Don Wolfe and Howard Watts love a good drag pageant as much as they love to travel. Of course travel isn’t cheap and the sheer number of local, state and national pageants meant they had to be incredibly selective about which they chose to attend. Until in 2010 they had a eureka moment and hatched a plan that thrust them into the center of the pageant world itself.

Noting the gap between cheaply made costume jewelry large and flashy enough to appeal to performers and pageant contestants and the high dollar highest quality pieces typically sold at pageants themselves, the Memphis businessmen, dads and partners decided to fill it with something in between. Adopting the business name “My Bling Diva,” they began sourcing moderately priced, high quality drag jewelry, then loading up their SUV and heading out to pageants all over the Mid-South.

Don remembers the first trip out with the new venture they nicknamed “The Diva.” “Our first trip with the Diva was very exciting. We put everything we had on a four-foot table and were so proud and very well received. Sales were so good we had to go to a local wholesaler to restock for the night. We felt right off the bat that female impersonators want a big look for not a lot of dollars, so we focused on filling that niche. We learned real fast what the girls liked and that we had to carry a larger inventory.”

Getting help from professionals to create a brand they could be proud of and represented their vision was important to the partners, who knew creating a website was the next logical step. “We consulted with a graphic designer about a logo. We had an idea with a Marilyn Monroe type persona. She listened to us, but had a different approach in mind. One that was more in line with the concept of a Diva,” Watts recalls. “When we saw the Diva Eye logo she created, we knew that was it, and it has been our stamp on the bling business ever since.”

As sales online and at shows rapidly grew, and they began to make contacts throughout the pageant world, Wolfe and Watts began to consider another dream: owning a pageant of their own. The Miss Gay America system appealed to them the most. “We had been around the MGTNA system for several years,” Wolfe said. “We have seen it change ownership several times and always thought it would be fun to own the pageant. The last owner let us know that he was not going to renew his franchise and with us owning the Diva it was a natural tie in for us. We love the art of female impersonation and the America system really seeks out the best to compete.”

So far the new pageant owners have found their new venture thrilling and are ready to show Tennessee a spectacular event. “Our friends and supporters have been cheering us on through it all. We are excited to show everyone what talent we have in this great state. We never do any thing small, so this year’s Miss Gay Tennessee pageant is going to be an event to remember. This is the first time in years that the pageant is two days and we are excited that we have 10 great contestants. The gowns and talent presentations will be spot on and the Competition will be fierce. We have 5 contestants from the Middle Tennessee area, which is just the beginning of our quest to expand the system.”

The future looks bright for My Bling Diva and Miss Gay Tennessee America. “We have several goals set for both our ventures. The Diva is growing in presence online and at events. Hopefully one day we can quit our day jobs and ship bling all over the country,” Wolfe said. “As for MGTNA we want our state to be one that is recognized on a national level. We want Miss Gay Tennessee America to be America at its Best, which is our slogan as well as the state slogan. We see great promise for the future of both our baby's and like any parent we will be there through the ups and the downs till they both succeed.”

Photo courtesy of Red Bull

Red Bull Unlocked Nashville

Keep reading Show less
Photo courtesy of Rumble Boxing Gulch Nashville

Rumble Boxing Gulch, Nashville

Keep reading Show less

Post-Covid travel planning

Who would have thought that we would have to get through a pandemic in order to appreciate the small things we have, such as the ability to simply pack our bags and hit the road?

For two years, there’s been nothing left for us travel junkies to do but sit at home and try to find new destinations that we will conquer once we defeat what appears to be the biggest villain of the 21st century. But once that happens, hold your bags tight because we will be up for some of the most interesting travel experiences. Take a look at some ideas for your post-COVID traveling plans:

Keep reading Show less