Longtime MGA followers liken the level of this year’s competition to the glory days of the 1980s when titans like Naomi Sims, Tasha Kohl and Missouri’s own Vicki Vincent battled for the crown.
And while this is the first year in recent memory where no Missouri contestants broke the Top 10 on final night—they each represented well. Miss Gay Missouri 2011 Madison Elise and First Alternate Tajma Stetson, headed a cadre of bi-state “girls” who helped put “The Show Me State” on the map.
The Miss Gay Missouri America Pageant is the second oldest preliminary to MGA and was honored with the awards for Best Opening Production Number and Best New Promoters. Alternate Tajma Stetson also received The Jimmi Dee Award for Best Overall Contestant Not in Top 10.
Some 51-contestants competed in categories of evening gown, long talent, solo talent and male interview over three nights of preliminary competition at The Sheraton Capitol Square Ballroom (the latter two category scores carry over to final night). Afternoons were spent in rehearsal and meetings and exploring a bit of Columbus—a refreshingly contemporary and queer friendly city.
Final night competition was held at the uber-modern Capitol Theatre at The Riffe Center. MGA 2011 Coti Collins kicked things off astride a three tiered pedestal as the warm melodies of Lorrie Morgan’s “Something in Red” washed over the audience. Coti was joined first by a circle of friends, then a family of MGA promoters. Finally, 15-former MGA’s and 51-contestants—each ravishing in red—took the stage. Indeed, the scene the set for the magic to begin.
Chosen to compete on Final Night in the categories of evening gown, on stage question and talent were Miss Gay Tri States, Tanisha Foxx; Miss Gay Maryland Alt., Araya Sparxx; Miss Gay Oklahoma, Roxie Hart; Miss Gay Gulf States, Blair Williams; Miss Gay Mid East, Chantel Reshae; Miss Gay Heart of America, Sally Sparkles; Miss Gay Arizona, Celia Putty; Miss Gay Texas, Jenna Skyy; Miss Gay Atlantic States, Jessica Jade and Miss Gay D.C., Kirby Kolby.
The evening proved riveting with guest performances by formers and contestants dazzling in modern and well-fitted gowns. But it was long talent—oftentimes performed with lavish props and back up dancers—that brought the audience to their feet.
Tanisha Foxx danced the house down with feathers, fans and dancers while Araya Sparxx transfixed and delighted with her Mary Poppins production. Former National Entertainer of the Year Roxie Hart danced brilliantly, as did Sally Sparkles—each with their own troupe and message. Blair Williams gave us Ziegfeld Follies while Chantel Reshae wanted us to “Be Italian.” Jenna Skyy was divine with high energy choreography, Celia Putty hilarious with her imaginative game show riff and Jessica Jade proved a “Big Time” show stopper.
But it was only appropriate that Kirby Kolby was the last to perform as she seized the moment to turn her “Sunset Boulevard” into a Broadway finale. Kirby’s Norma Desmond was spot-on—haunting, beautiful, revolting—a truly insane seductress. The veteran flailed before the audience as the curtain rose to reveal a full set of Victorian furniture complete with an actual grand staircase for the siren to descend.
“This time I’m staying, I’m staying for good—I’ll be back where I was born to be. With one look, I’ll be me!” she pantomimed, her hands pausing before the iconic Miss Gay America marquee. The room was on notice. After an 11-year absence from competition—the North Carolina native was there to win.
“I think it is so interesting that Kirby began his MGA journey with (essentially) the same number that he ended it with,” remarked long-time pageant participant and fan, Barbra Seville. “A song that might have just seemed like an effective talent actually mirrored his journey to the crown—being away from his fans, returning to his fans, and finding his place.”
Indeed, one of the great comeback stories was realized with the crowning of Kirby Kolby as the 40th Miss Gay America. First Alternate honors went to Jessica Jade for the second year running and Jenna Skyy, Araya Sparxx and Blair Williams took second, third and fourth alternate, respectively.
Individual awards included Kirby Kolby winning the Dani Deletto Male Interview, Ramona LeGer’ Evening Gown and Leslie Rage Talent Awards. Jessica Deveraux captured the Naomi Sims Solo Talent Award, Jessica Jade took the Lady Shawn On Stage Question Award, Angela Lopez received the Michael Andrews Photogenic Award and Chi Chi Ray Colby won the Lady Baronessa Congeniality Award. State Preliminary of the Year honors went to Miss Gay Arizona, Regional Preliminary of the Year honors went to Miss Gay Gulf States and the Norma Kristie Lifetime Achievement Award was given to Joe Angel (Tillie Lane).
MGA has always held firm to its tradition that requires its contestants be all male—hence no hormones or body work below the neck is allowed. Indeed, after witnessing this last pageant—the art form and this system appear as popular as ever.