"Where boys are boys, and female impersonation is an art."
That's the tagline for the Miss Gay America pageant, where contestants are judged in both their female and male attire. And the same goes for this weekend's Miss Gay Tennessee-America pageant at the Evergreen Theatre on Saturday, September 6th. A winner and alternate from the local pageant will go on to compete in the Miss Gay America pageant in Nashville in October.
"They can't have body enhancement surgery below the neck. They have to be all male," says organizer Patrick Jacquard. "We want to see the boy completely as a boy and then showing his best female impersonation."
The rules are there to maintain "a fair playing field," Jacquard says.
Around six or eight contestants from all over the state will be judged by a five-person panel in five categories: male interview, evening gown, onstage Q&A, solo talent (no dancers or props), and long talent (a 7-minute performance where backup dancers and props are allowed).
The reigning Miss Gay America, Jessica Jade, and the reigning Miss Gay Tennessee, Venus Knight, will perform throughout the competition. And the night before the pageant (Friday, September 5th), former contestants and some local drag performers will entertain in a revue show. That line-up includes Anita Cocktail, Pat McCooter, Ashlyn Tyler, Kiera Mason, Bella DuBall, Suzy Wong, and others.
The Evergreen Theatre location was chosen this year over the traditional gay bar because Jacquard wants the event to reach a broader audience.
"A lot of people want to see it, but they don't necessarily want to go to a gay bar," Jacquard says. "And some people even want to bring their children, and they can't take them to a bar."