TLC's 'King of the Crown': Meet beauty pageant expert Cy Frakes

Tonight TLC debuts its reality series King of the Crown at 9 p.m., starring beauty pageant expert Cy Frakes. The 12-episode series follows Frakes and his team at the Columbia, S.C.-based Gowns and Crowns as they work their pageant magic on various young women. One of their clients is Caitlin Upton, the 2007 Miss Teen USA contestant whose geography answer became a YouTube sensation, who shows up in tonight’s premiere. The fabulous and funny Frakes stopped by EW’s offices for a chat about business, beauty, and butt glue..yes, butt glue.

EW: How did you become an expert in beauty pageants?

FRAKES: I’ve been in the pageant business for 23 years. I think it’s just been kind of a metamorphosis over time. I directed pageants and then I produced them and then I was an emcee. And for a long time I was a judge. Over the years, I saw the girls changed but the mistakes they were making didn’t. I decided I could help these girls be better and stronger contestants.

EW: What is it that you love about pageants?

FRAKES: Pageants are like theater. They’re like sports. Pageants are like the Olympics of beauty in our society. It’s where you’re setting yourself up to be judged by your inside and outward appearance.

EW: I had no idea there was such a thing as butt glue [adhesive spray that keeps contestants bathing suits from riding up]!

FRAKES: It’s the stuff that l baseball players will spray on their hands to keep their gloves stuck to their hands. You can get it in liquid. You can get it in aerosol. Then people figured out you could take the same stuff, package it in a pink bottle and sell it in a pageant store for like $85; it’s really like a $10 can of hairspray.

EW: How did it feel watching Caitlin Upton go through that whole controversy at Miss Teen USA?

FRAKES: That’s really a hard call because when you work with a girl from 14 to 17 you really get to know them. I look at lot of these teenagers, they’re like your kids. Obviously you want them to succeed and go that far. It’s like a football player: You don’t wanna fumble a ball in the superbowl and that’s what she did. I think the best way to answer that is I didn’t view that as a coach—I viewed it as a parent and you don’t want any thing like that to happen to your child.

EW: Has the economy affected your business at all?

FRAKES: It really hasn’t. Pageants are like dance and piano. I think in some families they’ve weighed out which you wanna do more. Luckily I’ve won out.

Comments (22 total) Add your comment
  • James

    I was at that Miss Teen USA pageant when Caitlin had a complete meltdown and I was sitting with Miss _____________. Miss _________ told me that prior to the pageant she had talked to Miss SC and that she said they were all hoping that Caitlin wouldn’t make Top 5 because the girl could not speak her way out of a paper bag made of tissue paper. And sure enough she tanked. Sorry, she’s just clueless.

  • Richie

    How can I get in touch with Mr. Frakes? It’s important that I get in touch with him. Thank you.

    • Friend

      why do you need to get in touch with him? he’s a friend of mine.

  • Kathleen Escobedo

    Kaleigh’s mom:
    Your daughter is beautiful, smart, witty, compassionate, and she has a gorgeous body. SHE’S NOT FAT!!She will go far in whatever she puts HER MIND to. The question is: will she have anything to do with you when she gets there. You are down right hateful. Scrutinizing, and commenting on every bite that she puts in her mouth is cruel.(On national TV, OMG!!! This is HER life, her turn. Lay off, Mom.(and I use the word “mom” loosly)Cats do a better job mothering. Let her live her own life. You had your chance. Now it’s Kaleigh’s turn. Encourage her, or loose her. Some guy will come along, and offer her love, compliments, and tell her that she has a beautiful body. The 1st love that makes her feel beautiful. We’ve all heard the stories. Good girl meets bad boy, but he’ll tell her how beautiful she is. The next thing you know, she’s long gone, and your going to have the gall to blame every one but MOM. You could use the help of a good counselor. Maybe, some of your relationship might still be saved. Peace, Kathi

    • Maurice

      Look, I love Kaleigh. I love her body. She is just my type: short and plump. Nothing LIKE classic “beauty queen” material.

      She is wasting daddy’s money, because she is too short and too heavy to ever win anything other than a very local beauty pageant.My God, look at that butt! And those thighs!

      And, once again, she’s just my type. I only say this so that you know I’m not trying to be mean.

  • Ledle

    i missed the show because i watched glee and now i can’t find how to watch it any advice

  • Jessie

    Ledle; If you go to TLC’s website you can find when the next airing of last night’s show is. TLC will most likely air the show several more times between now and next week.

  • Scott

    Hi Richie, I left one message but it was deleted. Cy is a good friend of mine. Email me and I’ll pass a message or your number along to him.


    • pageant girl

      Why all the mystery? Just google gowns and crowns and that will take you to his website. Contact info is there.

  • Jennifer R.

    To Maurice.. You are just being down right rude. If you knew Kaleigh in the “real world”, you would realize she has won countless amounts of pageants as well as many other things that have brought her great success. She may not be a size 0, but not every pageant girl is (or has to be). She is absolutly stunning and you should reconsider posting such hateful words when speaking on someone you have never seen in person or for more then an hour on television.

  • Pageant mother

    Everyone needs to remember that all these girls are someone’s daughter/sister/friend. It takes a lot of courage to compete in anything. Most who have negative opinions of pageants are simply uneducated in the sport. Tune in to The King of Crowns to learn about the wonderful world of pageant preparation done the Right way-

  • Estelle

    Cyrus was awesome! So great and very compassionate and patient. His staff is great (and just loveable) and Amanda is beautiful (still as gorgeous as when she competed and won). Loved the show!! Have is set to record each time so that I don’t miss on episode. Go Cyrus!!!

  • Lauren

    This man is hardly an expert, and I saw no compassion what so ever in the way he talked about his clients, what kind of mother would pay money for someone to tell her daughter (who is beautiful just the way she is) that she is fat! This show will not last, if he keeps this up, he should be ashamed of himself! I loved the dish on the show this morning on the style channel, it was so funny I glad that they felt the show was a joke too! This is not what pageants are about, they need a show about the way pageants change girls lives for the better and about the way they help them develop into well rounded women. This show is a big joke! He has no style, and had on women’s crown earrings and high heels. You could hear him coming from a mile away, in the one part where he stormed in to give order to his poor staff. If I were his staff I would not put up with him being so rude, they are doing all the work and he is getting all the glory! As for Kaleigh Hill you are amazing and could win anything you wanted just the way you are, get rid of your coach who is putting you down to make himself feel better about being a 20 year old woman stuck in a 50 year old mans body and find a coach who will rebuild your self esteem and give you the confidence you need to capture the crown.

    • Patti

      Hello? Cyrus been doing this for 20-something years. And, with impressive results. He has sucessfully coached many, many women from all over the US into winning many beauty pageant titles. And yes, Kaleigh Hill is VERY beautiful, but keep in mind she and her mother were seeking Cyrus Frakes’ coaching expertise to help her win the title. He wouldn’t be very effective if he took their money and just lied to them. Cyrus didn’t set the beauty pageant standards. While self esteem and confidence are definitely needed to capture the crown – a particular body type is is required as well. Cyrus was hired to help transform Kaleigh to beauty pageant standards.

    • Cassandra J.

      You’re a loser!!! Get over it. I can tell by the way you write that you’re ugly… on the inside and out.

    • pageant girl

      Beauty pageants are just as depicted on his show. Beauty pageants do have many positive aspects but my daughter (17) has competed in pageants that were fixed, the least attractive girl won, etc etc. My daughter has won her fair share of pageants, but if you have any pageant experience, even in state prelims, all is not what you would want it to be.

  • Krystal

    I love the show cant wait to see the next episode next week

  • Patti

    LAUREN – you need to watch the show again. Cyrus never, ever called anyone fat. The girl’s mother did, but not Mr. Frakes – in fact he defended the girl. Also, are we watching the same show? I never saw him mistreating his employees either.

  • Lauren

    Actually I am also a beauty queen and have held 87 Pageant titles 20 of those being national titles. So no I am not ugly on the inside or on the outside. I just spoke my mind because I felt bad for the girls after watching the show while waiting for toddlers and tiaras to come on. I think that he could find nicer ways of saying things to his girls if I was paying someone money to coach me and he says to me we cant stuff 10lbs of sugar in a 5lb bag I would cry! Sorry, but this show to me is a big joke, just like the rest of the world does it may be a hit in south Carolina but everyone else is laughing at this guy because he is just so forward with his sexuality for one, people just think that it is funny, I guess he is doing it for TV I don’t know. Anyways I just know that to win a pageant you have to have confidence in yourself and I could see everyone striping her of that. Pageants helped me become the successful woman I am today. They are so negative and put so much enfaces on outer beauty, they need to be helping these girls learn how to speak and how to really let the judges know who they are as a person in that interview and stop worrying about all the thousand dollar dresses and how perfect someone’s body is. Also they could get in big trouble doing peoples hair and make up and not being cosmetologist, and telling people how to loose weight and not being a doctor or a personal trainer. I turned the show off last week I am a Christian woman and something in the show has offended me every week it is clear that they are three homosexuals which is a sin and they are all smokers and drinkers, they have spoke about one another’s sex life and just lots of thing that children under 16 waiting to watch toddlers and tiaras can’t watch. This will be the last time I speak my mind on this board. My final thought is the show has to much sexual content, drug and alcohol related content, could give young girls watching the show negative body images, and to be a pageant coach you should be a positive role model and he is not Amanda and Kyle probably could be they are more quiet and refined. He is just all over the place, and WILD! Sorry I wrote about Your Dear Mr. Cy but my heart went out to the girls, because they are spending all this money doing pageants that could be changing their life for the better instead they are stuck with this man who is creating monsters, but maybe he is different. I just think it is hard to coach a girl for pageants if you are a man who has never been in a pageant or a pageant interview, I wouldn’t pay him a nickel to coach me my coach was a former Miss Texas America also and she agrees that the show is a joke and he is giving all of South Carolina a bad name for Pageantry.

    • pageantry

      uhmm excuse me? i get coached by cyrus and I WIN along with 1000 other crowns of the girls hes coached. he was a JUDGE hun which means he knows what hes doing there is nothing inapropriate about his show…so why dont you stop bashing kthanks. :)

  • pageant girl

    We live in Georgia where my 17 year old daughter competes. My daughter has won many titles, state and a couple of national. We know a lot of coaches 1 or 2 in particular that have an excellent reputation. I’m not seeing it. I don’t feel that for the money I have paid, they have helped my daughter as much as I had expected. I have met some of the most dishonest women who wouldn’t know the truth if it hit them up side the head and who are the biggest liars to their clients call themselves coaches. We are 3 hours from Cy and after his show I am seriously considering making an appointment and driving the distance to see what he really has. If he can get my daughter to the next level and improve on what she currently has I’m fine with him. As far as doing hair and makeup, I agree they could get in trouble. However, they are not doing anything countless numbers of women do each Sat and Sun at pageants all across the country. This past Sat my daughter judged a pageant and one of the contestants in the Miss division told me afterward that she is backing out of pageants and is going to start coaching, and doing hair and make up at pageants. She has won a lot of pageants, have no doubt she will be a good coach, but hair and make up? Just like alot of other women, no hair and license and no one is going to do a thing!

  • Shauna

    “My final thought is the show has to much sexual content, drug and alcohol related content”…WHAT are you talking about? I’ve watched the show since the beginning and I don’t remember any references to sex, drugs or alcohol. Are you sure you weren’t watching one of the hard rocker’s shows?

    As for Cy’s comment about fitting 10# of sugar in a 5# bag…I thought that was nice way of putting it. Yes, the girl is pretty but she also has a responsibility to herself, and alas her mother who pays for the gowns, to fit into them. The gowns are not cheap and to gain weight when you know you have a dress to fit into is just irresponsible.

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