By Laura Latzko, May 2018 Issue.
Throughout the years, Dita D. Savage has evolved from a backup dancer to the star of the show, specifically since she began performing five years ago at BS West’s Stars Choice.
Known for pairing her ballet and burlesque background with her signature combination of alternative and pop numbers, Savage earned her ticket to the 2018 Arizona EOY pageant at the Phoenix prelim Oct. 4.
Echo caught up with Savage as she embarked on her reign and Arizona EOY Femme 2018 and here’s what she had to say.
Echo: When and where did you start performing as a femme entertainer?
Savage: I started performing as femme five years ago at BS West’s Stars Choice competition.
Echo: This wasn’t your first pageant experience.
Savage: I’ve done EOY for past two years.
Echo: Which drag families are you a part of?
Savage: Sonya Jae Savage and Felisha Savage.
Echo: Who are your biggest sources of inspiration?
Savage: Dita Von Teese.
Echo: Who is your favorite artist to perform to?
Savage: Maria Brink.
Echo: Tell us an interesting fact about yourself.
Savage: I have impersonated Laga Gaga, Maria Brink, Emilie Autumn, Madonna and Christina Aguilera, and I started doing burlesque as Trixie in a shadow cast for The Rocky Horror Picture Show.
Echo: What are some of your favorite causes?
Savage: Charities benefiting animals and homeless youth.
Echo: What made you go from being a backup dancer to taking center stage?
Savage: I had never intended to do pageants ever. I actually am someone who doesn’t like the feeling of competition. Nevaeh Sweetness approached me about doing EOY, and I was like, ‘No, I’m not a pageant girl.’ Then the promoter Richard [Van Stone] and her kept getting on me about it. They were like, ‘You should try it,’ so I was like, ‘What’s it going to hurt? I could just give it a try.’
Echo: Last year’s Arizona EOY pageant was your first state-level competition; what was it like and what have you learned since?
Savage: My first year, I didn’t win at state, which was extremely devastating to me. I went in with the wrong attitude. I just assumed that I was better than everyone, that I just had it in the bag. I got there, and the competition was over, and I placed dead last. At the time, it was upsetting, but then at the same time, it was definitely humbling because I had to realize that I just can’t make assumptions. I need to give it my best, and the outcome is the outcome, and I can’t take it personally. I came back this year bigger than last year. Everything I did was on another level of what I did the previous year. My gown was better. My talent was bigger, more exciting.
Echo: After seeing your talent (production number to Taylor Swift’s “Ready For It?” with six dancers), do you still try to bring a dark and sexy character to the stage or are you making an effort to incorporate pop?
Savage: I like to lean towards the darker, alternative styles and the heavier music. I also like to give people what they want. I will do a few numbers that are popular and that people really love, and I’ll have my number for myself.
Echo: Was burlesque an adjustment after being a classically-trained dancer?
Savage: I love doing ballet and modern dance, but I just never was really as good at it as I wanted to be. I knew that burlesque was something I was very interested in, and I always talked about wanting to do it. Then, one day, I just did it, and I fell in love with it…It’s a whole different kind of dance. It’s not how high can I kick, how many turns can I do. It’s how little can I do while holding your attention, captivating you and teasing you.
Echo: What are your goals for your reign as Arizona EOY Femme?
Savage: Besides winning nationals, my number one goal for my reign is going to be to get as many femme contestants as I can to compete next year at the preliminaries and state. I think this is a really great system to start out, when it’s your first pageant…I think it’s helped me as a performer to grow. I would love to get girls out there who don’t think they can do drag because of X,Y and Z. I want them to use this to learn the tricks of the trade, get themselves out there and give them an opportunity to show the world who they are.
Echo: Were there certain “drag” skills that were new to you when you started performing as a femme?
Savage: I’m definitely in love with makeup and learning makeup. I will always do my own makeup. No one can touch my face. The newer thing – and this is going to sound bad because because I’ve been doing drag for five years – I just started stoning all of my outfits. I never used to embellish my outfits too much. [Members of my drag family] have really encouraged me to spice up my wardrobe by adding jewels to it. They also taught me to pin my wig, which is very painful. Even when I first started doing drag, I never wore wigs. I didn’t think I needed to because I already had long, pretty hair. [Now] I think it’s really important when you’re giving the illusion of bio queen or femme. I always say drag is accentuating your features.