by Mimi Rowland
The glamorous Domanique Shappelle’s reign has come to an end, as a new Miss Gay Pennsylvania USofA was crowned for 2013 at the annual pageant on December 1st at the New Hope Fire Company.
The Pennsylvania pageant is a preliminary for the Miss Gay USofA pageant, which will be held in Dallas, Texas in May 2013.
Historically, Miss PA has done well at the nationals, with Dominique placing sixth in 2012 and Tamisha Iman winning the national title in 2005.
This year’s pageant began with the interview portion, which was held privately with the judges. That was followed by the fashion competition, in which some of the contestants even did their own hair and makeup.
The contest was topped off by the talent showcase, which this year produced fierce competition in lip-syncing and dancing between the contestants.
Tiffany Richards sparkled from head to toe out in front of her four backup dancers, Leeza Lennox performed an impassioned version of “I Dreamed a Dream,” and Jolie Star strutted her stuff in thigh-high boots to a mix of hot songs.
Having placed first in all three portions of the competition, Tiffany was named Miss Gay PA USofA 2013 and now heads to Texas to compete for the national title.
Pageant organizer Jennifer Wohl says that the Pennsylvania pageant is the most award-winning in the USofA organization, not an easy feat since the organizers do not have the advantage of owning their own club. The PA pageant has been held at the New Hope Fire Company since the 1990’s.
For the first time ever, the pageant also included the crowning of a Miss Gay Pennsylvania USofA Classic, featuring contestants over the age of 40.
For the talent portion of the Classic division, Morgan Wells stunned the audience in fabulous yellow feathers performing “Push Da Button,” and Victoria Lace did a 50’s-themed act complete with poodle skirt which helped to earn her the crown.
The very entertaining Mistress of Ceremonies, Angel Sheridan, kept the audience laughing all night and had the honor of introducing performances by current Miss Gay USofA Lawanda Jackson, riveting as Tina Turner, and current Miss Gay USofA Classic Layla LaRue, channeling her inner Mary J. Blige.
Celebrity judges included long-time pageant supporters Rick Crosby of Karla’s and New Hope Mayor Larry Keller.
The pageant helps to support FACT Bucks County, an all-volunteer non-profit organization dedicated to providing financial help to those living with HIV and AIDS in Bucks, Hunterdon, and Mercer Counties. FACT also raises awareness about HIV/AIDS, provides grants for AIDS and safe sex education, and has recently begun a scholarship program. Their 50/50 ticket sales raised about $1300, half of which went to the organization.
FACT also raises funds through their popular bingo events at the fire hall and through their annual AIDS walk.
You can get more information about supporting the cause at FactBucksCounty.org.
The pageant was sponsored in part by Safe Pride, which will hold a blood drive on February 22nd. Dr. Nat Beech represented the organization and explained that in America, gay men are not allowed to donate blood, even though all blood donations are now tested.
Visit SafePride.org for more information.
PHOTO CAPS: 1. From left, Domanique Shappelle (last year’s Miss Gay Pennsylvania USofA, Tiffany Richards (newly crowned Miss Gay Pennsylvania USofA 2013), Lawanda Jackson (current Miss Gay USofA), Layla LaRue (Miss Gay USofA Classic 2012), and Victoria Lace (newly crowned Miss Gay USofA Classic 2013).
2. Morgan Wells stunned the audience in yellow feathers performing “Push Da Button.”