A contestant at Miss Gay Texas America

A contestant at Miss Gay Texas America

Dennis Jansen

One of the biggest drag queen pageants in the country started last night at the Rose Room in Oak Lawn. 

The Miss Gay Texas America pageant features 30 drag queens from across Texas vying to represent the state at the national Miss Gay America contest this fall.

The opening night of Miss Gay Texas America featured extravagant gowns, complex lip-sync performances, and of course, a lot of twirling.

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Miss Gay America is a nationwide female impersonation pageant that follows a format similar to the Miss America contest. The pageant has preliminary contests at the city, state, and regional level.

The pageant is hosted by Chanel LaMasters, who won Miss Gay Texas America 2007. 

Chanel LaMasters hosting the Miss Gay Texas America pageant.

Chanel LaMasters hosting the Miss Gay Texas America pageant.

Dennis Jansen

Last night, Chanel LaMasters balanced the role of emcee and jester. She jokingly complained about the pageant's strict no-alcohol policy for hosts and made sure that the crowd stayed engaged as the show stretched into the early morning.

Texas' Premiere Drag Pageant 

The Miss Gay Texas America Pageant is a long-running event that attracts contestants from every major Texas city. 

"The Miss Gay Texas America pageant is the largest state contest in the system," says pageant director Joe Hoselton. "We've held it since 1973."

The winner of Miss Gay America receives a prize package that includes cash, drag jewelry, sponsorship packages, and guaranteed performance bookings throughout the country. Last year's Miss Gay America winner was Dallas-based Asia O'Hara, who is a regular cast member at Station 4 nightclub in Oak Lawn.

One of the contestants who performed last night is Arlington-based Tara St. Stone. She has performed in drag for 7 years and holds the title of 'Miss Gay Fort Worth America.'

Arlington-based drag queen Tara St. Stone posing for the evening gown competition.

Arlington-based drag queen Tara St. Stone posing for the evening gown competition.

Dennis Jansen

"I want to become the next famous drag queen outside of RuPaul's Drag Race," Tara St. Stone said. "I perform throughout North Texas, but winning this pageant will allow me to expand my bookings all over Texas and neighboring states."

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Houston native Ivanna Cupcake also competed last night. Ivanna was the "First Alternate" contestant in Waco's "Miss Gay Heart of Texas America" pageant.

Houston drag queen Ivanna Cupcake performing during the talent competition

Houston drag queen Ivanna Cupcake performing during the talent competition

Dennis Jansen

In order to raise the thousands of dollars necessary to compete in the pageant, Ivanna created a drag-themed bakery business called 'Queen Cupcakes.'

"My cupcake line is inspired by past Miss Gay Texas America winners," Ivanna said, "I asked prior winners what their favorite flavors were and created cupcakes in their honor."

Miss Gay Harris County America winner Violet S'Arbleu in the evening gown competition

Miss Gay Harris County America winner Violet S'Arbleu in the evening gown competition

Dennis Jansen

Ivanna says that although she only started drag performances last October, the success of her cupcake business has allowed her to finance an elaborate talent number featuring backup dancers and imported props. Ivanna hopes that her cupcake business will continue to support her drag competitions, and says that her first drag pageant has been a positive experience.

"I was really surprised by the sense of sisterhood here," Ivanna said. "If you need some press-on nails or super glue in the dressing room, you got it! That said, I hope one of the girls brings the crown back to Houston."

The Miss Gay Texas America 2016 pageant will continue through July 22nd at the Rose Room lounge, in Station 4 Nightclub, 3911 Cedar Springs Road, Dallas, TX.

General admission is $10 - $20 at the door. The event is 18+.

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