2015 Echo Reader's Choice Award for Drag Pageant

By KJ Philp, May 2015 Issue. Meet the other winners here.

There’s a first time for everything and, with countless nominations over the years, 2015 marks the first Echo Readers’ Choice Award for Miss Gay Arizona America.

Echo caught up with Daniel Eckstrom, the pageant’s promoter, following the April 9 awards ceremony and here's what he had to say:

Echo: Tell me about your involvement with Miss Gay Arizona America? When did you become involved?

Eckstrom: I have been involved with Miss Gay Arizona America since 2007. This will be my eighth year promoting this pageant system and it has been an amazing journey. I am the only main promoter of the system but we do have individual promoters for our fibe preliminaries.

EchoWhat makes the Miss Gay Arizona America pageant system stand out from others? Describe it to our readers who may be new to the pageant scene.

Eckstrom: There are a few things that make Miss Gay Arizona America stand out from the other systems. First is longevity. We will be celebrating our 30th year this year which means we have a long last tradition here in Arizona. We are also part of the oldest female impersonation system in the country, Miss Gay America. Finally, we are the only system that does not allow enhancements below the neck, which means our contestants give you the full male to female illusion. I feel the Miss Gay America system helps entertainers grow and better their craft.

EchoWhat does it take to make a great pageant, in your opinion

Eckstrom: Patience, lots of patience! You learn very quickly who you can trust and who has your back. In order to make a great pageant you have to stand with the decisions you make and never let them see you sweat!

EchoTell our readers a little bit about Miss Gay Arizona America 2014 Grecia Montes D'Occa.

Eckstrom: Grecia was one of the few people that won Miss Gay Arizona America on their first attempt. Grecia was awarded the Michael Andrews Miss Photogenic Award at Miss Gay America 2015. Not only is Grecia beautiful on the outside, she really has a good heart. I am confident that Grecia will be a national titleholder one day. I am honored to have been a part of her journey.

EchoAny upcoming prelims or trips to nationals you'd like to make our readers aware of?

Eckstrom: The 30th Annual Miss Gay Arizona America pageant will be held at 8 p.m. June 27 (Saturday) at the Rock Phoenix and will conclude on June 28 (Sunday) at Phoenix Theatre. We will be honoring Grecia Montes D'Occa and featuring Miss Gay America 2015 Blair Williams. For more information, you can visit us online at missgayarizonaamerica.com.

Echo:What's the best advice you've ever received?

Eckstrom: Pick and choose your battles!

EchoWhere's the best place to you, Miss Gay Arizona America and others team members when you're not on the stage?

Eckstrom: Spending time with my new niece Zoe!!!

EchoHere's a random one: Share your earliest Echo memory with us.

Eckstrom: One of my earliest memories was when I was on the cover of Echo Magazine in 2008 I believe. I was on the cover celebrating AIDS Walk with Afeelya Bunz!

EchoCare you share a little-known fact about yourself or the pageant?

Eckstrom: Miss Gay Arizona America received Best State Preliminary of the Year last year at Miss Gay America.

EchoWhat new and exciting things can we expect to see from the Miss Gay Arizona America pageant crew between now and the 2016 Echo Readers' Choice Awards?

Eckstrom: After Miss Gay Arizona America 2015 in June, we like to support different community events and hope to see people out and about!

EchoIs there anyone you'd like to thank? Shoutouts you'd like to make?

Eckstrom: Shout out to all the supporters throughout the year! Also to all those that continue to want to be called our State's Symbol of Excellence! Without the community, promoters and contestants we wouldn't be celebrating such a milestone in female impersonation!

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