Maya Montana has been impersonating females for 25 years as a performer starting in Baltimore. Here, she won Miss Gay Maryland Newcomer 1994, Miss Hippo 1995, and Miss Gay Maryland 1996. She subsequently moved to Virginia winning the title Miss Gay Virginia 1997 and ultimately Miss Gay America 1998. Maya now resides in Key West as an entertainer at Aqua Nightclub. Notorious for her elaborate peacock costume, let’s ruffle her feathers and dive into her world for some fanciful advice.

Kevin Assam: The hair spray for my Tina Turner wig works fabulously but isn’t eco-friendly. What should I do?

Maya Montana: Well that’s a conundrum. Tease that base! Teasing does not require hairspray and you will get that bigger than life legendary Tina Turner hair!

I’m racing for the first time in a heels-only race. Any advice on how not to face plant in my stilettos?

Practice, practice, practice! And running around your neighborhood in pumps is a good exercise and a way to meet a potential new boyfriend.

I’m tired of being expected to sew all my garments. Where are the best places to go hunting for curvaceous looks?

There are so many to choose from. The best thing is online shopping! EBay, Amazon, or Instagram. Yes! Even Instagram. Be resourceful and let your fingers do the walking. You could look around at the curvy queens and ask them. Some queens sew for money so you could be supporting your sisters at the same time. There is nothing like a one of a kind costume.

I’ve been asked to open for a marquee drag performer. The exposure could be life-changing. However, they’ve decided to offer me peanuts for compensation. It’s gonna cost a small fortune out of pocket. Should I take the gig?

Absolutely! We all have to start somewhere so I did plenty of free small pay gigs in my early days. Some expenses came out of my own pocket. By doing that, it not only gave me exposure but I also gained experience. The experience helped me tremendously and I captured the title of Miss Gay America 1998!

I’m going in for my interview at a seasoned nightclub. To be dressed in drag or not to be dressed in drag?

I think you can show up either or but my advice is to not be in drag. Save that for your performance audition. Give them a chance to see the genius behind the mask.

The drag queens I work with have a tendency to share certainty beauty tools  –  lipstick, brushes, sponges. Is this a good idea in light of the measles outbreak?

I know sharing is caring but not in this case, boo! Buy your own make-up! Make-up are your tools for your job so you need to show up well equipped for work.

I’ve just been elected to a local state office. What’s the most immediate issue that needs legislative or policy addressing in the drag community?

Equality! I think television has exposed a lot of people to drag and there is not as much discrimination. I feel that there is more of an issue when it comes to transgenders and their rights in our community. This is not something they do for four hours a night, three times a week. They live this life every single day. I would make sure that no transgender is discriminated against. One thing I love about Key West is that its motto is “One human family,” which is an excellent motto to live by.

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