By Megan Wadding, June 2016 Web Exclusive.
She’s no stranger to the pageant stage. With such titles as Miss Gay Tucson America, Miss Gay Copper City America, Miss Gay Arizona America and Miss Gay Arizona USofA to her name, it’s difficult to find someone who isn’t familiar with Tucson’s Tatiana Blanco aka Diva.
And, in 2016, she’s already added a new title to the resume: Miss Gay Arizona USofA At Large.
Echo Magazine caught up with Diva following her April 10 crowning and here’s what she had to say ahead of her fourth national pageant.
Echo: Where are you from originally and where do you live now?
Diva: I was born in El Paso, Texas, but basically grew up in Arizona. I lived in Sahuarita, Arizona, then moved to Tucson after high school.
Echo: When did you start drag and how did you get involved?
Diva: I started female impersonation by supporting a local organization called TIHAN, Tucson Interfaith HIV/AIDS Network. They put on a turn-about show every year and I was asked to participate. I was so nervous, but after that show I was hooked!
Echo: How did you decide to get involved with the pageant system?
Diva: In Arizona, it’s a very pageant-heavy state. The people that inspired me we former state and national titleholders. So I wanted to follow in their footsteps. I’m so glad I did … Pageants made me the performer I am today.
Echo: What makes this shot at nationals different?
Diva: I am so excited! It’s going to be such a wonderful time. I have seen this pageant before, [but] will be my first time competing in this particular system … I feel like I am more in tune to what a national competition package should entail. This will be my fourth appearance at a national pageant and I’m ready to not just place well, but to win!
Diva: Echo: What happens next in the competition?
Diva: In this next level, I compete for the national crown of Miss Gay USofA at Large. It’s in Columbus, Ohio. It happens in September, so right now it’s nothing but preparations and fund raising!
Echo: What do you love most about pageantry?
Diva: Without a doubt, the attention! I have always loved performing and being in the spotlight. So the applause and the attention is my favorite.
Echo: What inspires you?
Diva: Everything inspires me – a veteran queen, a new queen, men, woman, movies, music, the list goes on. If something makes me feel any sort of emotion, it resonates and I feel inspired to make it come alive.
Echo: What advice do you have for anyone else considering pageantry?
Diva: When you do a pageant, it should be a choice that you make. Not anyone else. Do it because you feel passionate about the art or the crown you are running for. I hate seeing people do pageants just because they think they should. No, you run because you feel passionate about it.
Echo: Who are your idols?
Diva: The people I respect are all of the ones who came before me. I have taken a little piece of their persona and mashed it together to create a “Diva.” Especially the former Miss Gay Arizona Americas and Miss Gay Arizona USofAs.
Echo: How would you describe yourself to someone who hasn’t seen you perform?
Diva: Fun, energetic, glamorous and emotional. I really love big hair, big jewelry, gowns, lots of fabric, high heels [and] knee-high boots. I love everything dramatic and everything drag! If you ever come out to my shows, that’s what you’ll see.
Echo: Where can our readers catch you when your not on a pageant stage?
Diva: I am a show director at IBT’s [in Tucson] and my shows are Mondays for Taking Back Monday and Viva La Diva every Wednesday night at 9 p.m. I belong to the Flawless Friday/Saturday Night Starrlett cast with China Collins and Janee Starr and I also belong to the Elements cast at BS West in Scottsdale. Come on out!
Echo: What’s your life like when you’re not on stage?
Diva: By day I work in adult education. I work for a wonderful supportive company called support.com. For their performance development group, I work to teach trainer/facilitators how to enhance their skills in the classroom. This has been a passion of mine for the last 12 years and I love it!