A day late and a dollar short... That is a phrase I often heard growing up. It's pretty much how I'm feeling today as it is June 26, I'm on a plane heading to Phoenix, and my "The Blair Essentials" article was due yesterday. And I thought time management was a strong suit of mine LOL. Thank goodness L & T have given me a slight reprieve so that I can accurately document all that has happened since the June edition of my article.
I have to admit typing atop this tray in this small space is not an easy undertaking. I like to spread out a bit. Anyone who has sat next to me in a dressing room this year can attest to that. Moreover, I am slightly distracted today. I keep peering out the window watching the clouds drift by like spurts of white smoke in glorious shapes and configurations. Occasionally, I will catch glimpses of the landscape below and wonder where we are exactly and even if I'm looking at land or water. Topography was never a subject I was consumed by. I always figured: no matter where you go, there you are.
Mostly, however, I am distracted by thoughts of progress for our country and the LGBTQ community. Today, SCOTUS made marriage equality the law of the land. In a time where it still seems like prejudice, racism, and hatred are prevalent, I am moved by this monumental development; and the words, "all men are created equal" keep echoing in my head. Twenty-four years ago, I would never have thought it would be legal for me to wed my Bob, and now our four year old marriage will be recognized all across this country. I really don't have words, but I do have a full heart! Congratulations to us all!!!
June has been a very busy and a very memorable month. Before, I launch into relying all of my travels and escapades, I want to begin by saying "Thank You" to all of our promoters for the amazing work you are doing this pageant season. I realize that sometimes your job seems thankless. There are seemingly endless hours of preparation, planning, and coordination to ensure that your contests are successful and smooth. These efforts, coupled with all the money it takes to execute the pageant and then take care of your contestants, should be recognized and celebrated. Your reward is not a crown, but rather the satisfaction of helping others achieve their dreams. That is a selfless act. I want you all to know how much I appreciate the blood, sweat, tears, and sacrifices you make for this organization. If I could give you all an award at the end of the year, I would. Oh wait, I'm Miss Gay America...maybe I can LOL.
So contestants, do not take your promoters for granted. Show them a little love today!
Speaking of promoters, I do want to officially welcome Michael Burdick and Renato Estacio-Burdick of MR Productions to the Miss Gay America family. They are the new owners of Miss Gay Rocky Mountain America, a limited regional preliminary. The pageant will be held in Albuquerque, NM on August 9 at Sidewinder's Bar. Here we grow again!
So I began this month (actually I began in May) with a now familiar drive to Memphis, TN. This weekend offered a two-fer with Miss Gay Tennessee Regional being held on May 29, followed by Miss Gay Mid America on May 30. PJ Newton and Paulette Harness of PJ Paulie Productions are the promoters of both of these contests, and they certainly put their heart and soul into everything they do. I arrived at Larry and Chuck's on the evening of May 27. Their beautiful home has sort of become my home away from home as this was my 3rd stay with them this season. What can I say, the price is right and the room service is exceptional.
PJ is well versed in advertising and is well connected to the media outlets in Memphis. I was so excited to learn that PJ had booked us on a local morning TV show on May 28 to talk about the Miss Gay America organization and promote both the pageants. So I was up at 5:00 AM that morning transforming into Blair. Now there have been a few times over the years that I may have been getting out of drag at 5:00 AM, but getting in drag at that hour was an entirely new experience for me. Who says you can't teach an old dog new tricks? I got to share this wonderful experience with PJ, Chuck Guthrie, and Iris Lefluer, The hosts were gracious, and many of the news room employees asked to have their pictures taken with Iris (the "outgoing" MGTNA) and me. I could now see a future beyond pageantry for Blair as the host of a morning show. The day was off to a great start.
I spent a good part of the rest of the day hanging out with Chuck who had some really fun things planned like taking me to the local Kroger LOL. Seriously, we toured Memphis, enjoyed lunch, visited a great costume store to look at superhero costumes, and even milled around the world's largest Bass Pro Shop. Memphis is full of surprises. That evening we met up with Coby and Terry for a great dinner and then hurried back to Larry's house to "welcome home" Charity Case and her hubby, Jimmy Bogle. Charity and I have "known" each other for years, but this year, we have really gotten the chance to "know" one another. Without a doubt, the friendship we have established has been one of the highlights of this year.
The next morning was pageant day. It started off by picking up my roommate for the weekend, Jessica Jade, at the airport. Jessica and I had a wonderful time all weekend, even if I did make her sleep on the floor :). The pageant was held at the historic Evergreen Theater, and I was so happy with the Studio 54 theme. If there is one thing I know, it's disco. The stage was beautifully decorated and it was a pleasure working with Iris, and so many former Miss Tennessee America's. We had 4 well qualified contestants show up to vie for the crown and title. I have to admit, sitting in on Male Interview this year has been one of my favorite things. I am so interested in hearing everyone's stories. I am moved by their histories and humanness, and I cry at every contest. I am grateful for the tears and the experiences.
After interview, I knew our judges (Larry Tyger, Larry West, Jessica Jade, Marsha McLawhorn, and Mike Rhinehart) had a difficult job ahead of them. At the end of the evening, however, the local girl, Bella DuBalle, was crowned MGTNA, and Venus Knight was awarded first alternate. Both of these competitors are no strangers to the national stage, and I cannot wait to see what they bring back to Memphis in October.
No rest for the weary, we were back at it the next morning preparing for Miss Mid America. PJ and company must have stayed up all night to transform the stage at The Evergreen Theater into Sasha Leigh Chamber's vision for a Night At The Oscars.
Just an aside... the intoxicated lady next to me has finally passed out and is no longer reading over my shoulder LOL. I hope I kept her entertained.
We had 6 contestants show up for Miss Mid America, a true testament to the efforts that PJ has put into ensuring a successful season. The judges panel was comprised of Larry Tyger, Jessica Jade, Coby Myers, Chyna Charles, and Bill Zachary (Gina Lola Jupiter), and it was obvious that they took their jobs seriously. I knew we were in expert hands with this group. SLC had put a great deal of effort into her step down, and the passion she has for MGA and respect she has for Mid America was evident. it was a great night made even better when my husband surprised me on stage with a tip during my first number. I had no idea he had flown into Memphis to see me and our MGA family.
In an extremely tight contest, Christa Collins from Kansas City, MO emerged as the new Miss Mid America and Renee Hilton from Oklahoma City, Oklahoma secured her spot to nationals as the first alternate. I was so proud of what all of the contestants put on stage, and it was my pleasure to watch them truly give their all.
I want to thank PJ and Paulette for a memorable weekend and for allowing me to climb that ladder...ha ha. Not many people have that kind of faith in me. I also sincerely appreciate the time you took to collect donations to my MGA © Trevor campaign as well. The work and the heart you put into these pageants was tangible. Thank you for all that you have done for me personally and for all that you do for the America system on a larger scale. Your contestants are in good hands!
After Miss Mid America, I was treated to a small break from pageantry but not from Blair. After a few days at home, I drove to Charleston, SC to perform in The Patti O'Furniture show at Dudley's on Ann. We had a great time and were able to raise money and accept donations of jars of peanut butter for the Low Country Food Bank. Daniel Brinker, the owner of Dudley's, Patti, and the entire Charleston community have always been there to support me, and I was happy to be able to help them in some small way.
That weekend, I was able to re-join my cast at ClubOne in Savannah, GA and even had the opportunity to work alongside the infamous Lady Chablis. I love performing in her monthly shows. Chablis has always been incredibly kind to me, and I love her wit and candor. Her audiences truly enjoy the art of female impersonation, and it is always a treat to have the opportunity to talk to the patrons at the end of the shows and take photos with them.
Next up for me was a much anticipated four day booking at Hamburger Mary's in Jacksonville, FL. Brittany Moore, former Miss All American Goddess, had been gracious enough to arrange the dates, and I had an amazing time performing with her and the talented entertainers on cast there. Thank you Alexis Gabrielle Sherrington, Faith Taylor, Jayla Roxx, KyKy Roxx (Forte Kyle), Cinnamon LaRoche, and Dorae Saunders for a fun time back stage as well.
While there, I was even invited to judge a prelim for the National Miss Comedy Queen Pageant. I was nervous since all of my judging experience was in the MGA system, but I found a lot of similarities in the scoring and truly enjoyed myself. My favorite category was "Spokesperson." It is this pageant's version of on -stage question. Each contestant must blindly choose an item from a bag, then they have 60 seconds to deliver a funny pitch to "sell" the item to the judges and audience. Talk about thinking on your feet.
My husband and neighbors drove down to attend the Saturday night dinner show. Bob apparently has developed a knack for surprising me. One of our neighbors who writes for our local paper, Jane Fishman, even wrote about the experience in her weekly article. Thank you again to owner Gary Motes for having me down!
Well, I'm being directed to put my lap top away in preparation for landing. I guess I'll have to finish this a little later.
After a day at home, I was repacked and on a plane heading to Baton Rouge, LA for the 25th anniversary of Miss Gay Louisiana America. David Green and I have quite a history by now LOL, and I was so excited to see what he, pageant director Josh Richardson, and their hard working team had put together. Josh picked me up at the airport and took me to the beautiful Crowne Plaza Hotel where I settled in quickly. The reigning MGLA, Santana Pilar Andrews, and I bonded that evening putting together the judges books and waiting for Mr. Green to arrive. It is always great to get to spend time with your peers in this business and learn more about each other on a personal level.
The next morning, I was thrilled to conduct orientation for 12 well qualified contestants, all of whom hoped to be the next Miss Gay Louisiana America. I was equally excited to see the contestants' reactions as our judges panel (Lucinda Holiday, Terry Parker, Nicole Dubois, Joe Hoselton/Jenna Skyy, and Rusty Croy) was announced. We were definitely in for a memorable pageant.
David's organization had paid off and the whole contest ran very smoothly (well, except when the hotel decided to test the fire alarms in the middle of male interview LOL). I want to acknowledge the staff of Splash Nightclub and all of the forever Miss Gay Louisiana America's for all the hard work they put into this contest as well. The dedication and team effort were prevalent throughout the contest. After two days of preliminary competition, we took a little break to give the "forevers" a chance to wow the contestants and Splash patrons with a stellar review show that also included Jenna Skyy and Nicole Dubois. Thank you all for including me in your sisterhood.
Final night was held in the impressive Executive Ballroom at the Crowne Plaza hotel. The venue was amazing, and we performed to a full house that night. Santana Pilar Andrews had put together a high energy opening number, and all of the costuming of both the contestants and forever MGLA's was unbelievable. Santana's entire week was moving and memorable, proof that maturity and talent and excellence are not dependent on age but on the person. Our top six really put on an amazing show that had the judges and the audience on the edge of their seats. Congratulations to the newly crowned MGLA, Delanie Valentine, and 1st Alternate, Arilyn Roberts. Both of these young men were fantastic and will represent Louisiana and Team Green well.
Before I leave Louisiana, I do want to recognize the city promoters for all of your hard work and support to put on a first class state pageant. Thank you to the Forever MGLA's for the kind words and assistance throughout the week as well. Thelonius Dennis, thank you for driving me around and for selling raffle tickets for MGA © TREVOR every night! And finally, I also want to say a special thank you to my new friend and sister Bo Myers for the assistance and the laughs (never go buy balloons with Bo).
My next stop was Phoenix, Arizona for the 30th Anniversary Miss Gay Arizona America pageant. I was excited to return to Arizona. Phoenix was my first "big" trip after winning MGA, and I was looking forward to coming back to renew friendships and experience firsthand all the great things I had heard about Daniel Eckstrom and his pageant. Let me say, that MGAA lived up to all the hype. Daniel was super-organized (except when he misplaced the final night schedules which mysteriously were found in my notebook LOL), and the pageant was absolutely wonderful.
Daniel had arranged for me to stay in a great two bedroom apartment, and I was fully expecting to have a roommate. When I found out it was just for me, I took full advantage of the space! Daniel and his hubby Nick went out of their way to make sure I had everything I needed and treated me to some great food and a festive time on the evening of my arrival. I was also able to spend some quality time with Grecia Montes Docca and her husband Josh that night before the pageant got underway.
I met all nine contestants the next morning and was so moved when they presented me with a donation to my MGA ©TREVOR campaign. Pageantry can be awfully expensive, yet these contestants were willing to assist me with my fundraising efforts. I am moved and grateful for their generosity. The orientation went well , and we were soon ready to begin Male Interview. Our judges: Katy June, Gina Cramp, Gary Olson, Naomi St. James, and Rodd Gray (Patti LePlaeSafe) were briefed and ready to start the process of choosing the next Miss Gay Arizona. This was my first time meeting Patti, and we bonded like sisters right away. It was truly a pleasure spending time with Patti and all the judges throughout the competition.
That evening, we watched as all the contestants competed in Solo Talent followed by the MGAA review show at The Rock. The talent displayed both during competition and during the show that followed was astounding. I was honored to be in the dressing room with the forever MGAA's, and I was truly left speechless by the kindness and support they showed to me, Daniel, and the contestants. They are a real family of wonderful entertainers, and I am thankful to have them as friends and sisters. All of them went out of their way to be sure I felt included and was having a great time. Thank you all so much!
Final night was held at the impressive Phoenix Theatre. The venue was incredible, and Grecia's "Once Upon a Time" opening was breathtaking. Being on the stage in that theatre was truly a memorable experience. After all of our contestants competed in Talent and Evening Gown, the field was narrowed to a Top 5, with On-Stage Question being the only remaining category. It was a hard fought contest, and I was not sure who was going to win until the final scores were tabulated. Nevaeh McKenzie walked away as the new MGAA, and Savannah Stevens took home the 1st Alternate prize. All of the contestants really did an awesome job, and I feel confident that both Nevaeh and Savannah will be forces at MGA in October.
Phoenix was a great experience. Grecia had a beautiful step down, two well deserving young men grabbed spots to compete at nationals, and I walked away with wonderful memories. Thank you to the city promoters for being so engaged and supportive. Thank you to the forever MGAA's and to the Imperial Court of Arizona for all the efforts you put into helping to raise money for MGA © TREVOR. I am humbled by all of you and the excellence you exude and project.
Well, that was quite a month, and I'm looking forward to a busy rest of the season. We still have many prelims ahead and many chances for contestants to qualify for our national pageant in October (yep, that's October 7 - 11 in Memphis, TN).
I can't even begin to articulate my gratitude for this system and everyone involved. Thanks to the kindness of the promoters, contestants, and audiences at our pageants, we now have over $5700.00 towards our $10,000.00 MGA © TREVOR goal. That's truly unbelievable!
But as humbled as I am by the overwhelming generosity, what I am most grateful for is the opportunity to see our contestants compete, grow, dust themselves off in some cases, and try again. Everyone wants to win, but sometimes winning doesn't involve a crown. It can be overcoming an obstacle, improving in a category, having your best interview ever, or even hearing someone say how much they enjoyed what you presented. I have lost many more times than I have won, but I didn't quit. I never felt defeated - disappointed yes, upset sometimes, but never defeated. The hardest part of this job isn't validating the scores or performing or running around checking on people. It is seeing the disappointment on the faces of those who don't succeed in a manner in which they had hoped. My heart breaks each time a friend (and yes I consider all of the contestants I have met friends) doesn't win. I have been there. I have lost, but I always believed that I would be Miss Gay America. So I urge each of you to take those critiques, talk to judges and promoters (or even me), dissect your packages, fine tune where needed, and rebuild where necessary. Don't feel defeated; rather, feel motivated.
Before I close, I wanted to take this opportunity to acknowledge some people who have kept me prime time ready and continue to motivate me:
· Roberto D'Silva - Thank you for the beautiful gown, and thank you for the love and support. You motivate me to attempt to be more elegant and graceful.
· Shane McCarty - You have really come through for me. Thank you for the great costumes. You motivate me to perform harder and better in order to showcase your work.
· Layla Foxxx - Thank you for your continued love and hard work and your ability to do good hair. More than all else, thank you for all you give to Bob and me. Always with all our love my friend!!!
· Jeff Coble - Thank you for the packages full of goodies. You always come through when I need you most.
· Josh Richardson and Truly Fabu - You have both been kind and gracious to lend me a little hair when I needed it most. Thank you both.
As the pageant season progresses, whether you have yet obtained your ticket or not, I hope you all will find a little extra motivation to chase your dreams and reach for the stars. Trust me, they are closer than you think.
"Don't stop when you are tired. Stop when you are done." ~Marilyn Monroe
Miss Gay America 2015