Tag Archives: Drag Pageant Judging

It’s A Man’s World – Competing for Mr. Gay USofA

Steven MichaelIt’s been almost a week since we have all returned from Texas. Well, of course I’m speaking of my fellow contestants from the Mr. Gay USofA contest this past week in San Antonio. 24 amazing men, proud and strong, stood among their peers and gave it their all in categories of Interview, Talent and the wide wild world of Clubwear. I was among these hungry men coming to claim what was ours always giving it one hell of a shot in the process! In the end there were 23 winners and 1 Ultimate Grand Supreme. Here’s the entire tale…

THE STORY CONTINUES HERE…

ULTIMATE GRAND SUPREME – ALYSSA EDWARDS

Alyssa Edwards

When the new cast for RuPaul’s Drag Race was announced I knew it would be one crazy ride! There were plenty of hungry newcomers dressed in heels I had never heard of but there were a few seasoned professionals who I knew would bring the noise. I was right! Front and center is pageant puss Alyssa Edwards showing how and why she has made such an impact in the competition world of pageantry. When queens walk the walk, they should talk the talk. Madame Edwards does just that as I interview her in-between gigs.

When it comes to getting the true Tea from the sources themselves, no one helps out like All Starr Management! My dears Natasha and Bob get me in and provide the means for these special Dolls of RuPaul to share their sordid stories and express themselves as only queens can. Well, hell… let me allow Alyssa the time to tell it like it is! When she talks we definitely listen. And remember, “It’s not personal, it’s drag.”

Alyssa Edwards

Steven Michael  – Great meeting you in L.A. recently with Bob Taylor at Micky’s during the featuring of RuPaul’s Drag Race girls from season 5. Love seeing you Dolls go at it on Drag Race. It’s a real fun season because of you seasoned pros. I’m hoping you’ll take a few minutes, let your hair down and answer some questions for your super supportive fans! Tell it all… No Tea.

Girl, we have a lot in common. I’m a choreographer and grew up dancing the workshops and competitive dance competitions like Tremaine and Showstopper. I’m guessing you did, too! Tell us about your dance background and how your passion plays into Alyssa’s performances.

Alyssa Edwards

Alyssa Edwards – “I stepped my first foot onstage at the age of 9-years-old (I believe). The one thing I remember most at the conclusion of my first group dance was: This Is WHAT and Who I AM destined to do and be. My love for the stage grew intense as studying, performing and competing were my happiest and most memorable moments of my childhood. I realized a few short years later dance would become more than just my passion but my first love and life.”

“I won my first student choreography award at the age of 16 and began student assisting thereafter. I opened Beyond Belief Dance Company which only existed in my most fascinating dreams. A dance space where students could unite and express themselves through the art of movement. By mere trick of fate and with the help of a few of my students’ parents this dream became reality in 2004. I am living my passion as an educator mentoring the youth of today and the future of tomorrow, a choreographer and artistic company director.”

“Upon discovering the art form of female impersonation I found myself very intrigued. I loved playing dress up with my four sisters and entertaining a large crowd was my addiction. Alyssa’s performances are built around just that… ‘Getting My Life’ every time I take to the stage! My dance training and arts background has been my foundation for many of my talent productions and gigs! I am blessed with the gift of dance and creativity which I will forever be thankful.”

Shangela - Alyssa Edwards

You’ve mentioned putting Shangela in drag for her first time. Who put you in drag for the first time and who have been your inspirations? I believe you’re a bit old school like myself.

“Growing up with several women, as a ladyboy I loved to play in the cosmetics! As I grew older I found an interest for makeup. I put myself in somewhat drag and pranced on into the club feeling extra fishy and ultra glam! I look back at those pics and just smile. A dear friend of mine Alan McCune assisted me in the cultivating of my drag beginning. He was a fantastic makeup artist and believed in my potential. It was Alan who introduced me to Laken Edwards who would take me under her wing as one of my drag mothers. Laken was a successful pageant queen with a skilled etiquette of style and carriage.”

“I terrorized the town as a young gay boy playing dress up turning out the amateur shows. I met another individual who would play a key role in the building of my character. Whitney ‘The Eyes of Texas’ Paige. Along with Laken, my drag daddy Mark and my grandmother Miss Manny, I had acquired the ultimate gay family to mentor me! My biggest inspirations are the style of Joan Collins, the grace of Ginger Rogers and the presence of Linda Evangelista!”

Alyssa Edwards

My dear “Mister Sister” Kimbol Purkerson always told me that you and I reminded him of each other. I competed against Tandi Andrews at Miss Gay USA decades ago. She of course won and I most definitely did not. Care to share your pageant resume? I know you’ve had a few moments that have gone down in drag history. Anything you’d care to share in your very own words or want to clear up?

“Living in the south, drag is BIG, glamorous and to make it one must be top notch! Pageantry is borderline a must to get your act noticed! My very first newcomer pageant was an epic fail during crowning. However, that showing gained me some recognition. People enjoyed my talent and saw the potential. I competed the following year to win that big hat and received my first gig as a member of the up and coming elite Edna Angels show cast. I went on to achieve numerous titles as I was addicted to pageantry and competition. Each experience was an invaluable piece to my puzzle.”

I am a former:
Miss Texas America
Miss Texas Continental
Miss Texas FFI
Miss Gay USofA
Miss All American Goddess

“I achieved a long term goal after five attempts placing 2nd-alternate and 3rd-alternate twice as Miss Gay America. This was a dream of mine that was very near and dear to my heart. This journey was a hallmark of my life and career however it was not my destiny. I was crowned October 31, 2010 and released of my duties Jan. 1, 2011 due to ‘Conduct unbecoming of a Miss Gay America.’ In every working relationship there are kinks that require adjusting but in this situation I simply was not a good fit. Our differences as adults and the decision to relinquish my title never changed my respect for the leader and creator of the wonderful world of drag pageantry.”

Alyssa Edwards

I know with your contract at RDR you can’t allow much regarding the show but what did you find as the hardest part of filming the show?

“This experience as whole in a nutshell challenges and pushes one to the extreme outer box! Rewarding in so many ways to see the potential meeting a new level. Difficult, intense but most of and above all memorable. One of the greatest paths I have been fortunate to walk. I can say I DID IT!”

Out of past seasons, if you were paired up with someone like the Dolls were in RuPaul’s Drag Race: All Stars who would you want to team up with and why?

“DUH! The One and The Only… Shangela Laquifa Wadley! Not only are we colleagues, friends, fellow entertainers but we are family! We are the dynamic duo full of Charisma, Uniqueness, Nerve and most importantly in my eyes TALENT! Always keeping it real and having a great time at it! We both know our strengths and have learned to embrace our weaknesses. The Sequel Baby!”

Alyssa Edwards

What do you think the casting agents saw in your video audition that caught their eye in wanting to see more from you? Any advice for young squirrels wanting to get on the show? Had you applied before season 5?

“In the casting process it’s most crucial to simply be ‘Who You Are!’ Your uniqueness is what’s desirable. Stand out amongst a crowd and deliver your character in a matter of minutes. Keep it real, be sassy, be funny, take it up and reel it in… It’s ALL about you! Whether right, wrong or indifferent, believe in your ability and potential. I had auditioned prior before finally truly being myself on my audition tape! Never give up and remember it’s free to audition. Get on that tape! I believe the casting agents recognized what I recognize about myself: My confidence, my flaws, my talent, my characteristic traits and most definitely my C.U.N.T! My advice: Don’t Dream It… Be It”

Alyssa Edwards

You’ve been on the pageant side of things in the drag industry for years and now you’re having a surge in popularity because of the show regarding bookings, fees and exposure. The opportunity really is priceless. Have you come across any of your sisters in the community that have changed their ways towards you either wearing green on their sleeves of envy or bouts of cattiness? How do you handle the haters?

“RuPaul’s Drag Race has Ru-volutionized the drag industry. Ru has taken this somewhat underground scene and has made an exciting mainstream extravaganza! It’s like watching the largest pageant from the viewing of your own home every Monday night… I live the House Down Pumps!”

“I don’t reward nor entertain negative naysayers. Debbie Downers, Bitter Betty’s and Negative Nancy’s are UNINVITED to the Party! And I thank you all.” (laughs)

Alyssa Edwards

What are you doing on your time off? How do you let your hair down, when and where?

“I am a busy gal, and I wouldn’t have it any other way! In my spare time I love a good scary movie or chick flick! I also enjoy low-key nights with close friends chillaxing! I am a very sweat pants, t-shirts kinda guy.”

Who keeps you grounded? Have you found that people are trying to be all in your world that served crickets before? I figure people would be coming out of the woodworks pining for your attention.

“The beauty of life keeps me grounded. I am blessed to have these opportunities and I remind myself quite often. My studio kids take me to a place that gives me hope and drag inspires me in a million ways. All the world is a stage and I am humbled I am living my life on one of the worlds largest.”

Alyssa Edwards

Watching yourself on Logo TV, have you been overall happy with how you’ve been portrayed? Were you nervous going into production?

“I have learned in life, and this experience has aided me in laughing at myself and not being such a critic. It is very hard to truly get to know who I am and what I am about in this televised competition, other than I am highly competitive. I have enjoyed giggling at my ridiculous nonsense as it’s all in fun! Life is too short to not savor these moments that are sometimes a once in a lifetime.”

Alyssa Edwards

The most recent episode of Untucked, which I always say is where the real story is, gave us a battle of wits and wisdom vs. youthful ridiculousness. You seasoned vets shredded Miss Cha Cha. It continued on and on. So… she was getting on your nerves, huh?!

“So basically you are implying the old vs. the new! (smiles) She actually was not getting on my nerves too much, it was just an intense situation. We had been working together all day and it had been a long day of work! Miss Cha Cha is quite the talented and quick witted young entertainer with a well-lit road ahead. When you get a bunch of fabulous queens in one room after many hours of fierce drag, alcoholic beverages and opinions, it can get out of control! We all were about to pull each others eyelashes off!”

Would RuPaul come and visit you girls like Tyra Banks would on America’s Next Top Model or were you locked away from everyone and everything? What did you find yourself doing when you weren’t ruining drag in giant aquariums or cruising the underwear-clad Pit Crew?

“In my moments of ‘Me’ time throughout this experience I found myself journaling about my existence. I believe our book of life is already written and the story is now being read aloud.”

Alyssa Edwards

And finally… What’s the song YOU would choose to lip-sync for your life if given the choice?

“The one song if I could chose to lip- sync would be my theme song…. ‘The Glamorous Life’!”

“Always and Forever, Alyssa Edwards.”

THANKS MY LADY! Looking forward to having our readers find out more about you! Best of luck with the rest of the season of RDR and look forward to seeing you again soon. Stay in touch if you make it to Palm Springs and we’ll have you over for a home-cooked meal and cocktail. XO

Follow Alyssa Edwards on Facebook and Twitter. Catch her on Logo TV every Monday evening! WHURQ, Sister!

ALL AMERICAN GODDESS 2012 ASIA T. O’HARA

I love it when an established entertainer trusts me enough and respects what I’m doing here on my blog to offer some of their precious time and wisdom so I may in turn share the Tea your way. We all want to know the real deal, right?! I’ve had strong voices in the drag community speak to me here at my domain and my next guest is no different. Smart, accomplished, young, talented, trendsetting, approachable, professional, realistic, honest, poised. This is my time with the current reigning All American Goddess 2012 Asia T. O’Hara. The Tea is being poured. Grab a glass…

Steven Michael – Asia, I could Google the house about fishy dish, factoids and Tea about you but in your words tell me something that the average bio wouldn’t tell about you or that you’ve always wanted to be asked during an interview?

Asia T. O’Hara – “That is a very good question! I like to look at everything in retrospect. So something I have always wanted to be asked is what I would be doing with my life if I were not doing drag. And the answer is this… I would either STILL be in school or I would be a teacher. I am a huge nerd and I love to learn. So I would probably go to school as long as I could afford it or until they kicked me out for having the boys in the bathrooms. Then I would turn around and teach others. But since I didn’t take that route and I AM doing drag. I love to show and teach people little things I have learned along the way. I am always looking for ways to cut costs, and do things better and more efficiently. So when I learn something new, I love to call the other girls and tell them! So I guess maybe I am teaching in a way.”

Probably in more ways than you realize, girl. You won your first national title Miss Gay USofA 2007 at an early age. How did the old school entertainers handle Miss Youth coming through and really upsetting the folks? Describe your experience and your age. What do you believe set you apart from the others that year?

“I have been asked this a thousand times. I won the coveted title of Miss Gay USofA when I was 24 years old. I had only been doing drag for about four years. I believe Natasha Richards and myself are the youngest to capture the crown. Some of the old school entertainers were thrilled, and of course some were not so thrilled. That year was definitely life changing for me. I met so many old school entertainers that helped me along the way and taught me a lot. Of course, there were times when I would have to defend the fact that I won the contest from the moment I got off the plane, till the moment I got back home. But I think most entertainers go through that at some point.”

“As far as what set me apart that year, I think it was the fact that I was so eager and hungry for it. I was new to drag, but I was not new to competition or performance. I have five sisters that are all competitive dancers, cheerleaders, and gymnasts, and I had been teaching one of the top high school colorguard programs in the country for six years. On top of that, I toured as a performer in a professional drum and bugle corps for three years. So when I got to Miss Gay USofA, I just did what I had been doing my entire life. The only difference was, I was wearing a wig. LOL.”

I didn’t realize your incredible ties to the Cavaliers Drum and Bugle Corps and would love to hear more about that over a spin, toss, catch sometime. I keep a flag around for an impromptu performance from time to time. How important is family within a drag community? Are there many out there and how does one get accepted into a new gay family?

“Family is very important in the drag community. So many people do not have the support of their biological family. Stepping into the gay community can be like being abandoned in a foreign country! Its essential to have a support system of people you can lean on and you can trust. ‘Gay families’ are also important because it’s a way to unite different parts of the LGBT community. A gay family can consist of drag queens, male entertainers, butch boys, regular ole sissies, lesbians, studs, transsexuals and much more. So it’s a way to connect many different types of people that possibly would not have met otherwise. There are many families out there but I like to think of it as one huge family with many different branches. I consider anyone who puts on a dress, my sister. Each family has different ways of being accepted in. I always tell people to just be themselves and right gay family will fall into their lap!”

Can you describe the feeling of rush that pours over you when you hit the stage and the applause begins? Are you a natural born performer?

“I definitely am a natural born performer. Nothing else makes me quite as happy. Unfortunately, it’s a feeling I can not describe. For those ten minutes that I am on stage, nothing else in the world matters. I often don’t even remember my performance when I get off stage. My friends will say they tipped me or I did this and that, and I have no recollection of it. It’s like being in a dream, you can’t remember exactly what you did or what happened. All you can remember is that feeling. Life becomes a blissful blur of music, love, and entertainment.”

I love performing. Being on stage is my dream. Have lived it many times on many stages. Miss it greatly. Madame O’Hara, answer me this… What’s Asia doing on her downtime, off the stage and without the diving board eyelashes and heavy paint? Do you have much time like this?

“Well, I like to stay busy as I bore easily. But drag is a full time endeavour for me because I do all of my own costumes and most of my own hair. I finish with my last show of the weekend on Sunday nights. I am normally at the fabric store Monday morning to start on new costumes for the weekend. My next 3-4 days include sketching, sewing, beading, rhinestoning, gluing, curling, building, and so on… I also do creative artistry for CHANEL so that keeps me very busy as well. When I am not working, I love going to the aquarium, the zoo, museums, movies, and things like that.”

We have to hang out, lady. More than we did back in Orlando for Bob Taylor’s Miss Florida USofA years ago. I bet we could have a serious time and like the Scissor Sisters croon Let’s Have A Kiki. Do you consider yourself a drag queen or female impersonator? What’s the difference?

“Well, I consider myself an entertainer. Although I don’t see much difference in the terms. For me, both titles are a little constricting. I do a lot of specialty numbers and a lot of characters that would not fit into the female impersonation category like Beetlejuice, Edward Scissorhands, The Cat in the Hat, Smurfette, The Predator and The Mad Hatter, to name a few.”

Ooh, I live. YouTubing now! How do you feel RuPaul’s Drag Race has changed the face of competitive drag and are you a fan?

“Ugh, I knew this was coming! LOL. RuPaul’s Drag Race has definitely had a large impact on competitive drag, and drag in general. I have only watched one season of it (Season 2, I think) so I dont know a lot about the show. However, I have had several close friends and family members that have been on the show. It used to be that the superstars of drag were Miss Gay America, Miss Gay USofA, Miss Continental, National EOY, and Miss Black Universe. But that is slowly changing. Competitive drag has been affected because entertainers now have a choice. You can spend thousands of dollars on costumes and gowns, stay up all night rehearsing with dancers and sewing costumes, and do a pageant with the hopes of winning. OR, you can pack a bag, go do an all expense paid TV show for 30 days, and make more money in a year than most entertainers ever will. Which would you choose?”

“I think the show is a good thing because it creates an avenue for girls that are not pageant girls. It’s no secret that most pageants are looking for a certain type of entertainer. So until now, girls that didnt fit that, or couldnt afford to do pageants, were being overlooked. RPDR has changed that, and I am grateful for it. I will just say this, I hope that the few members of the LGBT community that have the power and resources to make change, will help even the playing field where the ‘work’ and the ‘reward’ are equal.”

I love asking that question. Queens and passionate gay men definitely have an opinion about it. It was one of my main questions last year when I judged AAG at Large. On the subject, congrats on winning All American Goddess. It seemed like a tight race. I was glued to my iPhone for the results on Facebook laying in bed with one eye open. What is it about AAG that made you decide to compete? Can you describe your experience in Dayton for the finals?

“Thank you very much. I went to the pageant last year as a dresser and backup dancer, and to secretly scope it out. I liked how laid back, yet structured the contest was. I also loved that all the formers were so heavily involved. When I got home, I went onto the website and saw something that stuck out to me. Scott Gonyaw states that he started AAG because he felt like there was a group of girls that had not yet found their place in the pageant world. And that spoke to me. The next morning I picked a preliminary and the rest is history. My experience is Dayton was amazing. AAG is a very contestant friendly competition. The dressing space is great, the hotel is close to the venue, and the staff is friendly. It’s a weekend I will never forget.”

Yes! The one thing I noticed was the contestants were feeling like family even in their first year. Many had also come back to compete again. I see AAG as an opportunity. The formers are all over the board with types, styles and talents. Other systems have found a formula that works and one should either use it or not bother. I appreciate Scott’s respectful mission to true entertainment. Could you share your feelings on the differences between the systems Miss Gay USofA and AAG and what are they?

“Sure. For starters, AAG has a creative costume category and Q&A which USofA does not. But actually, I think the contests have more in common than different. Both are derived from a comparative scoring system, which takes a lot of the ‘guess work’ out for judges and contestants. And both have a “Let’s see who can put on the biggest show” feeling to them. Also, they both have a reputation for crowning whoever is the best girl that night. Miss Gay USofA has crowned more girls on their first try than any other pageant. Alyssa Edwards, Alexis Gabrielle Sherrington and Raquel Lord to name a few.”

“You will notice the same trend with AAG. I think the biggest difference would be that AAG grows, and evolves every day. Scott and the staff at AAG do a remarkable job of constantly doing whatever they can to make the pageant bigger and better. Miss Gay USofA on the other hand has a lot of prestige and tradition. They have branded an image for themselves in the community that has been steady and strong for over 20 years now.”

Well put! Is it hard to date as a successful traveling entertainer? I traveled for years performing but never worried about a man. I loved being on the road. Thoughts?

“YES LORD! It can be hard for entertainers to date because you are always away from home. It’s difficult to meet guys because you never want to go out when you are not working. But right now I am having an intense love affair with a box of peanut butter cookies and I could not be happier! But who knows I might trade these cookies in for a ‘BTT’ sandwich! LOL.”

Hmm. That’s too many things! Is it easy to get caught up in the drama of the industry because as we all know drag queens can be drama streams from time to time? How do you separate yourself?

“Yes it is easy to get caught up in it. But I have a philosophy. There is so much drama because we pour all of ourselves into the art form of female impersonation. When you are so emotionally invested in something, there is bound to be drama from time to time. I separate myself by doing one thing. Keeping my mouth shut when I know it could lead to drama.”

Biggest misconception about:
Asia T. O’Hara? “That I am rich. NOT TRUE HONEY! I just am very good about recycling feathers and rhinestones! LOL.”
Doing drag? “That all drag queens do drugs and are prostitutes. NOT TRUE HONEY!”
Being a national title holder? “That it’s all glitz and glamour. NOT TRUE HONEY! It’s a lot of hard work and probably the hardest thing I’ve ever done.”

On that note… What’s the biggest challenge of being a national title holder?

“The biggest challenge of being a national title holder? The entire thing! Ha-Ha. You have to go straight to the airport at the crack of dawn after doing a show in your home town and get on a plane. Then you land, try and eat, go to registration, greet all of the judges, staff and contestants. Then go paint up for the night and look like a million bucks all night long. Dance, twirl, flip your hair, do a toast, say hi to people, smile and wave, loan out bobby pins, shake hands, hug the girls, the whole nine yards. Then wash your face, head to the airport and do it all over again. Notice I never mentioned sleep. Not to mention you have to have try and cram 100 pounds of fabulous into one suitcase and one carry-on. We are not national titleholders, we are super heroes!!!”

WOW! Whurq it, Mamma! It takes a special individual to carry such an important task of responsibility and honor. Future plans, dreams, schedules?

“I do hope to compete again, and I have a lot of other things I want to accomplish in my personal life. But right now I am solely concentrated on having an amazing year as All American Goddess 2012.”

Oh, hypothetically… If I were to do drag again, what would I need to know to beat you? No Tea, No Shade…

“Unfortunately, your efforts would be futile…”

Well I guess she told me! I’ve seen Asia in action and she is force to be reckoned with! Interesting enough to note here, I realized that I had used an image of Asia years ago when I had pitch a reality show on competitive drag to my agent in L.A. Coming across these pictures brought all that to the forefront in my mind. I’m lucky I have a connection to these entertainers because I really feel their stories are worth being told and should be heard. I’m thrilled many of them take trust in the fact what I do always comes from a place of passion for the art and love for what they do. If you have an established professional someone in mind for a special featurette here on my website, drop me a line here or on Facebook and I’ll see what I can do. Thanks for reading my interview with the fabulously accomplished All American Goddess 2012 Asia T. O’Hara.

ALL AMERICAN GODDESS AT LARGE 2012 IS CROWNED! AND THE WINNER IS…

It was in the conservative and quiet city of Dayton last week where front-runner Whitney Paige from Texas ripped up the stage and tore it down with her Whitney Houston production including four fine dancers clearing the way for her to snatch the coveted punchbowl crown of All American Goddess at Large 2012. But that’s the finale. This is the story as seen from my eyes.

It was Thanksgiving, I believe, when I first was in contact with promoter Scott Gonyaw about judging for him. I reached out because I was interested and he responded gratefully. We decided to play it by ear with high hopes of making it happen. Fast forward to mid-February when he sent me a message on Facebook asking if I was still interested in judging. Of course I was. Just love waking up and finding fun invitations in my inbox. I’m always ready to judge a drag pageant and one of such a grand scale as a national with 29 (!!!!!!) contestants, how could I say no?! You’re right… I couldn’t.

I really didn’t know what to expect with AAG but since judging other systems I figured I’d be just great. I’m honest and fair. I try not to get too tossed by emotions or persuaded by reputation. I really don’t know many of the girls since competitive drag isn’t really thriving on the West Coast. I’m there to find the best candidate for the position of said title and with that comes responsibly to do so. Bottom line is that is you can’t sell me a preliminary to the system you’re running for then you need to go back and do some more homework. It’s my place to tell you to do so. That’s why I’m there and I take it seriously. But I have fun, too! And I sure did in Gayton, err, gay Dayton, Ohio.

I arrived on Thursday where Scott and cutie Justin picked me up at United’s baggage claim with bells on. I was excited to finally meet after a slew of texts and emails planning the reservations, etc. and so were they. We grabbed some food and pressed it to the Dayton Grand Hotel. I was already checked in and handed my keys on the way in which I thought was quite fierce. I unpacked and unwound for a bit, made some “I’m here” texts and phone calls and decided to walk the streets and get a lay of the land.

Sorry to say that downtown Dayton was quite dismal and closed early but once I figured that out, I maneuvered the days and nights away. Luckily Club Masqué is close for convenience so it made sense we were housed in the area. Once back in my room, I was fooling around on my Macbook with the free internet and doing some networking on various sites when I met a local who offered to show me the town. I thought Why Not? and we made plans for him to swing by and pick me up.

As soon as I opened the door to his SUV it was as if we had known each other for years. It was the oddest most wonderful thing to have that immediate connection. John drove me around and showed me the few sights Dayton has to offer. We stopped in for drinks at Side Bar in the Oregon District Neighborhood as he explained that he designed the restaurant and bar. It was truly fierce. The staff knew and respected him well and I was just having fun soaking it all in.

After a delicious cocktail we pranced down to a fun place called Smokin BBQ on the corner where two good ole boys provided some much-needed grub to two new Besties. After feeding our faces we headed back and John dropped me back off at my door. Just Kei-Kei’ing – No Ki-Ki’ing. I had happily and surprisingly made a new friend. And a great contact in Dayton! I found my way back to Side Bar for brunch on Sunday.  The chicken and waffles were TO DIE!

I turned in early later that night and woke up to start judging the next morning. Of course, when traveling I’m always thrown a bit off my balance and kilter without the making of comfortable surroundings (i.e. espresso machine, loving dogs, doting husband, familiar peace.) It comes with the territory and I’ve traveled for so many years that I’ve got this. I actually love it but still face slight anxiety when I’m away.

Justin and I had some breakfast next door to the hotel and began judging interviews around 2:30 with groups 1 and 2, as groups 3 and 4 would be taking the chair on Saturday. I was actually very relaxed the entire time I was in Dayton taking the moments away from everything I know to appreciate it more which I needed to do. The contestants came in one by one and while some faltered by not being prepared with concise and smart answers, others knocked we judges’ socks off.

When it comes to the category of Interview, queens, here’s what’s the Tea… Walk in, shake hands down the line, genuine eye-contact and name introductions, be asked to sit down, sit like a lady if in drag and a man in not. Posture is key. Answer the questions to the point and on point, be prepared for anything to be asked and know why you are there. You are there to sell the system and represent it, carrying on the grand legacy laid forth before your humble arrival.

Back to the show! I met some wonderful people, saw some amazing friends that I haven’t visited with in many years, and watched season professionals duke it out on stage while newcomers to the art of female impersonation showed passion and aspirations to be greater than they were, becoming part of something that was continually described as “a family” – the All American Goddess Pageantry System.

During the two evenings of preliminary onstage competition, the groups of contestants performed a Talent and presented themselves in Creative Costume and Evening Gown categories. It’s hard to go into many details without favoring one girl and not the other (I wanna be asked back! – TeeHee) but I will say that I was forever impressed with many and can’t wait to see others grow into their true capacity of superstardom. Contact Versage for DVDs of the pageant for your very own!

I blessedly saw dear friends throughout the weekend from the “old school” days and made connections with others that were genuine and real. In the house serving pageant realness: Former AAG Goddesses Candi Stratton, Lawren LaMoore, Latoya Bacall, Kelexis Davenport, India Ferrah, the reigning AAG Alana Steele, the reigning AAGAL Dena Cass; Miss Gay Untied States Icon 2012 Jennifer Warner; the sexy man that is Scott Johnson; Shae Shae LaReese (who is a threat to show up somewhere!); Florida’s very own doll Brittany Moore and the fabulous Khori Ross; dear sister Miss Continental 2011 Chelsea Pearl; promoter and Nina West confidant Michael Bishop and many, many more!

I really had a wonderful time and can’t wait to go back! (Hint – Hint, Mr. Gonyaw!) So many details and memories, so little time to tell them all. The final 5 fell like this: 4th Runner-Up Envy Van Michaels had a “Big Time” with her dancers during talent doing a superb job; 3rd Runner-Up Delores T. Van Cartier brought Patti LaBelle to life and was my nominee for Most Beautiful dressed in stunning baby blue beads and feathers; 2nd Runner-Up Tonna Demore brought the judges to tears during interview also having a “Big Time” on stage; 1st Runner-Up Mercedes proved she is a qualified, smart force to be believed and respected; and winner Whitney Paige who came in admittedly nervous and walked out quite victorious as the new All American Goddess at Large 2012!

WHY WAS WILLAM BELLI ELIMINATED?

It’s the question that has covered all lips who watch intently to the weekly laps of RuPaul’s Drag Race on Logo TV. Why was cocky and arrogant but experienced beyond belief Willam Belli eliminated from the show last Monday evening? I was just getting in from Dayton, Ohio, where I was judging All American Goddess at Large 2012 so I didn’t watch the drama unfold until Tuesday evening after hearing that it was the show of shows to see this season. After watching the episode, it was must-see-tv!

I took a break from blogging every episode of RDR4 because I became busy with other things and really mostly agreed with how the judges were sending Dolls home. In the latest showdown, the girls worked in teams of two singing duets with one thing in mind, their “frenemy-ship” that was exposed by a Mini Challenge of a answering a personal Q/A strapped to a lie-detector machine. During the Main Stage Challenge, the duos performed their duets and were judged on their Charisma, Uniqueness, Nerve, and Talent, by Oscar nominee Jennifer Tilly and Baywatch bombshell Pamela Anderson. Side note about Pammy, when I judged World’s Most Beautiful Transsexual in Las Vegas Ms. Anderson was there with David LaChappelle drinking the champagne and screaming for the contestants. She is very petite in person, even in stilettos! But back to the show…

When it was said and done, Latrice Royale and Willam Belli deservingly took top honors while Phi Phi and Sharon (Gasp!) were knocked wigs first into the bottom two. The girls turned it out during the “lip-sync for your life” round with O’Hara loosing her wig and Needles holding her own. However, this was only after Willam hurled chunks off the side of the stage, twice, I believe. Bad food? Perhaps. But sources tell me differently.

Rewind… Now, to know the show is to know that the real story happens during Untucked which is shown after the show but is filmed backstage during the judges’ private critique session after the girls perform. While the Dolls simmer in the Interiors Illusions Lounge, emotions run deep from a toss under a bus or an onstage read. Or, in this particular episode, numerous accusations of rulebreaking were being tossed towards Willam by frustrated fellow contestants while he sat calmly never once denying anything. In fact, owning up to it.

Obviously, the cameras were there filming. He knew the gig was up or would be soon enough. The Dolls squealing about Willam’s shade knew what they were doing by reading his beads. I believe that when he got back on stage and hurled the swirl, his nerves had gotten the best of him and knew that his time was nearly up and he had blown it. But at what cost and for what real reason?

After Phi Phi and Sharon did their final chance performance, RuPaul dramatically stops and asks Willam to come forth announcing that it had come to his attention that rules had been broken and that Belli would be leaving the contest. Shocked faces plastered themselves across Queen’s faces while Willam was backstage rubbing his bare ass on the mirror in lipstick. Class act. Personally, I’m glad a dose of karma checked her into attitude rehab. Bye-bye! I thought Sharon Needles won the showdown but her and O’Hara both were safe to stand another week of dragtastic drama in heels.

So what happened? Jokes came back to me from the RuPaul’s Drag Race Twitter Camp that Willam had eaten Jiggly Caliente. Rumors quickly circulated that he was on hormones or it’s because he got sick off the stage. Or was it his fierce Chick-Fil-A parody video on YouTube with Vicky Vox, Detox and gaggle of gorgeous gay men? Well, according to Willam himself, he says this to the Huff Post. He played fairly coy about it all but I’ve heard differently.

Oh, to tell or not to tell. To spill the scoop or to keep the Tea to me. Hmm. Well, sources close to the show tell me that allegedly someone was having their boyfriend come to the hotel where they are on constant lockdown while he was sneaking in their laptop and phone which is against the ironclad contract they sign before coming on board. You do the math. I wouldn’t want to get anyone in trouble. Oh, that’s right. It’s already been done. Karma worked that out. Oh, the gossip – the intrigue it creates. Am I right? Am I wrong? Who knows – we may never know. It was a good juicy moment that made for some fierce reality television. I was ready for him to go, honestly. It seems the contestants were, too! Was his shady behavior just a publicity ploy to promote his new single on iTunes? Perhaps. Eh – he’s gone now. The show was good with his character a part of it and even better because he’s gone. Could we be seeing Willam on the upcoming All Stars Cycle, perhaps? Stay tuned!

We’re in the final stretch. Scream your favorites! Go Team ____! (I believe heard every name!)

JUST RETURNING TO LEAVE AGAIN

Here’s a quick blast! I just returned from Sin City and we had a truly fierce time. Since then I’ve had two columns due and tried to get back into the swing of work since being away to my personal Heaven, The Cosmopolitan of Las Vegas. More details will follow but for now just know that I’m back and ready to head into March, full-throttle and full steam ahead. WHURK IT, ME!

Next week I leave for Gayton “Gay Dayton” Ohio to judge the All American Goddess at Large national pageant which should even throw me even more out of my element from the comfortable warm bubble I live in here in Palm Springs to the 180-degree turn and near freezing temperatures I’ll find in Dayton. I’m ready for the challenge and to see some really good drag. I need it, baby! BRING IT! X

ALL AMERICAN GODDESS AT LARGE 2012

I love having a say! Inside joke, but basically it translates into “I love judging a drag pageant!” Especially when it’s a national panel for a system that has gained the respect that it deserves, being recognized as contender for THE title to have. I’ve previously sat on panels for Continental, USofA and World’s Most Beautiful Transsexual. This round I’ll be in Dayton judging this extravaganza for my good friend and promoter Scott Gonyaw who asked me to become part of his All American Goddess family. I’m thrilled and honored to take part.

As you can see by the advert above, it looks to be a sickening event for fabulous drag queens and competitive female impersonators. This, of course, is the sister companion to All American Goddess. The call from Scott just came to fruition last week so juicy details will follow but my adventure is right around the corner! Again, so damn excited. Just hope the contestants BRING IT! And a word front he wise… Entertain the crowd, have fun and prove why you stand before me. And own the spotlight! Is it really that hard?! WHURQ IT ♥

RUPAUL’S LADYKINS TURN ANOTHER LAP

I’m watching Untucked and thought I’d blast a quick blog review of last evening’s RuPaul’s Drag Race. Gentleman, start your engines…

Willam and Madame LaQueer win the Mini Challenge of having the best mugshots and become team leaders for casting parts in their sitcoms called Hot in Tuckahoe. The humble but strong Latrice Royale turns the party out as the sassy warden and wins the Main Stage Challenge with Dida Ritz doing a great job acting, as well, but needs to “Lotion up, girl,” according to Michelle Visage. And I agree. Animosity grows between Sharon Needles and Phi Phi O’Hara. “Go back to Party City,” quipped Phi Phi to Sharon who responded, “I’m the future of drag.”

The versatile Chad Michaels gave us Florence and the Machine realness on the runway while Madame LaQueer found herself in the bottom spots with Milan. Pink’s Trouble played while LaQueer points a lot and Milan flops around like an under-painted fish out of water across the stage. In my opinion, after the first “death drop” Milan made her desperate point. It went on way too long and so I feel LaQueer was better and should have stayed. Her makeup was painted for the back row and I personally liked her dress. Then the wigs came off. Again, enough. Milan stayed. Madame LaQueer strolled back to paint the mirror with red lipstick and talk to the camera in a confessional. Another lap complete.

GLAMAZONS VS. CHAMPIONS ON RUPAUL

Last evening the Dolls were giving The Princess time to erase Lashauwn’s departure note off the mirror on RDR before RuPaul delivered the inevitable She Mail across the screen basically plugging her albums Champion and Glamazon (available on Amazon and iTunes — wink!) Helping others is the theme for the Mini Challenge where the girls create butterfly headpieces for RuPaul super fan Piyah Martell who was born with Caudal Regression Syndrome that kept her spine and legs from fully developing inside her mother’s womb.

Through popularity and a fan base online and YouTube, RuPaul found this diva and brought her into the show to express that no limitation is to great to get around. Very Inspiring, she was. Butterflies flew and the winners were Phi Phi and Kenya with Jiggly who scooted on their bus because she was odd-queen-out, rather odd number of Dolls, so Mizz Caliente was able to choose which camp she wanted to be with. “The Pretty Girls,” she chose when everyone paired up and she was alone. They won! Piyah was lovely and the Pit Crew escorted her off with her new drag! GO GIRL!

The Main Stage Challenge was having two teams spilt up and create informercials for RuPaul’s albums with a theme in mind. Work. Wurq. Wherk! The teams get busy with Kenya as leader on one side with Dida taking over her role because she could and the other team with Chad Michaels turning out 80s realness with The Princess who struggled considerably. Phi Phi figured she’d give Sharon Needles a role in her usual “goth drag” which really stole the show. Some girls really felt their infomercial and others did not.

In the end, Glee diva Amber Riley and Natalie Cole sat with Santino and Michelle Visage on the judges podium while the Dolls delivered gold and platinum runway gorgeousness. When the announcements were made, Sharon Needles turned it! Chad and Kenya brought in the next top spots where as low queens on the totem pole this week were Dida and The Princess who would, of course, “lip-sync for their life.” As This Will Be (An Everlasting Love) played and Natalie knew the words (her song!) Dida worked that runway into her very own. Mamma owned that number, no question. The Princess couldn’t keep up and was instructed to “Sashay, Away!”

However, final thoughts… Michelle Visage is giving Chad Michaels the business about being “too perfect” like she was giving to Alexis Mateo last season. Here we go again! Also, do they provide razors to the Dolls? Hello, Five O’Clock Shadows…. There is a heavy base that would work for that! USE IT!

ENGINE’S REV ON RUPAUL’S DRAG RACE 4

Thanks to Logo TV Online, I was able to see an early viewing of the first episode of RuPaul’s Drag Race a.k.a. RDR and this season is starting off with all the ego drama and catfighting one Main Stage can contain. Front runners the petite posing beauty Kenya Michaels and America’s favorite Cher impersonator Chad Michaels seem to be steering the pack of queens towards the title “America’s Next Drag Superstar” and the prize package including fabulous makeup, gay travel and a cash prize of $100K (reported earlier in my blog as being $125K – sorry!)

After the queens arrived one by one, we meet the characters and stories that got them on national television. There’s overly confident borderline obnoxious cocky Willam basically telling the rest to press it back home because she was taking the crown home. Old friend Latrice Royale from Ft. Lauderdale discussing how going to prison changed her life.  Extremists The Princess and Sharon Needles bonding over painting faces while Princess expressed her physical desire for Needles. Well, like a dear sister from Atlanta Amber Richards, may she rest peacefully, once said, “If you can’t F! your sisters who can you F!?” Other stories unfold as does the season.

RuPaul comes out and says Hello! to the Dolls personally as the Pit Crew from previous seasons bring out a wooden box on wheels. Camera pans to the girls and some are quite nervous. And surprise! Out pops Shangela for another try at the crown! Well, not exactly. After some quick witted dialogue about this being a new year and the possible apocalypse, Ru shoves LaQuifa’s head back in and off she goes into her budding career. Halleloo! The sweat beads stop their fall down contestants faces and the Dolls prepare for their first lap around the racetrack.

Latina mamma Jiggly Caliente won the Mini Challenge consisting of the Dolls maintaining their modelesque composure on a rotating platform while the sexy Pit Crew spray them down with fluorescent paints. Yes, apocalypse. Or, “RuPocalypse” as it was called. Reality show staple Mike Ruiz snapped his camera lens and photos we made, even ones of the girls who nailed the ground from their imbalance. It was Drag Queen roadkill off to the sides of rubble and dismay.

The Main Stage Challenge led the divas into a deserted location filled with zombie drag queens including former All-Stars Raven, Pandora Boxx, Shannel and Ongina holding fabrics and supplies for the perfect apocalyptic haute couture. Cue eerie music and fog. Back in the workroom sewing began and creations flowed. The Mistress of the Dark Elvira found her perfect place on the judge’s table besides mainstays Seduction lead Michelle Visage and the sassy but fashionable Santino Rice back for another season of judging. RuPaul strutted down the Main Stage runway and CUT!

Thanks Logo TV for pulling the plug just at the climax! UGH. I’ll be watching it for reals tomorrow (Monday) night but it sure was good getting a sneak peek. They weren’t going to give it all away… I’m dying to see who will “Lip-sync for their life!”

…flash forward to the premiere…

Watching it live on television gave it more layers we couldn’t catch watching it online. On the Main Stage runway, some girls simply got by while others soared. As I predicted, Sharon Needles won the challenge while Florida based Alisa Summers and New York’s plus-size Barbie doll Jiggly Caliente found themselves in the bottom two lip-syncing to Britney Spears’ infectious Toxic. In the end, Jiggly was clearly the winner as she nailed her words standing directly singing to the judges. Alisa took the more casual approach to a bored strut around the runway while insecurely glancing over at Caliente who was turning it out. Way to go, girls! We’re off to a fabulous season!

Until next week… We have Untucked!