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Miss Gay Missouri America

Newly crowned Miss Gay Missouri America 2018 Janessa Highland walks the runway April 7, 2018, at Hamburger Mary's in downtown St. Louis. Photo by Gabe Hartwig, ghartwig@post-dispatch.com

Janessa Highland of St. Louis became the 45th Miss Gay Missouri America on Saturday night at Hamburger Mary's. 

She was crowned by Miss Gay Missouri America 2017 Tabbi Katt and Miss Gay America 2018 Deva Station.

First alternate is MaKena Knight, second alternate is Butterscotch, third alternate is Trixie LaRue and fourth alternate is Kristen Dubo, all of St. Louis. 

Highland and Knight both will advance to the Miss Gay America pageant in October, also at Hamburger Mary's. The national pageantry system recognizes achievement in the art of female impersonation.

Miss Gay Missouri America

Janessa Highland competes April 7, 2018, in the talent portion of the Miss Gay Missouri America pageant, held at Hamburger Mary's in downtown St. Louis. Photo by Gabe Hartwig, ghartwig@post-dispatch.com

Twenty competitors — winners of various Missouri preliminary pageants — competed in evening gown and talent rounds Thursday and Friday. Saturday, the field was narrowed to 10 contestants, who performed talent routines and answered questions onstage. In a "male interview" category, competitors spoke privately to pageant judges, as their out-of-character selves. 

"It's been five years since I've been competing for Missouri America, and I am so honored to be back," Highland said before answering a question for judges in the final round of competition Saturday. Her final talent routine was a medley of songs from "Mary Poppins," complete with digital projections, costume changes and backup dancers.

The full list of competitors (with top 10 finalists in bold):

• Ciara (Miss Gay City of Columbia America)

• Amanda Lay (Miss Gay City of Columbia alternate)

Kirsten Dubo (Miss Gay Gateway America)

Butterscotch (Miss Gay Gateway America alternate)

Shayd E.B. (Miss Gay Heart of Missouri America)

• Salena DaFil (Miss Gay Heart of America alternate)

Trixie LaRue (Miss Gay Kansas City America)

• Allessandra Blaze (Miss Gay Kansas City America alternate)

MaKena Knight (Miss Gay Metropolitan America)

• Analyse Thropic (Miss Gay Metropolitan America alternate)

Lindsay Bryant (Miss Gay Northwest America)

• Nadia Alayna (Miss Gay Northwest America alternate)

• Roxxy Malone (Miss Gay River City of America)

Bella Rose (Miss Gay River City America alternate)

Janessa Highland (Miss Gay St. Louis America)

• Kyra Banks (Miss Gay St. Louis alternate)

Veronika Versace (Miss Gay Show Me Pride America)

• Lily JuJu Beach (Miss Gay Show Me Pride representative)

Kris Kohl (Miss Gay Springfield America)

• CeCe Thang (Miss Gay Spirit of St. Louis representative)

Miss Gay Missouri America

Miss Gay Missouri America 2017 Tabbi Katt (left) and Miss Gay America 2018 Deva Station (right) puts the Miss Gay Missouri America crown on Janessa Highland on April 7, 2018, at Hamburger Mary's in downtown St. Louis. Photo by Gabe Hartwig, ghartwig@post-dispatch.com

Other awards were given in honor of former titleholders who are deceased:

• Dan Curry male interview award: Trixie LaRue

• Shayla Simpson presentation award: Janessa Highland

• Christi Cole evening gown award: MaKena Knight

• Kim Alexis onstage question award: Janessa Highland

• Zsa Zsa Principle talent award: Janessa Highland

• Bobbie Holiday photogenic award: Bella Rose

• Sasha Nicole sisterhood award: Adria Andrews

• Miss Vogue congeniality award: Trixie LaRue

• Georgia Brown debut award: MaKena Knight

Former MGMA titleholders — including MGMA 2006 Victoria DePaula, who also was Miss Gay America in 2009 — made appearances throughout the event. 

The first Miss Gay Missouri pageant was held in 1973, crowning Julie Tomorrow. It's the second-oldest MGA preliminary pageant and is presented by the Miss Gay Missouri Alumni Committee.

The Miss Gay America system is a division of Mad Angel Entertainment (Michael Dutzer and Rob Mansman, who also own Hamburger Mary's St. Louis, along with David Pardue).

Updated to reflect that Janessa Highland is the 45th MGMA. The organization counts its two 1987 titleholders together.