Not all queens are pagent queens
Recently, someone asked me, “Why don’t you do pageants?” The long and short of it is, I’m not that competitive, and I kinda don’t love doing them. (There was only one pageant I actually really tried to win, but more on that later.)
In drag culture, drag pageants have always been big, especially here in Texas. I remember going to my first pageant at a club called The Wave. I saw Kelexis Davenport bucking and high-kicking to “Let Me Dance For You,” and Patti LaPlae Safe wearing a fringe outfit that had at least three rip-aways, going from a full pantsuit to a little swimsuit. I don’t remember who won, but I remember Coco was emceeing, and I was a Coco groupie. To this day Coco was, in my eyes, the best drag entertainer that ever lived.
When I started really doing drag, I quickly realized that all of the girls that got booked regularly had titles. So I figured if you wanna work, you betta get you a crown. Pageants were a way for other people that booked shows at the many bars around to see you and possibly give you a gig. It worked, after my first pageant, Miss North Central Texas (I got first-runner-up), I started to get booked at Magnolia Station in Fort Worth.
I competed at Miss Texas that year, and although I didn’t make the top 10, I did really well for my first time —I was 13th out of 40-something girls. My gown was meh; my up-do wig had bangs and Donna Day told me my modeling looked like I was doing a bad Cher impersonation. I loved my talent though: I did “Original Sin” by Taylor Dayne with a giant hell tree made of chicken wire and covered with foam insulation. Then it was painted black, and I even covered a giant apple in sequins and had it at the top of the tree. I really loved the song, so I felt it.
The pageant was expensive, exhausting and kind of fun. Plus, I got even more bookings from it.
The first pageant I ever won was Miss Highland Park America. It was held at a club called Colors on Wycliff (the location is now a Pet Supplies Plus — damn gentrification). I performed Maureen’s “Over the Moon” monologue from Rent and wore a gown given to me by the beautiful Maya Douglas. It was a great night up until I found out that while I was being crowned Miss Gay Highland Park America, some bitch was stealing the gown that Maya has just given me from backstage. The shade of it all!
Luckily, the next day I got a phone call from the wonderful Betty Neil, a true rock star of our community. She said, “Baby, I know who has your gown, and I will get it back for you.” By 8 the next evening, Betty got me my damn dress back. I love that woman.
We all knew who was behind the stealing of that dress, but looking back, karma has her ways.
That year I went back to Miss Texas and did really well. I came in fourth-runner-up, and when the third-runner-up was pissed that the winner’s name got called out, and she threw down her flowers and stormed off, I snatched up her flowers and moved over one space. I was getting closer.
Over the next years, I was getting booked quite a bit, so I only kind of half-assed doing pageants. Still, I won Miss Metroplex and Miss Oak Lawn — not big pageants but I still got the crowns upstairs in my drag room so they definitely meant something to me.
The most fun I ever had at Miss Texas was when I did Elvira for talent. She has a song called “Monster Rap” that copied “Vogue” by Madonna, but instead of Greta Garbo and Monroe / Dietrich and DiMaggio it was Boris Karloff, Vincent Price / Bela Lugosi and Poltergeist. It was corny, but I fucking loved it. The biggest and best part was when, like in her classic movie Elvira Mistress of the Dark, I did a dance break where I put a mask over my face and spun around this huge gargoyle prop I had, and when I came out on the other side it was actually a professional dancer/cheerleader for the Dallas Mavericks wearing the same costume as me… except that she was almost a foot and a half shorter. She danced, back flipped and killed it, then spun back around the gargoyle prop, and I pop out the other side, breathing hard like I had really turned it.
I didn’t break the top five that year, but that was the year that I thought if I really put forth my 100 percent effort, I can be Miss Texas. I was wrong.
My final attempt at being Miss Texas America was in 2008. I finally had the stability, financially and mentally, that I knew I needed to really put everything into that pageant and finally win it. I saved up and had a gown made that I loved. I rehearsed and put together a talent that I was proud of and still am to this day. I had a great new suit for male interview… I was ready.
I can honestly say I did my absolute best, and I saw what the other girls did onstage, and I knew in my heart that that year I was the best. I still do… but I didn’t win. I was first-runner-up. My heart was broken. Looking back, I am embarrassed by how I handled the situation. I smiled as they crowned the winner, but as soon as I walked offstage I chucked the flowers in the trash and stomped back to my station to quickly pack and get the fuck out of there.
I didn’t know losing something you really wanted could hurt that bad, and so I retaliated my hurt heart with petty, bitchy drag queen messiness that, although it makes for a great after-story, also shows that I was a very poor loser.
As my back-up dancers, husband and backstage helpers all very quickly and quietly helped me pack to go, the girl that won walked by in her crown, holding her scepter and flowers and said, “Cassie, I thought you were really great in this pageant!” I snapped back with, “Really, because I thought you were just mediocre!”
I didn’t need to say that. It was such a dick move, but in the fabled scrolls of drag pageant drama it was what happened. Not my finest moment, but I own it. I should apologize to her for that comment some day and maybe I will… maybe.
In the end, all things happen for a reason, I’ve remained fully booked, and my career is exactly where it should be. So I am thankful. I’m an asshole, but I’m a thankful asshole. Which is also the title of my porno!
Remember to always love more, bitch less and be fabulous! XOXO! Cassie Nova.