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25 Years and Counting...
Pageantry Magazine's 25th Anniversary

Pageantry magazine is certainly the most significant, reliable, and sought-after contemporary source of information about beauty, modeling, and talent competitions on our planet. Whether you are a child beginning preparations for your first event or a seasoned competitor with many years of professional preparation under your tiara, Pageantry represents your “Bible,” a revered source of knowledge about the competition scene that, in page after colorful page and issue after issue, provides people the world over with shining role models of success. As a far-reaching record of those triumphs, the pages of Pageantry surely must be the most clipped and scrapbooked of any publication ever printed. Within the tear sheets are your memories immortalized! The magazine’s published photographs of the swimsuits, the interview outfits, the gowns, and the crowns that you have appeared in throughout the last 25 years serve as nostalgic reminders of the innumerable challenges you have faced and overcome. Pageantry’s articles and photos serve as lasting evidence of the ovations and other kudos you have received in those often once-in-a-lifetime moments, when you have proven yourself worthy of a competition’s judges panel and received the everlasting respect, recognition, and rewards that accompany such titles.

From the appearance of its first issue, Pageantry identified the key qualities of pageants which positively combine society’s traditional view of women, which highlighted her natural beauty, with the emerging modern view.

Pageantry magazine was founded in 1980, making 2004 the publication’s 25th anniversary. The headlines of that time a quarter of a century ago convey how far the world has journeyed. At home, a failure inside the Three Mile Island nuclear plant in Pennsylvania had nearly resulted in a catastrophic meltdown. Overseas, England had elected Margaret Thatcher prime minister, as she became the first woman to head a European government. Egypt and Israel would sign a historic peace agreement at Camp David to end the Arab-Israeli conflict, while Iranian fundamentalist radicals would take Americans hostage in the Middle East. The fall of the Berlin Wall signaling the end of the Cold War between the United States and the Soviet Union still remained a few years off. As the decade unfolded, the pageant world consisted of a few prominent pageants with national recognition via network television. Miss America, which had already been on the scene since 1921 and had established itself as the predominant scholarship competition for America’s beautiful, brightest, and most talented young women, crowned Cheryl Prewitt of Ackerman, Mississippi, as Miss America 1980. Television also caught the moment when Miss USA 1980 Shawn Weatherly, was crowned.

Media Exposure Before Cable TV
Yet, as the 1980s began and the age of 24-hour, cable-TV-fed mass communications was dawning, the stories of a burgeoning number of national, state, and regional competitions were largely absent from view. With limited exposure and without CNN and the Internet’s ability to make all the world’s news seem like a local story, something was missing — a strong, unified pageant-industry identity. Carl David Dunn, president of International Productions and Publications, Inc., recognized and filled that void with the creation of a newsletter that has, over the last 25 years, grown to become the preeminent industry publication and Internet resource available today — Pageantry magazine, acknowledged as “the Bible of the Industry.”

What better time is appropriate than this 25th anniversary of the magazine to reflect upon the significance of a publishing venture that defines an entire industry! Today, Pageantry — as both a publication and a cultural enterprise of broad appeal— is not only getting older, it is getting better. Better as an industry-leading promotional tool. Better as an influential guide in the new millennium’s insatiable search for talented individuals. And better as a steadying influence in an ever-tumultuous sea of exciting trends in the beauty, entertainment, talent, and modeling arenas. At a time when celebrity and star-search endeavors reach across all strata of the public consciousness — when reality game shows such as American Idol and a re-emergent Star Search attract talented contestants to compete against one another and call on all of their natural-born assets and ingenuity to win — the ability to effectively marshal skills in pageants, modeling, and talent competitions has become more critical than ever. Witness the number of competition winners crossing over into today’s entertainment scene who, to name only a few stars, are proving the value of pageants and modeling competitions (the original “reality” shows) and live-competition experience: Halle Berry (Miss USA 1986 First Runner-up, Oscar winner for Monster’s Ball); Debbye Turner (Miss America 1990, featured correspondent on CBS’ The Early Show); Kate Shindle (Miss America 1998, Broadway musical Jekyll & Hyde), Julie Moran (America’s Junior Miss in 1980, longtime Entertainment Tonight correspondent); Ashton Kutcher (International Modeling and Talent Association (IMTA) convention winner, star of That ’70s Show and The Butterfly Effect); and NBC’s Miss Universe Organization pageant partner, Donald Trump.

Serving Pageants Great and Small
Over the last 25 years, Pageantry has helped broaden and redefine the industry’s parameters by focusing attention on the important roles played by the beauty, talent, modeling, and artistic-performance-related businesses which form the basis of the publishing company’s core constituencies. In doing so, Pageantry has helped several generations of young people acquire the tools necessary to reach for the stars, whether that be in such intimate settings as local and state arenas or in the major national pageants such as the Miss America and Miss Universe organizations, the virtual explosion of “Mrs.” competitions, numerous teen, preteen, and children’s competitions, and talent and modeling conventions from the likes of the International Modeling and Talent Association, the Modeling Association of America International, John Robert Powers, and Barbizon.

It is, without a doubt, an incredible time for competitions of all types, and surely no other publications reflect those marked changes more impressively than Pageantry, as the only competition publication of its kind. From its infancy spinning off from founder Carl David Dunn’s Baton Rouge, Louisiana-based newsletter, Pageantry magazine now covers the world as it has evolved and grown in significance in numerous ways. In the last year alone, the magazine has carried reports from across mainland America, Alaska and Hawaii, South America, Russia, Gibraltar, the Philippines, and even China — which, by opening its doors to pageants in December with the Miss World 2003 finals, underscores an important point, which is that pageants are part of the very fabric of our modern society.

Today’s Pageantry serves not only to record the accomplishments by such prominent 2003 winners as Miss America 2004 Ericka Dunlap, Miss USA 2003 Susie Castillo, Miss Teen USA 2003 Tami Farrell, and Miss Universe 2003 Amelia Vega, but also to promote partnerships within the multimillion-dollar-a-year industries comprising all the beauty, talent, and modeling fields. With its annual Pageantry and PromTime fashion showcase — the largest on-site fashion shoot in the world — the magazine now stands as a recognized leader in debuting the country’s cutting-edge formal-occasion couture to both retailers and customers.

From its humble beginnings as a 24-page, limited-circulation pageant “fan-zine,” Pageantry now comprises up to 224 full-color pages per quarter, with millions of readers around the world and an Internet presence that records 20 million hits per month on its and sites.

Over time, the content-driven publication and web sites have continued to sharpen their focus in providing this increasingly sophisticated audience with a wealth of valuable coverage and advice on such matters as: competition fashion, personal communications, talent and modeling career development, medical advances for appearance-related professionals, the latest looks from the cosmetics to the jewelry industries, event planning and production; personal development opportunities; and news from competition organizations that range from small local events to those of international scope.

A Starring Role in Hollywood
Through a partnership with contributing writers and industry specialists, whose articles form the core of its peerless editorial package, Pageantry lays claim to not only “the Bible of the Industry” title, but also the moniker of “most valued and passed-around magazine ever.” Today, even Hollywood recognizes this singular stature. Entertainment Tonight featured the magazine as it celebrated its 20th anniversary in 1999, and in 2000, when the producers of the megahit Miss Congeniality needed to find a pageant publication to help turn Sandra Bullock’s undercover fictional FBI agent Gracie Hart into Miss United States NJ Gracie Lou Freebush, they cast specially printed copies of Pageantry magazine. As this edition was going to press, CEO Carl Dunn was in negotiations with producers of the Miss Congeniality sequel for a return appearance!

Gaining importance also over the years has been the magazine’s leadership in bringing a growing legion of retail partners into year-round contact with the styles of formalwear fashion manufacturers and wholesale marketers, at a time when the competitive business realities of fashion boutiques have affected retail attendance at fashion markets nationwide. By sponsoring marketing efforts of the evening wear and social occasion fashion industries, Pageantry has made a noticeable and positive impact at a national level, as it has become the No. 1 publication distributed to retail store buyers at major fashion markets in Atlanta, Chicago, Dallas, Las Vegas, and New York.

At the time that Carl David Dunn came up with the idea of promoting the pageant industry, Jimmy Carter was president and pageants still had a fight on their hands with a vocal segment of women who were demanding gender equity with men and, conveniently but unfairly, used pageants as symbolic targets of their blame. Yet from the appearance of its very first issue, Pageantry identified the key qualities of pageants which positively combine society’s traditional view of women, which highlighted her natural beauty, with the emerging modern view, which melds physical beauty with intellectual enlightenment, business success, a happy family, and the other rewards promised to women in a modern, post-industrial society. “My goal,” wrote Mr. Dunn at the very start of his venture, “is to publish a magazine which will promote the positive attributes of the pageant industry and provide a forum in which not only titleholders, but all participants and directors, can be recognized for exemplary accomplishments and community service.”

Celebrating the Celebrities
As Pageantry’s premier issue reveals, historically there always has been a strong link between the entertainment industry and the world of competitions, and in subsequent years, that link has only grown stronger. The inaugural issue’s cover story presented the cast of Pageant ’80, an Atlantic City musical review produced by Bob Parkinson (a Miss Universe/USA vice president) and Bernie Wayne (composer of “There She Is, Miss America”) that starred six former talents from the Miss America and Miss USA systems.

Another of the industry’s many headline-making watershed events mentioned in the first edition of Pageantry involved the Miss America Organization’s decision to replace its long-time host Bert Parks with what has turned out to be a succession of show-business stars — the first of whom was actor Ron Ely in 1980, who at the time had already starred in a Tarzan TV series and was hosting a game show called Face the Music. Other notable hosts were Gary Collins, Regis Philbin and Kathie Lee Gifford, Donny and Marie Osmond and Tony Danza to name a few.

Through the 1980s and into the 1990s, the magazine’s role as the voice and protector of the competition industry expanded even as the cries of the women’s movement faded. Some headline-making pageant stories in Pageantry’s early issues included the 1989 death of Albert A. Marks, Jr., the Miss America executive who elevated pageants on the country’s grandest stage in 1954 when he negotiated the event’s live ABC telecast, and Burt Parks’ return appearance as a Miss America telecast guest for that scholarship competition’s 70th anniversary, 10 years after Marks had dismissed Parks in favor of the younger Ely.

But primarily, Pageantry’s stock in trade remained squarely focused on show business, with cover features on such entertainment notables as Mary Hart, Bob Goen, Phyllis George, Dick Clark, Ed McMahon, Bob Barker, Nancy Stafford, Gena Nolin, Barbara Eden, Regis Philbin, Kathie Lee Gifford, LeAnn Rimes, Halle Berry, and even the Muppets’ Miss Piggy, whose tongue-in-cheek “interview” contained this worthwhile advice: “The necessity of demonstrating flawless taste requires a constantly updated, well-chosen wardrobe.”

Pageantry’s new Chief Executive Officer Carl R. Dunn (clockwise, from top left) follows in the footsteps of President Betty Dunn and Publisher Charles Dunn, who assumed leadership of the publishing company founded by Carl David Dunn in 1980.

Pageantry’s Success Follows the Family Plan
Another major turning point at Pageantry magazine came with the 1989 arrival of Charles O. Dunn and Betty W. Dunn, who took over as publisher and president, respectively, from Charles’ brother, Carl David. Charles’s vision throughout the 1990s, based on his belief that the industry’s supporting players — particularly fashion manufacturers and retailers — deserved a high-end promotional publishing partner, led to the explosive growth of both advertising and editorial pages, and the publication went from 24 pages in its infancy to an average of 124 in full color by 1999. As Pageantry became the prime source of information about pageant, prom, and social-occasion fashions, it also became a major force within the fashion industry. A mid-1990s marketing effort led to the now highly anticipated annual Pageantry and PromTime Fashion Showcase each spring, and it wasn’t long before Charles Dunn had landed national newsstand distribution for Pageantry, which, along with direct-mail subscriptions, the American School Directory program, and cross-promotional distributing form the basis of Pageantry’s worldwide circulation.

Poised To Exceed Your Expectations
As the keeper of the industry flame, Pageantry magazine over the years has brought its partners a number of other innovations that continue to flourish in the 2000s. The Pageantry Spirit Award, for one, provides recognition for individuals, competitors and event organizers, and supporters who, through their inspiring leadership and deeds, uphold the generosity of spirit that is the heart and soul of the pageant industry. Another prominent and worthwhile Pageantry promotion is the Pageant Directors’ Program, which provides competitions large and small with opportunities to promote themselves and boost their profitability while they also say “thank you” to their contestants with complimentary copies of the magazine, certificates of recognition, and other gifts (crown cases, pageant pins, wardrobe carriers, etc.) from the publishers’ growing Pageantry Mall offerings.

Additional changes in management arrived in this 25th anniversary year, as another generation takes a leadership role at Pageantry with the announcement of Carl Dunn, Charles’ son, as the company’s chief executive officer. Like his namesake, Carl David, it is Carl Dunn’s intentions that the resources of Pageantry — its stable of expert contributing writers and photographers, its strong partnerships with such industry-serving mainstays as Stumps Party, Sally Beauty Supply, the country’s leading social-occasion fashion providers, and all of the companies that create, organize, and serve the multimillion-dollar competition industry — remain unparalleled. Future plans call for international distribution and licensing agreements; expansion of the publication’s target market through in-print and online initiatives; adding value to partnerships through new cross-promotional ventures; and encouraging continued reader involvement through such editorial offerings as “Web Watch,” “Web Q&A,” and the occasionally published “First Person Singular” column.

In a statement summarizing his philosophy, CEO Carl Dunn makes it clear that the publication his uncle founded is poised to meet whatever challenges the future may bring, saying: “Today, as Pageantry looks ahead to its next 25 years, it stands as the recognized leader and strongest voice of an industry that has significantly expanded its role in providing community and cultural leadership, while also serving its traditional role of venerating beauty, charisma, and talent as some of mankind’s most cherished gifts. That role has taken on renewed relevance as Americans have come to further appreciate the values espoused through pageantry in ways that even Carl David Dunn could not have imagined.”

Read More: Pageantry's 20th Anniversary
  For additional stories like the one you've just read and all the details on this and other exciting competitive events from across America, as well as a wealth of advice to improve your chances of victory, be sure to order Pageantry today.  

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