The gays of the region have been especially blessed with pageantry as of late, first being graced by the nation’s most alluringly beautiful men at the U.S. Mr. Gay Pageant, and now being treated to the most fresh and fabulous collection of young drag divas in the area with the Miss Gay Pennsylvania USofA Pageant, scheduled for this Saturday.
The pageant will be celebrating its 20th year by the time the weekend’s spectacle of dazzling divas kick-starts, serving as a preliminary round to the national Miss Gay USofA Pageant held in (of all places) Dallas, Texas next year. The event will feature a total of three categories intended to measure contestants’ qualifications as Pennsylvania’s ultimate drag queen, including a talent portion of inevitable Streisand and Bette Midler impersonations, a personal interview section held alone with judges and — as is the case with every good pageant — an evening wear competition that will evaluate the queens’ ability to strike a pose.
This year’s pageant is estimated to draw in an impressive number of 400 or more attendees and boast performances by local drag celebrities and former winners Karen Covergirl, Daesha Richards, Victoria Lace and more. The divalicious event will be hosted by funny gal Angel Sheridan with a lineup of judges that include drag-experts from the surrounding tri-state region in addition to Pennsylvania representatives Berrie Lyndon and Rick Crosby of New Hope, Troy Schrantz of Allentown and Dana Matthews of Warrington.
Those looking to get some face-to-face time with this year’s contestants should watch out for a special meet-and-greet party held at The Raven on Friday at 9 p.m.
Sat., Dec. 3, 6-11 p.m., $55-$77, New Hope Eagle Firehouse Ballroom, 46 N. Sugan Road, New Hope, 215-862-2588, missgaypausofa.com.
Photo: Last year's winner, Empress Vizcaya Lord
Philadelphia Voices of Pride performed a polished set of pop tunes on Saturday as a part of their latest choral ensemble, Glitter in the Air.
The concert, which got its name from pop powerhouse P!nk’s closing track on 2008’s Funhouse, was an eclectic mix of feel-good songs. And though the presentation did have its fair share of corny moments (see: Katy Perry’s “Firework”), the showcase proved to be another impeccable performance from a group of uplifting, chipper men and women of all age groups who have clearly done their homework.
With a dash of pop charm and a heaping scoop of choral perfection, the hour-and-a-half-long show demonstrated a thorough understanding of the “if it ain’t broke, don’t fix it” formula for performing a pop song, never straying too far from the original composition of timeless standout songs like “Over the Rainbow” and “True Colors.”
With that said, the choral arrangements of certain songs didn’t exactly match up to the auto-tuned perfection of the show’s Glee-inspired setup. The show’s title track, Elton John’s “Your Song” and — despite the gentlemen’s admittedly charismatic performance — “Telephone” did not translate well when put into the context of a group performance. But thankfully, the crop of talented vocalists redeemed themselves by the time the latter half of the show ensued, tugging on heart strings with a flawlessly untouched version of “Mad World” and making the venue’s gay men jump for joy in their seats upon hearing the first few notes of favorites like Madonna’s “Vogue” and contemporary, homo-happy songstress Lady Gaga’s “Born This Way.”
Sprinkle in a random but much-welcomed sampling from Rent, and you have one seemingly simple but entertaining-all-the-same exhibition of familiar pop hits that successfully aimed to please.
Photo by Brandon Baker
In this week’s Agenda section, Brandon Baker writes about the weekend’s U.S. Mr. Gay 2011 pageant. Today he chats with hunky Philly contender, Dashiell Sears, about pre-show butterflies, gymnastics and how he plans to use the title if he takes it home on Saturday night.
Philly’s gay studs don’t come packaged more perfectly than this, folks. Dashiell Sears — who captured the 2011 Mr. Gay Philadelphia competition after dazzling judges with a gymnastics routine — will be duking it out with hotties from across the country to snatch the title of U.S. Mr. Gay 2011, held this weekend in Philly.
But despite the mounting pressure, the 20-year-old political science major claims he’s not a bit nervous.
“When it’s all said and done, it’s not going to change my life too dramatically,” he says. “I treat it as something where I can go, be myself and see how I can relate to the crowd … it’s a lot of fun.”
Since claiming the Philadelphia title in April, Sears has taken a more humble approach to his Mr. Gay glory, using his newfound pageant power to fundraise for the Noble Beast Foundation and participate in a conglomeration of local LGBTQ benefits.
“I’ve gone to a lot of fundraisers wearing my sash and I wrote for phillygaycalendar.com and Philadelphia Gay News,” he says about the opportunities that have been tossed his way.
If nothing else, Sears is certainly a man that knows what he wants and isn’t afraid to “grab life by the balls.” At the age of two he was enrolled in a gymnastics program at the YMCA and has since become one of Temple star gymnastics athletes alongside two other openly gay teammates.
“I’ve been an athlete pretty much my entire life,” he says. “I’ve been in the sport for 18 years, 13 years competitively.”
All week, Philadelphia Improv Theater’s first-annual QComedy Festival has featured a slew of local comedic acts, but on Saturday it wraps up with a funny little visitor from L.A. Gay comedian Alec Mapa, who’s acted in LGBTQ-adoring sitcoms like Desperate Housewives and Ugly Betty, sat down to chat with me about his rough-and-tumble beginnings, how being a dad has changed his comedy and what his co-star Vanessa Williams is really like behind the scenes …
City Paper: How did you get your start as an entertainer?
Alec Mapa: I grew up in San Francisco and was kind of a bad kid. I was a big stoner in high school: drama and cutting class were the only things I paid attention to. But I had a teacher who [encouraged me to pursue theater]. After graduation, I applied to NYU and got in. The first job I got was in M. Butterfly. Then I didn’t work for three years, because no one knew what to do with me. So I started doing standup and that got me sitcom work.
CP: Do you always play gay characters?
AM: Not always. I played a director in a Disney Channel movie that aired this summer. I wasn’t really anything, but my energy was definitely gay.
CP: What are some of the topics you like to cover in your standup act?
AM: My husband and I went from being two gay guys with no responsibility to being full-time parents to a five-year-old. So that’s a lot of material. There’s no kind of parenting manual that will prepare you for how much these things poop and pee. We used to have this beautiful gay guy’s bathroom — it was like a spa at the Four Seasons. But now it’s like a Porta-Potty at Mardi Gras. But I also talk about gay stuff — dick jokes and fart jokes. There’s a lot of gay people who don’t like kids, but they can come to my show and laugh, too. I’m here to make you laugh not make you pregnant.
CP reporter Brandon Baker fills you in on what went down at Outfest this weekend.
With Beyoncé blaring on one end of Locust Street and Lady Gaga on the other, it didn't take much to clue folks in that something huge and gay was happening in Center City yesterday . It was Philly OutFest (or Philly Pride 2.0) and it drew an estimated crowd of 25,000 gays and allies alike.
The main stage, located at the intersection of 13th and Locust streets, played host to a variety of LGBTQ-themed contests and speeches, including a workout session by a pec-tacular 12th Street Gym trainer, a classic rabbit-out-of-the-hat-type magic show. and a surprise appearance by PA Attorney General candidate Patrick Murphy, who delivered an energizing speech about the wrongs of sexual orienation discrimination in the workplace.
Additionally, Mayor Michael Nutter made an appearance at 2 p.m. to dedicate the second LGBTQ historic marker in the state to Giovanni’s Room, the oldest LGBTQ bookstore in the country.
Other random attractions at the show included the now-traditional mechanical bull, iCandy’s seductive tent of underwear-donned studs and — my personal favorite — a rotating orb where I spotted a sassy girl clutching onto her lit cigarette with her lips as she rotated in a circle for five minutes.
WHO: DJ Chip Dish, Liberty City Drag Kings and Burlesque, Dumpsta Players, Tammy Faymous, Spin Tribe, the Dancers of Gunnar Clark's BODYBAG.
WHAT: Who says you have to be in the Gayborhood to hit up a good queer dancefloor? This weekend, the William Way Community Center hosts the debut run of its soon-to-be-annual fundraiser at the Trocadero in Chinatown. During the five-hour soiree, guests — who are encouraged to arrive in go-go attire — will be entertained by a lineup of local acts like the Liberty City Kings, drag queen Tammy Faymous, and Gunnar Clark and co. will perform his dance piece, BODYBAG. Once you’ve perfected your own go-go moves, you can use your ticket to gain free admission to Voyeur’s after-hours bash.
WHEN & WHERE: Sat., Oct. 1, 9 p.m.-2 a.m., $15-$35, Trocadero, 1003 Arch St., 215-732-2220, indigogo.waygay.org.
WHY: You know you wanna shake it with the gays!
The gays will be out in full force tonight as Cantina Los Caballitos plays host to September’s Queers on the Avenue (QOTA) gathering. For those unfamiliar with QOTA, the event is a monthly occurrence for South Philly LGBTQ residents and their straight allies, held at a different location on E. Passyunk Avenue each month. Cantina, East Passyunk’s notorious prime location for the elusive hipster-gay, will close just for the occasion and offer $4.50 mojitos and margaritas for anyone who opts to join in on the evening’s drinking festivities. The real draw here, however, is that 10 percent of all bar proceeds will go to AIDS Fund in anticipation of the Philly AIDS Walk on Sun., Oct. 16. Kill two birds with one stone by kicking back and having a drink in support of a local restaurant/bar and a prominent cause in the city of Philadelphia.
Tonight, 6-9 p.m., Cantina Los Caballitos, 1651 E. Passyunk Ave., 215-755-3550, cantinaloscaballitos.com.
Married in Spandex won the audience award for Best Documentary
The 17th annual QFest came to a close Monday night with a party at Trust (249 Arch St.) that featured a Metro Men's Clothing-sponsored swimwear fashion show and a rollcall of audience and jury award winners by WMMR's Pierre Robert. In its successful two-week span, this year's fest boasted a guestlist of over 100 international filmmakers and seven world premiere screenings. Here are the ones that took awards home (i.e. great Netflix queue additions):
Jury Award Winners
- Best Short Film: (tie) The Queen and The Kiss
- Best First Time Director: Romeos
- Best Documentary: Wish Me Away
- Best Feature Film: Tomboy
Audience Award Winners
- Best Short Film: I Don’t Want to Go Back Alone
- Best Documentary: Married in Spandex
- Best Comedy: Eating Out – Drama Camp
- Best Feature Film: Gun Hill Road
Battle of the Bios is back in full force this Thursday at Philadelphia’s Magic Gardens. Bridging biography and performance art, the competition invites writers and artists to bare their souls in storytelling form. The winners are audience-selected, and a $100 grand prize is up for the taking. Admission includes beer and refreshments and entry to the Magic Garden’s latest exhibit
Emcee and drag personality Nueva Gabor (aka Lance Pawling) says pieces for competition aren’t limited to straightforward stories, but anything “autobiographically inspired." Those interested in performing should take a hint from the local celeb, who got "her" start with the Dumpsta Players in 2001. When crafting characters and creating costumes (his last costume will be made almost entirely of paper), she says she pulls from life experiences "as much as [she] can."
Thu., June 30, 7-9 p.m., $8-10, Philadelphia's Magic Gardens, 1020 South St., 215-733-0390, philadelphiasmagicgardens.org.
In the year it's been in business, Tabu Lounge and Sports Bar has earned more than the reputation for being a favorite Gayborhood wathering hole. General Manager Freddy Shelley says the two-level bar has become the go-to spot in the area for gay-related non-profit groups to host fundraising and outreach events. "When the business started, we reached out to local organizations about fundraising opportunities," he says. "After hosting the first few, the requests kept coming in."
Through their weekly Community Thursdays affair and events hosted by outside organizations, Shelley says more than three dozen community groups have garnered thousands of dollars through fundraising efforts at Tabu. The list of worthy beneficiaries have included a diverse lineup, including the Mazzoni and Attic Youth Centers and arts groups like Gender Reel and Quince Productions.
Tonight, in celebration of their 50th fundrasier, they're hosting RISE, a bash to benefit ActionAIDS and Philadelphia Fight, two local groups that work to bring awarness and support services to those living with or affected by HIV and AIDS. The evening will include performances by drag queen (one of our Summer Guide cover girls) The Goddess Isis and those crazyass Dumpsta Players.
Fri., June 24, doors at 8 p.m., performances at 10:30 p.m., $10, Tabu Lounge and Sports Bar, 200 S. 12th St., 215-964-9675, tabuphilly.com.
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