Miss Gay America 2017 Suzy Wong
Photo: Kristofer Reynolds | DOWNLOAD 300dpi image.
Contact: Andy Reynolds, Popular Publicity, email@example.com
*Miss Gay America blog
PRESS RELEASES / NEWS
Please be sure to visit the Miss Gay America blog, MGAZINE, for the latest MGA news.
01/16/17: Watch MGA2017 Suzy Wong in #WWHL with Andy Cohen Jan 19
(2016 press releases are at the bottom of this page.)
Miss Gay America
"Where Boys Are Boys and Female Impersonation is an Art"™
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Established in Nashville in 1972–37 years before “RuPaul’s Drag Race”–the Miss Gay America pageant is the world’s first, longest running and most prestigious female impersonator competition. To date, over 10,000 men from over thirty states have competed for the Miss Gay America crown.
The current Miss Gay America is Suzy Wong (above), the alter ego of Arnold Myint (also above), a Nashville-based chef and restaurateur also of Bravo’s "Top Chef" and Food Network fame. Suzy is the primary spokesperson and business partner for Suzy Wong’s House of Yum in Nashville from which her persona was created.
A devoted philanthropist, Suzy uses her talents as an emcee and personality to give back to her community. Contributions include hosting the red carpet at Nashville Fashion Week, NOH8, The Human Rights Campaign, Nashville Pride and 10,000 Degrees (a non-profit vowing to financially assist 10,000 people on their quest to higher education).
Recently, she was at NYC Pride with Absolut Vodka for the Trevor Project, Palm Springs Pride, and hosted a monumental birthday bash for the infamous Lady Bunny. More about Suzy Wong at www.suzywongbna.com
While ostensibly playing to the gay community, from the very first pageant back in Nashville in 1972–in much the same way as "RuPaul’s Drag Race"* does now–Miss Gay America has consistently drawn a diverse audience of enthusiastic gay, straight, young and senior fans who appreciate the spectacle, the talent and, frankly–and literally–the balls it takes to be Miss Gay America.
Since its inception, Miss Gay America has prided itself as a showcase for pure female impersonation: Contestants must be men who live as men, achieving a convincing feminine illusion solely through their own ingenuity, creativity, and resourcefulness.
Bodily feminization via female hormones, breast implants, or injectable fillers such as liquid silicone is strictly forbidden. However, plastic surgery and fillers above the neck are permitted.
The Male Interview–in male attire–is a key component of the pageant; contestants are judged not only for their poise and articulation, but for their overall masculine presentation where points may actually be deducted for feminine aspects, such as overly plucked eyebrows or long fingernails.
Currently, contestants are rigorously judged in four categories: Male Interview, Evening Gown, On-Stage Interview, and Talent (fully produced stage production; sets, dancers, permitted).
To get glimpse into the world of female impersonator competition, check out the trailer for the award-winning 2008 documentary "Pageant" on Vimeo.
The rules, from conduct to costume, number nearly 100 pages, and are as exacting, if not moreso than those of any female counterpart pageant:
“In general, the gown length should be a full length gown, (either to the top of the toe part of the shoe or approximately 1/2 inch above the floor, unless the style of the gown warrants different measurement i.e. ballroom style gown or tulip-contoured styled gown).”
The Miss Gay America pageant system is fed by a network of nearly thirty city, state and regional preliminaries that ultimately send their winners and first alternate to the national Miss Gay America competition. There, after four stressful days of expertly judged and critiqued performances, a distilled list of ten contestants compete for the national Miss Gay America title.
Contestants are in it to win it, easily spending thousands of dollars in preparation for this ultimate female impersonator competition. While some design their own gowns, others spend upwards of $10,000 at houses from Vera Wang to Versace. Professional choreographers are flown in. Set designers are hired. What matters most is not the money, but the title.
During her reign, a newly crowned Miss Gay America can earn as much as $70,000 in cash, prizes, travel, appearance fees and gratuities for performing her duties at state and regional MGA preliminaries.
The first Miss Gay America was held in 1972 at the Watch Your Hat & Coat Saloon in Nashville, Tennessee–Nashville's first gay dance and show bar. (Clubs featuring drag shows are often referred to simply as “show bars.”) Jerry Peek opened his show bar in 1971–an instant sensation, not only with gay patrons, but also with the straight crowd–and debuted the Miss Gay America competition in 1972. (Read the Hollis Hollywood interview with Peek about the early days of Miss Gay American in Out & About Nashville.)
Norma Kristie, representing Arkansas, was crowned Miss Gay America 1973 and in 1975 Norman "Norma Kristie" Jones took ownership of the pageant from Peek. Incorporating in business as Norma Kristie, Inc., Jones proudly promoted the Miss Gay America Pageant and its nationwide network of preliminary pageants for the next 30 years, and in doing so firmly established the pageant's reputation as the most prestigious contest in the world for competitive female impersonation.
In February 2005, the Miss Gay America pageantry system was purchased by Larry Tyger and Terry Eason of L & T Entertainment. On February 4, 2016 Michael Dutzer and Rob Mansman of Baltimore-based Mad Angel Entertainment purchased the Miss Gay America pageant From L & T Entertainment.
“While we are businessmen at heart, we did not buy Miss Gay America with the hopes of turning a profit, say the thrilled new owners. “We bought MGA for the love of the art of female impersonation. We have supported many entertainers over the years in reaching for their dreams, and we thought what a better way to contribute, than to continue the history of the oldest pageant for female impersonators.”
The Miss Gay America nationals take place this October in Memphis, TN. For preliminary dates, news and much more, please visit www.missgayamerica.com. Follow Miss Gay America on Facebook at www.facebook.com/missgayamerica •
*Three Miss Gay America contestants have appeared on "RuPaul's Drag Race": Victoria "Porkchop” Parker (Season 1), Alyssa Edwards 2010, Coco Montrese, Miss Gay America 2010 (Season 5).
Miss Gay America 2017 Suzy Wong. Photo: Kristofer Reynolds
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2016 Press Releases
12/08/16: Miss Gay Oklahoma Saves Life, Honored w/Citizen Hero Medal
12/28/16: Gag on the Glamour: Nation's Top 5 Pageant Queens Make History
10/12/16: Nashville's SUZY WONG Crowned MISS GAY AMERICA 2017
09/22/16: You Be the Judge: Vote in the Man Behind the Make-Up Poll
09/01/16: 44th MISS GAY AMERICA Pageant Comes to Memphis, Oc 5-9
07/25/16: Dallas Observer runs Miss Gay Texas America 2016 Slideshow
07/18/16: MISS GAY AMERICA Comes to Little Rock Sep 9-10
07/13/16: MISS GAY AMERICA Comes to Oklahoma City July 28-29
07/11/16: MISS GAY AMERICA Comes to Dallas July 19-22
07/01/16: MISS GAY AMERICA Comes to Baton Rouge July 13-15
06/20/16 MISS GAY AMERICA Comes to Charlotte August 10-12
06/13/16 MISS GAY AMERICA Comes to Oklahoma City July 28-29
06/09/16 MISS GAY AMERICA Comes to Columbus July 9-10
04/26/16 PHOTOS: Baltimore Sun Covers Miss Gay Maryland America
04/05/16 MISS GAY AMERICA Comes to Phoenix June 26