By Laura Latzko, May 2016 Issue. Meet the other 2016 titleholders here.

Dominic Van Strap, who started doing drag in 2013 as part of a Phoenix Pride fundraiser, brought his cheerleading and rock band experience to the Arizona EOY stage.

After competing in the 2015 Arizona EOY King pageant as King Scottsdale EOY and holding the title of Mister Cash Inn Country in 2013, Van Strap captured the Arizona EOY King title this year.

Echo caught up with the newly crowned Arizona EOY King 2016 to find out how he felt about his new title.

Echo: What does winning Arizona EOY King mean to you?

Von Strap: That I can overcome. I set out for EOY this year because I felt like I had something to prove to myself because last year I fell flat … It made me feel alive again. I’m not just that person who keeps getting crowns because nobody else is competing, or ‘It’s just little Dominic.’ It’s ‘Holy crap, that’s Dominic Von Strap, Arizona EOY King ...

Echo: What makes you stand out as an entertainer?

Von Strap: I’m just me. I’ll do anything, if it’ll put a smile on a person’s face. If it scares you a little bit to where you pee a little and it’s close to Halloween, heck yes, I’m going to do that. The biggest thing to me is: what kind of good can this do? ... I don’t care about the ‘fame’ or [having] a big name [or] the titles. I just want to make people happy and occasionally make them pee from fear a little bit.

Echo: What made you choose the EOY system?

Photo by Jorge Martinez.

Von Strap: I fell in love with EOY. EOY will bring you the live-singing drag queens, and they are completely accepted. I saw a king win because he rode a

unicycle like a boss during his number. You can do the different things. You can be out of the box and different.

In the dressing room this year, you heard “good luck out there” from someone who is competing against that person. We don’t compete against each other. We compete with each other. It’s always something I’ve strongly believed in. I like competition for the sportsmanship behind it, but I don’t like competitiveness.

Echo: What inspired your EOY package?

Von Strap: The inspiration behind my presentation was my nerdy fiancée. She got me to watch this musical called Dr. Horrible’s Sing-Along Blog, and I love Neil Patrick Harris. I absolutely loved it. It was quirky and weird but still entertaining, funny and sarcastic, everything that I felt is me as a person.

The whole inspiration that sparked [the talent number] was critiques from my Scottsdale pageant last year. They loved that I made an android-type costume, but they also loved that I don’t take myself too seriously… The whole mix of it is music gives you life. There’s a whole theory called ‘ghost in the machine’ about when does artificial intelligence become real life, when does it start to embody a soul...What I wanted to show was music and art gives us our soul.

Echo: What would you like to accomplish as a state titleholder?

Von Strap: The main reason I got into pageants is if you win a title, more people know you, more people come to your events. I got into it for charity … I want to go to nationals, meet as many people as I can and I want to do more charity for one n ten, the different youth groups, Native American rights, Latino rights, gay rights, trans rights ... I just want to be able to give back to all of these people who give their everything and get nothing back in return.

Echo: What is the hardest category for you and how did you work to overcome the challenges?

Von Strap: Onstage question and evening wear. I’m actually kind of shy. I don’t have a problem talking to people, but I hide behind a persona. When I have to answer a question in front of people like that, they are no longer just seeing Dominic. They are hearing Crystal. So, I start to get kind of rambly. The whole answering a question used to suck for me, but I feel more comfortable with that now.

When modeling eveningwear, they say, ‘We need to see more swag.’ I’m just Dominic, that’s the only way you could think of explaining me. I’m not the hot person. I’m not the dark person. I’m this weirdo on the stage. There’s no way to strut your stuff when you’re an oddball like that. What I did was have someone who is amazing with evening wear make my eveningwear, and I didn’t have to have swag. The suit had the swag for me.

Echo: What advice would you give to drag performers starting out in pageantry?

Von Strap: Don’t lose yourself. You’re going to get a lot of critiques and they’re not meant to change you. They’re meant to give you suggestions. You don’t have to completely lose yourself and lose what you want to do to be entertaining because somewhere out there, there’s someone that wants to see your brand of weirdness. Trust me, someone wanted to see mine.

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