Now a Chicagoan, Maya Douglas makes a triumphant return to The Rose Room this weekend
"I’m sorry I missed your call. I was cleaning my floors and didn’t hear the phone," Maya Douglas apologizes.
For a showgirl with umpteen tiaras — Miss Continental 1985, Miss Gay USofA 1995, Entertainer of the Year 1997, Universal Show Queen 1999 — it’s hard to imagine her on all fours doing housework.
"Of course I wash my own floors. I’m a perfectionist. I do everything myself — my makeup, my costumes …" she says.
In March, Douglas gave her grand finale performance at The Rose Room, a palace that she ruled for 12 years. She returned to The Baton Show Lounge, located in Chicago’s downtown district, where she worked for 10 years before moving to Dallas.
This weekend, Douglas returns to her former Dallas venue. She says The Baton clients are totally different from The Rose Room’s.
"We’re in not in Chicago’s Halsted Street gayborhood. We’re in the tourist district, so we perform for a lot of straight people. Our audience is mainly straight women," Douglas explains.
Along with many bridal parties, celebs frequently stop in, like Janet Jackson, Robert Wagner, Stephanie Powers, Chita Rivera, hunkalicious "So You Think You Can Dance" choreographer Tyce Diorio. Even Madonna and Rosie O’Donnell — back in the ’90s when they were filming "A League of Their Own." And back then, a young Maya Douglas appeared on a "female impersonation pageant" episode of "Sally Jesse Raphael."
For Douglas’ line of work, there’s one supply she can only get in Dallas.
"It’s a special tape. And all the Rose Room girls know what I’m talking about. You can only get it at Elliott’s Hardware. It doesn’t even have a name — just a sticker that says ‘Made in China,’" Douglas says.
I remind her of a 2004 Dallas Voice photo shoot when Douglas dressed as a French maid to model an Elliott’s feather duster. "Well, for that plug, they better give me some free tape," she laughs.
This year, Chicago was an exciting city. Her new club isn’t far from Millennium Park, where Obama gave his victory speech.
"I was too scared to go. We were afraid that if he didn’t win, there would be a riot," she says. "But during the campaign, he ate the Frontera Grill restaurant, which is right across the street from The Baton. So we all went outside to go look. I was about 20 feet away from him."
This article appeared in the Dallas Voice print edition December 12, 2008.