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5 Questions with Miss Gay Ohio

Tuesday July 5, 2016

On July 9-10, Axis nightclub in Columbus will be the setting for Miss Gay Ohio America, 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 Ohio America 2015, Amanda Sue, and feature Miss Gay America 2016, Asia O'Hara of Dallas. The evening's theme will be "Thunderdome." Ten contestants from Cincinnati, Columbus, Dayton, Akron, Canton and surrounding cities will compete 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 Ohio America pageant will set the state winner and alternate on a path to compete for the title of Miss Gay America 2017 in Memphis, TN this October 5-9.

Miss Gay Ohio America was established in 1973 and is in its 43rd year of competition making it one of the oldest and the most prestigious preliminaries in the Miss Gay America pageant system.

Meet your reigning Miss Gay Ohio America 2016, Amanda Sue, as she answers five questions in anticipation of her step-down and the passing on of the crown to the new Miss Gay Ohio America on July 10:

Amanda Sue will celebrate her sixth year as a female impersonator on her birthday, July 4. She is the fourth contestant from Dayton to win Miss Gay Ohio America, the first since 1993.

In addition to being the reigning Miss Gay Ohio America 2016, she is a regular hostess and cast member at Axis Nightclub in Columbus and show hostess at Diesel Bar & Nightclub in Springfield and Masque Nightclub in Dayton.

1 What drew you to female impersonation?

I grew up in theater and went to college for acting. I was tap-dancing out of the womb, so when I found female impersonation it was the perfect outlet, because I couldn't decide what I wanted to do: I like being funny and telling jokes. Do I want to be a comedian? I like performing and I like dancing. I like deciding what I'm going to wear, costuming, choreography, music selection, so in this character, I get to have my hands in a little bit of everything.

2 What was your first time performing as a female impersonator?

A good friend of mine, Claire Voyant, hosted a Sunday karaoke night called Clarioke at bar in downtown Dayton called MJ's Café. One weekend he asked me to fill in for him in drag, since I'd been there almost every week and knew how to work the karaoke equipment. I asked some of my best friends to do it with me because I was really nervous. So we painted up and hosted the night. It was tragic, really bad, but my friends told me, though they thought the look was bad, they also thought I had the raw talent to be a performer, if I just worked at it. I abandoned the idea for a while, until one of my friends asked me if I would do a show at MJ's Café and I decided to give it a try. Through dedication and hard work on my art, I became a regular performer, a show hostess and show director at MJ's Café.

3 Why Miss Gay Ohio America?

I was really drawn to Miss Gay Ohio America because it was all men and it was about their transformation. My second year of being involved in female impersonation, I danced for one of my really good friends, Rhoda Jean Horse, when she competed in a city preliminary. The following year I danced for my drag mother, National Holiday at both the state preliminary and the national Miss Gay America pageant.

Going to the national pageant was just jaw dropping! When you go to Miss Gay America its overwhelming. It's not that Miss Gay Ohio America is small-we have over 40 years of history-but these people have 75 back-up dancers, these elaborate costumes that are thousands of dollars, and when you see them performing at the level that everyone has achieved, you get so inspired. I looked at the legacy and the entertainers-it's a very elite group-and I wanted to be a part of it. I remember thinking these opportunities were afforded to these people because they worked really hard and got a following in our community and that can be built through pageantry.

4 Who inspires you?

I had such a moving conversation with Erika Evans, a former Miss Gay Ohio America, which just really inspired me. She was talking about how the pageant system opened so many doors for her in her community. She was asked to judge the actual Miss Ohio pageant-the real girls pageant! When she went to nationals she made friendships and built relationships with people with whom to this day she's still in touch. She said competing gave her confidence.

5 What has winning meant to you?

When I came back, for the next year, I was evaluated what I was doing: would this do well at the national level? I was obsessed! I'd had the experience of being around the sisterhood and wanting to be a part of this, I had the experience at nationals and seeing what that was like and wanting to be on that stage competing with those girls and I said, now I need to apply everything that I've taken from the past two years and put that toward my hopeful victory. I was so thrilled when they announced me as the winner, so overtaken with emotion-you just work so hard and invest a lot into it. I remember looking at my bank account and thinking oh my gosh I spent so much money on this, it would be heartbreaking if I didn't get my ticket to nationals! •


Miss Gay Ohio America 2016

July 9 & 10
July 9: 7 PM - 9:30 PM
July 10: 7 PM - Midnight (crowning happens between 10-Midnight)
Cover charge both nights: $10
Axis Nightclub
775 N. High St
Columbus, OH 43215