to be broadcast live on the internet!!

Thursday 8:00 pm EST Swimsuit and Evening Gown
Friday 8:00 pm EST On Stage Question and Talent

Sunday 2:30 pm EST FINALS!!! Top 10 and Miss New York revealed!!!


Updates to come ....


Love, Claire

Tuesday, June 23, 2009

And I'm off!

Wow. Cannot believe it is here. I leave in 7 short hours for Miss New York. I'm incredibly excited, motivated, anxious, nervous, excited, excited and intrigued. Intrigued? Yes, I am. I'm extremely interested to see how this week pans out, what the climate is like, what the results will be, and what the future holds for all of us.

Thank you to all of you who have supported me in this journey thus far. It is faaarrr from over, regardless of who's head has a sparkly thing on it on Sunday. Thank you for your kind words of encouragement and motivation that will fuel the energy I need to get through this week. I am not only representing myself and the city of New York as well as our state, I am representing all of you. My family and friends: you have molded me into who I am today.

To give you a glimpse of my schedule:

Arrive in Albany for Orientation then rehearsals until 10:00p

Rehearsals all day

Interview in the afternoon
Dress rehearsal
Prelim Night #1 - Swimsuit & Evening Gown

Rehearsals, Capital Tour, CMN Hospital visit
Prelim Night #2 - On Stage Question & Talent

NVM|9 Fashion Show & Autograph session
Family time!
Miss New York's Outstanding Teen Pageant & Gala

Miss New York Finals! at 2:30p -- Send the good vibes & prayers!

I'll have my computer with me so feel free to email or even better, skype me in the evenings when I'm back at the hotel (after 10p)! I'm going to make a very good effort to blog while I'm there - at least results, can't promise photos! So be checking in!

Let's do this. :) CLAIRE

Saturday, June 20, 2009

Send-Off Success!


I <3 rain. Nope. At 5:15 as I'm scrambling to get out the door with all of my wardrobe, raffle prizes, music, etc, it started pouring rain. Thanks to my mom grabbing a cab and saving the day, we arrived in plenty of time to get organized and set things up. First of all a HUGE thanks to Therapy. They put out the most beautiful spread of fruit, cheese, and hummus and have the best bartenders and servers you could ask for. Thank you manager Scott Ryan for helping everything run so smoothly, and owner Tom Johnson for working with us to make this a profitable and wonderful fundraiser!

We had a small group, but a great representation of all of the people who have been a part of this journey with me. Thanks to Arnie's family for their help taking tickets and donations, Bridget Bobel (Miss Indiana USA 2006) for hosting the evening, and all of those in attendance from the Miss Jubilee Organization, PFLAG, Ball State University, my UES crew, and IN folks!! I showed my wardrobe - well all of it that I possessed at the time and we gave out some fabulous raffle prizes including Personal Training sessions with my trainer, "British hunk" Chris Greenaway, a gift basket of Italian goodies, one of my dance photographs and a great dinner for 4 to Bar Italia on the Upper East Side.

I will take all of your energy and encouragement with me to Albany!! Thank you everyone for your words, smiles, hugs and advice! & love :)


Wednesday, June 17, 2009

PFLAG NYC + My mommy!

Sunday, I was officially elected onto the Board of PFLAG NYC (Parents, Families & Friends of Lesbians and Gays). I was first asked, by Drew Tagliabue Executive Director, at the Immigration Equality Gala I blogged about a few weeks ago and I was really beside myself and quite honored. I feel that I have a lot to give to this board, bringing diversity with my youth and personal experience. Since our main focus is going to be the Safe Schools Program, I add a relatability factor to our presentation with the high school and middle school kids. It has been a major launching pad for my involvement in my platform and I'm super excited to give back through this new commitment. My 3-year term begins now!

So those are the facts; that was the day. Here is the cool part. I drive back from my lunch with Kirsten Haglund, can't find a parking spot, so I drive to the meeting at St. Bart's on 50th & Park Ave. I'm early so I walk to the front of the church and sit out on stairs in the sun, talking to my mom for 20 mins. She finally says "Hey it's 10 til, don't you think you should head on up?" So I do and agree to call her later. Elevator doors open and who's sitting there? JoJo. "whattt???" tears. In my favorite book, The Last Lecture, Randy Plausch writes, "I won the parent lottery." When I read this, I wrote it down in my journal because I. Did. Too. My parents just got back from a big hiking trip with lots of couples and both felt it was extremely important to have someone there to watch me get elected to MY board. My mom was on the school board for 8 years, and I remember the very first board meeting and the importance of our family in attendance. I'm so incredibly grateful and lucky to have the parents who will fly out to NY for the day to support me in the special moments in my life. My dad couldn't come because of work, but he was so happy that my mom could be there to represent both of them. When people at PFLAG met my mom, they got it. They understood me. Because I am who I am because of my family.

Call your family members and tell them you love them.

Miss Delaware Weekend


For those of you who don't know, I competed in the National Sweetheart Pageant last summer, which is a "mock Miss America" for all of the state 1st or 2nd Runners Up. It is the best week....ever. Held in Hoopeston, IL literally in the middle of the cornfields, Sweetheart will forever be one of my favorite weeks, and the beginning of some new, wonderful friendships. Since I moved to NY the day after Sweetheart, it seemed to be just fate that I happened to be roommates with Miss Delaware, Julie Fuller, and carpoolers with Miss New Jersey, Ashleigh Udalovas, and Miss DC, Jen Corey. BTW I really mean....corn.

Saturday, Miss Delaware Finals, I made the trip out to support Julie. Miss Brooklyn, Keelie Sheridan, and I (so very very very thankfully) borrowed my friend Ilan's car (pretty sweet ride) and cruised over the Delaware Memorial Bridget to the Dover Downs Hotel & Casino. I have to give a shout out to Keelie for pretty rockin' conversation all the way there & back (well almost...) :-) The 2009 Pageant featured Galen Giaccone, Miss DE 2008, who shared her Miss America Prelim Talent winning piano piece along with other special performances. Another very special guest was our own Miss America, Katie Stam, looking S-T-U-N-N-I-N-G in a yellow one-shouldered dress. We definitely put up a fight for best cheering section for Julie, especially when she rocked it in swimsuit with a gold bengal :) Julie was named 4th Runner Up to the new Miss Delaware (and clearly fantastic interviewer) Heather Lehman. Congratulations!!

A big highlight for me was seeing Katie. So awesome to be able to hug her -- it's been since April -- and store up for my Miss NY week without her. The last state pageant I was in, unbeknownst to us at the time, I had Miss America by my side all along, and someone to pray with before the curtain dropped each night.


As if time with one Miss America wasn't satisfying enough, I woke up Sunday morning to eat brunch with Kirsten Haglund, Miss America 2008 and her mother, Iora. They are two fantastic ladies and it was so great to finally meet in person. I am working with them to help develop the brand of The Kirsten Haglund Foundation with logos, t-shirts, stationery and more! If you haven't met a Miss America, I think the most important thing for you to realize, and keep in mind when meeting her, or when [perhaps subconsciously] judging her in the public eye: These girls are just regular girls....twenty-somethings who are someone's daughter, sister, college roommate, and friend...all special, nonetheless. WHAT A GREAT WEEKEND!! And it wasn't even close to over.... segue to the next post.

Monday, June 15, 2009



Click to enlarge invitation.

Gift prizes include: Italian Gift Basket, Armani Fragrances, Free Personal Training, Photography, Dinner for Four at Bar Italia

Drinks included: House Wine, Tap Beer, House Cosmo (1 free) - the rest are on Happy Hour pricing!


Tuesday, June 9, 2009

The vote is coming soon!

The vote on Marriage Equality is coming to the NY Senate VERY soon. I just received this message from the Human Rights Campaign and I urge you to copy the link below and send a message to your Senator. If EVERYONE who reads my blog sends their letters to their Senators, I realize that I will only make a difference of about 7, however, every letter counts. If you're a Manhattan-ite, you can thank your Senators because they are in support of Marriage Equality (duh.). So please, send this on and in the mean time, cross every finger, toe, etc that is cross-able that New York joins the states that are just and equal.


I just read about the bill that would allow same-sex couples to marry in New York, and I thought I'd write you. This issue is really important to me, and I'm hoping you'll take a minute to ask your NY state senator to support the bill.

The state Senate is going to vote on it soon, and Governor Paterson has vowed to sign it. But a handful of senators are still sitting on the fence, and yours might be one of them. Even if your state senator supports marriage equality, it is important that they hear from constituents that they are doing the right thing – opponents of marriage equality are trying to convince them otherwise.

Will you tell your state senator to vote YES on marriage equality? Here's a link to an action page with a pre-written message – simply enter your name and address and click "send message," and an email goes to your state senator automatically:

If you want to make even more of a difference, you can call your state senator at 518-455-2800.

And be sure to send this to everyone else you know in New York.

Thank you so much for your support!

Sunday, June 7, 2009

Sweetheart girls!

Last summer, I competed at National Sweetheart (wow that REALLY makes me seem like a pageant girl.), which is considered a "mock Miss America" for all of the state 1st or 2nd Runners Up. As we get back into the state pageant season, many of us are competing again for our chance to all go to Miss America together!

So far one has made it!! (Thanks to updates from Keelie, Miss Brooklyn, who is there watching the pageant...)

Nicole Miner is your new Miss New Mexico!!! She was a prelim talent winner (Amazing singer - "Foolish Games") and prelim swimsuit winner. Above all, the nicest girl you'll meet.

Congratulations as well to:

Missouri: Kari Gai, Prelim Swimsuit and Overall Talent and 1st Runner Up
Alabama: Shelli Street, Prelim Talent and Interview (tie)
Nebraska: Devin Howell, Prelim Talent, Swimsuit, Evening Gown and 1st Runner Up
Kansas: Danielle Coffman, Top 10

Although I am very excited for each of these girls to have, I'm sure, done their absolute best, it's hard to watch! It just goes to show you how "different judges, different day" produce a different winner. No matter how many prelims you do or do not win, it comes down to the judges ballot. There is no guessing as to what the judges want, you just have to bring the best YOU forward and know that you have done all you can to represent yourself, your local title, your community, and your state. Now I have to take that to my state pageant and really live by my own advice.

Thursday, June 4, 2009

breakthrough | mix it up

breakthrough is an international human rights organization that uses education, popular culture, and media to promote values of equality, justice, and dignity.

"We collaborate with the entertainment industry, educational institutions, and civil society groups to build a public dialogue around concerns that include: HIV/AIDS and Sexuality; Women's Rights; Racial Justice and Immigrant Rights; Religious Tolerance and Peace; and Human Rights in the United States"

Congratulations, Claire. You have found your match. I mean, really? This description is my life! [Seriously, my dad wrote a book on embracing religious diversity and my mom signs every email with "peace"] I love when things like this happen. I secured Therapy Lounge for my send off party and at that time was invited by the owner, Tom Johnson, to attend this breakthrough event on Monday and cross-promote my fundraiser. I had no idea that a) I was an actual part of their program, speech and all, or b) that this organization so closely overlapped with exact words of my platform essay. I was so proud to stand before them, feeling 100% supported, and say "This event is called mix it up. That's exactly what I'm here to do. I'm here to break stereotypes, to be vocal about gay rights and my straight ally support, to educate so many people who are misinformed and as a result close-minded. I'm here to mix it up and break through as a new face in the Miss America Organization, representing this great state of NY."

Check them out

Tuesday, June 2, 2009

Miss Jubilee Send-Off Party & Fundraiser