Long Hot Summer – Dallas, Texas

Baby, when I tell you it’s hot here in the Coachella Valley. My car today told me Thursday it was 129 degrees at one point but I believed it to be more around 115’ish. Bottom line, it’s been “100 and hell” all summer long. Even with my new ride, it takes about 8-10 minutes for the hot air to completely cool off mid-day. Child… I’m done, and it’s only July! And please don’t ask about our electricity bill. Two-story, four bedrooms, many dollars. So what’s one to do in the dead of summer but to go to a very humid Dallas!? And that’s what I did last weekend when I headed to Texas to support good friends and brothers competing for Mr. Gay America inside the Rose Room at S4. Here’s all the Tea… DRINK UP!

I arrived on American Air mid-afternoon to DFW. Jumped on the shuttle to grab my rental car (as I’ve mentioned this airport is a beast!) and off to Hyatt Place to set up for a few days! I stayed there when I competed in October for Mr. Gay USofA  so I knew the lay of the land and often stay at Hyatt Place when traveling. It’s a clean place, free breakfast and parking. I trust it. When I arrived to my room I did my quick inspection of the room, check the sheets, towels, mini-fridge, et al. I opened the curtains and saw my room overlooks the pool, four floors up. Since it was Fourth of July weekend, the place had a crowd. There was one group of good-ole beer drinking buddies hanging out, shooting’ the shit, spitting and tugging their nuts while their kids swam nearby. Well………. let’s just say they worried me enough to where they needed to go inside so I could stop peeking out. OMG! Sooo my feeling. I finally tore myself away from the curtains, showered the travel off of me and headed to Dallas Love Field to pick up bestie Bob Taylor who had flown in from Florida to be a judge for the Mr. Gay America contest.

We got to his hotel, checked him in and pressed up to the gorgeous room. Bob was residing in the heart of Gay Town on Cedar Springs so I stayed parked and we walked up to catch the show at Rose Room, a few cocktails, and reconnect. After 25+ years of friendship, life has taken us in different directions from coast to coast so moments like this and a few months ago at RuPaul’s Drag Con are so important to make happen. It takes effort to keep relationships going as years provide time and distance to take its toll. I’m so happy we’ve stayed true to one another. We’re lucky people, and he would most certainly agree. He’d better…

Once inside Rose Room, we ran into good friends, met new ones and came across all kinds of folks we knew in one form or another. The place was packed! The show began and performers twisted, twirled and taunted the crowd with their fabulous gig! Now, we like to tip the girls because they deserve it and clearly we respect what they do or we wouldn’t be there. Plus, there’s such a number of people standing on their hands and keeping their coins in their pockets while they watch that we really must tip. After assessing the crowded situation, Bob and I ran around through the outside deck and came in stage left to slide in by the runway for our tipping. Each of the squirrels we met up with on the stage knew us so it was all that feeling in the spotlight. It’s a fast fun festive moment and we don’t mind the quick ki-ki with the queens since that may be the only time we can get to them during the show! We then slinked through middle of the congested room, completely mapped out on our travels each time.

On Sunday, I headed over to Bob’s hotel and we walked up to grab some brunch before he went to judge interviews with the contestants. Afterwards, I went shopping at Galleria Dallas and Bob headed to appreciate what he would later tell me were “some of the best interviews he had ever sat for.” And the man has judged a contest or two (thousand.) I bought a few pieces of gig at Old Navy and H&M, then headed back to grab some time by the pool at the hotel before napping and preparing for the evening ahead. My pool studs weren’t around so I could actually enjoy the break, though they arrived again later for their tailgate party in the parking lot to toss the football. I’m telling you, I was weakened this weekend loving every minute of it.

I knew the heat would be an element that wouldn’t care if I planned on dressing to the nines or not. It’s a national pageant. HELLO! We dress up. Whew! The humidity in the air was heavy, as was the line to get into the club for the pageant. I decided to grab a quick drink at Sue Ellen’s next door and didn’t see Linda Gray no kinds of where. (laugh track intermediary sounds) I stepped back outside and the line (seemed like it) hadn’t moved. I perched in line hoping for the best regarding the heat and shvitz. After a few minutes, they break the lines up between already-purchased and need-to-buys as I move over to I’m-on-it-as-always line. Guys behind me recognize me from my own pageant gig, as did a few others, which made me realize I am making some impact. I say some witty things about the wait, they laugh and we all finally scoot in.

Upstairs, draped in my pageant best of blazer jacket, rhinestone buttoned vest, trousers and bling, I hug Bob and a few others I hadn’t seen the night before. I soon find my seat next to someone who says she once judged me at a preliminary then needed to remind me what had she said on her score sheets. It was kinda weird for a moment but I listened and kept my comments to myself while smiling back and nodding. The energy built among the fans and attendees in the Rose Room that night. I saw so many people special to me it’s nearly impossible to mention them all. I settled into the night so thankful I made the trip. It was exactly what I needed and wanted out of the adventure.

The contest began and 10 amazing men competed for the national title of Mr. Gay America. Quick backstory, this was once called Mr. Gay All-American for a good decade or so before the system changed owners a few times then ceased production of the contest indefinitely until this year when the new owners of Miss Gay America, Michael and Rob, along with Asia T. O’Hara reinvented it as Mr. Gay America. They also invited the previous winners from the All-American system and presented them with medallions as forever Mr. Gay Americas. It truly was a wonderful moment to see in person. Side Note: I actually danced late ’90s with a dear friend Tyler when he placed top five nationally at Mr. Gay All-American in Little Rock.

Please order this year’s video from our dear sister and videographer Versage if you want to know every detail because it was a great contest! From my seat, everyone did well! I knew a few of the contestants from competing elsewhere so I had a secret pep rally going for them for special reasons but cheered everyone on because since I compete, I know what that’s like to be up there vernerable. The contestants ranged from seasoned vets to newcomers not afraid of what was ahead. I had the top five picked as the judges did, though I had a few placing differently than the outcome expressed. Nonetheless, after five great categories, the top spots belonged to Michael LaMasters, Mykul Jay Valentine, Jeffrey Kelly, Judas Elliot (respectively) with Kyle Ean being named Mr. Gay America 2017! And Kyle is 49 years experienced (I hate the word old) which gave this mature contender (me) inspiration to keep going showing anything is possible in a young man’s world.

After a quick round of goodbyes and final selfies (thank you ArizonaDrag.com for picture above) I jumped back in the buggy and punched it to the hotel. Actually, I first grabbed a hot dog on the street with Christopher Iman while we listened in on queens bitching about their contestant not doing better and all that post-pageant mess that’s so unfortunate. I hugged Chris and walked to the car, then headed back to Hyatt Place. It was about 3 a.m. when I got in. This life is not for the faint of heart or weak of spirit. For performers who do this on a regular basis, I give you props and kudos because it’s hard on one’s system. I LOVE IT! Don’t get it twisted. But, it shows you quickly how important it is to you – the life of a showgirl… Or showman, in my case. I actually wouldn’t have it any other way. Well… I mean.

I quickly packed my things so I could leave later that morning for a spot of bird watching at DFW. (Sorry, not sorry.) In hotels when alone, I get two beds because one seems to always become my open-air wardrobe with everything strewn about in their place for viewing and visitation! My clothes were basically all ready to go. I set my stuff up for the morning and slid into bed around 4:30 a.m. About 7:30 a.m. my phone rings and it’s someone calling to get the Tea from the evening before. I go downstairs, grab coffee, return the call and head to the airport back to California.

Thank You, Dallas! They really do grow ’em bigger in Texas. A good time, that is. X

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