Miss American Vampire Pageant 1970

Miss American Vampire 1970

One of the things that fascinates me about horror entertainment is how the ideas portrayed therein over the past 200 years or so have created a multi-generational line of spookyvolk that’s linked by almost-unchanged shared aesthetics.  Someone reading “Carmilla” around the time of its publication in 1872 would be able to put “The Vampire Lovers” into context immediately (even if he might arch an eyebrow at some of the costume design in that film).

Miss American Vampire 1970
In digging through some of my magazines last night, I stumbled on these pictures from the Miss American Vampire Pageant, a perfect example of proto-gothic-rockery that makes my black little heart sing with joy.  These photos are from the vampire issue of European art/comix/sexiness mag Glamour International, in which they’re incorrectly captioned as originating from a Vampirella-themed beauty pageant.  
Miss American Vampire 1970
The Miss American Vampire Contest was part of the promotional blitz for “House of Dark Shadows,” and as you can see from the photo above, Mr. Barnabas Collins himself, Jonathan Frid, is crowing the regional winner of the crown from Palisades Park, NJ.  The groovy ghoulette in question (in the UH-mazing crown!) is Christine Domaniecki of Belleville, NJ.  Lucky winners were whisked away for the final competition, which took place on Regis Philbin’s daytime teevee show.   I am just loving the “Dark Shadows” tie-in–I used to feast on repeats of that cheesily awesome gothic soap opera during my lunch breaks in art school.  Swear to goodness, once you get into the zone of watching that show, it’s an incredibly difficult habit to kick! 
Miss American Vampire 1970
National winner Sacheen Littlefeather (that’s NOT her above; I was unable to find photos of her appearance in the competition) is a colorful character–a model and American Indian Activist probably best known for her appearance during the 1972 Oscars, during which she accepted the award for Best Actor on behalf of Marlon Brando for his role in “The Godfather.”
And before you guys can get all “wow they should TOTALLY hold more pageants like this one” on me, I’ll advise you that I’ve been to two Gothic Beauty Pageants, and while they are indeed a rich source of schadendouche, the anthropological glee fades quickly and if one is out to see tattooed chicks in lingerie, one’s time would be more rewardingly spent at a Bourbon Street strip club. 

10 thoughts on “Miss American Vampire Pageant 1970”

  1. >>one’s time would be more rewardingly spent at a Bourbon Street strip club.

    Having been a resident of southern Louisiana for two years during grad school, I would posit that this statement is true of just about any formulation. 😉

    Great pics, Empress! I would like to see what would have happened had the Miss Vampire 1970 pageant gone international. I know of a few starlets in the films of a certain beefy auteur with character names like “Wandessa” and “Genevieve” and “Elvira” that would have made the competition a very stiff one indeed.

    IYKWIM. 😉

  2. Re: “Dark Shadows”, my grandmother turned me on to the show in ’66? (the same Grandam who would turn into a werewolf while I was seated on her lap, just to hear me scream). I saw DS the first time around and it was all the rage at my Catholic grade school.

    After moving from the States to Ancaster Ontario 3 years ago, I was stunned to learn that Jonathan Frid lives in the village and grew up here. I’m still looking to run into him in the grocery store some day.

  3. Actually, Kate, Sacheen Littlefeather’s real name was Maria Cruz, a Mexican actress who after the Oscar debacle, appeared in Playboy in a spread that I recall quite fondly…That’s fondly, not fondling, ok?

    As for Dark Shadows, I remember watching that with the cleaning lady when I was growing up in the late 60s/early 70s. My dad even took the 6 year old me to see House of Dark Shadows when it came out in 1970. I got a kick out of the fact that the contest pics came from Palisades Park. I always begged my folks to take me there, but it closed in 1971 shortly after the contest. Interestingly, Dark Shadows also went off the air in ’71. Is there a connection?

  4. OMG!!! (oh my goth!)

    House of Dark Shadows is on my top five vampire films list. when the show originally aired though, i couldn’t stand to watch it because the opening theme creeped me out too much! i was a sensitive child…

  5. I caught up with Dark Shadows in the 1980s. A little hole in the wall video store where I went to college had a complete run of the show, and after years of searching tv listings in vain, it was right there at my fingertips.

    I miss those little hole in the wall video stores. Another reason to shake a fist at Blockbuster.

  6. Maybe if Dan Curtis had staged a pageant in 1991 and sent Ben Cross out to crown the winner that version of Dark Shadows would have lasted a little longer. But that’s water under the bridge — bad news for a vampire, I suppose, but thanks for resurrecting a moment in pop culture I had never heard of.

  7. Oh my God!!!
    I used to have an 8×10 from this contest when I was 7 years old. It was a gift from the new neighbor in our apartment complex in Nutley NJ. I was in love with her.Not only was she very attractive, but she could talk to me about monsters which is quite impressive to a 7 year old. Her name was Christine Domaniecki the winner of that contest. She was so cool. Thanks for posting this Kate, a good childhood memory always makes my day a bit better

  8. Vicar, I think if the competition had gone international, the odds might’ve been stacked against the Yanks! Although, our aggressive intermingling of international genes has produced a brand of beauty not to be found elsewhere. Which is to say “I am not that picky when it comes to the provenance of my vampiric vixens.”

    Brian, if you get to run into Mr. Frid at the grocery, I would be so green with envy! That’s pretty amazing.

    Fred, I can imagine that Ms. Littlefeather’s pictorial would be quite a stunner. I turned up a few photos of her at the Oscars that lead me to believe that her most marketable talents were hidden at that particular moment 😉

    Prof. G, I’m ashamed to admit I’ve never seen the feature film! I need to right this wrong for great justice. Also for an excuse to bask in vintage gothickry (yum–the best kind of gothickry!).

    Doc M, my earliest exposure to the joys of off-the-wall movies came as a result of my local video store. I, too, miss being able to pop round the corner and just rent whatever was handy with an alluring cover.

    You’re welcome, Adam! My vampire joy is now our vampire joy 🙂

    Samuel Wilson, I keep meaning to check out the resurrected “Dark Shadows.” It’s got Barbara Steele in it as the lady doctor! I wonder if she flubs her lines as frequently as the original lady doctor did…

    …AND the Abominable Dr. G wins this thread by a long shot! That is so ultra-cool, man! Oddly enough, nobody with kids in our apartment building lets them come anywhere *near* me and the Baron…

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