Miss Gay Texas America 2018, Regina Blake-DuBois, seemed to catapult into the spotlight during 2018; but her efforts to become a drag icon have not resulted without their share of hard work, LGBTQ community care, and the attitude of a true triumph. Meet our next Best of 2018 spotlight.
(HOUSTON) — I remember the first time I ever saw Regina Blake-DuBois perform: I was going through a break-up and stumbling around Montrose from bar-to-bar looking for anything to take my mind off of my heartbroken blues. My last stop of the night was to see who was hanging around Michael’s Outpost — I think I might have been looking for a guy that I’d made out with there once — and found myself watching a drag and live singing Broadway revue featuring the incomparable Scott Lupton, Chaney Moore, Richard Long, Mia Opulent-Love, and its star Regina Blake DuBois. It was my first time seeing The Broad’s Way at the piano bar on the outskirts of Montrose almost a year ago; and from that night on, I couldn’t stop thinking about the magic that was Regina Blake-DuBois. I did not find the man I was looking for, but instead something much more unexpected and delightful just before curtain: Regina Blake-DuBois performing a drag number to one of my favorite show-stopping, Broadway numbers: “So Much Better” from Legally Blonde: The Musical. As I watched her personify Elle Woods in that simple pink dress and blonde wig, give the famous high kick during the line, “I’ll even dress in black and white. / See, I have not begun to fight.”, and round out the number with a Laura Bell Bundy-esque, arms-out, back arched, gaping mouth give of the song’s very last, very long note, I was sold. Regina Blake-DuBois was someone I wanted to know; and if only I’d known at the time — although I expected it would come eventually — that the young performer would go on to do the things in 2018 that were nothing short of incredible that she did, I might not have believed I’d not only get to work with her, but befriend her.
“I’m not gonna take up much of your time,” I lied at the beginning of our near-hour-long conversation. Regina was driving back from Dallas where she’d been visiting family on a rare vacation in her ever-busy work schedule. It’s no surprise that vacations are such a rare occasion for her; aside from performing gigs around the city (and beyond as her career gets increasingly jam-packed after taking the crown of Miss Gay Texas America), Blake-DuBois also serves as show director, star, and creator of the weekly, aforementioned Broad’s Way at Michael’s Outpost every Monday night. I wanted to begin our conversation discussing the latter, which is going into its second year very soon. While the cast and format have seen changes in that time, one thing remains true about the show: it never stops getting better.
“I’ve learned how to run the show really smoothly, the cast has learned how to work the audience well, while the audience has learned what to expect from the show […] even with all the changes,” Blake-DuBois told me on her drive back to Houston. “We’ve gone from being a slow night […] you know with only twenty people in the audience […] to being a standing room only show.” That much could be vouched for not just by regulars of Michael’s Outpost, but by anyone who’d stumbled into the show, even if by accident. In the time since I’d seen The Broad’s Way since that first experience in February of 2018, the times I’d stumbled into the bar have been met with audience members there for the second, third, (et al) time where it was hard to find a seat at the bar … let alone a table for yourself to get a front-row seat. It’s no wonder that people continuously come back to see more. The performers in the show are not newcomers to the stage, but instead people that have worked with Regina before, all of them even having performed in The Broad’s Way before. They’re experienced, they’re talented, and they know what their audiences want to see not only from that week’s theme, but from a show that brings a musical take on drag and live singing to a cabaret-like setting. This isn’t some hellhole, Montrose-adjacent black box where Regina Blake DuBois is having to pander for audiences, but rather a show that started humbly and has organically grown an audience because it truly is unique and one-of-a-kind. Speaking of her cast, Regina said, “[The performers] have great instincts, and surprise me with what they bring […] It feels natural; and every single person brings something different to the stage. I think that Roofie DuBois is one of the most wonderful queens in Houston right now. Having her on our cast is amazing. […] I’ve seen her go out and do a beautiful ballad, and then go out and do a song about boobs from a musical I didn’t even know existed.” The most recent addition to the cast, which was announced at the special New Year’s show of The Broad’s Way, includes Carmina Vavra — the drag queen that recently competed in and made it to the finals of Dessie’s Drag Race season 15 at Rich’s Houston.
But The Broad’s Way — while amongst her most esteemed — is only one of Regina Blake-DuBois’s accomplishments. This past summer in July, Regina was crowned the 2018 winner of the Miss Gay Texas America pageant, an honor that is not taken lightly in the drag community. The two most mainstream circuits of drag pageants include the America and USofA systems; Blake-DuBois belongs to the former; but both are met with rigorous, grueling, and expensive trials to see through and triumph over if one wishes to take the crown. The crown is nothing short of what is in its name: the winners are nearly guaranteed more bookings, bigger audiences, and renown amongst members of the LGBTQ+ community. What makes Regina even more of a prodigy in her arena of the America circuit is the fact that she alone is the youngest participant to ever take the title of Miss Gay Texas America in its forty-four year history.
Regina doesn’t think that she’d have made it quite this far if not for the drag family that adopted her. Just over a year ago, Houston drag royalty, Dessie Love-Blake — who was crowned herself as Miss Gay Texas America in 2014– took Regina under her wing as her drag daughter. Regina says of Dessie, “She’s constantly growing and developing and coming up with new concepts for herself […] I look at her and I think, If she can do it, I can do it. And that’s because I see how much work it takes, how much commitment it takes, and I strive to have that same level of passion in my direction.” Blake-DuBois and I chatted for a while about what it’s been like to be the drag daughter of one of Houston’s finest, and it came up that there are always going to be those with negative commentaries about it, who believe that Regina is molding herself into the next Dessie. But what seems to be most important to remember is that Dessie — who even now is at the peak of her career — and Regina are two different performers entirely; while both are glamorous and mistresses of their craft, they know their own individualities, and they each own those to the fullest and most exciting extents. Regina lamented, however, about Dessie and what a powerhouse she is, and also noted that the first time she really felt like she had earned her status as Miss Gay Texas America was when she was performing a show with Love-Blake and 2012 Miss Gay Texas America, Kara Dion, and they greeted her as their ‘sister’. When discussing how she wants to represent the LGBTQ community as Miss Gay Texas America, she states, “I want to bring positivity into my drag; I want to be the best symbol of excellence — the best Miss Gay Texas I can possibly be. Since getting the crown, I’ve done everything I can to live up to my expectation and to the expectations of everyone around me.” And if nothing else speaks to that, it’s just how hard Regina works toward her goals. On and off stage, the young star is always spreading a positive message. She isn’t the type to perpetuate the infighting and internalized homophobia that can often accompany LGBTQ performances. Regina Blake-DuBois is a beacon and one that people can’t help but stare into, even if it blinds them temporarily.
Aside from her crown and her weekly show, Regina Blake-DuBois has kept her schedule packed. Most days of the week, you can find her performing at various bars around the city. But in the latter half of the year, Regina took back to the stage — the place where she first found herself as a performer. In September of 2018, Regina read for the role of Jackie Ferguson in the About Magazine production of its very first ever sitcom (written by yours truly), The Anthony Project. Jackie is an unaging receptionist who is employed at a fictional version of About Magazine, but who brings light to serious situations at the most unexpected times. Regina’s performance was not only well received, but was noted by most viewers as one of the best in the entire cast during the live table read of the first four episodes of the show at Rich’s Houston. This winter, Regina also showed off her acting chops by getting back into musical theatre when she appeared in a production of A Drag Christmas Carol at the Obsidian Theatre, written by Rhett Martinez and co-directed by Kelsey McMillan and Tom Schell (the latter who co-starred with Blake-DuBois). The show received generally positive reviews; but — like with any production — was not without its share of critics. Regina shrugged this off though, stating — to which I agreed — that you aren’t doing something right if you’re universally liked by everyone. Performing in a musical reminded Blake-DuBois of why she began performing in the first place; it resonated within her something that she’d always wanted to do but was scared she might not have what it took to do it. Though, as a fan and a friend, it’s easy to say that there’s nothing that Regina Blake-DuBois can’t do when she sets her mind to it. That includes, of course, competing to someday be Miss Gay America.
“Going through Miss Gay Texas made me aware that Miss Gay America isn’t something i want to get one day … it’s something i will get.”
She states that going through the process of pageantry in 2018 only made her more aware of what she is capable of doing and how she’s going to make that happen. But Regina is aware that it’s something she’s going to need a hiatus from before jump backing into the pageant circuit. She doesn’t put a time cap on her sabbatical, as she’s way too busy with her many projects to come and her duties as Miss Gay Texas America in the present. But she knows that with a certain set of learned skills and the chutzpah she never seems to lose, she’s going to take the crown and the crowd by storm. After all, being the youngest Miss Gay Texas America, she’s got nothing but time before competing for an even higher honor. But right now, as far as I’m concerned, Regina Blake DuBois — a queen if there ever was one — isn’t slowing down, and her inspiring ways are only spreading. She’s nothing short of an inspiration, nothing short of a pinnacle, and nothing short of full of surprises in 2019. “If someone can look at me and say, ‘Oh, look at that — a man in a dress. I can go out and do something’, that’ll be the best thing for me … to know that I was able to help do that for someone.”