2007 into 2008 was a year full of ups and downs but together Mya and I were able to make things work and have a really good contestant pool for each of our preliminaries. So leading into Miss Gay Arizona America 2008 was a good feeling, except this was the first year I had to do everything by myself and in a new city no less! Looking back I really had no idea how to search for venues for Miss Gay Arizona. But I found myself looking at hotels and sending out emails trying to gage how much things would cost. I finally decided on the Marriott near Sky Harbor airport. It was a lovely hotel and the people that I met there were very friendly. They failed to mention that EVERYTHING and I do mean EVERYTHING came with a price! When it was all said and done, that year, that pageant cost me more than any other year before and after! I remember walking to the front desk to write the final check and realizing I would only have $5 in my account after. That is when I knew that things would have to be different in the following years or why else would someone promote anything!
We had some really great contestants that year- Bianca Solei, Patricia Mason, Eryka Knowles, Dottie Peppers and some that would definitely leave their mark that year and years to come. At the end of it all, Sache Van Cartier was crowned (after several years of trying). Sache wore a fabric pink gown (really ground breaking that year because for so many years contestants were wearing heavily beaded and stoned gowns). Her winning talent was a Dreamgirls production that really did suit her. And her first alternate, well for the next couple of weeks, would be Tempest DuJour.
Some of the highlights of that pageant really didn’t have to do much with the pageant at all. One was my friends Rohan, Kayla and Mikey attended their first pageant. These people at the time I had just met but they really fell in love with drag and pageants! Another good memory was having my long time mentor, Roger(s) Dimick on the judges’ panel. As stated in the previous blog, he really did a lot for me and helped mold me into the promoter I am today! Along with Roger, the reigning Miss Gay Maryland America, Tatiyanna Voche attended and performed that night. I remember so many formers being upset with me about having her perform and having her give away an award that night. Tatiyanna was a good sport and was willing to take a back seat but I didn’t allow it. Some of them hadn’t shown me any ounce of respect up until then, so why would I care what they thought. Just another battle we all would have to go through to get to the other side!
I had such a great relationship with Mya that I thought my relationship with Sache would be the same. I failed to realize that people come into partnerships with different types of baggage and different perceptions of you. This was a MAJOR hurdle that I had to face ALL year long!
The year started out with Miss Gay Copper City America, honoring Eryka Knowles and was held at Forbidden Nightclub in Scottsdale. This was such a GREAT venue! This pageant was actually one that I will never forget because it brought to the drag scene, officially, TC Taylor. Up until this point TC was a major supporter of drag because of his then partner Mya McKenzie. It was a shock to all of us when he decided to run for Miss Gay Copper City America but he competed in true TC fashion, with all his heart and his head in the game. At the end of the night, with gasps coming from the audience, TC placed 1st alternate and Patricia Mason won. This started the journey that would eventually end and begin at Miss Gay Arizona America 2009, more to come in the next entry.
The 2008 season really was full of a lot of surprises and memorable moments at the city preliminaries. One of notable mention was Miss Gay Phoenix America 2008. That year it was held at the Memorial Hall of Indian Steele Park and honoring Dottie Peppers. So picture it, inside of a pageant, talent was about to start. The lovely Nicole Dubois, Miss Gay America 2006, was on the microphone introducing the next contestant. “Ladies and Gentlemen, in Talent competition, contestant #2 Ebonae Shane.” Ebonae comes out with a troupe of dancers and starts into Mary J. Blige’s “Fine”, then all of a sudden, the music stops. I often times wonder, what would I do as a contestant if my music stopped. Well obviously Ebonae and her troupe knew what to do….they kept going with the dancers singing the song and the audience jumping to their feet and cheering on Ebonae as she completed the talent flawlessly. I immediately got up and went to the backstage area and gave Ebonae a chance to do the talent over again, and she opted to let the judges judge what they saw. And that was probably the best decision to make because at the end of the night, Ebonae was crowned Miss Gay Phoenix America, Naomi St. James was first alternate. Another memorable moment of that night was in contestant critique. I think, to date, this was one of the most intense judges critique I have ever been in. Contestant were arguing with judges and forgetting that the judges are 5 sets of opinions and that although you may think your pageant package was flawless, they may have seen different. After that pageant I instituted the rule that if a contestant isn’t in a good space after the pageant, I would rather them skip critique than go in and make themselves look angry. That was probably one of the best decisions I have made!
To say that 2008 was an easy year would be lying because it wasn’t. My relationship with Sache wasn’t the best relationship. I don’t place all the blame on anyone because I know that I had my own faults and could have worked on ways to communicate better. That being said, I tried my hardest to create a sense of trust with people but that trust is a two-way street. I am not proud of the year that we had but I am happy that down the road, AC and I were able to talk and understand each other. Sometimes when two strong forces collide, it takes a while for those forces to come to a mutual understanding. I thank AC for that year because in the end it made me a stronger person. Even though he is no longer with us, he will ALWAYS and FOREVER be molded in to the fabric that creates Miss Gay Arizona America.
That whole year lead up to the very memorable Miss Gay Arizona America 2009 which was held at the Madison Events Center. Oh lord that venue (that is all I will say about that).
The day leading up to pageant was very interesting to say the least. There was a conspiracy to remove a judge from the panel that year and it was led by the reigning Miss Gay America. That day was so crazy that I remember being at lunch and telling my sister Jennifer and my friend Aaron that I didn’t even want to go to the pageant. My panel was being questioned and it felt like everything was spiraling out of control BUT at the end, the pageant went on and the panel was the original panel. My teaching lesson that year was you can’t always take someone’s word as scripture. That was the first and last time that titleholder was ever invited back to Arizona but it wasn’t the last time Tajma Hall would be invited back. Meeting Tajma was a blessing that year. She taught me so much and she was the epitome of cool under pressure. Thank you Tajma for teaching me that sometimes you have to let things go and sometimes you have to say, “I am just too good for THAT!”. The Top 5 at MGAA that year was insane… Naomi St. James, Ebonae Shane, Diva, Candi Colee, Celebrity Starr and TC Taylor. At the end, TC Taylor was crowned Miss Gay Arizona America (on her first attempt and without ever having won a city prelim crown) and Celebrity Starr was named 1st alternate. The next edition of “Design of a Decade” will chronicle the year of 2009 and the reigning of an Arizona favorite, TC Taylor!