Miss Opulence: A chat with BlackCat, KingAdé, and Jasmine Black!
Some of My Most Favourite people on the party scene in our LGBTQ community is DJ BlackCat (Mykel Hall). I have enjoyed many of the parties I have heard him spin at over the years; if BlackCat is playing you always knew it will be a good vibe. Recently, I also got to meet KingAdé Johnson, a very community spirited, passionate, and highly energetic young man. Together they have created Miss Opulence, a drag pageant that has garnered a lot of respect and fan base over its short 3-year history.
Other than being an opportunity for glam, showcasing talents, and entertaining the audience in attendance, Miss Opulence uses the opportunity to to highlight the work of the agencies serving the community in the form of education, prevention and care, support, and other important services. Needless to say, I was excited to have a chance to chat with Hall, Johnson, and one of my favourite drag artists Jasmine Black, the Reigning Miss Opulence.
What got you to decide on launching Miss Opulence, and the need for a new pageant in town?
BlackCat: KingAdé approached me about doing this pageant and I had thought about doing a pageant but did not believe that I could take on such a massive project on my own. I have never worked with him before but thought this would be an interesting Adventure.
KingAdé: When we first met at BlackCat’s birthday party October 2014 I (KingAde) noticed there were no Drag Queens performing there but there are tons of Drag Queens in the city that are amazing, so asked BlackCat why if he would work with me and start our own Drag pageant so he can have Drag Queens perform at his party and give the Urban community a more diverse appearance, and without thinking about it BlackCat said yes. And the rest is history.
What makes Miss Opulence unique and different than other similar events?
KingAdé: Miss Opulence unlike the over pageants in the city, give Queens the opportunity to be themselves, showcase their culture, be as unique and creative as they’d like to be. Miss Opulence also cut out segments in our show to educate our guest on LGBTQ issues from community history, HIV AIDS, Trans rights, Community organizations that they can access information and treatments if needs be. Last year we teamed up with Haitian/Montreal native Sandy Duperval and ran a relief drive for Haiti and we’re planning on doing that this year again for Syrian refugees.
Anything new for this year’s event coming up in a couple of months?
KingAdé: I mean apart from new talented Queens that are entering and our new fancy outfits’ lol. There are no major changes to the pageant this year. It’s just our 3rd year and we’re still new to the whole pageant system. We are considering adding a male component in a few years.
What would say is the long-term vision for Miss Opulence?
KingAdé: Long term vision for Miss Opulence (well apart from taking over Toronto) we plan on making this a national pageant well before out 10th year, By the time we get to year 5 we’re sure to have at least one TV station showing our pageant and the work that we’re doing for the community, our plan is to make such an impact on Canada’s LGBTQ that even the Government wants to be on our board.
Obviously KingAde is the nonstop talker in the group (kidding lol), but how do you guys like working together? (Feel free to be funny lol)
BlackCat: I enjoy working with KingAdé. We’re like yin and yang I have weaknesses and they seem to be his strength and vice versa. Fortunately, we don’t both feel overwhelmed at the same time and so one is always there to pick up the slack if the other is not strong enough or is too busy at the time. I don’t normally work with partners but I am happy to be working in this project.
KingAdé: OMG working together is a nightmare (lol), often times I want to bash him (BlackCat) up the head, but we somehow managed to find our common ground and figure out what each other’s strength and weaknesses are and who’s better at what and from there we go about our business and do what needs to be done to make Miss Opulence a success always. I think the fact that we’re both perfectionist at what we do and none of us want to fail makes it so much easier to work together and we can say anything to each other and no one takes it personal. Over the last three years our relationship has grown well beyond friends and business partners we’re like that old couple that can’t stand each other but still care so much about each other.
Okay enough of the two of you guys (lol), let’s ask Jasmine some questions.
Jasmine, tell us about your experience at Miss Opulence?
This has been a special and one of kind experience. Recalling the competition this past November, I remember the scores between myself and my predecessor being very close. After the results were announced I was very happy with my placement and had actually started planning on my package to win this year. When I received the call in March to take over the title, I was humbled and knew that I would bring something different to the table. In return, I found that working with KingAde and BlackCat to be a wonderful experience. There has been no pressure from either side to exceed expectations; I think our years of experience have demonstrated a professionalism that needed no worries or doubts about our mutual success for this system.
You have done many other pageants I’m sure over the year, in what way was Miss Opulence different?
At it’s very core, Miss Opulence encouraged an ethno-diverse array of contestants that produced wonderful talents that one would not normally see at a typical pageant. I took advantage of this last year and produced a moving Spanish language piece directly addressing Trump’s anti-Latinx stance on immigration. Another contestant displayed a powerful BLM talent addressing that movement and the effect it had on her. In short, Miss Opulence is a system that rewards contestants who think outside of the box and can use their creativity to address socio/political/economic issues in a competitive manner. This is also reflected in the questions for the Q & A portion of the pageant, which addressed issues such as HIV awareness, trans visibility and poverty. In other words, you have to be more than just a pretty entertainer that can dance – you also have to be smart. Very smart. Also, Miss Opulence is a very fair contest. The judging panel is absolutely professional and above all impartial. I recently competed in a bullshit weekly competition that eliminates contestants based on bar sales brought in by their following. At Miss Opulence, the judges are fair and do not care if you’re a newcomer or a veteran, or how many fans you brought to scream for you. Your intelligence and creativity is what determines you as the winner, not fan votes. Systems like these are greatly appreciated all across North America, because it encourages new girls to not be afraid or feel bullied by a more experienced competitor. Anyone can be Miss Opulence, regardless of the experience a contestant has behind them.
What do you do to represent Miss Opulence on the scene?
Promote promote promote! Promoting a system is more than having a social media presence. Anybody can post a flyer online and copy and paste it 12 times a day. However, that doesn’t get potential contestants anywhere. It takes actual face-to-face interaction to get the ball going. Fortunately for myself, Im already an established queen who has been able to reach out potential candidates on a personal level since we have all worked and competed together already. It’s almost like doing outreach work, which is something I do already offstage for ASO’s. So, with that experience already in hand, having conversations is something that is not new to me. As of this writing I’ve already encouraged several contestants with advice on their package. The formula is simple really – promote online, have personal conversations with potential candidates at my shows, and then build them up. Then night of, said contestants bring all their friends and fans and Voila! We have a full pageant with a full house.
What do you hope to see in the next title holder?
Intelligence, humility, creativity and excellent personability. I want to see the next Miss Opulence take the standard I have set and place it higher, and the one after to do the same, and so on. That is how a system grows and I whole heartedly believe in 10 years’ time that Miss Opulence will be one of Canada’s top premiere pageants.
About the Author
Antoine has on numerous occasions that everything he does is "a love letter to the LGBTQ community". and he truly loves this community. A 29 years' media and marketing leader, Antoine is the publisher of theBUZZ, The Pink Pages Directory, PinkPlayMags, and a magazine for Durham Region families The Local Biz Magazine, and is the host of talk show "On the Couch". On his off time he is usually involved in community organizations and causes.