Monday, June 11, 2018

5 Questions with Your First Ever MISS GAY BUCKEYE AMERICA 2018 MARY NOLAN


Studio photos by Laura Dark Photography.

We've had a first ever Miss Gay Nevada America, Sofia Anderson, and now first ever Miss Gay Buckeye America, Mary Nolan.

So how did this brand new Columbus-based pageant on the MGA circuit come to be? Miss Gay Buckeye America owner and promoter Michael Bishop. (He is also the owner and co-promoter of Miss Gay Ohio America.)

"I really wanted to branch out this year and do something on a regional level," says Michael. "After a few conversations with Miss Gay America, whom I have know for over 15 years, we thought it would be a wonderful opportunity to bring national level competitors to Columbus! We had 4 amazing contestants: Aida Stratton from Pennsylvania, Mystical Divine from Cleveland, our Miss Buckeye America 2018 Mary Nolan from Columbus and First Alternate Kelly Ray Shelton.



Above: Miss Gay Buckeye America 2018 Mary Nolan, Miss Gay Buckeye America 2018 First Alternate Kelly Ray Shelton, Miss Gay Buckeye America co-owner and co-promoter Michael Bishop.

An energetic competitor since 2016, Mary Nolan's previous titles are: 4th Alternate to Miss Gay America 2018,  Miss Gay Northeast America 2017, 1st Alternate - Top 10 Finalist at Miss Gay America 2017, and Miss Gay Ohio America 2016.

Girl gives good chat, but before we jump into the Q&A below, Mary explains how she chose her drag name. Or it chose her, as it turns out.

"My drag name came from a place of bullying. When I first moved to Columbus, I fell in with a group of people who thought anything effeminate was something to be ridiculed and looked down upon. It always struck me as strange that grown adult gay men would behave that way but I didn't know any better at the time. Because I was small and sometimes effeminate, they started calling me Mary Nolan. Mary comes from a slang term for gay men and Nolan is my last name. It kind of stuck. I wanted to take back my identity from bullies so I kept the name."

Now, our Q&A with your first ever Miss Gay Buckeye America, Mary Nolan.



1 How did you get started, when did you first do in female impersonation?

Miss Gay Arizona America Olivia Gardens featured in the Arizona Republic/AZcentral in Anticipation of the June 17 Miss Gay Arizona America 2018


Check out this great story in the Arizona Republic newspaper and on AZcentral.com.

"Miss Gay Arizona pageant lauds the best drag performers"

A couple of quotes:

On holding a Miss Gay America title:

"People know when they see these gold crowns in the bar who it is," promoter Daniel Eckstrom said. "They know that some of the best entertainers in the state are former Miss Gay Arizonas and that it's been a constant for decades."

On being Miss Gay Arizona America 2017:

"For someone who enjoys being on stage and receiving recognition from an audience, it's the most exciting stage you can be on. It's really the best of the best," Gardens said. "If you're ready to win, it's a really exciting opportunity. There's a pressure to be on point constantly but I'm lucky to have such support and to be doing the job I wanted for the last eight years."

On giving back:

"It's a point of pride that we got the community to donate at fundraisers and were able to provide an opportunity to someone," said Gardens. "As much as we've become leaders as performers, to influence change and provide an educational opportunity to the next generation is incredibly rewarding."

Get your tickets for Miss Gay Arizona America 2018 on June 17 at the Tempe Center for the Arts. Get your tickets here.

Thursday, May 31, 2018

5 Questions with Your New MISS GAY WESTERN STATES 2018 FIFI DuBOIS


Meet Fifi DuBois, your reigning Miss Gay Western States America 2018. Thanks to the generous admissions policy for "open regional" pageants, it is a New Yorker under that crown. (Nice to see more East Coast girls in the system!)

Uptown, downtown, all around town performing, Fifi DuBois has not only talent, but nerve: she takes the subway to gigs in full drag. (Keep track of her gigs via her Facebook page.)

In 2016, Fifi won her first crown (below), that of Miss'd America, a fundraising completion put on by the Greater Atlantic City GLBT Alliance that donates thousands of dollars to local organizations. Great videos of the pageant and Fifi here.

To make a short story longer (but aren't you curious?) when asked how she came to be Miss'd America, Fifi recounts, "I had seen a that a few of my NYC drag sisters had been competing in this big scale pageant in Atlantic City and was thoroughly intrigued. So I did my research and found all you had to do was apply and be approved to compete. So during my 6 month contract with a cruise ship as a dancer I applied and got accepted to compete only a couple months after my contract was up. I competed didn’t place but had such a spectacular time I went back stepped my game up and placed top 3, and I said to myself that’s it next year it’s mine to lose. So, I took the year to prepare– even turned down other pageants to focus on Miss’d–and won on my 3rd try in 2015/16. As Miss’d America I got to participate in a lot of great event in Atlantic City and travel the east coast for various pride parades promoting the pageant and scouting for contestants." (You can check out Fifi Dubois at Miss'D America on Getty Images here.)

Clearly that focus, practice and dedication to being a great entertainer–which is what Miss Gay America is all about–paid off: Hello Miss Gay Western States crown!

So how does a New York City girl get crowned Miss Gay Western States America? "I had competed in my first prelim (Miss Gay New York America) and caught the MGA bug and was convinced by former MGA Suzy Wong to do Miss gay Western States, the prelim she was representing when she won.  Even in my short time with MGA I was told of Daniel and Nick’s stellar reputation, which since winning has not been lived down."

Above: Miss Gay Western States America promoter Daniel Eckstrom, Miss Gay Western States America 2018 Fifi DuBois, Miss Gay America 2018 Deva Station, Miss Gay Western States 2018 First Alternate Dextaci and Miss Gay Western States America promoter, Nick Ray.

About her drag name, she says, "I chose the name FiFi DuBois because I wanted a name that sounded like an obvious stage name. Plus both names have multiple meanings and definitions but I won't go in to detail on that, you'll just have to google it."

Now to the 5 Questions:

1 How did you get started, when did you first do in female impersonation? 

I first started doing Drag as a part of a competition in college. I grew up as a dance competition kid (i.e. "Dance Moms") so I went in for the competition and ended up falling in love with the art form. 

Monday, May 21, 2018

5 Questions with Your New MISS GAY MARYLAND AMERICA 2018 NICOLE JAMES


Studio photos by Richard A. Bowe Jr. Photography

Meet your Miss Gay Maryland America 2018 Nicole James, of Martinsburg, West Virginia. She was thrilled to compete and ever more thrilled and grateful to be crowned. In addition to her fascinating and heartfelt interview below, read her impassioned Facebook post about getting back into the game and what its means to her here. Clearly, Nicole James is yet another one of the appreciative entertainers who "gets it," when it comes to the Miss Gay America system and legacy.


It's always interesting to know how a female impersonator chose her stage name. When asked, Nicole explained, "My legal name is Jimmy, hence James. Nicole is simply a name that I loved for some reason many years ago. And no one else had it, that I knew of. I was and still am still am very focused on trying to find the thing no one has done yet or in creating something no one thought of yet. I put this into my persona when I create costuming, hair and performances.  All these things are what make me still love being Nicole James, and now Miss Gay Maryland America."

Now to the interview:


Nicole James in Presentation for the Kinky Boots theme

1 How did you get started, when did you first do in female impersonation? 
I began my female impersonation career in 1987. It was at the height of the AIDS crisis and we needed performers in the western Maryland area to participate in the shows to raise funds for the local hospice and individuals that were in need of medications and assistance. I already had an interest, but had not pursued taking my craft to the stage until I was approached and asked to help out.

Miss Gay America 2018 DEVA STATION Announces the Miss Gay America 2019 Theme: FANTASTICAL CREATURES


So, can we get a collective "Uh-mazing!" for this first glimpse at the Miss Gay America 2019 theme?!

Our current Miss Gay America 2018 Deva Station just announced her chosen theme for Miss Gay America 2019, "Fantastical Creatures." Credits for this stunning poster, starring Deva herself are as follows. Big kudos to all!

Photo by Laura Dark Photography/Laura Biddle
Creative Director for shoot Helena Troy
Gown by Joseph DiMercurio (Tumara Mahorning) 
Ad layout by Dan Rinehart (Deejers Design)

As many know, every title holder gets to choose the theme for her step-down pageant. We've had a broad variety of themes recently, from "Kinky Boots" at Miss Gay Maryland 2018 to the dazzling "Showgirl" at the first Miss Gay Nevada to "Ohana," Hawaiian for "family" at the forthcoming Miss Gay Arizona 2018.

Great photo. Great theme. And we can't wait to see what the contestants do with it. So exciting!

Friday, May 11, 2018

5 Questions with Your New MISS GAY MISSOURI AMERICA 2018 JANESSA HIGHLAND


Photo by Andreu Wade Blackwell

On April 7, at Hamburger Mary's St. Louis, the Miss Gay Missouri America pageant crowned their newest queen, Janessa Highland. An honor indeed, as the competition has been around since 1974, beginning only two years after the very first Miss Gay America pageant in Nashville in 1972.

No stranger to pageant competitions, Janessa's first title was as a "Mister," back in 2010. Thanks to being a "Mister" Janessa fluttered forth. She recounts her crysalis--and christening--as Janessa Highland:

"When I first started performing I was a go-go dancer at a bar but didn't want anyone to use my real name because I was in college to be an education major and didn't want it coming up on my social media later down the road. I picked the name Jace (because I thought it was sexy) and the last name Highland because it was the street I grew up on (Highland Lake Dr). When I started doing female impersonation I wanted my initials to be the same so I chose the name Janessa. So there you have it: Janessa Highland!"

Like many contestants and title holders, she appreciates participating in the Miss Gay America system not only because it has been invaluable in honing her skills as an entertainer, but for the life skills she has–if not acquired, certainly empowered–thanks to participating and the friendships she has formed with fellow contestants.

Meet your new Miss Gay Missouri America as she tours, performs and ultimately prepares for the nationals, Miss Gay America 2019, this October, right back in St. Louis at Hamburger Mary's. (This particular Hamburger Mary's, as many of you now know, is owed jointly by married Miss Gay America pageant owners Michael Dutzer and Rob Mansman, with partner and St. Louis resident, David Pardue.)

1 How did you get started, when did you first do in female impersonation?  
I started my female impersonation career in Springfield, MO. I first hit the stage as a male performer Jace Highland and went on the capture the titles of Mr. Greater Ozarks Pride, Mr. Latin Vibe, Mr. Springfield and Missouri National Showman. During my reign as Mr. Greater Ozarks Pride I was asked to do a turnabout benefit for the AIDS Project of the Ozarks. It was this benefit in 2010 that lit the spark that created Janessa Highland.


Photo by Boom Magazine

Wednesday, April 25, 2018

Meet the Married Promoters Behind the Very First MISS GAY NEVADA AMERICA pageant: James Carreira and Jason Howard


Above, Jason Howard and James Carreira on their wedding day.

This is the first of a series of interviews with promoters in the Miss Gay America system. If you'd like to be featured, please contact the MGA publicist, Andy Reynolds at Popular Publicity at andy@popularpublicity.com

The first ever Miss Gay Nevada America will take place this Friday, April 27th in Las Vegas. The promoters, James Carreira and Jason Howard, married with children and a grandchild, are promising a spectacular debut. And from what we hear, we can't wait for the big night.

In addiziona to a dramatic opening number and the show being cohosted by comedian Alec Mapa and the fabulously talented Coco Montrese, the pageant has a slew of sponsors and is making a donation to Be Brave, an anti-bullying organization based in Las Vegas.

Meet Miss Gay Nevada America promoters, James Carreira and Jason Howard:

1 You two have an event production company.  
Yes! GlamSquad702 Events Inc. is an events design company and the premier provider of hair and makeup services for photography, weddings and events. We’ve been taking care of Las Vegas for 14 years now.

2 How did you become involved, what inspired you to produce the very first Miss Gay Nevada America?  
We were excited to experience Miss Gay America 2018 in New Orleans with Kelly Ray.  During that time, we were struck by the history and stature of the system.  We had many discussions with former winners, and owners Michael and Rob.  We knew we’d be a good fit with our background in production.  It was important that Miss Gay Nevada America was produced in a way that showcases the artistry and entertainment of drag in addition to highlighting charity.  


Above: James, Kelly Ray, and Jason

3 Your winner prize package includes one of the best prizes a contestant could ask for, a full production number for talent at the Miss Gay America pageant! We understand that you produced Kelly Ray Shelton’s number for last year’s Miss Gay America. Have you produced numbers for MGA contestants in the past? How did you come to work with Kelly Ray? What other MGA contestants have you worked with and in what capacity?
Kelly Ray has been a close friend for the past 25 years and the only contestant we've produced for and worked with.  We agreed to produce for Kelly on two conditions: a 3-week rehearsal schedule here in Las Vegas, and all dancers and choreographers were from Las Vegas.  Kelly worked extremely hard and we were thrilled with the result of the final night talent.  Two things were important to us when deciding on prize packages.  The first was our winner would be treated like the winners of other prestigious pageants like Miss USA and Miss America. Second as promoters we would fully support our winner with our resources and talents.