Last week, the Texas preliminary to America's most prestigious drag pageant, Miss Gay America, took place at the Rose Room inside Cedar Springs nightclub S4. After two preliminary nights and a review show, where 30 contestants were judged across five categories, on Friday Sofia Anderson was crowned Miss Gay Texas 2016.
Last year's winner, Asia O'Hara, became the first person from Texas to go on to win the crown at the national competition. When we asked her before the preliminary which qualities she'd be looking for in this year's contestants, she said only "star quality" was important. Anderson, the contestant found to have the most star power, will try to bring the Miss Gay America crown home to Texas for the second year in a row at the finals in Memphis, Tennessee, from October 5 to 9.
The group of contestants at The Rose Room this year was one of the largest yet, making competition stiff. Each female impersonator had to earn high scores in the categories male interview, on-stage interview, solo talent, talent and evening gown. For evening gown, Anderson wore the sparkly white dress pictured above. When it came time for talent, she danced to a Spanish-language number in a lime green, fringe bodysuit. Her routine was complex, with costume changes and five back-up dancers maneuvering giant fans.
The pageant is approached with an earnestness not unlike what you see on TV at the more traditional Miss America pageant; it's not a joke. Contestants are expected to be poised and points are deducted for swearing. However, former winners such as Chanel LaMasters and Jenna Skyy were on hand to help emcee the event and inject the proceedings with plenty of classic drag queen sass, too. A few F-bombs may have slipped by.
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At the Thursday review show, LaMasters worked the pleasantly diverse crowd, flirting with audience members and even joking with one guy who was looking at his phone that he needed to stop watching porn. When she saw that he was actually reading news about the election, she shrieked. That's so much worse.
Check out our slideshow of Friday's crowning ceremony here.