Dallas’ starring role in the revival of Mr. Gay America
Brandi Amara Skyy | Contributing Writer
Ever since the introduction of RuPaul and his Drag Race into mainstream social consciousness, everyone — and I mean EVERYONE — loves drag (and are voicing their opinions about it).
There are RuPaul’s Drag Race watch parties everywhere where audiences hashtag their favorites to win. For most people, this is where their love (and knowledge) of drag ends.
But for those of us that live and breathe drag all day every day, we know drag’s history and culture are far more complex than what we see on TV — and much more diverse.
Drag queens are only one part of our history, and within our drag community lives the entire spectrum of the rainbow: drag kings, club kids, look queens, genderf*ckers, bearded queens, divas, female drag queens and male entertainers also known as Mr.’s in the drag world.
And you can find every single type of dragster here in Dallas on any given Friday or Saturday night. That’s because Dallas is known as the drag capital of Texas — and arguably of the entire United States.
Big D is home to the most diverse batch of national drag pageant titleholders in the country. Almost every pageant system has a national titleholder from our city: Asia O’Hara was Miss Gay America 2016, All American Goddess 2012 and Miss Gay USofA 2007; Whitney Paige (RIP) was Miss Continental Plus 2013 and Miss Gay USofA Classic 2010 among many other titles; Kane Conners was Mr. Gay USofA at Large 2015; I was Miss USofA Diva 2014, and Michael LaMasters was Mr. Gay USofA 2015.
But it’s not just about the titleholders. Dallas has been — and is — also host city to many national pageants, including Mr. Gay USofA, Mr. Gay USofA At Large, Miss Gay USofA Newcomer and, most infamously, Miss Gay USofA for the past 21 years.
Dallas is not only a mecca for drag, but a world-renowned symbol of drag excellence.
So when I heard that Michael Dutzer and Rob Mansman of Mad Angel Entertainment were not only bringing the boys back for the return of Mr. Gay America (formally Mr. Gay All-American) but had also chosen Dallas as the host city, my drag heart couldn’t help but get excited.
Why did they choose Dallas as their comeback city? The two men explained: “Dallas is a great city with a lot of interest in pageants and male contests. We’ve spent a lot of time in Dallas over the past two years, everyone at Caven Enterprises and the Rose Room have been good to us. We are excited to work with them on this show.”
And we are excited to welcome them because in a drag race world of trying to find the next drag superstar, the America system is the original universe.
Miss Gay America started in 1972, when Norma Kristie was crowned the first Miss Gay America. Norma — aka Norman Jones — bought Miss Gay America in 1975 from the original owner, Jerry Peek, and more than a decade later, in 1983, Norma along with Carmel Santiago started Mr. Gay All-American “to provide a venue for gay men to showcase their intellect, community service and talent.”
Mr. Gay All-American was sold to Gib Hauersperger in 1995, and it changed directors until, finally, Hauersperger and director John Beebe (Mr. Gay All-American 1996) canceled the pageant indefinitely in 2009.
In 2016, Michael and Rob purchased the system from L&T Entertainment (which bought MGA from Norma in February of 2005). But even before they finalized the purchase, Michael and Rob were already discussing the revival of Mr. Gay All-American.
“The moment, we bought Miss Gay America we had people asking if we would bring back Mr. Gay All-American,” the men said. “Asia O’Hara, who we became very close to through the year, brought it up a lot, and the day after her step down, she called and said let’s start planning Mr. Gay America. From that moment, it was full force ahead.”
Full force indeed. In just a little under a year, Michael and Rob revitalized a male entertainment system that was all but forgotten in the newer generations of drag. And when they released the open call for contestants this past Jan. 1, they had no idea what to expect. But the response was lovingly overwhelming.
“When we opened registration, it was only a matter of minutes before all the spots were filled,” they noted. It marked the beginning of a new era for MGA’s male division and sparked a name change to remain consistent with the Gay America brand and family.
The 10 contestants that made the cut are from all over the United States: Kentucky, Chicago, West Virginia, Florida and, of course, Dallas. Local favorites Michael LaMasters (former Mr. Gay USofA 2015) and Patrick Mikyles (former Mr. Gay Texas USofA and Mr. Hot Body Texas) are two of the 10 contestants vying for the title rooted in a rich legacy.
Patrick said the Mr. Gay America legacy “has a strong foundation, and every single one of those [formers] all worked to be the best in their own unique way. Being the first under the new brand [would be] very exciting. Not often does someone get the chance to shape the future of a national entertainment brand.”
That’s what these 10 contestants are really competing for: the opportunity to be a part of and build upon the MGA legacy — a legacy that Rob and Michael hope to grow “to a level it deserves. Where the titleholders are respected and in demand as entertainers.”
The MGA legacy is big. Dare I even say RuPaul big? I think so. And every single person in the audience at Sunday’s pageant will feel it. Because that’s the kind of magic that happens when you have more than four decades of history to stand and build upon.
It’s the kind of energy that breeds excellence and births legends. It’s also the thing that Rob and Michael are most excited about: “[We] feel that there will be an emotional aspect to the show. A lot of the former All-Americans are coming, and we will honor them and welcome them, keeping their bond that is still very strong.”
And one hardworking male entertainer will be chosen to be the newest link in that bond — linking the present to the past, strengthening an already rich legacy, and becoming the next drag superstar.
Tickets are on sale at www.mgatickets.com and will be available at the door. Ticket prices range from $30 for General Admission to $65 for VIP Seating.
This article appeared in the Dallas Voice print edition June 30, 2017.