Being Miss Gay America has been such a rewarding experience for me. As you know, my journey to the crown was long, but I have to say it definitely was worth the wait. It was also worth the hard work, money, sweat equity, and time that I invested. Working towards a goal and finally achieving that goal...well it leaves you with a sense of accomplishment and satisfaction. But winning is really just the beginning. The real work starts after "your" moment. I want all of our contestants and potential contestants to keep that it mind as you work towards becoming the next Miss Gay America. Wearing the crown brings with it a multitude of responsibilities and obligations. Be sure you are prepared, and know what you are signing up for. The effort will be great, but the experience of traveling the country representing this organization will be monumental!
The month of May marked a milestone birthday for me. I won't give you the exact number LOL (although I think most of you know by now), but it has given me a nudge to reflect and be slightly nostalgic. I have been so fortunate, some would say blessed, to have had a wonderful life and memorable experiences. And being Miss Gay America at this point in my life is even more meaningful I think. For so many years, my focus was on myself and achieving my own goal. And now I am honored to have a small hand in helping so many others work towards their goals this year. I have been so incredibly impressed with the contestants and their commitment to Miss Gay America and the art form of female impersonation, and I am excited to see what the rest of the competition season will bring.
May 22, my actual birthday, was pretty low key this year. I was happy to be able to spend the entire weekend at home. Bob and I went shopping, puttered around the house, had some amazing cupcakes and went to the movies. My sister's kindergarten class also called me to sing "Happy Birthday." Being serenaded by 25 five year olds at 9:00 AM sure does bring a smile to your face. My sister later told me she had told her class that it was her baby brother's birthday. They wanted to know if I had my own phone and if I could drive. Gotta love kids!!! It was a great few days, and just what I needed coming off a hectic travel schedule and looking at the full calendar I have leading up to October. Taking a moment for yourself can rejuvenate the spirit and give you fresh perspective. I would encourage you all to carve out a little "me" time in your own schedules as you prepare for your preliminaries and, ultimately, the national contest. I also want to thank everyone for the overwhelming number of birthday well wishes. I am touched by the kind words and sentiments! Thank you all from the bottom of my heart!
I began my travels this month with a trip to Washington, DC where I had been invited to attend "Sweet Sixteen: A Night Out for Trevor." This event was a fundraiser put on by the The Trevor Project's Washington, DC Ambassadors Committee. I got to meet Abbe Land, the executive director of Trevor, and speak to her about my MGA © TREVOR campaign. I also got to meet and chat with Alex Newell of the TV Show Glee, who wowed the nearly 300 attendees with his powerful vocals. Thank you to Robert York for being my escort for the evening, I was surprised that so many people asked to have their picture made with me, and I was so excited to talk with them about the Miss Gay America organization.
I was also invited to do a performance later that evening at Town Danceboutique. It is always a pleasure to perform at Town with their talented cast. I chose to do a crown song and donate those tips to MGA © TREVOR. The audience was so generous, and I was able to raise $180.00 on that number to add to my fundraising efforts.
The next morning, I was up early and on the road to Richmond, VA. I had been booked at Godfreys for their Saturday brunch and dinner shows. Godfreys had long been a venue that was on my bucket list of places I wanted to perform, and I was so grateful to have the opportunity to work there. The staff and management were incredible, and I had a blast with the ladies backstage. Natasha Carrington, Alvion Davenport, and Sandra Onassis made me feel right at home. We laughed and joked the entire day, and I walked away with three new friends! The shows were fantastic...my favorite type of venue to perform in, and I was grateful for the response I received. I also had an opportunity to address the audience and speak about Miss Gay America as well as MGA © TREVOR. I was shocked when one of the patrons handed me $100.00 towards the charity. Thank you Austin Payne, the promoter of Miss Gay Virginia America, and company for making the drive down to Richmond to support me as well. And Natasha, thank you again for the generous donation to MGA © TREVOR. Oh, and Jeff Willis, I was so happy to get a moment to say hello to you too!!!
After the dinner show, I de-dragged, packed up, and headed to Charlottesville, VA to get a little rest before pageant day and the Miss Gay Virginia America prelim. Austin had booked a beautiful hotel, and I had lots of goodies waiting on me when I got into the room. Austin, who also designs and makes jewelry, gave me two beautiful sets that I have already been able to wear a few times now. Thank you Austin for your kindness and generosity.
The next morning, I organized Blair for the day, and headed to The Jefferson Theater in downtown Charlottesville for a great day of pageantry. For those of you who know me, you know that I have no sense of direction whatsoever. What should have been a 10 minute drive to the venue turned into 30 even with the aid of a navigation system. Good thing I left the hotel early!
The Jefferson Theater was a beautiful venue, and the stage was perfect for showcasing the talent numbers. The stage set for our Burlesque theme was equally impressive. it was obvious Austin and his team had put a great deal of effort into the pageant. Austin (Sheer Illusions, LLC) is new to the MGA organization, but you would never have known this was his first time promoting an America contest. He was well prepared, and the pageant was great. Our extremely qualified judges panel consisted of forever MGA's Coti Collins, Kirby Kolby, and Jessica Jade. They were joined by DC promoter Robert York and the beautiful Kayla Bacall Kelly.
We all indulged ourselves with some down home cooking (fried chicken, mac and cheese, green beans, and sweet tea), before getting down to business and the orientations and interview. That evening our two talented contestants gave the audience and judges their very best. After an extremely close contest, Bianca B. Starr was named Miss Gay Virginia America and Stephanie Micheals was 1st Alternate.
I enjoyed myself immensely at MGVA, and I am excited to see what Bianca and Stephanie bring to the national stage. Both contestants are motivated to leave their mark in October! I also wanted to say a special thank you to Andrew Jones for selling raffle tickets in support of MGA © TREVOR. The pot keeps growing!!!
I got to spend the next week at home and even had the chance to perform with the Club One Cabaret that next weekend. It was good to be back in my home bar and see some familiar faces. I also got a chance to try out a new costume and song before hitting the road again.
Next up was a two-fer as I traveled to Maryland for the Miss Gay Eastern States America prelim on May 15 and the Miss Gay Maryland prelim on May 16. Bob joined me on this trip. Our niece was getting married in Frederick, MD so Bob would have the opportunity to go to the wedding, see our own kids, and still attend Miss Eastern States and a little of Miss Maryland.
We flew up on Thursday, May 14, where we were greeted by promoter Eric Gabbard at the airport. We also met Miss Arizona, Grecia Montes D'occa, and Roberto D'silva there while we awaited the arrival of my forever MGA sister, Luscious. The drive to the hotel was about an hour and a half but partly because Bob and I took a little detour trying to sniff out a Dunkin Donuts and a couple of cups of coffee. Once we arrived in Boonsboro, we got settled at the hotel and took a brief nap. Thank you Eric for the chips, queso dip, and peanut butter. I was set for the weekend! That evening we ventured out to The Club in Martinsburg, WV, where we met up with Eric and his co-promoter, Michael Serio. The staff at The Club was very friendly, and I was even given a tour of the facility. Miss Gay West Virginia America will be held here on July 4, and it was nice to be able to get the lay of the land. I'm already looking forward to this prelim!
The next day was pageant day, and we had two well qualified contestants show up to compete for the title of Miss Gay Eastern States. The contest was held at The Lodge in Boonsboro, MD. The Lodge is a quaint place and looks much like an old log cabin from the outside. But inside The Lodge was spacious and bright: a perfect place to hold an America prelim. Our diverse judges panel consisted of Kristy Smith, Michael Wynn, Luscious, Alyssa Matthews, and Keith Johnson. I was excited to work with the judges to find our next MGESA. It was also a pleasure working with Araya Sparxx, Ashley Bannks, Brooke Lane, and Chi Chi Ray Colby. I have enormous respect for these entertainers, and I am always inspired by their dedication to the art form and to Miss Gay America.
It was great to see Araya in action, and it was obvious she had put a great deal of effort into her opening production and her give up. At the end of the evening, our judges chose Patti Lovelace as the new MGESA with Jada Bee as first alternate. I know both of these contestants personally, and I am very excited about their return to Miss Gay America. I know both will bring their very best!
It was nice to see Miss Gay Northeast promoters Tom and Eric in the house as well as DC promoter Robert York. Family supporting family is what our system is all about, and we have shown that over and over this season. Thank you to BJKJ Illusions for the great photos. It's always a pleasure to see Barb and Kathy out and about. And thank you Robert Dunn for selling raffle tickets for MGA © TREVOR. We added another $220.00 to our total.
The next morning we were off to Baltimore, Maryland and The Hippo for the Miss Gay Maryland contest. Chi Chi Ray Colby was kind enough to be my chauffeur into the city. I have to admit I was a little jealous when Chi Chi picked me up at the hotel in shorts and a tank top, and I was already decked out in a shirt and tie. Heavy is the head who wears the crown, ha ha. I had not been to The Hippo in almost a decade so I was really looking forward to the contest. Additionally, I have had the chance to get to know so many forever Miss Gay Maryland's over the years, I was excited to see them all at the pageant.
I was thrilled to see 12 well qualified contestants at registration, all of whom had dreams of being the next Miss Gay Maryland America. Chuck Bowers, Joe Diffenbaugh, and Jayson Kueberth had done a great job getting everything set up and organized, and I was truly honored to conduct orientation and talk about my love for the MGA system and help ensure that the contestants were well prepared for a long day of pageantry.
Arizona promoter, Daniel Eckstrom, forever MGA Sabrina White, forever MGMA Andora Tetee, and longtime MGA supporters Allan Dudley and Debbie Wolcott made up our judges panel, and they did a fantastic job start to finish. I was so excited to work with such amazing forever Miss Maryland's Truly, Ashley, Araya, Chi Chi, Joanna, Stephanie, Brooke, Andora, Ingenue, and Jonathan (Tatiyanna). It was a pleasure to have a little time with Alondra Sanchez and to witness her step down. Alondra is as beautiful on the inside as she is on the out, and I was honored to be present for her give up!
I want to recognize all of the contestants on a job well done. There was so much talent on the stage, you should all be extremely proud of what you presented. Congratulations to our new Miss Maryland, Sasha Renee and 1st Alternate, Ariyanna Myst. I know you will both be making quite a splash at nationals this October.
Thanks again to Robert York, Eric Brown, Tom Kinnier, and Michael Serio for supporting your fellow promoters. Barb and Kathy were again on hand to capture some great moments, and I am truly appreciative to Keith and James for hawking my raffle tickets (another 220.00 for MGA © TREVOR). It was nice to see Grecia and Lequitcha that night as well. Finally, I want to take a moment to say a very special thank you to Chuck Bowers and The Hippo for your years of support of Miss Gay Maryland and Miss Gay America. The Hippo will be closing its doors soon, and the Miss Gay America family wants to wish Chuck the very, very best in his upcoming endeavors!
I'm excited to be returning to Memphis, TN on May 29 and 30 for the upcoming Miss Gay Tennessee America and Miss Mid America pageants. I'll be reporting on these contests along with Miss Arizona and Miss Louisiana in the next edition of "The Blair Essentials."
May was certainly an event filled month, full of exciting travels, rewarding experiences and lessons learned. To date we have raised $3100.00 for MGA © TREVOR, with another $350.00 in outstanding pledges. I am grateful to everyone for their generosity and assistance. My goal for October is $10,000.00, and I believe that this is completely reachable! Don't forget you can always log onto www.missgayamerica.com, click on the MGA 2016 menu item, and then scroll to the bottom of the page and click DONATE. Anything you give will be appreciated.
This month, I have been reminded that no one including me is perfect. I have read some less than kind remarks about me and my talents, and I have had my feelings hurt. However, I have also come to the conclusion that EXCELLENCE is not synonymous with PERFECTION. To me, "excellence" means that I strive to do my very best every day, that I remain positive and approachable, and that I try to inspire and motivate others. It also means accepting responsibility for your mistakes and working to correct them as expeditiously as possible, as well as learning from them. I am honored and deeply humbled to wear the Miss Gay America crown. This job, and yes it is definitely a job, is my priority. I will continue to strive for excellence, and I will continue to reign the best way I know how, and that is simply by continuing to be vigilant in my duties and honest in my approach.
I would like to thank a few people this month and how have truly demonstrated the essence of excellence:
· Larry Tyger and Terry Eason: Thank you for the love, support and belief you continue to have in me as Miss Gay America.
· Eva Couture and M'ara Diamond: Thank you for handling a difficult situation with such class and respect. I thank you both for embodying the ideals of Miss Gay America.
· Robert York: Thank you for the opportunity to raise the visibility of my fundraising efforts for The Trevor Project.
· Mark Martin: Thank you for the gifts this year, but more importantly thank you for all you do for our pageants. The support and services you provide definitely do not go unnoticed. I am so happy to know you are part of the MGA family.
· Dawn Phaneuf: Thank you for your friendship and your assistance over all these years. You are a fighter and a remarkable woman.
Aristotle is quoted as saying, "We are what we repeatedly do. Excellence, then, is not an act, but a habit." I encourage everyone to form good habits and strive to be better and do better.
Through it all, please remember:
"Excellence is not being the best; it is doing your best" ~Children's quote unknown
Miss Gay America 2015