As we come into the pride season, I think it is important for everyone in our community to look INSIDE and be proud of who or what we are as individuals. Too often, we compare ourselves with others which brings us down the road of not being thin enough, popular enough, not making enough, etc. We have gotten to the point as a community to find it necessary to create labels which we must fit in (bears, otters, twinks, athletic, average, swimmer, and I could go on). Sadly we often divide ourselves more than being inclusive of all within our community.
When Michael and I purchased Miss Gay America, we made it our mission to unify everyone within the drag community, with the hope of setting an example for others to follow. It was as a result of this, that #unity was born. Last year seeing Suzy Wong performing with many other national title holders on one stage was one of our proudest moments.
As national promoters it really is such a gift to see individuals “come into their own”. It is amazing to watch people within our own community celebrate who they are unapologetically. As national promoters, we challenge you to live the life that YOU want to live, free of labels created by others and free of pressure to “fit” within boxes. Our challenge to you when we purchased MGA, was for you to celebrate your individuality and to bring YOU to the stage. With this, you will find a freedom that is incredibly liberating. Your light will shine and inspire others to be true to themselves and challenge a community so saturated with labels to celebrate along with you.
We are half way through the year, and it’s been a while since we have written an article. The first half of the year has been wonderful so far with 10 preliminaries completed. There are 20 great qualified contestants ,and this summer’s schedule is packed with preliminaries from coast to coast; opening the door to other contestants giving them the opportunity to become the next Miss Gay America. Suzy is doing an amazing job. Her business background has helped keep everything organized, and her trouble shooting abilities are second to none.
There have been many changes this year with the goal of creating the most well rounded entertainers as well as the most exciting contests for audiences to attend. These changes are getting a lot of positive feedback. Contestants have really put a lot of creative energy into their presentations. With the absence of solo talent, along with the changes in timing to evening gown, the pageants are moving along quickly, making them a great viewing experience for the audiences.
Speaking of changes… On July 2nd, the America family welcomed back male pageantry with the Mr. Gay America contest in Dallas, TX. Ten great contestants competed and became a part of the America family. The format and rules closely mirror what we already do. Many people asked, “how will it differ from other male contests?” We put a lot of thought into the fashion category. We decided upon "Red Carpet Fashion". Contestants brought their best “Red Carpet” look to the stage. There are many types of red carpet events, giving contestants flexibility to find a suitable look that fits their personality. Continuing with the theme of gold, the prize package included a gold medallion and a custom-made jacket tailored to the winner. After a hard fought contest, Kyle Ean captured the title of Mr. Gay America 2017, making it his 6th national title! After the contest, Kyle hit the ground running contacting potential promoters. As a result of his hard work, have already "delivered" contracts to 5 promoters with another dozen awaiting information. Bringing back the "Mr. Pageant" would not have happened without the hard work and dedication MGA 2016, Asia T. O'Hara! We would like to thank Asia O’
In planning for Miss Gay America 2018, remember to book your rooms using the link on the website or Facebook. We have a block of rooms held at a discounted rate until the end of August. Once the block expires, we can’t guarantee the room rate or that a room will be available in the hotel.
Have a great summer, and we hope to see everyone at an upcoming Gay America event soon!
Rob and Michael
Welcome to the 2017 Miss Gay America pageant season. Why Michael and myself thought that after nationals, there would be considerable downtime, I have no idea. It has been an extremely busy, full steam ahead, past few weeks. Our newest symbol of excellence, MGA 2017 Suzy Wong, has already been creatively designing new merchandise, attended at least two photo shoots, participated in the 2016 Wonderful 100 AIDS Walk in Phoenix, attended Mr. Gay USofA 2016 Nationals in Dallas Texas where she performed her first number as Miss Gay America and did her first national walk all to promote system unity, met up with Miss Gay America publicist Andy Reynolds in NYC and collaborated on ideas for this year, had numerous conference calls with us to discuss everything from her goals this year to her theme for MGA 2018 (and yes she already has it picked out) to flying down to New Orleans for the day with us to scope out the Hyatt, and discussed with us her ideas for attending Pride Palm Springs in just a few short weeks. Suzy has been doing all of this while going back and forth to Nashville a few times to look in after her restaurants, working with her assistant and all of those involved with her career as a celebrity chef on the Food Network, and even calling my 10 year old daughter for her birthday yesterday (Ella is mesmerized by everything Suzy and everything Arnold).
We will be traveling to our home in Key West in December with both Suzy and Asia (who now holds the position of Titleholder Liaison) to preserve the tradition of "Father/Daughter Weekend", and to dive head first into EVERYTHING Miss Gay America with Suzy. Word has it that both Suzy and Asia will be guest performers while there. It would be amazing to see at least a few of our Miss Gay America family while we are down in paradise! Following our long weekend there, we will be making a couple of, what are bound to be extremely exciting, announcements regarding what the future holds for Gay America Pageantry!
Last, but definitely not least, we would like to thank each and everyone of you that supported us in Memphis for the national contest. From formers, to promoters, to title holders, to judges, etc, we couldn't have done it without you! If you think THAT was good, you will be blown away by next year's contest! On that note, we have chosen an amazing group of individuals for the judges panel and will notify them in the coming weeks! Once again, they include title holders and or promoters from various national systems as well as those that have been involved in the art of female impersonation for decades. You will surely be both impressed and awe-struck!
Working with first Asia and now Suzy has proven to us why we put so much of our time, our talents, our money, and ourselves into this great system. It has proven to be a second family to us, just as it has for many of you. For this reason, and countless others, regardless of how many other commitments we may have, and I think it is safe to say for Suzy as well, the continuance, the growth, the stability, the legacy of all those that have gone before us, and the EXCELLENCE that DEFINES this system is both protected and given the time that is so very much deserves!
Rob and Michael
The countdown to MGA2017 is going by so fast. This year has been a great year for us. Getting to meet so many supportive people and working with Asia has been the highlight of the year.
We have spent a lot of time this year organizing what we would like to see for the future of MGA. In October we will unveil everything we plan on doing to make the future of MGA even more amazing than it already is.
We'd like to thank all the promoters who made this year amazing. We have a great group of contestants competing for the title, and we would be proud to have any of them represent the system in 2017.
August is here, which means only 2 months until the national contest. Everything is slowly falling into place. Michael and I have traveled across the country numerous times, and were able to see many preliminaries first hand. We have found it quite amazing to see the effort both the promoters and the contestants have put into this system. We have a very strong contestant base already for nationals, and with a few more preliminaries still to go, the talent will continue to build.
As we had promised, when we purchased the national pageant back in February, there will not be any significant changes this year with categories in general or how they are scored. You will, however, notice quite significant esthetic changes as well as the overall grandeur. Who knows, perhaps a famous special guest will perform at the revue show.
Throughout the past six months, we have spoken to many forever MGA's on the board, and have collectively decided upon some changes that will ensure Miss Gay America remains the symbol of excellence that it always has been.
This October, there will be some twists and turns, some surprise award winning guests, and finally, a very important announcement about where MGA is heading in future years as well as a possible permanent home, categorical changes and tweeks, new national exposure for the newly crowned winner, and perhaps a newly judged category for MGA 2018. This is one year you don't want to miss!
It seems the big question these days is... "What do Michael and Rob want in a titleholder for MGA"? We have had people ask what our favorite songs are, favorite color, preferred hair style, even what style gowns we prefer. Our answer is always the same. "It doesn't matter what we like".
When you run for a pageant, be yourself. Wear something that is complimentary to you, and you enjoy wearing. When planning a talent, be yourself and enjoy what you are presenting to the audience. I feel entertainers are at their best when they are comfortable in what they present, not what someone else is expecting. It truly makes a difference.
Of course there are judges, so you have to appeal to them. We will tell them nothing different than what we are telling anyone reading this right now. All we ask is that contestants be original and creative, especially when it comes to talent, be able to carry themselves in a professional manner, and uphold EXCELLENCE, which has been an integral part of this pageant system for decades. Other than that our only expectations are that you are respectful and dedicated to represent the Miss Gay America title with with honor and integrity.
The length of time needed within the system to fulfill the aforementioned is different for each contestant. Some are able to show this to the judges the very first time they compete, whereas for others, it takes 10 years. Any amount of time "put into the system" prior to our purchase should prove to be invaluable to each performer making them even more seasoned for the following year. Each year at nationals, when a new MGA is crowned, is the beginning of their year-long relationship with us. After crowning our hard work TOGETHER is what will help fine tune the new MGA as a performer, an administrator, and an ambassador to this wonderful organization. Your skill-set will already be there.
As we all know, it takes a lot of time, money, sacrifice, and dedication to reach the level of EXCELLENCE needed to capture the title of Miss Gay America. In return we promise to give the same back to each and every one of you. Regardless of what else we do or support in life, we made a decision when we became the owners of this organization that we would do what we believe to be in the best for the system and continue to make it the best pageant possible. The media attention we have already secured, the major endorsements, the sponsorships, the talks of future venues, the dedicated full-time staff, the board containing numerous formers, and the countless hours of hard work will prove to be what keeps Miss Gay America at the top of the art form. Through all of the above, we will ensure a system that promotes unity and one that brings all of our communities together regardless of the obvious differences we all have.
Balance of change
When we purchased the Miss Gay America pageant system, it was after a lot of thought and consideration. Many people approached us encouraging us to do so. Since February 4th, we have received hundreds of emails and messages asking us what changes, if any, will be made. It is safe to assume that there will be changes, but only after vigilant consideration and intelligent discussion with our advisers.
Since February, we have met a lot of people, and are listening carefully to the concerns being brought forth. Any changes within this prestigious system will be difficult, as it is hard to make everyone happy, but we all must remember that changes we implement are for the betterment of the system and not for individual gain. Surely there will some that disagree with change, but there will always be that. We want people to know that we honestly have our hearts in Miss Gay America 100 percent. This is more than a business to us. We want this to be the most recognizable pageant for female impersonators around the world; not just for us as owners or promoters, but also for contestants that compete for the title of Miss Gay America. We entertain people to invoke thought and emotion. It can give us a platform that can make change in the world.
Some of the changes we have begun to implement are mostly with updating technology with scoring, apps and websites that will help the pageant run more efficiently which will allow us to devote more time to the contestants and continue to develop the Miss Gay America organization in the world of entertainment.
In the next month be on the lookout for an addendum to the rules and regulations that govern the system. This will clarify a few of the questions/concerns which have been asked of both Asia and ourselves. Although we plan on going through the entire list of rules, which currently encompass over 100 pages, and condensing them into a much shorter document for ease of understanding, we feel it is necessary to put this addendum out immediately, so we are all on the same page.
Rob and Michael
March was a busy and productive month. Things are coming together more each day as we prepare for October. We were able to spend some time on the road with Asia, who is both a sweet and talented person. Not only does she get to take in the MGA experience but has to work with all of our questions and requests as well.
As many of you are aware, we travel extensively both personally and for business. One of our stops during our travels for the month was in New York City, where we met with publicist Andy Reynolds of Popular Publicity, who will help boost Miss Gay America's presence and also draw more attention to the preliminaries, contestants, history and excellence. Andy has represented many LGBT businesses and artists including Lady Bunny, Cazwell, and Amanda Lepore.
As we move into April and May, state and regional preliminaries are scheduled just about every weekend. We would like everyone (promoters, contestants, and title holders) to remember that everyone is to be treated fairly and respectfully. Any entertainer who gets up on a stage deserves respect. Any criticism should be constructive and handled appropriately.
We are very approachable and love hearing from everyone. We encourage anyone of you who have questions, concerns, or suggestions to reach out to us via email or phone. We want Miss Gay America to be a great experience for everyone involved in the system. Each of us has a unique role in ensuring MGA remains the premier pageant system. There needs to be excellence in each and every one of us to ensure this.
We wanted to take a moment to thank everyone for all the messages of support over the past few weeks. We are truly honored with everyone who has reached out to help us. We would especially like to thank Larry and Terry for their help. They have put a lot of time and love into the pageant, and they have been great to work with as we transition ownership. Aron, “Catia”, is a great friend and we were so happy that he wanted to partner with us on this. He has honest and clear insight on what is good for the future of Miss Gay America. Also, a huge thank you to the beautiful Asia O’Hara, who jumped in to not only help us but has embraced our ideas for the future as well.
While we have met many great friends over the years that have been involved with Miss Gay America, there are a lot of you that do not know us, and we look forward to getting to know all of you over the next few months. We will try to get out to as many of the prelims as possible, but unfortunately, we will not be able to attend them all due to scheduling.
While we are businessmen at heart, we did not buy Miss Gay America with the hopes of turning a profit. We bought it for the love of the art of female impersonation. We have supported many entertainers over the years in reaching for their dreams, and we thought what a better way to contribute, than to continue the history of the oldest pageant for female impersonators. With that being said, there will not be big changes to the pageant this year. You will notice several cosmetic changes but no changes in format the week of the national competition. While we plan for Miss Gay America 2017 in October, we are also looking forward to 2018 and 2019 by researching venues and talking to people, planning on how we can evolve Miss Gay America.
The one thing we would love to see this year from contestants is their ability to be creative and artistic. While we know creativity can sometimes lead to questions of being offensive or disrespectful, there is a balance of being yourself while still being respectful to the titles and the crown within the pageant system.
If you have any questions or suggestions please let us know. We value the input of the promoters, contestants, formers, and the audience that support us. We put our hearts into everything we do, and we consider everyone involved with Miss Gay America family.
Michael and Rob