By Joel Warner
By Michael Roberts
By Alan Prendergast
By Michael Roberts
By Michael Roberts
By Amber Taufen
By Patricia Calhoun
By William Breathes
Teresa Hailey, state director of the Miss Colorado Metroplex pageant, would have done well to commit her organization's mawkish creed to heart. "Be too large for worry," it reads, "too noble for anger, too strong for fear, too happy to admit the presence of trouble." On June 12, however, nearly five years after she founded the scandal-plagued pageant, Hailey not only admitted the presence of trouble, but once she started talking no one could shut her up.
"I'm tired of trying to help these little whores and sluts make something of their lives," Hailey reportedly raged to stunned listeners of KDKO radio's Inner City Visions show. "Those ungrateful bitches don't realize how much time and effort I put into making them look good," she continued, ignoring talk-show host Jon Bowman's attempts to interrupt. "I give them modeling training, I give them fur coats and money for school, and what do they give me in return? Nothing but grief."
But just who's been getting grief--and who's been giving it--is a matter of debate. Hailey has run through (some might say "run off") nine queens since 1990. One pageant winner was stripped of her title after it was learned she had a criminal record and a husband. Another former titleholder sued Hailey, claiming she'd been cheated out of her title and her prize package. Yet another charged that not only had she never received any prizes, she'd even had to buy her own crown and sash.
Hailey herself sued one winner. And the irate boyfriend of one former queen spent his anger at the pageant director by throwing a flowerpot through Hailey's car window.
Less public, Hailey claims, were the facts of one contestant's pregnancy, another's affair with a married member of the Denver Broncos football team (neither of which she'll discuss in detail), and what she cites as boardmembers' racial intolerance for anyone other than blacks.
Through the years, Hailey has tried to slap a happy face over the rapid comings and goings of her queens. "She will always remain part of our family of royalty," she said in a press release announcing the dismissal of yet another unfortunate titleholder. But when Katrina Sims--the second young woman to be crowned Miss Black Colorado Metroplex 1993-94 (and the eighth in the long list of state queens)--announced in June that she'd resigned because of problems with the pageant and its director, Hailey gave up all pretense of patience and civility and let loose on Bowman's show.
Hailey's tirade led to calls for her resignation from various quarters of the black community. Now, just two weeks shy of the fifth-anniversary pageant, it seems as though they may get their wish: Hailey claims she's stepping down and that the September 3 event will be her swan song. "The pageant is taking a different direction," she says. "And I'm going to announce that it's time for me to take off in a different direction."
When the Miss Colorado pageant was introduced in 1938, black women weren't allowed to enter. Although that restriction was removed decades ago, black sponsors continued to offer separate contests for their community. Denver city councilman Hiawatha Davis directed a Miss Black Colorado pageant for several years in the Seventies when he headed a local community action group. After he moved on, the contest continued for a year or two. Concert promoter Lu Vasson entered the pageant picture in 1980 with Miss Black World/Colorado, but that contest, too, soon disappeared.
In 1990 Teresa Hailey stepped into the void when she founded the Miss Black Colorado USA Pageant and Scholarship Foundation and was appointed state director. Hailey brought to the post a passion for pageants and what she claims is more than a decade's worth of experience as a contestant, volunteer and judge of more contests than she can recall.
Hailey's obsession, she says, is the result of an accident of birth. "My tongue was attached to the bottom of my mouth, and my parents were told I'd never be able to speak. So it started as a self-esteem thing. I wanted to stand in front of people and talk."
Pageants provided the perfect venue for her soliloquies. Hailey claims to have competed as a youngster in the Miss Buckingham Square pageants "back when they used to have them." She says she also strutted her stuff in department-store charm-school contests and in the Miss Hemisphere pageant.
According to the rather unorthodox bio Hailey includes in press kits for her own pageant, she did well in those long-ago competitions. "She has won eleven trophies, five ribbons and four award pins for tap dancing and ballet," she says, adopting a third-person tone for the resume. "The list is too numerous to mention everything."
But for a person who claims to be practiced at public speaking, Hailey comes across as unpolished and unsophisticated.
Hailey's bio also states that she earned an Associate of Arts degree in fashion merchandising and fashion design, and that she received a Bachelor of Science degree in business administration. But when pressed for the names of her alma maters, Hailey testily refuses. "I'd rather not say," she replies. "I don't want somebody calling my old schools and looking me up and trying to find my grade-point average, especially when I'm staring right now at my associate degree and pictures of my graduation. I don't think my education has anything to do with my state directorship."