On April 22, 2017, the Horseshoe Casino Baltimore will be the setting for Miss Gay Maryland America, a state preliminary competition for the 45th Miss Gay America Pageant.
Established in Nashville in 1972–37 years before "RuPaul's Drag Race"–The Miss Gay America Pageant is the world’s first, longest running and most prestigious female impersonator competition. The Miss Gay Maryland America began in 1985 and is now in its 32nd year. (See the Baltimore Sun slideshow from Miss Gay Baltimore 2016 here.)
The pageant will honor the current Miss Gay Maryland America 2016 Rebecca Blaqueout, from Baltimore, and feature Miss Gay America 2017 Suzy Wong, of Nashville.
The evening's theme will be the "Alice in Wonderland" Tea Party scene, as seen in the 1951 “Alice in Wonderland” movie by Walt Disney. The catch: costumes are not to be a main character from the movie or story, but a Tea Party guest! See the rules at www.missgaymarylandamerica.com.
Nearly a dozen contestants from across the state will compete in five categories: Male Interview, Presentation (theme based costume), Evening Gown, Talent (fully produced stage production; sets, dancers, permitted), On Stage Interview.
The Miss Maryland America pageant will set the 2017 state winner and alternate on a path to compete for the title of Miss Gay America 2018 in New Orleans this October.
Meet your reigning Miss Gay Maryland America 2016, Rebecca Blaqeout, as she answers five questions in anticipation of her step-down and the passing on of the crown to Miss Gay Maryland 2017 on April 22:
1 How did you get started, when did you first do in female impersonation?
I got started as a backup dancer for a contestant for Miss Gay Maryland, who then went on to Miss Gay America. I loved backup dancing, but I had an inkling that I wanted to be in the spotlight, and not in the chorus line. Well, one night (actually, it was the Black Party on Black Friday in November of 2013) I had two friends, Lola Mein and Kelly Kox, who were getting ready to go out in drag. I had always wanted to see what it was like to be in drag (and wondered if I was even pretty), so my friends did my hair, makeup, and borrowed some outfits.
Then they told me I had to pick a name. I decided my first name would be Rebecca, because that is my real sister’s name–and growing up in a religious home, she has always supported me being gay. However, I could not think of a last name. So, we went out that night and I’m walking in heels like a linebacker. We end up going to an afterhours club called 1722, where I decided to step outside to get some fresh air. Well, I went to go step down in my 5” high heels, missed the last step, and fell flat on my face. After that my friend shouted “Rebecca Blaqueout!!!” and thus, she was born!
2 What has being in the Miss Gay America system mean to you personally?
Being in the Miss Gay America system and winning Miss Gay Maryland America (MGMA) has opened so many doors for my career. I remember starting as a “baby drag-on” and getting ready with the former MGMA sisters and looking up to them as inspiration and idols. In Maryland, winning MGMA was a big deal: You are honored for your hard work and dedication to the female impersonation art form, plus you get loads of offers to perform throughout the Maryland, Virginia, and DC area. I have always wanted to be a part of that sisterhood. It was like sitting at the “cool kids” table in the lunchroom, except more fabulous.
3 How have you benefited from competing in the Miss Gay America system?
I have competed for MGMA for three years, and every year I feel that I have gotten better each year. I would take in critiques from the judges, learn and grow from my mistakes. It’s something that helps you grow as an individual as well. I have done so many interviews for MGMA, that when I went for a real interview for a job promotion, I was so confident and poised, I credit my MGMA experience with helping me get the promotion in real life!
4 Is your family supportive?
When your dad is a deacon of a church and your mom used to be a Sunday school teacher…my parents are supportive of me as an individual, but not so much in my female impersonating career. However, I have two amazing sisters that have always been like the angel and devil on my shoulders. They have pushed me to be a better person and sometimes like to give me tips on performing: They both used to dance, so they understand the performance aspect of drag. I swear sometimes my one sister and I look a lot alike.
5 What is your life out of drag? Anything else you want to add or say?
My life out of drag is normal, yet amazing. I live with my partner of three years and our little miniature poodle named Max. I actually met my partner the first year I competed at MGMA. My drag mother, Sue Nami, said to me (in her Indonesian accent) “my friend will dress you, he will make you look like real women, and he is hot too”. It was love at first sight.
Also, I go to school full time at Towson University, were I hope to graduate by December of 2017 with my bachelors in management. I work full time at Kaiser Permanente, one of the leading organizations in health management. I love working for Kaiser Permanente because they promote diversity in the work place, as was recently recognized as a leader in LGBT healthcare equality by the Human Rights Campaign Foundation. •
More about the Miss Gay Maryland America 2017 pageant at: www.missgaymarylandamerica.com
About Miss Gay America: www.missgayamerica.com/about-mga.html
Photo credits: Top and bottom Kaitlin Newman for the Baltimore Sun www.kaitlinnewman.com. Middle photo by Rick B. Photography.
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