From April 6-8, 2017, the Metropolitan Community Church of Greater St. Louis will be the setting for Miss Gay Missouri 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 Missouri America began in 1974 and now in its 43rd year, remains one of the oldest preliminaries in the Miss Gay America pageant system.
The pageant will honor the current Miss Gay Missouri America 2016 Regina La-Rae, from Kansas City, and feature Miss Gay America 2017 Suzy Wong, of Nashville.
The evening's theme will be "Comic-Con", a reflection of Regina La-Rae (Kory Burch) and her partner's passion and business (Saint's Customs) creating high quality costumes for fans participating in Comic Con events across the country.
Twenty-two contestants from across the state will compete in four rigorously judged categories for the Miss Gay Heart of America crown: Male Interview, Evening Gown, On-Stage Interview, and Talent (big production number).
The Miss Missouri 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 Missouri America 2016, Regina La-Rae, as she answers five questions in anticipation of her step-down and the passing on of the crown to Miss Gay Missouri 2017 on April 8:
1 When and why did you start competing in Miss Gay America?
I was a regular at Missie B's here in Kansas City and would make it to every Monday show. The glamour drew me in. When I met Tajma Stetson, I told her I had an interest in getting started. She helped me by making my first set of hip-pads and spending days at my house watching make-up tutorials on YouTube. The host at the time saw me and would not put me on stage until I had a name, and that was when Regina La-Rae was born.
2 What has being in the Miss Gay America system meant to you personally?
Miss Gay America has given me a family. Knowing that I am apart of something bigger and that I will leave a legacy behind means a lot to me. I have always admired The Forever MGA's and MGMA's (former title holders) so knowing that I am now apart of that legacy is the greatest feeling.
I attribute the success of my business, drag career and life to competing in The Miss Gay America system. It has taught me to be more confident in myself and go after the things I believe in the most. I can honestly say I don't think I would be as successful in business if it weren't for the 'America system teaching us its important to exude excellence each and every day.
My family is very supportive. My mother is in Florida and any time she comes to visit Kansas City she comes out to my shows, she constantly sends me messages reminding me or how proud she is of me and to keep doing what I love. Regina is actually my mother's first name so it only made sense to emulate her! My husband is my biggest supporter, he helps with a lot of the sewing needs Regina requires, since we make everything she wears.
5 What is your life out of drag? Anything else you want to add or say?
My life out of drag is very busy, my husband and I own a company named Saint's Customs which specializes in making movie-accurate "Star Wars" costumes for members of the Rebel Legion, 501st, The Dark Empire, Saber Guild, and The Saber Legion. These organizations promote positivity through charity work year round. My husband and I are also members of these organizations so when we aren't sewing we are out there alongside our customers raising money, awareness, or just spreading happiness in our community dressed as "Star Wars" characters.
We also attend Comic Conventions year round where I will typically dedicate one day of the convention to doing female characters such as Storm, Ariel, Leeloo Dallas, and many more. I have also started a Regina La-Rae Youtube channel so I can connect further with my fans, supporter, and family.
For more from Miss Gay Missouri America 2016 Regina La-Rae, check out her blog, “Regina’s Intergalactic Transmissions” under the Newsletter tab at http://www.mgmpageantry.com. •
Top photo: P.S. Linden Photography, Andy Chambers (make-up)
Official Miss Gay Missouri America 2016 crown photo: P.S. Linden Photography
Star Wars photo: Kory Burch/Regina La-Rae
MGMOA 2017 poster photo: P.S. Linden Photography
Black Headdress photo: P.S. Linden Photography
Blackout photo: Kory Burch/Regina La-Rae
Shaak Ti: Wikipedia
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