By Jeanne E. Fredriksen
Financial guru Ansell Neri (“Iwanna Mann”) donned a ceremonial belt and a sparkly tiara on September 13 as he was crowned winner of the second annual Womanless Beauty Pageant at Rolesville’s 5th annual Hot Pick’n Finger Lick’n BBQ & Bands Fest. Last year, Neri was awarded the “First Loser” title.
The fun-filled pageant doubles as a fashion-forward fundraiser for CureAHC.org.
Coiffed in long ginger tresses and dressed in a stylish, black long-sleeved top, a flouncy white-with-red-trim skirt, and flip-flop sandals, Neri stole the hearts of not only the audience but also the judges.
His pageant question may have been tricky question for others, but not for him. When asked, “Tell us something that will make us remember you,” Neri shot back that he’s “a natural woman” because he doesn’t wear makeup, his boobs are his own, and he doesn’t shave his legs.
For the talent portion of the pageant, Neri performed a contemporary dance to Let It Go from the film “Frozen” that segued into “Fancy” by Iggy Azalea.
The managing director and partner of June-Neri Financial of Wake Forest beat three other contestants: Michael Davis, Bill Segreve and Jeff Wuchich.
Wuchich and his wife Renee are co-founders of CureAHC.org.
AHC, or Alternating Hemiplegia of Childhood, is a complex disease that is best described in terms of more familiar diseases. It creates movement problems like Cerebral Palsy, learning challenges like autism, behavioral issues like ADHD, true Epilepsy in at least half of known cases, and bouts of temporary paralysis that last for minutes to days at a time.
According to CureAHC.org, the disease is currently incurable and essentially untreatable.
When asked how the pageant/fundraiser came about, Wuchich said, “The chamber wanted to do a fundraiser for Cure AHC last year and suggested this. We went for it!”
Between online donations in support of the contestants and a donation jar passed around at the event, a respectable $3,000 was raised for the cause, which is nearly double last year’s amount.
Wuchich, whose stage name was “Jasmine,” performed Katy Perry’s “Roar” with a dual-purpose costume that, as he put it “malfunctioned left and right.”
Segreve performed an a capella rendition of “Tiptoe Through the Tulips,” and Davis performed a song by Jewel. Even emcee Glen Peterson dressed in a feminine frock for the occasion.
Despite the overcast and rainy day, Jeff Wuchich estimates that most of the people who attended the barbecue festival also watched the beauty pageant. He put the crowd at “a couple hundred people.”
“Last year,” Wuchich said, “it was held the night before, when the cooks were getting set up. This year it was moved to the day of the barbeque as one of the main-stage events.”
Wuchich said he never had a chance to thank the judges for participating in the pageant. The team of judges represented some of the town’s finest: Officer Jeremy Greene and Captain Bobby Langston of the Rolesville Police Department, plus Chief Rodney Privette of the Rolesville Fire Department. None of the judges wore dresses.
Neri, who will have bragging rights to his triumphant win until next September’s pageant, knows that his people had his back.
“I would like to thank my team at June-Neri Financial for their support,” Neri said, “and my wife, Aimee Neri from Wake Forest Academy of Fine Arts, for choreographing my performance.”
For more information about Alternating Hemiplegia of Childhood, go to CureAHC.org or to their Facebook page, Cure AHC.