Thursday, May 30, 2019

Meet Your New Miss Gay Arizona America 2019: Espressa Grande

MGAZINE cover photo by Scotty Kirby.

On May 11, Phoenix queen Espressa Grande was crowned Miss Gay Arizona America 2019 at one of the Miss Gay America system's most prestigious preliminary pageants.

A spirited gal with a love of drag, family and showing us all how to be an #ElevatedYou, Espressa took a minute to answer the five questions we like to ask newly crowned MGA title-holders.

But first, as sort of an upfront bonus question, we asked Espressa Grande how she came up with her fun drag name. "Working at Starbucks was a pivotal part of my life when i was 16," she says.  "I was just coming out as a gay man and navigating a life as an adult at such a young age. Grande, well, she’s definitely a large and in charge woman, henny!"

And now, a little sip and stir with Espressa Grande:

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

My heart forever belongs to the stage of theatre. Theatre inspired me to take the leap into female impersonation three years ago. Also our social climate. I want to inspire new generations because after we are gone, that is who takes the reins. My drag is full of comedy and camp, but at the core ALWAYS has a message to empower and inspire.

Photo by Patrick Breen from a feature by Garrett Mitchell for See more photos of MGAA 2019 here.

2 What has being in the Miss Gay America system mean to you personally?

It means that what I am doing, being my own authentic self, is enough to show true power and excellence.

Royal Sisters: 4 Reigning Queens, One Fierce Photo

More gorgeousness for the MGAZINE blog.

Four royal sisters came together minutes before Miss Gay New York America 2019 began this past March for this fiece photo by New York City photographer Kiet Thai @studiokiet.

L-R: Miss USofA 2018 Janet-Fierce Andrews @janetfierceandrews of Texas, Entertainer of the Year 2018 Danielle Hunter @msdaniellehunter of St. Louis, Miss Gay America 2019 Andora Te’tee @andora_official of New York City, Miss Continental 2018 Stasha Sanchez @stashasanchez of Atlanta.

See more of each on their respective Instagram pages.

Thursday, May 16, 2019

Meet Your New Miss Gay Missouri America 2019: Vega Markstone Hunter

Photo by Andreu Wade Blackwell aka Gingersnap Photography

From March 28-30 at Hamburger Mary's St. Louis, eighteen contestants competed for the 46th annual Miss Gay Missouri America crown. After three days of love and cheers, St. Louis resident Vega Markstone Hunter was crowned Miss Gay Missouri America 2019, with Loreal of Kansas City being crowned First Alternate. Both will compete for the national title at Miss Gay America 2019, also in St. Louis, this October.

Below, your new Miss Gay Missouri America Vega Markstone Hunter answers the same five questions we like to ask all title-winners interviewed here, but first, by way of introduction, we like to ask...

How did you get your drag name?

This is one of my favorite stories to tell! My full drag name is Vega Markstone Hunter although I typically go by only Vega. When I started, I wanted to have a name that was powerful and celestial. I wanted to have a singular name like Madonna or Cher, something that carried power and said that I was the only one I needed. After some research and a lot of other names, I came up with Vega.

There is a star called Vega and it is the brightest star in the constellation Lyra. While it is the brightest star in Lyra it isn’t the brightest in the night sky, and that was important to me. I don’t want to be the brightest star in the sky because I always want there to be room to improve and grow. To me, I want to be that bright light in the dark that people can look up to and come to when they need but it is important for me to have that same light to turn to myself.

It wasn’t until I moved to Missouri that I added the Markstone Hunter. This pays homage to Alicia Markstone and Danielle Hunter. I never understood what drag families were as they weren’t common where I am from. What I found was this loving, supportive and creative group of individuals that combined to form this pack of unrelenting motivation. I know that I have grown more in the past year than I have in the previous nine. I am fortunate to come from a family that supports me unconditionally and I am equally as fortunate to have a found family that I can say the same of.

And now Vega's interview with MGAZINE:

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

Throughout my life up into my early twenties I danced professionally. I taught and performed all over and made my career as a ballroom dance instructor and competitor. Unfortunately, life had other plans and I was injured to the point where I could not dance for almost two years. During that time, I missed performing so my friends and I would host theme parties just about every month. It was at these parties that I began dressing up in drag. Then there was this one day in January, almost ten years ago, the 17th to be exact. A local bar was hosting a talent show and my friends convinced me to do it. So I did…and tied with another performer for the win! That night the show director asked me to be on their cast and I have been performing ever since. Actually, the video from that talent show is still online!

Photo by Andreu Wade Blackwell aka Gingersnap Photography

2 What has being in the Miss Gay America system mean to you personally?

Monday, May 13, 2019

More Love for MGAA from The Arizona Republic: Miss Gay Arizona America Espressa Grande on pageants, drag and how to be an #ElevatedYou

More MGAA love from Garrett Mitchell @rettmitch at The Arizona Republic, back with an interview with Miss Gay Arizona 2019 Espressa Grand.

Q: What's one thing you've learned from this experience in Miss Gay Arizona America?

A: I think the biggest thing I've learned through this whole process is to elevate myself.  I've come up with a hashtag —  #ElevatedYou. And the reason why is because when I'm Espressa, I'm an elevated version of myself. I once thought they were looking for a certain type of cookie-cutter drag queen, but all they're looking for is an authentic, elevated you. I want to show those who don't fit the mold that they can do this, too.

Read the full  interview on

Related: Fab photos by The Arizona Republic from Miss Gay Arizona America 2019


Fab photos by The Arizona Republic from Miss Gay Arizona America 2019

Congratulations to Espressa Grande our new Miss Gay Arizona America and 1st Alternate Sicarya, 2nd Alternate Kadee Christian Starr, 3rd Alternate Patricia Mason and 4th Alternate Franzie McKenzie!

A big thank you to Patrick Breen at the Arizona Republic newspaper for the fab photos! 👑❤️🎉 See all 63 photos at

Check out The Arizona Republic's pre-pageant feature, "Don't be a drag, just be a queen: Miss Gay Arizona America pageant is May 11" and The Phoenix New Times pre-pageant slideshow feature on photographer Scotty Kirby, "Photographing These Beauty Queen Competitors Is Never a Drag for Phoenix Lensman."


Thursday, May 2, 2019