Mr. and Miss Iowa City 2020
Studio 13 — Sunday, Jan. 19 at 9 p.m.
With Iowa City Pride Week still five months away, the community could use a dose of charisma, uniqueness, nerve and talent.
Iowa City Pride will host its annual Mr. and Miss Iowa City competition at Studio 13 on Sunday, inviting drag queens and kings to compete for the titular titles, which come with prizes and the opportunity to perform at the 50th Iowa City Pride Festival in June. The contest includes four categories: an interview, an onstage question, pride wear and talent.
Typically, Miss Iowa City is bestowed upon a male-identifying performer portraying a woman. However, the Iowa City Pride organization welcomes people of all genders and sexual identities to compete in whatever drag they’d like — a policy they made good on in 2019.
Last year, Hazy Buchanan, a drag queen who identifies as a woman, both in and outside of drag, was named Miss Iowa City.
Buchanan — whose drag name is a play on The Great Gatsby character, Daisy Buchanan — began performing in drag at the age of 19.
“I had been following a few drag artists on social media and I’d been to a few shows at Studio 13, and I just kind of fell in love with it and really wanted to be a part of it,” she said. “I just started experimenting with makeup and showing up to open stages.”
She gravitated towards green hair and outfits; full, overdrawn lips; goth and horror inspirations (she even once performed in a costume inspired by Jigsaw from the Saw franchise); and plenty of glitter. While she said she’s quite subdued in her everyday life, her drag persona is flirtatious and uninhibited.
“I kind of like dressing like a cartoon super villain,” she said. “I like dressing cute with some pop culture influences. But mostly, in drag, I dress like I wish I could dress all of the time. I definitely like bright colors and tight-fitting silhouettes.”
Along with the color green, Buchanan considers her exaggerated curves to be one of her signature looks: “One of my friends recently said, ‘You’re the hourglass of Iowa City.'”
She soon attracted fans, and found that her gender identity wasn’t an issue in the local drag scene. An AFAB (assigned female at birth) lesbian, Buchanan said her drag serves to subvert expectations of queer women.
“For me, at least, it’s kind of like owning your femininity in a powerful way,” she said. “Even in the LGBT community, being a feminine woman isn’t necessarily seen as a good thing. There’s kind of a stereotype about how you should dress or act. Drag is kind of my way of doing what I want with [my identity].”
Having proved her mettle as a queen, the lifelong Iowa Citian and longtime Pride attendee decided to compete for Miss Iowa City in winter 2019. She wore a pride-themed gown with billows of rainbow tulle.
“That night was kind of a blur,” she said. “I was super stressed out because I thought, ‘Oh, what are people going to think of me? Are they going to love it or hate it?’ … I did a performance of ‘I’d Rather Be Me’ from Mean Girls the musical, which is a song that Janice does, kind of rejecting how people think you should act like or how you should behave. I think it was a nice little reflection of how I was feeling at that time about the performance.”
Buchanan had no expectations of winning, and was honored when she found out she had — even more so come June, when she got to participate in Iowa City Pride as relative royalty.
“It was really surreal,” she said. “Being up there [onstage] and seeing all these people having a good time, and knowing that I was even a little part of that was pretty spectacular. It was definitely a pinch-me moment.”
The reigning Miss Iowa City will join the festivities on Sunday, and plans to perform a couple numbers before she cedes her title to a new queen. Before then, she offered some advice for this year’s competitors.
“As cheesy as it sounds, the best thing that you can do is be yourself. That’s what the judges are looking for. They don’t want to see a mask, they want you to relax and have fun with it, even though it is really scary,” she said. “It takes a lot of guts to go up there and, at the end of the day, show your pride, because that’s what Iowa City Pride’s all about.”
Contestant interviews begin at 2 p.m. on Sunday, and Studio 13 will open to the public at 8 p.m., an hour before the pageant. All proceeds from the evening will benefit Iowa City Pride.