Emerging from a fabulous cloud of glitter, feather boas, and lip-synced Katy Perry songs, Miss Gay Kansas City 2014 will be crowned this weekend. The winner will take the reins from 2013 champ Christa Collins (Christopher Barksdale-Burns), a two-decade veteran of the Kansas City Ballet. Christa nabbed the title on the strength of a modern dance performance and went on to win Miss Gay Missouri.
Now in its 32nd year, the Miss Gay Kansas City America Pageant is one of the oldest continually running female-impersonation pageants in the country. This year's two-night event will take over Missie B's on Friday and Hamburger Mary's on Saturday.
caught up with organizer and emcee Jeff Hickman, a.k.a. Loreal, who won the pageant in 1991 and has been running the show since 2001.
The Pitch: What are the requirements to compete in the pageant?
: You have to be a male. It's not for transsexuals or transgender - it's for gay men. Friday night they'll be competing in solo talent, which is a three-minute talent where they have to perform by themselves without any prop. On Saturday afternoon they have their interview, and Saturday evening they'll compete in evening gown and on-stage questions, and also in the extended seven-minute talent category where they can have dancers and props.
How are the contestants judged, and who does the judging?
We pick the judges. My stage name is Loreal - I'm also a female impersonator. My co-promoter is Valari Knyte. We won the pageant together. We pick judges that we think are qualified, and they have to be approved at the state pageant level.
What qualifications do you look for in a judge?
For the most part, they need to be familiar with female impersonation. It relies heavily on how you conduct yourself offstage, in and out of drag. There are very specific rules about evening gowns and the length and the way they're supposed to fit. Our three judges are all former winners of the Miss Gay Kansas City Pageant, so they've all won at this level.