Drag queen pageants find home in Tampa | News
Tampa, FL -- Tampa may not be known as the drag queen pageant capital of the world yet, but the city's reputation for hosting the events is growing.
In fact, this year you'll find more than 800 drag queen pageants and shows in Ybor City alone.
"Yes, I absolutely see that we can proudly boast in the very near future as being one of the most important communities for drag performances in the country," said D. Stephen Moss with The Honey Pot.
The Honey Pot now hosts about a dozen drag pageants a year along with weekly drag shows. Moss says they host the events in part because there is an audience.
"It draws a lot of people from all walks of life because you don't have to be gay to enjoy drag entertainment," Moss said.
Melody Lynn, who co-owns the website FindADragShow.com, credits pageant promoter Bob Taylor for helping drag entertainment find a home in Ybor.
The owner of Miss Gay Florida USofA pageants, Taylor has brought several high-profile events to Tampa.
Last year, one 3-day national pageant held at The Honey Pot attracted 5,000 people with more than 50 competitors. Officials say the event had an economic impact of $600,000.
Lynn says drag queen pageants in many ways are similar to traditional beauty pageants like the Miss America contest. She says the participants are judges in different categories like evening gown, interview and talent.
"We've seen everything from live singing and opera singing to somersaults on stage...and flags thrown in the air and caught by their neck. It really varies," Lynn said.
In some cases, Lynn says the pageants serve as preliminaries, where the winner advances to a state, regional or national competition.
Monday night, the Miss Tampa Bay Comedy Queen Pageant was held at The Honey Pot with more than $1,500 in cash and prizes awarded.
Next month, the Miss Gay Florida USofA at Large will be held in Ybor. But Lynn notes several more national pageants will be coming to Tampa over the next two years as well.
"If you haven't been out to see one, you definitely need to come," Lynn said.
And with more and more local people trying drag, Moss doesn't see things letting up. "We've got such a great visible drag community that there are performances everywhere, at all times of the days of the week, and it really makes for a great community," he said.
NOTE: In addition to The Honey Pot, weekly drag shows in Ybor can be found at Hamburger Mary's and Bradley's.