Miss Universo Carnaval 2018

God bless you, Thalia! Last night was the BEST EVER Miss Universo Carnavál (Gay Carnaval Queen) pageant, full of trans-gendered and trans-sexual pride and pure human joy.

I was born into this world with a whole lot of privileges. I’m white, I’m straight, I’m fairly intelligent. While born into a working-class family, we had a solid home and food, and all our necessities. I’ve received a good education.

Despite these facts, I’ve had my share of identity crises, as has most anyone. I’m sensitive, so at times I’ve listened too much to what others have to say, rather than following my heart. I have worried about how I appear, how I look, that I live in Mexico as a woman and don’t regularly put on makeup or dress up. I’d like to think now, at 57, I’ve reconciled most of these identity issues. I’m happy in my own skin. But, still… that triple chin, those extra kilitos…

Thus my complete and utter admiration for these drag queens born into our hetero-centric world, many of whom have had to struggle with gaining acceptance from family and friends, say nothing about themselves. Their identity questions were so much more fundamental than my own comparatively trivial ones, and most of them seem to have come out of that challenge more beautiful, confident and resilient than I could dream of being. When we are a bit different from the dominant “norm,” we are presented with loads of possibilities for exploration, creativity, and love, if we can find the presence of mind and strength of heart to see them. Click on any photo below to enlarge it or view a slideshow.

The gowns! The dresses! The swimsuits! The makeup! The hair! The shoes! The guts! The maturity! The confidence! The strength!

We saw chubby queens and skinny queens, buff queens and those with a roll or two. We saw cross-dressers and those who have undergone reassignment and cosmetic surgeries. In the dressing room we saw queens stuffing themselves into girdles and support hose, balancing fake boobies and butts, and those who’ve survived the pain of implants. I congratulate each and every one of you. You have more joie de vivre and bravery than I could ever aspire to have (and that’s a high bar, lol)!

Last night the money collected went to pay hospital bills for a local lady who is ill in the hospital in Culiacán. Thus, this fun event is actually a labor of love by the members of “Belleza con Propósito,” “Beauty with a purpose.”

This event always takes place just prior to Carnaval. Put it on your calendar for next year. I always announce it on the VidaMaz Facebook page. The last few years it takes place at Castillo de Lulu in Playa Sur. The event is BYOB: bring your own drinks. A lady sells hibiscus tea/agua de jamaica and tostilocos (chips with ceviche), but other than that, bring your snacks. Entrance is usually 60-70 pesos and goes to a good cause, and donations are gratefully accepted.

The pageant includes self presentation, dresses, swimsuit, evening gown, and questions. In between stages of the pageant we enjoy entertainment by dance troupes and drag queen performers, this year including Cher. I’m guessing the crowd last night numbered about 150-200, a good mix of locals and internationals. The judging table always includes local celebrities and politicians as well as members of the international community.

The organizer of all this is Thalia Fedorova Chequer-Zahap. I can not imagine the work that goes into this, the details, the pressure. And she pulls it off with incredible grace and beauty.

May we all grow more tolerant, more accepting, more respectful, of ourselves and others. May we all reach out to help a fellow human, today and every day. And may we all enjoy life to its fullest!

Oh, and CONGRATS to Miss Colombia, Yeimi, our Miss Universo Carnaval 2018!


Miss Universe Carnavál Mazatlán

5442_1701570033394960_4368600050915917126_nIf you support diversity, particularly LGBT causes; if you would feel good about helping a talented eight-year old girl who is very sick; or if you’d just enjoy a terrific old-fashioned drag queen show and contest, you are in for a treat! It’s part of what Carnavál is all about!

Miss Universo Carnavál Mazatlán will be held tomorrow night, Tuesday, February 2nd, starting shortly after 8:30 pm. The pageant will take place at Castillo de LuLu, Aquiles Serdán 60 (the same street Immigration is on, the salón is just farther down the street, off Carnavál).


I attended this event last year, and we had a whole lot of fun! The people are wonderful, and it’s for a great cause. A lady will sell sodas at the venue, but the good news is that the event is BYOB: bring any drink you’d like and enjoy!

The group Belleza con Causa/Beauty with a Purpose does charity work and teaches acceptance, tolerance and diversity. Of course I LOVE what they do! They conduct this annual event and dedicate the proceeds to charity. In 2016 the money will go to help eight-year old Vidacsi, who is very ill and who, I am told, will sing at the event. According to Susie Morgan, “They have the biggest hearts of anyone I know. PLEASE come and show your love and support!”

I am honored and excited to have been asked to be a judge tomorrow night. The event usually includes a couple of performances, and the pageant itself includes the queen aspirants modeling both cocktail and evening dresses, and answering a question. Three queens will be crowned: Miss Universo, Señorita, and Rostro Carnavál/Face of Carnaval. Miss Universo Carnaval Mazatlan 2015, Fany Hernandez, and Miss Barrios Mazatlán 2015, Hanya Montiel, will be present.


Tickets cost 50 pesos and are available at the door. I hope to see you there! Please know that Belleza con Causa is also available for parties and events; yet another option in our very talented city.

Rocio Durcal and Jenni Rivera in Mazatlán

Rocio Durcal impersonator

Rocio Durcal impersonator

God bless the drag queens! The Miss Universo Carnavál Mazatlán beauty pageant was last night, and we thoroughly enjoyed attending. I had no idea we had so many queens in Mazatlán! The Diamond Show Center in Olas Altas was filled, the huge lineup of judges included several of our expat favorites, and past, present and future queens were on hand—as were Rocio Durcal and Jenni Rivera (impersonators in drag)!

I have long wanted to attend this event, but 2015 is the first year I’ve been able to do so. It was much more serious/low-key than similar events I’ve attended in Tokyo, Frankfurt, or San Francisco, and naturally so.

I was warmly accompanied by a bevy of non-drag beauties, who hung out with me prior to and during the show. Ms. Ginger wrangled us primo seats as well, between the dressing room and the stage. Sadly for me, my camera battery died very early on in the evening, so many of the photos you see are taken with my old cell phone.

We had a drink at Copa de Leche and were able to watch as many of the show’s stars arrived. It felt like being on the red carpet!

“Beauty with a Purpose” organizes this annual fundraiser. Last night’s pageant was in benefit of this beauty, who is suffering facial paralysis. Past fundraisers have supported cancer and HIV patients, as well as those with heart conditions. P1250723

The Diamond Show Center is spacious and comfortable, and our service was outstanding! Thank you, Ramón!

Winner of the competition last night was Ms. Puerto Rico, center in the photo below. She had a huge crowd of very loud fans, who waved flags and giant letters spelling out her name, Fany.

Photo credit: Sandy Hill Pool

Photo credit: Sandy Hill Pool

Our table’s favorite was Ms. Colombia, in the photo below. She won “Ms. Personality.” You can see why. Thanks to Sandy, a talented photographer who had front-row judge seats, for permission to use both these photos!

Photo credit: Sandy Hill Pool

Photo credit: Sandy Hill Pool

The winner of the evening, to me, was the beautiful queen who, in the midst of her song, started to strip off her garments, her wig, even her bra, to reveal the man’s body beneath! God bless him for the confidence to do that on stage; it brought tears to the eyes of many of us in the audience. I unfortunately do not know his name to share with you. Thanks to Susie for the pic below, which she was able to catch from her cell phone.

Photo credit: Susie Morgon Lellero

Photo credit: Susie Morgon Lellero

Bless Mazatlán for all its diversity, beauty, and incredible people! It is a privilege to live here.