Pageants in the U.S.Edit
National drag pageants became enmeshed within the gay community during the 1970s, and have become increasingly prevalent since. The first drag pageants were held in individual gay bars, and discothèques during the post Stonewall era. Drag pageants evolved independently, in the decade subsequent to the first gay Mardi Gras coronations.
Miss Gay AmericaEdit
Mirroring the format of the Miss America contest, the first national gay pageant Miss Gay America (MGA) was held in 1971 at the Watch Your Hat & Coat Saloon in Nashville, Tennessee with Norma Kristie, state representative of Arkansas, crowned as the winner. In 1974 Norman "Norma Kristie" Jones purchased the pageant from the previous owners and formed Norma Kristie, Inc. to run the pageant and its network of preliminaries.
The MGA pageantry system grew in size and scope over the next decade. Like its mainstream counterpart, MGA developed a system of preliminary state-wide and regional contests (i.e. Miss Gay Arkansas America, Miss Gay Texas America, Miss Gay Midwest, etc.) from which to draw contestants. Female impersonators were scored in interview, evening gown and talent competitions. Later a sportswear category was added. While some of the contestants performed live vocals, dance or comedy skits; the vast majority showcased their talent of lip synching to records.
As MGA grew in popularity, many professional female impersonators found they were unable to compete in the pageant due to its prohibition against the use of hormones, silicone injections (below the neck), and/or breast implants. Aside from the prestige of holding a national title, the MGA crown afforded the winner guaranteed show bookings at every state preliminary held during the title year. For the winner, the MGA crown turned what was often local, part-time work into a full-time job. As many transsexual and transgendered performers used drag shows as a source of income, it was only natural that a pageantry system would evolve to meet their needs.
In February 2005, the Miss Gay America pageantry system was purchased by Larry Tyger and Terry Eason of L & T Entertainment. Tension has ensued between L&T and Norma and today neither share any type of positive working relationship with one another.
The reigning Miss Gay America is Mikaila Kay, who came in last the previous year. She was crowned on October 21, 2007 at the Holiday Inn Select - Memphis in Memphis, TN. She will give up her title to the next Miss Gay America on October 12, 2008 in St. Louis, MO. at the Grand Ballroom of the Millinium Hotel 16:13, 30 November 2007
Norma Kristie - Miss Gay America 1973
Lady Baronessa - Miss Gay America 1974
Shawn Luis - Miss Gay America 1975
Dani Daletto - Miss Gay America 1976
Michael Andrews - Miss Gay America 1977
Jimi Dee - Miss Gay America 1978
Rachel Wells - Miss Gay America 1979
Hot Chocolate - Miss Gay America 1980
Lady Shawn - Miss Gay America 1981
Jennifer Foxx - Miss Gay America 1982
Franchesca Wakeland - Miss Gay America 1983
Tasha Kohl - Miss Gay America 1984
Naomi Sims - Miss Gay America 1985
Lauren Colby - Miss Gay America 1986
Blaze Starr - Miss Gay America 1987
Cherry Lane - Miss Gay America 1988
Vicki Vincent - Miss Gay America 1989
Brandi Alexander - Miss Gay America 1990
Valerie Lohr - Miss Gay America 1991
Tiffany Bonet - Miss Gay America 1992
Leslie Rage - Miss Gay America 1993
Jacqulyn DeVaroe - Miss Gay America 1994
Ramona LeGer - Miss Gay America 1995
Patti Le Plae Safe - Miss Gay America 1995
Kerri Nichols - Miss Gay America 1996
Lauren Taylor - Miss Gay America 1997
Maya Montana - Miss Gay America 1998
Linda Carrero - Miss Gay America 1999
Catia Lee Love - Miss Gay America 2000
Charity Case - Miss Gay America 2001
Sabrina White - Miss Gay America 2002
Dominique Sanchez - Miss Gay America 2003
Rachael Erikks - Miss Gay America 2004
Raquel Chevallier - Miss Gay America 2005
Nicole DuBois - Miss Gay America 2006
Luscious - Miss Gay America 2007
In 1980, Chicagoan Jim Flint, owner of the Baton Show Lounge, filled this void with the creation of the Miss Continental U.S.A. Pageant. Contestants were scored in interview, swim wear, talent, and evening gown; for the finalists, an on stage question. The first Miss Continental was Chili Pepper, who has never had implants. Chilli, the first Miss Continental represents female impersonation in its truest form. The Continental Pageantry System became renowned for its "titty girls," or pre-operative transsexual contestants.
North Carolina USA Unlimited, under the direction of President and CEO Jeff Reeves, has been one of the nation’s premier male entertainer contest outlets. Giving an outlet for both male entertainers of all types and male impersonators for 20 years, USA Unlimited has broadened the horizons for many entertainers. For many years, these types of contests were not a popular as the female impersonator pageants, but a recent boom in attendance and talented individuals have given a surge in popularity to these events. Annually holding in addition to the Mr. Gay USA contest, USA Unlimited also presents:
- Mr. Gay USA
- Mr. Bear / Cub USA
- Mr. Gay USA FMI – Must be female
- Miss Gay Unlimited – For female impersonators
- Mr. Gay USA at Large – Must weight a minimum of 200 lbs
- Mr. & Miss Classique- Must be at least 35 years of age.
The USA Unlimited Family is a closely knit group of people from across the country who shares a single goal. That is giving male and female entertainers the opportunity to perform and be recognized for the entertainment qualities they possess.
Miss Gay USofAEdit
Houston, Texas based MGA promoter Jerry Bird purchased the bankrupt Miss Gay USA pageant from former MGA Jimi Dee in 1985. (Fairfield, Carrie. Interview with Jerry Bird. Retrieved on 2006-17-08.) Within a few years he took the pageant from a small twelve contestant affair to a national showcase with over eighty participants. In 1986, Miss Gay USA 1985 Naomi Sims crowned Michael Andrews. In the mid-1990s the pageant was renamed Miss Gay USofA after complaints and legal threats from Miss USA promoters.
During the 1990s, the range and variety of drag pageantry continued to expand; however the "big three" pageant systems still dominated the market. New competitions with new requirements brought a wider variety of performers to drag pageantry. Contests for plus-sized, mature and African American female impersonators became popular. Today, drag pageants like Miss Gay USofA at Large, Miss Gay USofA Classic, Miss Continental Plus and, Miss Continental Elite demonstrate the expansion of both the USofA and Continental franchises.
As with most pageantry systems, drag pageants have been rocked with scandal over the years. Accusations of rigged contests, biased judging, and power struggles between local and national promoters resulted in the spin off of dozens of national female impersonation contests.
Gay pageants are also very popular in the Philippines. Almost every single town fiesta holds a gay pageants. It is deeply rooted in the culture as one of the Filipinos form of entertainment. Many are fanatics of Miss Universe, Miss World, Miss Earth, and all beauty pageants being organized in the entire world.
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