Miss Gay America: where boys are boys and female impersonation is an art!
The Grey Fox, St. Louis
The art of female illusion is alive in well in St. Louis. Our fair city has more than its fair share of talented “ladies” who perform each and every week throughout the metropolis. As with any art form, competition emerges. The Miss Gay America pageant system has been in existence since 1973, with three of the winner hailing from the Show-Me State.
In order to qualify for the Miss Gay America Pageant—which is being held in Memphis this year October 5 through 9—one must win, or place first runner-up at a state or regional pageant. One of those qualifying pageants in the Miss Gay Missouri America Pageant, the second oldest preliminary to the Miss Gay America Pageant.
To make it to the Miss Gay Missouri America Pageant, you have to compete in a qualifying preliminary pageant. While it may appear that it is a lot of bangles to jump through, competition for the crown of Miss Gay America is fierce and the cream rises to the top. The queens that make it to the state/regional level have already proven they have the desire and the talent to compete at the National level.
Most “prelims” follow the same structure as the Miss Gay America Pageant: Male Interview, Evening Gown, On-Stage Question, Solo Talent, and Long Talent. What separates the Miss Gay America system from some of the other national systems is how the contestants must be cisgender male. While they create the illusion of a female, they are not allowed to have any body augmentation from the neck down.
The Miss Gay Gateway America pageant was held in St. Louis September 24 at the Grey Fox. Produced by local drag queen extraordinaire Karma T. Cassidy and her partner, Luis Acevedo, the pageant offered two tickets to the Miss Gay Missouri America pageant, which will be held in St. Louis next April.
Five performers from all over the state entered the drag Thunderdome. There was Kaighlynn LaFaye from Columbia; Roxxy Malone from Granite City; Vivian Versace from Kansas City; Bella Rose from St. Louis; and Moltyn Decadence, also from Kansas City. You may notice that Miss Malone is from Illinois. That is due to the fact that there is a “buffer zone” of a certain mileage that allows competitors from another state to enter when their state does not offer a preliminary.
As the crowd filled up the intimate cabaret of the Grey Fox, Miss Cassidy & Co. kicked off the pageant, whose theme was “Gateway Goes Cosplay.” The reigning Miss Gay Gateway America, Allessandra Blaze, took the stage serving illusions from Avatar. An inspired performance full of colorful costumes and eye-catching props proved why Blaze won the crown last year: Her commitment to creating a complete illusion is breathtaking. With the following performances by former Miss Gay Gateway America winners, including Jade Sinclair and Musica Malone, the crowd was also entertained by Karma T. Cassidy and the reigning Miss Gay Missouri, Regina La-Rae.
One quick note about Karma T. Cassidy: She is one of the few queens in the St. Louis area who performs live. With an impressive vocal range and the ability to emote from her multi-pantyhosed toes, Cassidy is a talent who shines due to her genuine spirit.
Once the formalities were over, the competing queens took to the stage to battle for the crown. First up were Evening Gown combined with On-Stage Question. While I won’t go into each of the girls’ individual performances, I will give you my take on who I thought did best in each category. (Photos of each of the girls can be found in the photo gallery.) This category was one of the hardest for me to pick out a single winner. Bella Rose, a tall statuesque beauty, dazzled the crowd with a copper beaded gown. Moltyn Decadence nearly stole the show with her black and red creation, but it was Vivian Versace who took my breath away with her black and tan curve hugging dress. So this round goes to Vivian Versace.
After the ladies modeled their gowns, they were asked a question on stage. These questions can be about anything from their personal experiences to the Miss Gay America system overall. This category is designed to see how professional the ladies can answer questions under pressure, and let me tell you: I have seen seasoned professionals crack and lose the crown over this category. While all the ladies offered satisfactory responses, it was Moltyn Decadence who had the best and most heartfelt answer out of the bunch. This round goes to Moltyn Decadence.
Next up was Solo Talent. The performers can do whatever they want, but they only have three minutes to complete their routine. This category can really separate the princesses from the queens, depending on what type of performance they choose. Most queens just do a bar-type number, but some can get very creative with their three minutes. While Vivian Versace enchanted the crowd with her very sexy salsa-type dancing, it was Moltyn Decadence who danced the house down and executed the always crowd-pleasing wig under another wig swap out. Her performance left the crowd hooting and hollering as a sign of appreciation. This round goes to: Moltyn Decadence.
Final category of the night: Talent—or Long Talent. The queens have seven minutes and can use props and backup dancers to impress the judges. This is where the true performer comes out, and some of the Miss Gay America Talent numbers will live on You Tube for eternity. While Moltyn Decadence performed a very emotional interpretive dance to a female version of the Cure’s “Love Song,” it was Vivian Versace whose-Disney-meets-Bollywood dance routine stood head and shoulders above the rest; it was well thought out and exquisitely choreographed. It was a tight race, but this round goes to Vivian Versace.
All that was left was the crowning. But wait: There is one category the audience does not get to see. Before the first eyelash is glued on, the contestants must meet with the judges for a formal interview. These men are competing for a job, and the Male Interview category allows the judges to get to know the contestants behind the makeup. I have always believed these pageants are won and lost in Male Interview; you have to nail the interview to get the job. While I did not see them compete, I would imagine either Bella Rose or Moltyn Decadence would have excelled in this category.
As the contestants made their way back to the stage in their gowns, the individual category winners were announced:
- Male Interview: Moltyn Decadence
- Evening Gown: Vivian Versace
- On Stage Question: Motlyn Decadence
- Solo Talent: Moltyn Decadence
- Talent: Vivian Versace
Looks like I was five for five in my own personal judging. But here’s the charm of the Miss Gay America system: You can win three out of five categories and not win the crown. The system rewards consistency and not just a showhorse in one or two categories. You have to be an all-around thoroughbred to sashay away with this crown.
As fate would have it, Moltyn Decadence did enough in each of her category wins, as well as the other categories, to walk away with the title and the crown along, with a decadent prize package including jewels and cash. Both she and Vivian Versace punched their tickets to the Miss Gay Missouri America pageant and will represent the Miss Gay Gateway America prelim spectacularly. Each has been to the Miss Gay America pageant before and knows what it takes to win. Keep an eye on these two hunty, as I suspect they will not only make Top 10, but both have the skills to capture the crown of Miss Gay Missouri.
Stay tuned to PLAYBACK:stl for more pageant recaps and photos, as this is only the fourth of 12 preliminaries to the Miss Gay Missouri America pageant. Miss Gay America: where boys are boys and female impersonation is an art! | Jim Ryan
View more photos here