Sunday, the gay adult industry had its first-ever Miss Pineapple Pageant. With RuPaul's Drag Race's The Vixen, porn director Mr. Pam, as well adult performer Silvia Sage as judges, the event was hosted by Sister Roma and Marc Macnamara. And though eight performers competed, mostly really putting their hearts into it, one ended up as the winner: Dakota Payne, performing under his drag persona Gemini Dai.
"I'm so pleased with the show!" Sister Roma tells Out. The pageants raised over $5,000 for Pineapple Support, which is a mental health support network for the adult industry. "It was a much-needed diversion during these trying times and it felt good to support [this organization.] Every one of the guys I reached out to said yes without hesitation and it really turned it out for the pageant. They're all winners in my book!"
Still, the sash had to go to one person and Payne's political (and timely) performance, that was itself also an ode to the Sisters of Perpetual Indulgence. Here we talk to Payne about his drag experience, the pageant, and his winning performance. Watch the full pageant here.
How seriously did you take the pageant?
I took the pageant very seriously. I've always been a fan of the Miss USofA and Miss Gay America systems, and such a huge fan of drag itself. This was an opportunity to marry a lot of my passions and say something important in the process.
Had you done drag before?
I used to perform regularly in Austin, Texas. I was a bartender/ drag queen before I got into porn. Then I had to focus on being as masculine as I could, but I always kept my toes in the water and a good handful of looks in the closet! My skills in drag have gotten me gigs as a makeup artist and wardrobe stylist on various types of film sets, adult included.
In my mind, drag and porn occupy similar but different aspects of the queer community and I'm wondering how you think about them in relation to one another yourself?
I think that they're both in the deep end of the queer pool, so to speak. Both drag and porn are forms of protest — ways of expressing sexuality and gender in a way that makes people think. Early on in my queerness, I knew that I wanted to be the gayest, brightest, most extreme version of myself as an act of protest from my upbringing. Nothing horrible that my parents did to me, just the small town societal norms that forced them and everyone around me to be afraid of what I was.
Do you have a drag mother?
My drag family is actually a Sisterhood. My best friend in college created Indigo Dai, and I became Gemini Dai. Dai comes from Dionysus in Mythology, a deity of libation, theatre, and dancing under the moon naked, etc. I've also had many drag mentors along the way - Kelly Kline in Austin and Summer Knights in Dallas. And of course, I'm a child of RuPaul's Drag Race. The show premiered the same year my mom passed away and it became therapeutic for me.
What was the importance in doing your performance how you did it?
When Sister Roma reached out to me for the pageant, I had already been thinking about doing a look inspired by the Sisterhood of Perpetual Indulgence just for fun and to take some pics for the gram. It was also about the first or second week into protests and every bit of media I consumed hurt my heart. The arguments I've had on Facebook with people from my hometown have mostly boiled down to me making sure everyone fact checks their sources and trying to reason basic humanity with people. So my number was born out of that: a way to express humanity and the right to protests and freedom.
I was also inspired by Pineapple Support, the organization that the pageant was for. It means so much to know that someone cares about our mental health as sex workers. So often our value is reduced to dollar signs and stigmas and that can take a toll on your self-worth.
After being inspired by charitable organizations, I knew the aesthetic I wanted for the piece, and I had this old mix I had made years ago running through my head. Quindon Tarver has covers from the Baz Luhrmann Romeo & Juliet film, and I threw in part of Martin Luther King, Jr.'s "I Have Been to the Mountaintop" speech. I also knew that if this number was not done the right way, it would scream 'white savior' complex and that is not the message. It is not some 'kumbaya, all is right in the world' video. It was a chance to say Black Lives Matter in a space that is predominantly white, and uplift black voices.
Will fans see you more in drag during your title year?
Definitely! I'm running to get some pineapple fabric soon and I'm gonna make myself some dresses, tank tops, masks, etc. and really shove it in your face!
I also hope to do a lot with this title and with Pineapple Support. I've already mentioned it to a few people, but I think it would be great to organize some kind of digital Black Town Hall like we've seen in the Chicago scene or by Bob the Drag Queen/ Peppermint on YouTube. I think we should create a space for Black and models and other models of color to share their stories, and pinpoint what solutions we can work towards to make the porn world a more safe and respectful place for Black lives.
Did the fact that this was being done to support mental health in the industry influence your decision to be a part?
Absolutely! There are so many challenges that we face as sex workers, and it's not like there's a Human Resources Department for porn or really anyone that we can go to with our problems. For so long we've only had each other, and now we have Pineapple Support.