Charlotte and North Carolina’s best known documented drag history of stage performers dates back to the 1960s.
The region has long been a hot spot for gender-bending stage personalities, so it comes as no surprise a bevy of Carolina girls took part in the most recent Miss Gay America held January 17-20, at Robinson Center in Little Rock, Arkansas.
Among those in attendance, Shelita Bonet Hoyle (Cary), Ivy Carter (Greensboro), Aria Russo (Winston-Salem), Paris Brooks-Bonet (Raleigh) and Charlotte’s own Buff Faye.
Faye is well known as an entertainer in Charlotte – she’s been regularly hosting Buff Faye’s Drag Brunch in the city since 2009. Out of character and cosmetics Faye is Shane Windmeyer, a local and national LGBTQ political figure and founder of Campus Pride.
Windmeyer explains a little bit about the history behind his Buff Faye character.
“The character was originally created to raise money for the Charlotte Royals Rugby team,” Windmeyer recalls. “I did a number from ‘Hairspray’ called “Big, Blonde and Beautiful,” and I won!
With the birth of the character, Windmeyer came to realize he was able to communicate with people in a different way than he did as Shane.
“It brought out a different side of me,” Windmeyer explains. “I was able to communicate and share with humor and laughter.”
Fast forward to the year 2019 and as Buff Faye, the comedic drag diva captured the title of National Entertainer of the Year, which she relinquished in July, 2021, making her the first individual to hold the title for such a length of time.
“Only because of the pandemic,” she chuckles.
In order to attend and appear in the Miss Gay America pageant, contestants must hold winning titles of one sort or other from another pageant. Faye’s latest title, which gave her the credentials she needed, was first alternate for the Miss Gay North Carolina pageant.
Drag performers from around the country competed but in order to vye for the title of Miss Gay America 2022, they would first have to make it to the coveted Top 10 position. That would require a performance boasting creativity, performance and appearance strong enough to wow.
Two performers from North Carolina – Charlotte’s Buff Faye and Cary’s Shelita Bonet Hoyle – did just that, and both were chosen to compete among the final 10.
In the end, while neither Faye nor Hoyle captured the winning title, both have stated they felt like winners for placing in the top 10 and the performances they gave.
And just in case you’re curious, the winner of the Miss Gay America Pageant for 2022, did turn out to be a southern performer named Dex Poindexter, who goes by the drag moniker of Dextaci.