Q: How long have you been performing?
About 10 years. I started in Sioux City when I lost a bet. But I went along with it because I was a music and theater major, so it was a good match for me.
Q: Why did competing in pageants appeal to you, verses just performing?
Well, I started doing a lot of pageants in my younger days. It was a great way for me to learn, meet a lot of different people and show off my skills. From an entertaining perspective, there are a lot of good opportunities that competing in pageants can give you. You really learn the business.
Q: What was your first pageant like?
Of course, it was very nerve-wrecking. People can try to tell you what to expect, but until you experience it for yourself, you don’t really know. I actually remember my first pageant being quite different from what I was told.
Q: How have you seen the pageant system in Iowa change over the years?
In the state of Iowa it’s become more competitive. There are more entertainers competing here, instead of going to Illinois or Indiana, for example. And over the past few years it’s really grown.
Q: How many times have you competed in Miss Gay Iowa?
This will be my sixth time. The last time I competed was in October 2008 to qualify for the 2009 nationals.
Q: Why did you take a few years off?
It was a personal thing for me to step back and watch. I was spending time on myself. I was working on my corporate career. I was still performing pretty much every weekend, but I wanted to spend more time on me and my life and my family. The last time I competed was one of the best years we had, and I placed first in interview. That left a lingering desire to go back and finish what I started, so I’m putting my hat back in the ring.
Q: How would you describe your performance?
I do a lot of different styles, and I attribute that to my music and theater background. I really think variety is the spice of life, and I do Shania Twain to Taylor Swift to Joan Crawford to Patsy Cline. When you work in this business in the state of Iowa, there are a lot of people who may see you at multiple shows doing the same act. You have to keep it fresh to bring people back.
Q: You placed first in interview in 2008. What makes a good interview?
I think the judges are looking for someone who is well spoken and educated — in general and in the craft. I’m not always dressed as Madison, and when I’m not, I’m still a gentleman. If you win the title of Miss (Gay) Iowa, whether you’re on stage or off stage, people will judge you on how well you represent the event. So you have to market yourself as accessible, reliable and knowledgeable in your interview with the judges. They’re looking for someone to represent Miss Gay Iowa for the whole year, and that person should be able to let the promoter sit back, and let Miss Iowa do most of the work. They’re looking for someone who they won’t need to watch, worry about and babysit, who is professional and has accountability.
Q: That said, what is the role of Miss Gay Iowa?
I think some girls think it’s just to go to nationals in Dallas, and that’s where the buck stops. But she needs to work with the promoter to make sure there are prelims all across the state for girls to compete in. She needs to be seen across the whole state, and there are a lot of ways to do that, that aren’t just shows. There are plenty forms of community outreach that she can get involved in. A lot of girls don’t see it as a job, but it really is. It’s like when you get elected. There is a lot of political folly and fun, but eventually you have to get to work and do something.
Q: What is your advice to girls who want to start competing in pageants?
If you really want to win, take it seriously. And, if you stop having fun, stop doing it. If I ever lost the enjoyment of competing, I’d let it go.
Q: What would you like to say to the judges?
I’m excited for the opportunity to be competing in the Miss Gay Iowa pageant again. I’m a well-seasoned candidate who has competed a lot, and I have a lot of respect for the art of female impersonation. I’ll be putting my best heel forward all weekend long, and I hope to be the next Miss Gay Iowa USofA.