Well, 2014 is behind us, and we must now prepare ourselves to see whatever 2015 has in store. I hope you all had a wonderful holiday season full of your favorite things and favorite people. I love Christmas, but I have to admit, this year was a little stressful. There was so much to do in such a short period of time, complicated by the added travel that comes with being Miss Gay America. I am not complaining mind you. I just need to be more cognizant of my time management going forward.
Bob and I hosted our traditional Christmas Eve open house. We have done this almost every year for over a decade. Our friends, family, and really anyone looking for a place to hang out for an evening, always show up to share food, drinks, and merriment. This year was no exception. I would imagine that we had 40 or 45 people in and out over the course of the evening. After everyone left, Bob and I upheld our favorite Christmas tradition. We took turns opening all of our Christmas cards and reading them aloud to each other. We did this early on in our relationship when money was very tight and presents were out of the question. These thoughtful cards were our presents. Although we have missed a party or two over the years by not opening the envelops, the tradition has continued, and it is what I look forward to most (well that and my favorite ornament: a large and lovely mermaid perched atop a clear bubble). Our tree is quite eclectic with ornaments we have collected or been gifted over the years. But that mermaid is special to me, and it reminds me a little of Forever MGA, Charity Case.
December was a watermark month in many ways for me as Miss Gay America as well. Although I perform at my home bar every weekend, I had my first out-of-town bookings since being crowned in October. I traveled to Phoenix, AZ; Jacksonville, FL; and Charlotte, NC. Phoenix was truly an amazing trip, and a learning experience as well. I was delighted to be invited to perform at 3 different venues by Barbra Seville. Barbra, a former Miss Gay Arizona America, is a gracious host and one heck of an emcee and entertainer to boot. I was honored to be the special guest at "The Golden Wighead Awards," a fundraiser for the Phoenix Pride Scholarship Fund held at Karamba Nightclub, as well as a featured guest in both "The Girlie Show" at Cruizin' 7th and "The Barbra Seville Show" at The Rock. I was very excited to stay with Miss Gay Arizona America, Grecia Montes D'Occa, and her super sweet husband Josh. I should thank them not only for opening their home to me, but also for feeding me every night after the shows and treating me like family. I also got to spend some quality time with Miss Gay Arizona Promoters Daniel Eckstrom and Nick Ray, as well as Savannah Stevens, Tyra Marie Jimenez, Luna Love St. James, and Bianca Solei. I want you all to know how much your kindness and hospitality meant to me. I also got to see Forever Miss Gay America Catia Lee Love and former Miss Arizona America, Celia Putty. Moreover, I got to meet several of the city prelim owners in the Miss Gay Arizona America family, and I received a great gift from the kind owners of Boom Boom LaRue's. The food was great, the shows were fun, and the memories will remain with me forever (if you ever have a chance to see The Botanical Garden in Phoenix, you definitely don't want to miss it). I am deeply grateful for the warm reception and new friendships.
After a few days at home, I traveled to Jacksonville, FL for a wonderful night at The Metro. Thank you Austin for the booking. It was great fun working with Diva Cliche, Tatiana, and Josephine Longstroke. These ladies put on one hot show, and they made me feel right at home. I was also invited by Brittney Moore (former Miss All American Goddess) to stop by Hamburger Mary's for a drink and a show. Bob and I were excited to take her up on the invite since I had never actually been to a Hamburger Mary's. What fun!!! There was a packed house and an awesome show. Brittney also recognized me publically and said some very kind things about me and the Miss Gay America organization. I was honored to be there to represent Miss Gay America.
On December 26 and 27, I got to travel to Blair's birthplace of Charlotte, NC. I performed at the legendary Scorpio Lounge with Charlotte favorites Amber Rochelle and Skylar Michele-Monet. I had met both of these entertainers several times in past travels, so it was great to spend some backstage time with them. Thank you Tiffany Storm and Donald O'Shields for having me as your guest and for your continued commitment to Miss Gay America. While in Charlotte, I also got to perform at Chaser's Charlotte with the beautiful Angela Lopez. I am grateful to Brian and Jimmie for having me at Chaser's as well.
Here are some important things I have learned in my December travels:
· I pack entirely too many pairs of shoes. I don't need to take 3 pairs of black boots anywhere LOL.
· I need a new crown case.
· I should not drive when I am tired (some would argue I should not drive period).
· I should not procrastinate in unpacking when I get home.
· And most importantly, people across this country have a deep respect for the Miss Gay America organization.
I am looking forward to a busy January. I will be spending a weekend with none other than Larry and Terry to be sure that I am well versed in the duties, responsibilities, and potential challenges I may face this year during competition season. I will have the honor of performing at The Spectrum Memphis while there. I will also be traveling to Winston Salem, NC; Raleigh, NC (where I'll get to see Forever MGA's Coti Collins and Kirby Kolby); and Baton Rouge, LA and Lafayette, LA as well.
I am also working to set up a meeting with Abbe Land, the Executive Director and CEO of The Trevor Project. I/we have been approved as an "official" 3rd Party fundraiser for Trevor, and I am truly excited to lay the ground work to partner with this organization in a meaningful and profitable way this year.
This month, I wanted to extend a big thank you to some special MGA friends and family who always go out of their way to say hello and offer a kind word (or several). So Thank You:
· Ambrosia Bordeaux: You represent your state and your title with respect and dignity. I appreciate your friendship.
· Diva Coppafeel: You always extend a genuine hand of friendship, and I am thankful for your kindness.
· Chad Johnson: Thank you for checking in on me and for your love!
· Patrick Mgtnra Jacquard: You have been such a great cheerleader and supporter and friend. Thank you!
· Dessie Love-Blake: Thank you for including me in your efforts, and for making your reign about the contestants.
2015 is going to be a truly memorable year for me, and I hope for all of you as well. I know many of you will be making resolutions, and I wish you all the best in making your year the most it can be. I challenge you to do something you have always wanted to do, but for one reason or another, it always gets put on the back burner.
"The purpose of life is to live it, to taste experience to the utmost, to reach out eagerly and without fear for newer and richer experience.” ― Eleanor Roosevelt
Miss Gay America 2015
As I sit down to write my 2nd edition of "The Blair Essentials," I find myself going through the exact same process as I did about 4 weeks ago. I pulled up the Miss Gay America website, and I read every December article that is available. There is so much we can learn from our predecessors, and I believe that history on any level is important. It is truly an honor to be a part of the Forever Miss Gay America sisterhood. Each titleholder has left an indelible mark on the system, and I am so excited to see what this year has in store for me. I have heard myself announced as "Blair Williams, Miss Gay America" every weekend this past month, and I must admit I kind of like the ring of it J.
November has brought many real life ups and downs. We had to say goodbye to our faithful dog Roscoe after 17 years, and we had to have a new furnace installed at home (ouch). But we also got to celebrate the birthdays of several great friends, play hosts to Deva Station and his husband Mark for a weekend, and open our home to our chosen family for a somewhat traditional Thanksgiving feast. We also bought a "new-to-me" second car; so now I can accept all those bookings without fear of leaving Bob stranded at home without a vehicle.
I have also managed to lay the foundation for what I hope will be a successful and memorable year for the Miss Gay America organization. I have been busy working on new costumes, hair, and music so that I will be primetime ready for all of my upcoming bookings. In December alone, I will be at my home bar of ClubOne Jefferson in Savannah, and I will also have the pleasure of traveling to Phoenix, AZ; Jacksonville, FL; and Charlotte, NC. I'm so incredibly thrilled to get out on the road to meet people and talk about this family that I get to represent all year.
I have had the opportunity to speak to many promoters and potential contestants as well. Our promoters are busy scheduling their contest dates, and we have already welcomed a new promoter and pageant, Austin Payne - Miss Gay Virginia America, for this season. We are definitely gearing up for another eventful year!
While my "father/daughter" weekend with L & T isn't scheduled until January, I have been busy reviewing the MGA Job Description, Promoters Handbook, and Prospective Promoter Package. I have also been answering "what / if" scenarios provided by L&T so that I will be prepared to hit the ground running when the preliminary season starts.
Moreover, I got to collaborate with Robin Davis of Robin Joy Photography on an amazing photo session. You have seen a few of the results of our work on Facebook, and I am looking forward to sharing the rest of the pictures with you over the coming months. Robin was patient and kind (and I think she may be a magician too). Her work is top notch, and with a little assistance from Chi Chi Bonet Sherrington, I think we have produced some photos to be proud of. Oh, and I can't forget Layla Fox who worked so hard to help me look my best during the shoot. Thank you all for everything. It was without a doubt a real team effort.
The holiday season has always been a special time of year for me, I love the spirit of giving and camaraderie that it brings. As a child, my mother raised my 2 sisters and me to be kind and respectful and giving, And while we didn't have a lot of money or material possessions, we did have a lot of love and support. I always felt encouraged and loved and supported in anything that I wanted to do. That included coming out as gay and later as a female impersonator. Unfortunately, not every young person has that experience, and I am certain that my MGA family can help. I am pleased to announce that this year, I officially will be partnering with The Trevor Project to raise funds for and awareness of their much needed services.
The mission of The Trevor Project is to end suicide among gay, lesbian, bisexual, transgender and questioning young people. Their vision is to create a future where the possibilities, opportunities and dreams are the same for all youth, regardless of sexual orientation or gender identity. In addition to fundraising efforts at each of our scheduled prelims, I will also be announcing other ways throughout this year that you can help me give to an organization that works everyday to save lives and change futures. I am going to call "our" effort "MGA ©s Trevor." Together, I know we can make a difference in the lives of young people who struggle with sexual orientation and gender identity conflicts.
Finally, I am also going to donate a portion of the proceeds we raise at each prelim to a local LGBTQ youth organization (local to the geographic location of the preliminary pageant). If you volunteer for a youth organization or know anyone who does, please email me at firstname.lastname@example.org.
This month, I actually received a "Dear Blair" question, which I am happy to share. If you have a question for me, please contact me at the above email address or message me on Facebook.
Hello Blair, Good Evening
My name is Sophia Loren Whitney and I am new to the female impersonation business. I started out in February and it's been great so far. I'm competing in my first America System pageant in January. Would you happen to have any advice regarding the business and tips for a beginner?
Hi Sophia. Thank you for the message. I am so excited that you are choosing the America system. As far as getting ready for your 1st contest, I would suggest that you visit the www.missgayamerica.com website, specifically the "About MGA" tab. There is a wealth of information here that will assist you in preparing for your first contest. It is critically important that you understand the rules and the competition categories as you put together your package. Each category, including the scoring system used, is clearly laid out. Your task is to make sure you maximize the possible points available in each sub category to get the best overall score you possibly can. Consistency is key.
MGA truly is a family, so remember to also get to know people and enjoy the experience. I have lost more contests that I have won, but I always came away a better entertainer and competitor from the experience. And I have made some amazing lifelong friends through this pageant system.
As far as the business goes, always remember why you wanted to perform in the first place. If you connect with what you are doing, the audience will too. Stay humble and open to learning new things from your peers and mentors. I always say once you stop growing and learning, then it is time to retire . Work hard, avoid the drama, and always carry yourself in a manner in which you can be proud of. If I can be of any assistance at all, please continue to stay in touch. Best of luck, Blair
I started this article with a mention of the Forever Miss Gay America's and the incredible legacy they have left. So before I conclude, I wanted to thank some of my MGA sisters who have gone out of their way to check on me:
· Blaze Starr: Thank you for your spirit and your love and your graciousness.
· Sally Sparkles: Thank you for the random texts and messages. I love you!
· Victoria DePaula: Thank you for that special phone conversation on the eve of final night. It meant the world to me.
· Nicole Dubois: Thanks for the kind, thoughtful messages.
· Charity Case: Thank you for your humor and genuineness. And special thanks to Jimmy for reaching out to Bob.
This holiday season, I challenge you all to speak a little softer, love a little harder, and give of yourself a little more.
“We cannot become what we need to be…by remaining what we are.” – Max DePree
Miss Gay America 2015
On the evening of October 12, I was honored and humbled to hear my name called as Miss Gay America 2015. I remember Kerri Nichols asking me "Well, how do you feel?" And I recall my brilliant response, "I don't know." Nearly two weeks later, as I sit down to write my first newsletter article, I'm still not sure how I feel or how I should feel. There is a wide range of emotions and a looming sense of obligation. I've dreamt of this year for so long, I don't want to let myself or anyone else down. I have placed a great deal of pressure upon myself to produce and perform and be that Symbol of Excellence that the country expects. The conclusion I have drawn is that I can only strive to be the best me possible this year. And I sincerely hope that will be enough.
I have chosen to title my newsletter article " The Blair Essentials." Thank you Gia Giavanni for the suggestion. I truly hope that you all (contestants, promoters, and supporters and fans of the Miss Gay America organization) will get to know me on a personal level this year, and that I will also get to know all of you as well. So to get the ball rolling, please allow me "essentially" to bare myself by sharing a little bit about me and my history with Miss Gay America.
My name is Todd Mauldin, and I grew up in Albemarle, NC. I have been fortunate to have lived in Charlotte, NC; Chicago, IL; Moorestown, NJ; and most recently Savannah, GA. I am a graduate of Pfeiffer University and have worked in numerous industries including education, retail, accounting/payroll, and project management.
I met my husband Robert in 1991, and we were legally married in March of 2011. We have 3 dogs, 2 cats, 2 adult children, and a slew of "adopted" children through our involvement with StandOut Youth Savannah. I have been involved with The NAMES project, served on the Board of Directors for both First City Network and Savannah Pride, and was the treasurer for our local Parkside Neighborhood Association.
I was completely captivated by the art of female impersonation from the time I saw my first show. And when I discovered that there was an entire pageant circuit associated with this industry, I started to think my childhood dream of being Miss America wasn't so farfetched. It just had a new twist... Miss Gay America. I made my first appearance on the Miss Gay America Stage in 1991. I was a complete novice and was blown away by the caliber of the contestants and their dedication to the art form of female impersonation. I probably was blown away even more to learn that at the end of the contest , I had placed 13th...not bad for a beginner.
The following year, I was fortunate enough to win my state contest in North Carolina which allowed me to return to Miss Gay America. That year, I was thrilled to place 2nd Alternate to Miss Gay America 1992 Tiffany Bonet’.
Believing that I could win and, honestly, not knowing if I wanted to, I took a year off from competing; however, in 1994, I made the decision to return to competition, secured my position by winning the Miss Mid East prelim, and put everything I had into preparing for Miss Gay America. Unfortunately, that year I placed 3rd Alternate at the national contest and was disappointed...heartbroken at the outcome. Not long after that experience, I decided not only to retire from competing but also to retire from performing. You see, I felt like something had been stolen from me that night. And in fact it had been. I let circumstances steal my confidence and my dream. Publicly, I had said that I have no regrets about that decision, as it allowed me to pursue some wonderful professional opportunities in other arenas. And for the most part that is true. But still... what if I hadn't abandoned that dream.... what if I had gone back? That question nagged at me for years... for nearly two decades.
Fast forward 18 plus years...the dream to become MGA is still alive. After moving to Savannah, GA and beginning to perform again, I reconnected with some old friends, one of whom would go on to become Miss Gay America. About that same time, I watched the documentary, "Pageant." I had a powerful reaction to that viewing, and I knew that my goal in this business was still to become MGA. Although I hadn't actively pursued that goal for years, the dream to be called Miss Gay America was still something I carried around with me.
In 2011, I did return to the MGA stage and, when the dust settled on final night, I was elated to have placed 4th alternate to Miss Gay America 2012 Kirby Kolby.
Motivated and determined, I returned to the MGA 2013 pageat. That year, I placed 1st Alternate...so close to realizing my goal.
For the MGA 2014 season, I decided to go back yet again for what I anticipated would be my last appearance in the competition. Win or lose, this was going to be it for me. I put together a talent # that I believed told my story and history and would resonate with the audience and the judges. I was wrong. Alas, my dream did not come true that year, and I placed 2nd at the national level for the 2nd year in a row.
So while I thought my journey to MGA was over, the lyrics from that "unsuccessful" talent continued to speak to me, and I hope some of them will resonate with you as well. Those lyrics include:
· "Everybody has their dues in life to pay"
· "You've got to lose to know how to win."
· "The pages I've turned are the lessons I've learned."
· And my personal favorite: "Dream On, Dream On, Dream On, Dream until your Dreams Come True!"
Thank goodness, I came back one more time, with a different mindset and a different approach. Perseverance along with a willingness to look at yourself objectively and be open to making necessary changes and adjustments brings different results.
This past October , I actually experienced the camaraderie of the week, and I was so moved by all of the acts of kindness and affection I witnessed. I have been thanking my team, The Blair Bunch, for weeks now, so before I conclude, I want to thank a few people from the week who touched my heart (Don't worry if I didn't mention you this time. I plan to recognize many people here over the year).
· Nadine Hughes, thank you for reminding me to take a breath when I needed one.
· Britney Blaire, thank you for holding my hand backstage.
· Kelly Brooks, thank you for the kind words and your commitment to RED.
· Deva Station (and his entire team), thank you for stepping in when you were most needed.
· Truly Fabu, thank you for your competitive spirit, your heart, and your grace.
American philosopher, John Dewey, said: "Arriving at one goal is the starting point to another." This year I have set many new goals for myself as Miss Gay America, and I will work tirelessly to represent you to the best of my abilities. Finally, please stay tuned for details regarding the charities I (along with your help) will be supporting this year.
"Where ever you go, go with all your heart."
Miss Gay America 2015