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5 Questions With Miss Gay Texas America 2015

Tuesday July 19, 2016

From July 19-22 (four nights), The Rose Room Dallas will be the setting for the 42nd Miss Gay Texas America 2016, the state preliminary competition for the 44th national Miss Gay America, the world's first and longest running female impersonator pageant.

The pageant will honor the current Miss Gay Texas America 2015 and Miss Gay America 2016, Asia O'Hara (above), from Dallas. Asia O'Hara is a cast member at The Rose Room, the Southwest's premiere show bar for gender illusion. The evening's theme will be "Sirens of the Sea."

Nearly 40 contestants from 22 regional preliminaries around the state will compete for four nights in five rigorously judged categories for their respective crowns: Male Interview, Solo Talent, Evening Gown, On-Stage Interview, and Talent (big production number).

The Miss Gay Texas America pageant will set the 2016 state winner and alternate on a path to compete for the title of Miss Gay America 2017 in Memphis, TN this October 5-9.

The Miss Gay America pageant was established in 1972 in Nashville, Tennessee-37 years before "RuPaul's Drag Race." Miss Gay Texas America was established in 1974 and is in its 42nd year of competition, making it one of the oldest and largest preliminary pageants in the country.

Meet your reigning Miss Gay Texas America 2015 and Miss Gay America 2016, Asia O'Hara as she answers 5 questions in anticipation of her step-down at the Miss Gay Texas America 2016 pageant on July 19-22:

Asia O'Hara has been a female impersonator since 2003. As the face of Miss Gay America she not only performs weekly in cities across the U.S., but also oversees dozens of preliminary pageants, including 22 in Texas, alone. When not jetting around the country, she runs her own costume design business, volunteers at the ASPCA and relaxes with her Lab Mix, Chloe.

1 How did you get started, when did you first do in female impersonation?

I've been in some sort of entertainment my whole life, so it was just a natural progression. I toured in a drum and bugle core when I was younger, but when I turned 21 and I aged out of that. I had just started going out to clubs and started becoming more familiar with the [female impersonator] community and the art form itself. I saw my first female impersonator pageant in 2002 and that was the deciding moment when I was like, this is something I want to try. At the Rose Room we have a talent night, which like an amateur night, on Thursdays, so I entered and won and then entered the annual newcomer pageant-which is for the entertainers who won the Thursday night contests-and I won, and it just blossomed from there. I don't think anyone sets out to make a career out of female impersonation, or doing it for the long term, but it's something you pick up and try and fall in love with it and the next thing you know it's ten years down the road and you're still doing it.

2 What has being in the Miss Gay America system mean to you personally?

I grew up, not really a sheltered life, but I wasn't exposed people with different backgrounds. Doing female impersonation has allowed me to connect with a wide array of people, who under different circumstances, I would never meet: people that are fashion designers, people that are back-up dancers, people that mix your music, or other entertainers, club owners and audience members.

3 Many titleholders say they benefited greatly from the structure the Miss Gay America system has imposed on their lives.

It's taught me my work ethic. It's taught me my breaking point and it's helped me understand my strengths and weaknesses and how to make them work for me. Being successful-there is a very straight derivative-if you want this job, you get this degree, if you want this home, your credit score needs to be this; everything is very cut and dry and straight forward. But with female impersonation you have to work very hard on a broader variety of skills, especially being a national titleholder: You have to administrate, be intelligent, and, in our system, be very good with math. Basically, you travel in the morning, you administrate in the afternoon and you entertain at night. It may be that for four days at a time the only sleep that you get is on the plane going to the next place. On top of that, of course, and you have to be an ambassador. You are expected to always be entertaining on stage, have an immaculate wardrobe, with perfect hair and makeup.

4 You are a costume designer. What kind of costumes do you design and how do you manage your business while touring as Miss Gay America?

I make costumes for high school dance teams, ice skaters, ballroom, and drill teams. I also make some of the practice wear for the Dallas Cowboys Cheerleaders and costuming for other female impersonators. Obviously, if you work for yourself, there's no vacation or salary, so if you don't work you don't get paid. I've really tried not to diminish my workload, so I'm trying to cram in all the hours I would normally work whenever I can. I'm normally home Tuesdays through Thursdays. I fly home on a Tuesday morning and go to the shop and I'll work until about 8PM, which is when I'll go to the venue for our show. And then Wednesdays and Thursdays, I'll normally work 20 hours. I'll go in at 6AM and work until about 1 or 2 in the morning.

5 If and when you have it, what do you do in your downtime?

Every city that I'm in, I try to go to the museum, the aquarium or the zoo. But reading is my great pastime. I'm normally in the middle of three books at once. I read pretty much everything. Right now I'm on an America history kick so I'm reading both fiction and nonfiction: "The Witches: Salem, 1692" by Stacy Schiff, "The Pillars of the Earth" by Ken Follett, and "Hunger's Brides: A Novel of the Baroque" by Paul Anderson. •

Listings Info:

Miss Gay Texas America 2016?
July 19-22
The Rose Room Theatre and Lounge
(upstairs at Station 4)
3911 Cedar Springs Rd
Dallas, TX 75219
Phone: 214-526-71711

July 19 & 20 - 9PM: Preliminary Nights, Cover $10
July 21 10:30PM: Review Show: Cover $15
July 22 9PM: Final Night - Top 10 & Crowning: Cover $20

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