Houston native Michael Chiavone is the new Mr. Gay Texas America, crowned July 15 at the Rose Room in Dallas.
In talent, the popular songbird at Montrose clubs was able to “stand out above the crowd” with “Stand Out,” the song from A Goofy Movie that Chiavone, who is 28, began performing as a seventh-grader in Spring.
At karaoke shows and talent competitions, “Stand Out” was a winner then, and it’s a winner now, baby.
“You can ask people who knew me at age 12, and they will tell you that I wore that song out,” says Chiavone (pronounced sha-VON-ee). “It has always been my dream to bring that song to life onstage. It took a lot of time and a lot of money and a lot of help from a lot of people.”
To channel Powerline, the fictional pop heartthrob in A Goofy Movie, Chiavone and friends brought to life “something from my own brain” by combining costumes, crazy hair, a video backdrop, and backup dancers to move Chiavone “to the front of the line” in the lineup of 20 contestants.
“A lot of people didn’t know I could dance,” he says.
At Klein High School, where he graduated in 2009, Chiavone was a standout in drama, speech and debate, and choir. He was nominated twice at the Tommy Tune Awards, for Best Supporting Actor as Nathan Detroit in Guys and Dolls and Best Choreography for his work on Bye Bye Birdie.
He spent two years as a musical-theater major at Oklahoma City University before the bright lights of Manhattan beckoned in 2011 with the role of Damon, a goth kid in Kissless at the New York Musical Theatre Festival.
Five years ago, Chiavone shined in the title role of The Who’s Tommy for SRO Productions in the Heights, but when pay at local theaters couldn’t keep up with his bills, Chiavone started taking day jobs. However, he missed performing, so he entered Pride Superstar two years ago, placing second in the finals after singing “Faith” by George Michael and “Here’s Where I Stand” from the movie Camp.
That brought him to the attention of Houston club owners who began hiring him as an entertainer, including his current weekly gigs as host of Sunday Funday Karaoke at Guava Lamp and Magic Mic on Thursdays at Barcode Houston.
Returning from Dallas, Chiavone performed his winning talent number to open the July 22 semifinals of Dessie’s Drag Race at Rich’s.
“I will bring it with me to new places that I go, but I gotta keep things fresh, too,” he says. “I have a lot of other things I want to perform, and a whole list of male/female duets on my phone that will be fun to perform with the new Miss Gay Texas America,” who is Edna Anderson of Brownsville.
Miss Gay Houston, Chloe Knox, was named Most Beautiful at the state pageant.
Mykey Whitney, who was first alternate to Mr. Gay Houston, was second alternate to Chiavone for the 2020 Mr. Gay Texas America title.
Chiavone won four of the five categories in the state pageant, including interview, creative presentation, onstage question-and-answer, and red-carpet formal wear. The cranberry tuxedo he wore “is in my closet,” he says. “I never feel more attractive than when I am wearing a suit.”
Offstage, he says, “I usually wear black tennis shoes, jean shorts, a black T-shirt, and a black cap turned backwards—always turned backwards.”
When Chiavone sings live, some fan-favorites include his renditions of Valerie and Back to Black by Amy Winehouse, and Como La Flor by Selena.
“In college, I had to learn to sing in Italian, German, and Spanish,” he says.
Chiavone will hold the state title for about a year before competing at Mr. Gay America, to be held sometime in 2020 at the Rose Room in Dallas.
This article appears in the August 2019 edition of OutSmart magazine.