I have always said the older we get, the faster time seems to fly by. I am finding that statement to be more and more true these days. It is hard to believe that I'm over 3 months into my reign, and preliminary season will begin before I can even blink an eye. I only get one shot at this LOL, and I figure I can sleep in November!
I began January with a week at home, where I got to ring in the New Year with my Club One family and celebrate the beginning of a much anticipated year. Club One has been a huge supporter and sponsor for Blair over the last 4 years as I competed for Miss Gay America, and they continue to support me as I hope to make 2015 a year to remember. If fact, we have begun to work out the details for an event that will help to kick off my fundraising efforts for The Trevor Project (MGA ©s Trevor), and I am really excited to see this come to fruition. If you are ever visiting Savannah (and you should), please make sure you put Club One on your list of places to see. Stop by for a drink and a show from our very talented cast, and tell them Blair sent you!
On January 8, I had the pleasure of performing with my friend Patti O'Furniture at Dudley's on Ann in Charleston, SC. Daniel, the owner of Dudley's, and his entire staff have also been instrumental in my efforts with the Miss Gay America pageant system, and I was honored to have been invited back to perform. We had a rowdy crowd who truly enjoyed the show. That night, Patti, who uses the art of female impersonation to raise money for many charitable causes, and I were able to raise $600.00 for The Trevor Project and another $200.00 for their local Trans Love Fund. It is always a wonderful experience to be able to give back to a community, especially when they have given so much to me!
The next morning, I flew to Memphis, TN to spend a weekend with Larry and Terry . Chuck picked me up from the airport and gave me a quick driving tour around Memphis. I got settled in Larry and Chuck's beautiful home before heading to lunch at a quaint local restaurant with them. We also visited the historic Peabody Hotel where I got acquainted with their famous family of ducks. That afternoon, I was thrilled to visit the host hotel for the Miss Gay America 2016 Pageant, Holiday Inn - Airport Conference Center. Later that evening, we met up with Terry and Coby for a great Mexican dinner, and then traveled back to Terry and Coby's house to begin the "schooling" process.
Over the course of the weekend, we reviewed the promoters handbook and the Miss Gay America job description, practiced tabulating and verifying scores, discussed "what/if" scenarios, re-visited issues and challenges that had occurred in prior years, watched many Miss Gay America videos (I still tear up thinking about Raquel Chevallier's give up number and smile thinking about Coco Montrese's amazing review show), had some incredible food, went shopping, saw the sights, and got to know one another on a more personal level. Larry and Terry are genuine, real people who have a deep love for the Miss Gay America system and all that it represents. I need to give special thanks to my Forever MGA Sisters, Sally Sparkles and Jessica Jade for checking in with me during the weekend to be sure I was OK. I came away from that weekend, knowing that we are all working harder than ever to ensure a great pageant season and to be sure that our promoters and contestants alike have all the tools and support they need to be successful.
While in Memphis, I also got the opportunity to perform at The Spectrum with their amazing cast including Miss Gay Tennessee America Iris LaFluer, Miss Gay Tennessee America 1st Alternate and Top 10 Finalist at MGA 2015 Bella DuBalle, Demonica Santangilo, and Akasha Cassadine. I was a little nervous performing for the "bosses," but all went well, and I was grateful for the kind words and feedback. Thank you PJ for making this show possible. And thank you to the staff and management of The Spectrum for treating me like a queen. I hope to have the opportunity to return a time or two during my reign.
The following weekend, I traveled to North Carolina to perform at Club Snap in Winston Salem alongside Kimora DeLaDiva and then at the infamous Legend's Nightclub Complex in Raleigh. At Legends, I had the pleasure of working with Dana St. James, and my MGA sisters Coti Collins and Kirby Kolby. I have known all of these entertainers for ... well a few years... and we had a great time back stage. Coti, always full of wisdom and sage advice, wanted to remind me that "If you are nice to people they are very forgiving" - insert Kirby's eye roll here LOL.
The next morning, I was off to perform at the CMF Brunch, a monthly fundraising event for The Crape Myrtle Festival. CMF is an all-volunteer nonprofit that encourages and promotes the development of services for persons living with AIDS and/or HIV infection, and additionally raises money for financial assistance, outreach, and education within the LGBT community. I got to perform with Dana again, as well Candis Cox and two of my Charlotte sisters, Tia Douglas and Valerie Rockwell. The brunch is always an amazing experience, and I am truly humbled to be a small part of the organization's worthwhile efforts. Thank you Marilyn Merlot, Carlos O'Neal, Vivian Vaughn and everyone who made it possible for me to attend.
Over the next few weeks, I'll be traveling to Baton Rouge , LA; Lafayette, LA; and Columbus, OH. I'm looking forward to these trips and can't wait to share my experiences with you in the March Edition of "The Blair Essentials."
Well, I had not intended for this article to become a travel log, but I am so genuinely overwhelmed by the places I have been able to go and the amount of support I have received, I want you to feel my gratitude for this incredible journey. There is, however, more pressing business at hand.
The Miss Gay America 2016 pageant will be held in Memphis, TN October 7 - 11. The host hotel, Holiday Inn - Airport Conference Center, is extremely excited for our return. We actually used this venue for the Miss Gay America 2008 pageant where Mikaila Kay was crowned. Many of the staff is still with the hotel, and they treated us like long lost friends when we toured the facility. As I said on facebook, the hotel staff are going to go out of their way to make MGA 2016 a great event, and L&T and I are busy planning for a memorable week.
As I look to preliminaries, I want to remind both the contestants and promoters that I am here for you. No request is too small, so please don't hesitate to reach out to me . My job it so ensure that everyone has a positive pageant experience. I want us all to walk away from every pageant feeling fulfilled and as if we have done our very best.
We will be kicking off the season in Washington, DC with the Miss Gay DC America contest on March 28. I have begun reaching out to potential contestants, and I want to say to you from the bottom of my heart that I sincerely hope to see our veteran contestants as well as a lot of new blood at our preliminary pageants and at our national contest. The MGA competition serves as an avenue to make us better entertainers and people. In October, one very lucky individual will be named Miss Gay America 2016, and it could be you!!!! So I urge you all to search your hearts, and if being Miss Gay America is your dream, then don't hold back. If it can happen for me, it can most certainly happen for you too!
Do your homework, dissect the categories, build your packages, put your best foot forward, and believe with every fiber of your being. Remember I am only a phone call or email or message away. I certainly don't know everything, but I am happy to offer my opinion and support to all of you..
This month, as Valentine's Day approaches, I wanted to recognize some very special people in my life whom I love and appreciate more than they could every know:
· Robert Dunn: Twenty-four years of love, laughter, and friendship. What more could a guy ask for?
· Marsha McLawhorn: Thank you for the years of friendship, the guidance, the advice, and your unwavering belief in me.
· Reba Lamkey: You believed in me long before i believed in myself. Thank you for listening to me and supporting me.
· Coti Collins: Thank you for planting the seed that helped me find my way back to MGA.
· The Club One Cabaret Cast: You are the most talented and kindest group of entertainers I have ever had the pleasure to work with. You are so much more than cast members. You are my friends and confidants.
There are so many more people to thank, but I'll move on for now. Make sure you take some time this month to tell those closest to you how much they mean to you!!!
"We can only be said to be alive in those moments when our hearts are conscious of our treasures." ~Thornton Wilder
Miss Gay America 2015