If You Don't Know Who She is, You're Missing Out

by Laura Rosenfeld

Just when you thought you didn't need another reality show about pageants, Kim of Queens comes along with its irresistible charm and entertainment. After only premiering in January of this year, the Lifetime reality show will be back to fill your DVRs on Tuesday nights this fall with so much hairspray, sequins, and false eyelashes, it will not only make your head spin, but it will feel compelled to sashay.

In case you somehow missed this little gem last winter, we'll fill you on in the deets. Kim of Queens is like Dance Moms for pageants, except this show's version of Abby Lee Miller has more of the fabulosity of a drag queen than a dancing queen. The titular star is Kim Gravel, a former Miss Georgia who competed in the 1992 Miss America beauty pageant. Each week, the show follows Gravel's efforts as she attempts to whip young ladies into pageant shape.

Most of Gravel's students on the show are in their early teens, so it thankfully doesn't reach quite the creepy level of Toddlers and Tiaras (it's still a little creepy, though). The most memorable student from last season was the lovable Addison, who Gravel transformed from country bumpkin to pageant queen. I'm still not convinced she was such a pageant newbie, but whatever, I'm still into it. Still, Gravel always remained the star of the show, with her pageant expertise, Kim-isms, and by showing that personality is always more important than beauty.

So now that you know all about the show, here's some essential facts about Gravel that will make you appreciate this gift to reality TV.

She wasn't born a beauty queen

Growing up, Gravel was a self-proclaimed "ugly duckling," but after some hard work, she was able to make it all the way to compete in the Miss America pageant. Even though Gravel didn't think she was beautiful as a young girl, it's great to see that she still had confidence in herself.

She was Miss Georgia 1991

Competing as Kimberly Hardee, Miss Stone Mountain, Gravel flaunted it in a pink one-piece swimsuit, sang "The Phantom of the Opera," and rocked some severe shoulder pads in her white evening gown to win the Miss Georgia title in 1991. It was, and still is, unusual that Gravel competed in pageants with short hair, and she told The Philadelphia Inquirer in 1991 that, "it's a gimmick ... Let's see if it works." Sure seems like it did.

She owns the Pageant Place

Along with her sister Allisyn Varalla, mother Jo Hardee, and vocal coach Amy Goins, Gravel runs The Pageant Place, a pageant coaching facility in Georgia, to help mold America's young ladies into pageant queens. And for as little as $99 for the two-hour intro workshop, you too can make your pageant dreams come true.

She's friends with real royalty: Countess LuAnn de Lesseps

Gravel has been in the presence of real royalty at least twice, appearing on The Steve Harvey Show with none other than the countess herself. I wonder how Gravel reacted when de Lesseps inevitably tried to give her some etiquette lessons.

She's still singing

Whether it's singing a solo to coach her pageant girls or in the Christian group Beloved, Gravel can actually sing , which is more than I can say for most reality stars.

Image: Lifetime; kimgravel/Instagram