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

Karime Lizadi’s journey within the EOY system began three years ago, when she won first alternate in the Arizona EOY pageant and went on to place in the top 10 at nationals.

Lizaldi, who began her drag career in November 2006, was one of the Karamba Girls for three years and also  held the title of Miss Paco Paco in 2007.

Echo caught up with the newly crowned Arizona EOY F.I. 2016 to find out how she felt about her new title.

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

Lizaldi: At first, it was like a personal vendetta. I was like, ‘I need to have this title.’ Then, it was more the passion I have for this system. I never thought I would fall in love with a system so much … That’s why I’m so happy I won, because of the passion I have for it.

Echo: What makes you stand out as an entertainer?

Lizaldi: I love to dance. I’m not really a comedy queen. I’m more of a dancing pageant queen … I’ve never really rehearsed for a show. Everything I do is from the heart. I feel the music. I just let myself go with the music. For pageants, you have to rehearse and everything has to be spot on.

Echo: What made you choose the EOY system?

Lizaldi: I actually started because one of my friends, Adriana, wanted to sew me a gown. Richard and Kevin had approached me to do EOY. I told Adriana and Richard, ‘if this gown fits me, I will do EOY.’  I wasn’t really that involved in pageants, and I didn’t know what EOY was until I started my journey … I’ve had a passion for the system since day one. It lets me be who I am and express to everyone what my background is and how my drag has evolved.

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

Photo by Jorge Martinez.

Lizaldi: I want Arizona EOY to not only be a bigger pageant but start doing charity funds and events where people can know what EOY is. A lot of people don’t know what EOY is about. EOY is actually a non-profit organization in Kentucky that helps the LGBT community. I want Arizona EOY to be the same example as national EOY… I would like to help Aunt Rita’s, to help with HIV awareness. I would also like to help the children’s hospital.

Echo: What inspired your EOY package?

Lizaldi: I’ve always loved the ‘60s, disco music, the big afros and bellbottoms. This year, I wanted to bring something fresh, but I still wanted to do disco. The 2013 titleholder did disco. I didn’t want it to be a copy of what she has done that year. That’s why I did a modern disco incorporating disco music with something people would never have expected from me. I wanted to give that twist of disco and modern music.

Echo: What is the hardest category for you and why?

Lizaldi: My hardest category will always be question and answer. I can talk for hours about me. I get really nervous and tongue-tied in front of judges. English is my second language. When it comes to the pageant world, it’s always been hard to make myself clear. The judges have always understood what I meant and want to say. I just try to focus, be calm and understand what is the question before I start speaking.

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

Lizaldi: Just reach your goal and keep dreaming. Keep pushing yourself until you capture your dream. You can fall once. You can fall twice, but it’s going to make you stronger if you can get up and try again.

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