After four years of competing, Violet S’Arbleu, née Jacob Chaput, was crowned Miss Gay Texas America in 2017. This year, he’s traveled to every city preliminary in Texas to help 27 drag contestants prepare to take the stage in Dallas and compete for the crown.
“It’s an educational experience that you can grow from whether or not you get the crown,” the Houston-based drag entertainer says. “After my first year, I knew this was important, this is for me, this is amazing.”
Miss Gay Texas America 2018, a state preliminary competition for the 46th annual Miss Gay America Pageant, will be July 10-13 at The Rose Room in Dallas. The pageant will honor Violet S’Arblue and feature Miss Gay America 2018 Deva Station, who will crown the 45th Miss Gay Texas. The winner will compete for the Miss Gay America 2019 crown in St. Louis in October.
Chaput has been in the drag industry for almost nine years. In 2015, placed second to Asia O’Hara, who was Miss Gay America in 2015 and 2016 and placed fourth in the 10th season of RuPaul’s Drag Race. Chaput says as the current Miss Gay Texas, he has the honor of showing Deva Station and the city of Dallas how amazing the talent of Texas is across the state.
Over the years, Chaput has accumulated makeup products of various colors, a collection of handmade nails, shoes he can’t part from, a closet full of wigs, and a good number of accessories and props. Drag is expensive, he says, but is good for ambition and originality.
“I think drag is just an excuse to experiment with who you are, and it’s an excuse to embrace a side of yourself that perhaps other people in society or your family or your friends might reject,” Chaput says. “Everything I don’t like about myself as Jacob is part of who Violet is.”
One Violet S’Arleu appearance costs at least $650 in supplies, and a usual Friday show costs more than $1,000. Everything that makes Violet S’Arbleu is worth about $20,000, according to a blog post Chaput wrote breaking down his cost of drag.
“I think drag is just an excuse to experiment with who you are, and it’s an excuse to embrace a side of yourself that perhaps other people in society or your family or your friends might reject." – Jacob Chaput
Miss Gay Texas is not all about the looks. It takes talent, creativity, glamour, elegance, sophistication and desire to entertain to win the pageant. Chaput advises contestants to know the rules of the pageant, follow the categories they will be scored on and have an original point of view.
“I want to encourage everybody to not be afraid of drawing their own conclusions, making their own molds and creating their own path in the art of female impersonation,” Chaput says. “Because you can be anybody you want to be when you get to drag, so why would you want to be somebody who already exists?”
The Miss Gay America Pageant, the world’s first, longest-running and most prestigious impersonator competition, dates to 1972 — 37 years before RuPaul’s Drag Race. The pageant system is like the Miss America or Miss USA system, except contestants are men impersonating women. They will be judged in five categories: male interview, presentation, evening gown, talent and onstage interview.
Chaput, who’s stage name is a floral pun pronounced “violets are blue,” chose the presentation category to have a garden party theme. Contestants will be asked to interpret the theme in their gowns, costumes and looks.
After the pageant, Chaput plans to take a break from competing and focus on making time and taking care of himself, rather than Violet S’Arblue.
“I’m not trying to get a crown; I’m trying to keep the one on my head just for that next couple of days,” Chaput says. “The beauty of Miss Gay Texas America is that even after you’ve finished, you’re never really done with it.”