After hiatus, Mr. & Miss Gay Elmira Returns to the Southern Tier
After a 6-year hiatus, the Mr. & Miss Gay Elmira pageant is set to bring a little sass and sparkle to the Southern Tier on March 26 at The Loom in Waverly, N.Y.
David Blandford, of Elmira, has performed drag as the legendary Sister Sasha LaLick for over 30 years, and is the new promoter of Mr. & Miss Gay Elmira. David held the title of Miss Gay Elmira in 1995. He’s excited to bring the creativity and talent of drag performance back to the region with the help of the pageant’s 2016 winners, Christian Gaye and Bianca.
“I just held my other pageant, Miss Chemung County, in November 2021,” David says. “There aren’t any clubs around here to hold shows anymore so there hasn’t been much drag in the area.”
From the 1990s through the noughties, there were several area clubs in Elmira - The David, Angles and Club Chill - that regularly featured drag shows, including weekly entertainment, annual pageants and regular benefits for local charities.
David thinks that now is the time to re-spark interest in the performance art form as it gains popularity in other parts of the state. That’s why he, along with Mr. and Miss Gay Elmira, and other local drag performers traveled to Central N.Y. earlier this month to represent the Southern Tier at a pageant.
“Amber Skyy’s Pageant is being held in Watertown – Miss Up and Coming Central NY Pageant 2022 – where Bianca will be performing and guest spotting,” he says. “Trisha Tyson … she won Miss Chemung County in November, I'll be going up with her and Mr. Chemung County 2021, just to represent in another part of the state,” David explained.
Mr. & Miss Gay Elmira will be held at party event space The Loom in Waverly, and promises to be a fun, colorful evening filled with entertainment and glamour. So far, there are six contestants – four drag queens and two drag kings – who will compete in four categories:
Walk-on category: Contestants must create a look using Monochromatic Metallics
Talent: Contestant’s choice
Evening Gown: Formal wear for drag queens and kings
In addition, both Bianca and Christian Gaye will be on hand to perform and pass their titles on to the 2022 winners.
It’ll be a bittersweet experience for Bianca who, due to unforeseen circumstances that included the Covid pandemic, will finally pass on the title she’s held for the past six years.
“I consider Elmira my hometown even though I’m not from there,” says Bianca, aka Ronnie Gallant.
Ronnie’s father was in the armed forces, so he grew up traveling from base to base throughout his childhood. After high school, he attended Elmira College in the early 2000s where he found a new family at Angles Dance Club, which was located on Railroad Avenue and featured themed drag shows.
“I came out of the closet in Elmira. Bianca was born there. That’s where that part of my life started,” Bianca explains. “Elmira will always be a hometown for me, so it’s been really special to hold this specific title for so long.”
David is excited to activate the pageant again and feels as though Mr. & Miss Gay Elmira can reignite interest in drag.
“My hopes for the event is that from here forward, people will know drag in the Southern Tier is still here and on the move once again,” he says.
Mr. & Miss Gay Elmira featuring 2016 winners Bianca and Christian Gaye, doors open 6 p.m., 7 p.m. pageant Saturday, March 26 at The Loom, 439 Waverly St., Waverly, N.Y. 14892. $10 admission.