Annual pageant far from a drag

The Platinum Gem City pageant has now been around for 18 years, but that doesn't mean it has remained static.

Over the course of nearly two decades, the drag pageant has switched locations, moving from Dayton to Cincinnati, finally settling in Columbus in 2006.

Now more changes are on the way.

Normally held at Axis Nightclub in May, this year the pageant is moving across town to the King Arts Complex in King-Lincoln, where it will take place on Saturday, July 14. I decided to reach out to the pageant's current owner and CEO, Antonio Taylor, to ask him about Platinum Gem City and his plans for the event going forward.

According to Taylor, the pageant started as a party with drag performers competing in different categories. The early years were spent fine-tuning the presentation, learning how to budget for the event and figuring out the best approaches for developing an audience.

The pageant has grown since it arrived in the Arch City, bringing many nationally known competitors to town. But one thing that sets this pageant apart from others is how a high number of its contestants tend to be people of color, including reigning Miss Platinum Gem City, Aria Cassadine.

Taylor said this is not by design. When asked if he considered Platinum Gem City a black pageant, he said, “No. Easy question.”

“Do I consider it a black pageant? No,” he continued. “Do others see it as one? Yes, but that's OK, as well. Our system is open to everyone, and our winners have been white, black, latinx, transgender and so on.”

While the venue may have changed for this year's event, the level of competition will remain the same.

“When I created Platinum Gem City, I chose the word ‘Platinum' because it's one of the best elements, and our hashtag, or motto, is ‘the region's best,'” Taylor said. “I want to bring the best entertainers in the region to compete. I never thought back [when it started] that the pageant would become how big it is now. We are truly blessed.”

Learn more about the pageant at facebook.com/platinumgemcity.

Photo of Ms. Platinum Gem City Aria Cassadine courtesy of Platinum Gem City