Heading to Mr. Gay USofA ’15 Nationals

UnstoppableIf you follow me here or on social media then you know I’ve been preparing hard for my preliminary contest to take me back to Mr. Gay USofA nationals once more in San Antonio this November. I got my ticket! I’M EXCITED! I wanted to win desperately but it wasn’t in the cards this round. However I did get my qualifying ticket as first alternate to place my two dancing feet back on that stage at HEAT Nightclub November 4-6. Here’s what went down in Bakersfield last week at the first ever Mr. Gay California USofA contest…

Nile Nightclub

We had been rehearsing for a good few months, my dancers and I. Well, there’s more to the story than that. I went through a good few people before finding the right fit for what the choreography called for. No Tea. Every obstacle became a redirection to something great. I prepared my competition package here in the offices of Southern Star Entertainment as quietly as I could. I believe hype helps so along the way I’d drop a hint here and there about what I was doing but very open about my run towards the title.

A few trips into L.A. found me at great studios working with amazing dancers. Here locally wondering eyes were privy to sweat-inducing rehearsals at World Gym on Sundays. Fumes from e6000 glue permiated the air throughout the house causing headaches and head rushes while lone rhinestones sat on carpet escaping the grip of a clutching tweezer. Decisions were made and many things were put away for a direct focus on the road ahead. Upon further inspection, somethings just wouldn’t work so quick choices had to made. It’s all about adapting to the changing climate of competition. I wanted to go ready for my national at my prelim so polishing would be all I need when I was done.

Steven Michael

DJ Mac Valentine worked with me selflessly to perfect my mix exactly the way I wanted it. He is a gem to have on my team so generous with his time! A few donors graced me with monetary gifts which was very sweet. I never beg for money because if you can’t do it alone then you need to rethink what’s most important. I can always use it but I don’t reach my hand out first. My dancers Shaun and Doug stepped up and gave me everything I asked for and more! Amy boogied in for my dear Amber who had Vegas call her name and was simply divine. I am so proud of not only the team that joined me last weekend in Bakersfield but for the choreography itself. It’s definitely an all time favorite of the many, many pieces I’ve produced.

Jason Hollywood, Jeffrey Kelly, Xavier Valentino, Steven Michael

Sunday morning we headed off toward Bakersfield for the Mr. Gay California USofA competition. I felt great. Really I did! No nerves. None. I couldn’t be more prepared in my eyes at the time. In hindsight, of course I would do a few things different (and will.) But it is what it is and now I know to do it different, and better. We met Amy who drove in from Los Angeles at the hotel. Our drive was really good, thankfully. After getting checked into the Hampton Inn we quickly blocked the routine in the hallway since it was the first time I had everyone together. I slid inside my room and got ready for Interview while they continued working through it. Hey, at least we weren’t in the parking lot like the old days.

Steven Michael

I arrived at Nile Nightclub dressed to kill. And with the brutal summer scorch a’blazing, I surprisingly wasn’t schvitzing. I said greetings to everyone and introduced myself to those I didn’t already know. Xavier Valentino had drove in from L.A. to compete and Jason Hollywood from Phoenix rounded out our 3 guys competing for Mr. CA USofA. There were also 2 guys competing for Mr. CA USofA at Large. We drew contestant numbers and talked logistics of the night ahead. It was time for Interview and I was contestant #2.

Steven Michael

After getting in the right headspace for Interview I was ready to tell why I was there. I walked upstairs with reigning Mr. Gay USofA Jeffrey Kelly Abess who gave me a once over before introducing me to the room. I took my place and was asked to be seated. After a great round of questions I finished with closing statements and walked out feeling really good. I love to talk and have a great way of expressing myself in these situations. The best advice I ever received regarding Interview is to just talk with them like it’s a conversation. So I do. I believe it you can answer the Who, What, When, Where, Why and How about you being there, the rest will come to you.

My dancers showed up soon after and we ran through the routine on the stage. I was still in my dress clothes, and just walking around the routine I slipped and fell down. The floor was slick like an ice rink. My music sounded booming on the stage which I was getting my life with! The run-through was fine. Everyone knew their parts. Then it was back to the hotel and off to grab dinner before heading back later in the evening. I lightly dusted my mugg, packed my car and was good to go!

The show started later than planned so we had plenty of time to connect backstage. In one corner the boys were getting their Opening production gig on while Jeffrey, Xavier and I shared sordid stories from last year’s Mr. Gay USofA competition. Jeffrey won, Xavier was his bridesmaid (so to speak, first alternate) and I made Top 12 with both of them. While we chatted it up everyone’s dancers twirled around on their phones. What did we all do before smartphones?! Talk to one another? Gasp! No Tea. I love my phone. I do love the camaraderie and sense of family you can find at most contests.

Xavier Valentino, Jeffrey Kelly, Steven Michael

Clubwear. I’ve always said it should be called Fashion because that’s what they want. I know that now. Mental note for November: Give them what they want like Amber Richards always told you. Moving on. Talent went very well. Again, I’m so damn proud of what we did up on that stage. Just a week prior, I was acting a fool without warming up and gave my neck a good go at it so I was happy with my dancing there. C’mon cartwheel! I even pushed through a good tendon pull in my elbow from training to give judges Roxy Andrews, Christopher Iman, Odey Davenport Brooks, Magesty Moore Whitney, Menage, Shae Shae LaReese and Angelica Sanchez some gymnastics gig. It’s a fun routine!

The competition was small but fierce. I wish more people had attended in both audience and contestant quantity but our new promoters have quality in their great representatives heading to Texas in November. I’m hopeful for the future of the contest! At the end of the evening, Xavier was named winner as I received Best Interview and first runner-up. Robert Electra will represent as Mr. Gay California USofA at Large. Zayer York, the reigning Mr. Gay USofA at Large, was also in attendance. He and Jeffrey were class acts all night long. Very supportive and attentive. ♥ ♥

Xavier Valentino, Jeffrey Kelly, Steven Michael

Afterwards I had a good number of the judges reach out to me and say very nice things to me about progress I’ve made since finals last year to this moment. I’m getting ready for nationals now! I’ve tried to take a break after my preliminary but once I win in November I won’t have a break for a year so might as well get used to it. Revving up #TeamSteven. Next stop, San Antonio 11/4-6.

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