With ten plus titles, D-Luv Saviyon has made history, not just in Tennessee, but in one of the nation’s largest pageantry system as the first African-American Mister USofA MI Classic winner.
So what do you do when you are the most heavily crowned drag king in Tennessee? You add a few rhinestones to Bible Belt buckle and bring the biggest pageant to you.
“In the beginning, when I started with Mac Productions, I never thought I would make it to this point” he says. Starting small, performing locally and quickly branching out to what he now considers his second home, Atlanta, GA, over the years D-Luv has grown as a performer and now is regularly booked across the country.
On Thursday, March 6, D-Luv will be handing down his crown as Mister USofA MI Classic. As emotional of a night as it will undoubtedly be, there is another historic moment taking place. For the first time in the Mister USofA MI Pageant’s history, it will not be held in Oklahoma City, but right here in Nashville.
Jordan Allen, former Mister USofA MI and current show director of Ladies’ Night at Play Dance Bar, helped to make the move a reality. "I am honored and super excited for Mister USofA MI and MI Classic as well as Miss Diva USofA to be coming to Nashville and PLAY Dance Bar. I am glad to have been of help to bring something so amazing and close to my heart here to our ever growing king and diva community."
The USofA pageantry system is one of the largest and most widely known pageantry systems in the country, encompassing pageants for kings/male impersonators, divas, GQ’s and queens/female impersonators of all ages. “Nationals being held in Nashville gives a way for a new audience that has never been exposed to the US of A pageantry experience a chance to see how they do things,” D-Luv says. And oh, what an experience it is.
The categories of the pageants seem ordinary enough: a non-judged presentation, personal interview (25% of the total score), creative evening wear (25% of the total score), and talent (50% of the total score). Then you realize, this isn’t just one night of competing. This is a week-long event with three different titles up for grabs.
It kicks off on Monday with a last chance preliminary—either you get a ticket in or you go home. Tuesday begins the first actual day of competition. After registration, for both the Classics and the Divas, interviews will begin. During registration, MI contestants are broken up into groups for their stages of competition. That night, the battle begins. Half the contestants do their talent and the other half do their evening wear. Wednesday, the other half will compete in the opposite category of what they had done the night before.
Thursday night, things start getting real with the entire Diva and Classic Competitions—every category. There is no warm up and very little time for rehearsal. You bring it all and leave it all on the stage. Friday is finals night for the MI contestants. All contestants participate in presentation and then the top 12 compete again in evening wear and talent, often with a completely different or at the very least, an alteration from what was done just a few nights before.
Thursday night will be bitter sweet for D-Luv. After being on cast at Play for over six years, he recently stepped down. This is will be his first time gracing the stage since then. “I feel like I have gotten a lot accomplished in this year but feel like there was still more to be done. I’m excited it was such a productive year but it will be hard to let it go. I hope whoever gets crowned takes the ball and runs with it” he says.
Very few actually know the amount of work that goes into the reign. It’s not just about winning the crown; it’s about keeping the crown and preparing contestants for possible succession. D-Luv traveled across the country this year, not only performing but judging pageants, and convincing promoters to send contestants to nationals. “It’s been a labor of love, very difficult but even more rewarding,” D-Luv says. “It was time consuming and tiring but I wouldn’t trade it for the world. It’s not easy convincing promoters to back male impersonators in a very female impersonator driven industry. It requires the promoters to not only believe in me but to believe in drag kings as well.”
And boy does he make believers out of them. It should come as no surprise that D-Luv has what it takes. As well as holding the title of Mister USofA MI Classic 2013, Mr. King of Hearts 2013, he was also named one of the 100 Most Influential Gay Entertainers, in the anthology of the same title, authored by Jeanetta J. Baines. Holding multiple titles is nothing new. During his more than twelve years competing, the former Mr. Esquire, has held at least two titles consecutively for at least four of those years
D-Luv is not the only king passing on his crown this year. Ivory Onyx will be stepping down as Mister USofA MI and there are six local kings hoping to take his throne. Skylar Wylde, Stephen Amastud, Lucas Prescott, Teddy Michaels, EZ Love, and Trey Alize are all competing in hopes to keep the crown in Tennessee. Also, for the very first time there is an opportunity for Diva’s to get in on the action. Jamison St. James and Q-Tip Chanel, both former Miss Tennessee Diamond Divas, are both vying for the title of Miss Diva USofA Emeritus.
The pageant competition starts March 3 and culminates with finals night March 7. With the exception of interview, all of the competitions are open to the public and tickets can be purchased in advance or at the door. For a full listing of the schedule and ticket pricing information, click here.
photo: D-Luv Saviyon (left) and Ivory Onyx (right) pose after winning 2013 Mister USofA MI Classic and MI