The storied Miss Gay Missouri America (MGM) pageant returns April 9-11 to Kansas City after a 15-year absence. The pageant itself will be at the Arts Asylum, 1000 E. Ninth St., and a revue show of former title-holders will be April 9 at Missie B’s, 805 W. 39th St.
Founded in 1973, MGM is the state’s oldest female impersonation contest and the second oldest preliminary to Miss Gay America (MGA).
About 24 contestants from across the state will compete in categories of male interview, solo talent, evening gown, onstage question and long talent. The weekend will honor the reigning Miss Gay Missouri America 2014, Adria Andrews, and Miss Gay America 2015, Blair Williams.
We recently caught up with Williams, whose given name is Todd Mauldin, to talk about the win at nationals, MGM and more.
On the man behind the illusion:
Todd is a short little old man who is living an unbelievable dream this year. Seriously, I live in Savannah, Georgia, and I have been married to my wonderful husband, Robert, for nearly 24 years (four years legally). We have two dogs and two cats and two adult children.
On getting his start in female impersonation:
My first experience was actually seeing a show on a Wednesday night in Charlotte, North Carolina, at a now-defunct bar called Chases. It was also my first time in a gay bar, and I was scared to death. The show featured some legendary North Carolina entertainers — Toni Lenoir, Kelly Ray, and Kasey King. I was mesmerized, and I remember thinking to myself, “I could do that.” It was a few years before I actually managed to be on stage, but that single experience planted the seed.
On competing at MGA for the first time:
I attended the national contest for the first time in 1991, the year Valerie Lohr won. I got there on a fluke. I was called and asked to do a regional contest by the owner of the bar where I performed. As I recall, it was the Miss East Coast Pageant, and there was only one contestant … big surprise that I placed first alternate that night. I had competed at the Miss N.C. pageant three times, but I was never able to crack the top seven for final night. Imagine my shock when I placed 13th at MGA that year. But during that week, I observed everything and everyone. Something clicked within me, and I learned how to compete.
On winning the crown 23 years later:
If I had won Miss Gay America back in the ’90s, I don’t think I would have had a very successful reign. I was too young and too insecure in myself to do the job. I’m not even sure that I understood the magnitude of the job, or had the skill set to accomplish the necessary tasks and duties.
Although extremely rewarding, winning at this stage in my life also carries with it certain pressures and expectations. It’s up to me to manage those and make this year everything I have hoped it would be. I am incredibly grateful to have been given this opportunity. People around the country have been amazingly kind and supportive. I’m appreciative and humbled as I look to our upcoming season. I plan to take in every moment.
Blair’s advice for young contestants:
Always remember why you wanted to perform in the first place. If you connect with what you are doing, the audience will, too. Stay humble and open to learning new things from your peers and mentors. I always say, once you stop growing and learning, then it is time to retire. Work hard, avoid the drama, and always carry yourself in a manner of which you can be proud.
On the Miss Gay Missouri legacy:
I am truly looking forward to visiting Kansas City and being a part of Miss Gay Missouri. MGM has a rich history and proven legacy of producing a great state contest and top-notch contestants ready to be Miss Gay America. I remember always looking for MGM at the national contest, because you knew whoever that person was, they were going to be prepared and competitive. They were your competition! I have had the pleasure to meet many of the forever Miss Gay Missouri America titleholders over the years, and they are all talented and committed entertainers.
It is apparent that all those associated with the MGM pageant respect history and have a deep dedication to the Miss Gay America organization. It sounds cliché, but MGM is obviously a family, and I look forward to being a small part of that family this year!
For more information on MGM 2015, check out MGM Pageantry.
Colin Murphy is editor-in-chief and chief operating officer for “#Boom Magazine” at #Boom Magazine.“