Last month dealt a massive blow to the national female impersonation community. We lost two wildly popular, award-winning queens and just plain, good people apart from all the accolades and fame.

Erica Andrews

Erica Renee Salizar, known to thousands as Erica Andrews, passed away on March 11. Originally rising to stardom in San Antonio, TX, as a daughter of the late, great Tandi Andrews, Erica had been living in Munster, IN, right outside of Chicago when she left us too soon from a lung infection. This half-Mexican, half-Puerto Rican illusionist grew up in Mexico and was probably one of the most winningest female impersonators around. She was a former Miss Gay U.S.ofA., Miss Continental, an Entertainer of the Year, Miss Universal Showqueen (based in Hawaii) and International Queen (based in Pattaya, Thailand). Known equally for her beauty and her wardrobe, Erica had an almost cult following. She touched countless numbers of people in her travels and was adored as an icon in San Antonio, where she worked first at the Paper Moon, then the Saint and Heat, as well as other parts of Texas, like Houston and Dallas and beyond. She was working at Hydrate in Chicago before she passed away.

And you know you’ve made your mark on the world of pageantry when a pageant is held and the prize to the winner is to be welcomed into your family and carry your last name! Yes, a pageant was held in San Antonio and the winner, Ammunique, became a member of the Haus of Andrews that night. Pretty fierce, huh? She joins the likes of Sasha Andrews, Sierra Andrews, Janet Andrews, Roxxy Andrews, and Erica Andrews, just to name a few.

Besides entertaining the masses at bars and clubs across the country, Erica made television appearances on the “Tyra” show and “Maury Povich Show.” She later worked as a make-up artist on the Maury set because she was supposedly not wild about how the make-up artists there applied her make-up for her appearance; she had worked as an artist for MAC in the past. She also starred in “Trantasia” (and placed first runner-up to Mimi Marks), the movie about the World’s Most Beautiful Transsexual contest held in Las Vegas several years ago. Then there was her role as Emma Grashun in the comedy thriller “Ticked Off Trannies With Knives,” filmed in Texas. Salizar also made appearances in theaters in San Antonio, and even graced greeting cards and calendars. Erica was in her early 40s. Amaya of Raleigh, NC, who reigned as Miss Continental PLUS when Erica was Miss Continental, got to know her during that year, and dearly loved her. “She was equally beautiful inside and out. It seems like all the good ones are leaving us way too soon,” she said. She was a diva of divas, in this writer’s humble opinion.

Ashley Kruiz

Ashley Kruiz, of Atlanta, GA, was originally from Frankfort, KY. She passed away on March 31 after hospitalization. In her long career that took her from Louisville to Indianapolis, and finally Atlanta, Ashley was first runner-up to Miss Gay U.S.ofA., Miss Continental and Entertainer of The Year. She was also a finalist at Miss Gay America. Her time to shine on the national stage was when she won a title by the same name — Miss National, formerly Miss Gay National. Ashley was known for being sweet, genuine, talented, and hard-working. She was one of the few “all boy” queens who would and could compete right beside the transgender queens. She was also a former Miss Hotlanta International and was working as the show director at Burkhart’s Pub before her untimely death. Kruiz was also included in the book “100 Most Influential Gay Entertainers” by Jenettha Baines.

For those who enjoy female impersonation pageantry or just a good drag show, we mourn the loss of two “old school”-trained divas this spring. : :

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