Houston’s Violet S’Arbleu wins Miss Gay Texas, heads to national finals.
By Don Maines
There she is, Miss Gay Texas America 2017.
Houston favorite Violet S’Arbleu won the coveted title in July on her fourth attempt, once she realized the crown requires excellence, not perfection.
“I went this year with a new mentality—that it’s okay to be a work in progress,” she explains. “It’s okay to just be me. I don’t have to be perfect—just as close as I can be.”
Her victory at the July 18–21 pageant in Dallas propels her to the upcoming Miss Gay America (MGA) pageant October 4–7 in New Orleans, along with fellow Houstonian Grecia Montes Docca, who was named first alternate Miss Gay Texas. S’Arbleu is donating proceeds from the sale of her Miss Gay Texas T-shirts to Hurricane Harvey relief efforts.
Also competing from Houston for the granddaddy of all national drag titles will be Dessie Love-Blake, who qualified for the national pageant as Miss Gay Northeast America.
Love-Blake was Miss Gay Texas 2014, and has twice made the Top 10 at MGA. Last year, OutSmart readers voted Love-Blake the city’s Most Divine Drag Queen, while S’Arbleu won that fan vote in 2015. At MGA, “everybody has their eyes on Miss Gay Texas,” Love-Blake says. “Everybody knows that she has already beaten 30-some contestants, so you’re one
On the other hand, Love-Blake adds, “As Miss Gay Texas, you’re not sure you want to win [the national title] because you lose your whole year as Miss Gay Texas. You want to do well, but you also want to stay Miss Gay Texas.”
By winning Miss Gay Texas, S’Arbleu joins a list of legendary entertainers who have worn the crown since 1974, including the “Fabulous Four”—Naomi Sims, Donna Day, Hot Chocolate, and Tasha Kohl. Other winners from Houston have included Lindsey Love, Sabrina Delorean, Tina Renee, Coco, Amazing Grace, Dyan Michaels, Lauren Taylor, Kofi, and twins Tara Dion and Kara Dion.
Houston titleholders swept this year’s Top 5, with S’Arbleu and Docca followed (in order) by Evelyn Syde (Miss Gay Harris County), Ivanna Cupcake, and Hu’Nee B.
Cupcake is one of seven contestants who competed as newcomers in Dessie’s Drag Race and advanced to the Miss Gay Texas competition as the winner or first alternate at a preliminary pageant. Among the seven, Natalia Crawford, Chloe Knox, and Rebekkah W.J. Ross were also Top 12 semifinalists.
S’Arbleu, a former Miss Gay Houston, advanced to the state finals by winning the Miss Gay Galveston pageant at Rumors Beach Bar. At the state finals, 30 entertainers competed in male interview, presentation, evening gown, onstage question, and talent.
For the talent round, S’Arbleu lip-synched to Dolly Parton singing “Just a Lil’ Bitty Pissant Country Place” from the 1982 movie musical The Best Little Whorehouse in Texas . Her backup “singers” were six puppets created by S’Arbleu’s alter ego, Jacob Chaput, a native Houstonian whose drag persona was born his freshman year at Savannah College of Art and Design (SCAD) in Savannah, Georgia.
The puppets were operated by some of Chaput’s closest friends and supporters. “I call them the House of Blooms,” S’Arbleu says. “I finally have a clique or squad or tribe, which is something I haven’t had since college, over 10 years ago.”
S’Arbleu looks forward to traveling throughout Texas and to other states to perform as Miss Gay Texas. “This title provides an amazing opportunity for growth,” she adds. “I’ve always felt that one year I would be Miss Texas—it was not a matter of ‘if’ but ‘when’—and it would be the best possible year for me to work hard and shape myself into a more confident symbol of excellence.”
This article appears in the September 2017 edition of OutSmart Magazine.