2012 Royalty Team
Acting on behalf of the International Gay Rodeo Association, the IGRA Royalty Team is the prime source of raising money to fund a number of charities. They also create revenue to assist in operating the IGRA and accomplish all of this through a variety of methods including entertaining, soliciting corporate donations, and even car washes.
The titles of Mr., Ms., Miss, and MsTer IGRA are awarded each fall during IGRA Finals Rodeo. After serving as local royalty during the prior year, contestants compete in the five categories of Interview, Western Wear, Horsemanship, Public Presentation, and Entertainment.
To learn more about Gay Rodeo Royalty in your area, contact your local Member Association.
Follow our IGRA Royalty Team through the 2012 rodeo season. Visit their blog to read more!
IGRA Royalty Team 2012
|Mr. IGRA: Rodd Smunk (TGRA)
Hi, my name is Rodd Smunk, Mr. IGRA 2012, I joined TGRA in 2006, and became Mr.TGRA in 2011. I became a member to have fun, rodeo and meet new people. Soon after I joined, I discovered the need in our community was far greater than I first thought. I then started helping with fundraisers and beer busts in the community. Today, I am Vice President of TGRA San Antonio Chapter.
I Have many proud moments under my belt, whether it is in the arena, or representing my state of Texas as Mr TGRA 2011. The most rewarding has been my annual “Seasons Of Love” Christmas show which provides 100′s of gift’s and food for those in my community either in hospice or a client of the San Antonio Aids Foundation.In the arena I compete in Jr Bull Riding, Chute dogging, Steer Decorating, Wild Drag Race and Goat Dressing.This Year as Mr IGRA 2012 my plans are to help associations grow their royalty programs, and to raise awareness of the International Gay Rodeo Association in a positive manner bringing the GLTBQ community together to work in unity for the well being of those living in their community.
|Miss IGRA: Victoria Weston (TGRA)
When it comes to labels, I have no issue being called a drag queen, lady illusionist, female impersonator… whatever. I’ve been called a lot worse! If that size 11 pump fits and look fabulous I wear it. However, when people speak of what I do, more often than not they simply refer to me as an entertainer.
My first foray into drag was Halloween 1988 at St. Louis, Missouri’s Knights of Pythias Ball. Dressed as Vanna White I had contestants spin my Wheel of Fortune hat while awarding monopoly money & vacation post cards. One month later, at my first AIDS fundraiser I was told, “Choose a name wisely because you have to be comfortable being called by it for the rest of your life.” I liked the initials I had sewn onto my first evening bag, although I didn’t relish being branded the “tile spinner” till dooms day. V came from the longest tenured Queen of England. W was for the sleepy Missouri river town where I went to school and appropriately listed in the National Historic Registry “The Town that Time Forgot.” Victoria Weston, the drag queen and the fundraiser was born.Within a year I had packed up both personas and moved to New York City to be an actor. I soon found the ego crushing industry was not for me. Life is too short to fight tooth and nail to keep your soul intact and depression at bay. Although singing came naturally since childhood, I was self-conscience that Victoria would sound like a man in a dress. A collaborator for my first club act tried a Lauren Bacall sound but I painfully and quickly lost my voice. He gave me a little known Kay Starr recording to practice for our next meeting. I began throwing my sound passed the throat and into a different/higher head placement than normal. Voila, the Victoria Weston sound. I began producing my club act, Victoria’s Real Secret – Ah Men! It played Manhattan’s The Duplex, Don’t Tell Mama’s, Eighty Eights & Judy’s Cabaret and at Fire Island’s Ice Palace & Cherries. Thanks Kay wherever you are!Joining The Imperial Court of New York (ICNY) in 1994 brought more fund raising. While traveling that circuit, I met Miss IGRA1995 Deshannon who immediately said, “You need to get involved with IGRA.” In 2000 I was elected and served as The Scintillating Silver & Jade Nightingale, Empress XIV of New York City. Fundraising and representing my town throughout the International Court system became a full time career. My actual day job was headlining both Manhattan drag restaurants Lucky Cheng’s and LIPS five to six days a week. Bridal hair and makeup artistry was only a part-time pursuit. While reigning as Empress that year I produced Monarchs Fight AIDSon Fire Island. After the show, dressed as Mike, I met my born & bred Texan partner Sterling. Since that immediate connection we have spoken two or three times daily. After the trauma of 9/ 11, and having endured enough long distance romance, we decided the time was right to move to Big D. Sterling & I are now moving into our 12th year together and he is my strongest supporter and best friend.
Once in Dallas my careers switched. I became a full time hair & makeup artist, makeup/bridal coach & educator with emphasis on Aveda. Entertainment became the part time pursuit with competitions in Miss Gay America, Miss Gay USofA & Entertainer of the Year. In 2006, after still not making Top 10 in MGA or Miss USofA, it seemed I just wasn’t what they were looking for. With DeShannon’s words still resonating in my mind “You need to get involved in IGRA!” I reaffirmed my commitment to fundraising.
Two years ago Sterling and I sat down with TGRA Dallas chapter staples Dan Nagle & Mark Gurrola. We talked about the commitment level, time involved, requirements, pros and cons. On the way home Sterling said “I think you should go for it.” January 2010 I submitted my application to Gene Fraikes and declared my candidacy for Miss TGRA 2011. That October I came in 1st runner up. The next month during IGRA Convention, two of my biggest supporters, Wade Earp & Tricia Davis both texted me that the rule had been changed to allow reigning TGRA title holders and 1st Runner ups to compete. 2011 brought more fundraising, perfecting my competition skills and package. In the end I was honored with the title, crown, sash & buckle that has eluded so many of my Texas sisters for the past 17 years.
|Ms. IGRA: Kami Boles (MGRA)
Kami Boles grew up in Gardner, Kansas with her mother and two sisters. While being raised in Gardner, she became a Girl Scouts at age of 12 and a charter member of the LEO’s Club, for which is an honorary group that is active in it’s community by doing many different outreach projects for those whom need the services; such as volunteering at nursing homes, high-way clean up, and helping with other various community needs.
Within two years she was voted President of the LEO’s Club, for which she held for the following four years until her graduation from high school. Shortly after graduation she moved to Florida to participate in the Walt Disney World Career Start program. While being accepted into the program she now had the chance to meet and work with people from all over the world; thus opening her eyes to an whole new world. When the program ended she remained in Florida working for Disney as a lifeguard for three years before returning home.In August of 2009 she returned home and to the LEO’s Club. While reestablishing the LEO’s Club she came across a connection with MGRA (Missouri Gay Rodeo Association. This has proven to be the most rewarding experience since her return back to Kansas. She has been a member for two years and has competed both those years. Though it has not been long she has collected so many amazing memories, friends, and extensive knowledge of the Rodeo as a whole. You can always see her volunteering at one of the many Rodeos’ throughout the circuit as one of the Arena Crew team members. This by far is her favorite area to volunteer. She felt blessed to represent Missouri in 2011 as Ms. MGRA, being she was a new comer, and she is ecstatic to be represent IGRA (International Gay Rodeo Association) this year as Ms. IGRA, 2012. She would like to express her deepest gratitude to everyone who has helped her make it to Internationals.”I look forward to seeing all of my Rodeo Family out on the circuit and I wish nothing but the utmost safety for each competitor, spectator, volunteer, and of course all the animals involved. I’m proud to be a part of an organization that promotes a culture I’m so in love with, feel at home with, and most of all, I can be myself. Hugs to everyone! See you soon!”
|MsTer. IGRA: Shane Lee (MGRA)
I grew up a country girl just outside of Manhattan, KS. My parents raised me to be respectful and to make, and keep a good name for myself. My brother taught me how to ride motorcycles and how to be tuff. In high school I was in the Rodeo Club then moved on to help put on the Riley County Fair PRCA Rodeo so you could say rodeo has been in my blood.
I moved to the Kansas City area in 1995 and soon thereafter became part of the LGBT community. I have been part of other organizations in our community like HASL and IGBO and became a part of a large family. Shane Lee was born in 2004 to help my softball team raise money to go to the Gay World Series. I did not get into the Missouri Gay Rodeo Association until 2010 but have learned so much and met so many more people that I consider family.I was MsTer. MGRA 2011 and I am on my second year as the Volunteer Coordinator but my love is working in the arena and helping out wherever I can. In running for MsTer. IGRA I have met a whole new group of people that I can add to my list of people I consider family.
First Runners Up
|Mr. IGRA First Runner Up: Rocky Buruse (CGRA)
Hailing from Lewiston, Idaho originally, Rocky Buruse moved to Denver in 2009 and looked for ways to combine his passions for Western Culture, Music and meeting new friends with Civic Activism and Social responsibility.
Becoming a member of a local gay bars fundraising arm introduced him the larger world of IGRA. Rocky made friends and was given the opportunity to become Mr. CGRA 2011. Rocky used his title to raise awareness and money for charitable organizations and became runner-up to Mr. IGRA 2012. He plans to use the contacts he has made the last few years to further the impact of IGRA on an international level.At 24, Rocky’s youth is precursor to the bright future he embodies for IGRA and the fresh new blood that is flowing and growing our Organization as we move forward and upward in charity fundraising and competitive Rodeo.
|Miss IGRA First Runner Up: Diva Divine (TGRA)
I started hanging around members of TGRA in 2008 and learning what they stood for. I quickly found out…these were good people and I wanted to be a part of them.
One week, a benefit show was being planned and several of the entertainers had cancelled. I was asked to perform…in drag. That was it, bit by the bug. I remember telling my mother that I couldn’t write a check for a thousand dollars to a charity, but if I could put on a dress and a wig to raise that money, I would do it every night of the week. We are all stewards of our brother. Charity…that is what life is all about, helping those who can’t help themselves.Being a candidate in TGRA, my home association was a wonderful year. Getting to know so many people within my home state as well as traveling the country to other rodeos was so enjoyable. I will forever consider my horsemanship video one of my greatest life accomplishments. It had been 15 years since I was on one and was terrified of getting on one. After making the choice to become a candidate, I conquered my fear and will be forever grateful.I served as Miss TGRA 2011 and will never forget so many amazing moments. This will be another fabulous year traveling the rodeo circuit, attending and volunteering at rodeos. I am a competitor in Wild Drag Race, and no I am not the drag, and also goat dressing. I tried calf roping on foot. I was so excited that I almost caught the back hoof, it was a personal triumph. Jay Beck is trying to talk me into Chute Dogging, but I am not conviced.
I am very excited to be a part of this years team. We will raise lots of money for our INTERNATIONAL association and other charities. Look for us out on the circuit. Stay tuned…more to come.
|MsTer. IGRA: Rocki Heffa (TGRA)
I was born in Louisiana and horses have always been a part of my life. I grew up doing little britches rodeo, and then went on to High School Rodeo where I placed in State and had the opportunity to attend the National High School Finals Rodeo in 1983. I moved to the great state of Texas in 1989.
I purchased my first horse and started back riding in 2001. I have been involved in Barrel Racing for the past 10 years and have been fortunate enough to be a part of one of the largest Barrel Racing Production Teams – Win$More Productions. I entered my first TGRA Rodeo in 2003 which was held in Austin Texas. At that time, I was just a contestant going to a rodeo, entering events and having fun. I had no idea what TGRA or IGRA really meant. I began getting more involved with the business side of TGRA in 2009 when I was asked to assist in proposing the Diamond W Arena as a venue for the 2010 TGRA Rodeo. I have now been involved on both the local Chapter and State Board for TGRA.In 2009 I was fortunate enough to meet some awesome cowgirls. We had a great year traveling, competing and becoming known as the ”Crazy Ole Heffas”. In 2010 my wife (Mari Taylor) and I began the ride with this “Royalty Thing”! With support of a few good friends, we decided to run for MsTer and Ms TGRA 2011. We had NO IDEA what we were getting ourselves into, but we wouldn’t have changed any of it. During our candidacy year we had a lot of challenges, learned a lot and as a contestant, I learned the “other side” of this organization and what it was all about.
As MsTer TGRA 2011 and Ms TGRA 2011 1st Runner Up, we continued on our ride to the next level “IGRA Royalty”. Again, we had more challenges, but didn’t give up. I was fortunate enough to be able to complete in the IGRA Royalty contest, however, Mari unfortunately was not able to compete due to her battle with Ovarian Cancer.
WOW, I made it, I am now MsTer IGRA 2012 1st Runner up! Yee Haw! I look forward and am honored to represent such an AWESOME organization! I have learned a tremendous amount and have come to realize these rodeos are not just for fun, they are for our community and our charities.
Second Runners Up
|Mr. IGRA Second Runner Up: John Paul Soto (GSGRA)
John Paul grew up in a small farming community two hours east of San Diego, CA. He spent most of his childhood on his grandparent’s ranch where he first learned to ride and care for everything from rabbits and peacocks to horses and cattle.
Leaving the comforts of small town living, he made a last minute decision to accept an offer to attend UC Berkeley, where he graduated with degrees in Psychology and Anthropology- later moving to San Francisco where he currently resides and is a member of the Golden State Gay Rodeo Association. He has worked in social services for over 12 years and now specializes in housing stabilization for folks living with HIV/AIDS, Mental Health, Substance Abuse, and Chronic Homeless issues.He was first introduced to Gay Rodeo during his year of fundraising and community outreach as Mr. Gay San Francisco 2009. This introduction was love at first glance. He soon joined the GSGRA Bay Area Chapter, soon becoming the chapter secretary, and later winning the title of Mr. Bay Area Rodeo 2010. It felt like a natural progression to continue this growth toward state leadership and so he took on the position of GSGRA Secretary and also won the title of Mr. GSGRA 2011. He competes on the IGRA Circuit in the events of Chute-Dogging, Steer Deco, and Goat Dressing.He believes in doing just about anything to fundraise a dollar, for a good cause of course! John Paul thanks everyone who has contributed to his growth and has inspired him to be where he is today; making a difference any way he can while appreciating the gift of life and taking things one day at a time!
|Miss IGRA Second Runner Up: Taylor Trash (NGRA)
I was born outside Hartford, Connecticut and shortly after moved to Atlanta, Georgia and then Phoenix, Arizona right after I turned one. I spent the better part of 13 years in Arizona, until my parents moved and started High School in Walnut Creek, California. It wasn’t until I was a junior in college and moved down to Long Beach, California that I started developing my independence and started to realize that I was gay.
In 1998, I met a group of friends that introduced me to a number of rodeo people. Having been to a few bars, I wanted to learn to line dance and two-step. Well one of my friends helped me out and soon I was twirled around on the dance floor and learning some of the line dances. 1999 came around and I went to my first rodeo, Golden State Rodeo Los Angeles and had a blast. I was fortunate enough that year to make two rodeos, Los Angeles and San Diego. I attended Los Angeles Rodeo from then on.In November of 2004, I moved to Las Vegas and attended BigHorn Rodeo in 2005 in the dirt and rain. It wasn’t until 2006 that I met a number of locals in Las Vegas and helped volunteer as Security for BigHorn Rodeo. I took an active part with NGRA and became a member in 2007, where I have served on the Rodeo Planning Committee for number of years, been the Board Secretary and even served as the Board President.
In 2008 I was persuaded to compete in NGRA’s annual Closet Ball Competition and the name Taylor Trash came about the morning of the competition. While I didn’t when that competition, Taylor went into seclusion only to be told that she would be competing in 2009. Well Taylor brought out all the stops and walked away with Miss Closet Ball 2009. Upon stepping down as Miss Closet Ball, I felt it was time for a break, but that only lasted about 4 months as I contemplated on pursuing and bringing Taylor Trash to a bigger audience. With that Taylor announced her candidacy for Miss NGRA 2011 and walked away with the title Miss NGRA 2011, Thanksgiving weekend.
Having traveled to a few rodeos, this time as Taylor, I realized what it is I love about rodeo. It’s not just the hot cowboys and cowgirls; it’s the friendship and family that we make. I found a lot of this out as I competed in November for IGRA Royalty. I can say that everyone competing along with past IGRA Royalty were there helping everyone out, something being a family and team is all about.
It is an honor to be on the 2012 IGRA Royalty Team. I look forward to this year and seeing everyone out on the circuit.
|MsTer. IGRA: Nic Wells St. John(TGRA)
Nic Wells St. John has been involved in the Gay Rodeo Association for 10+years. Retiring once and returning again to run for MsTer TGRA in 2011. Nic has met and exceeded most, if not all, goals he has set for himself.
As a candidate, he exceeded his personal fundraising goals and brought awareness to the rise in teen suicide and educated about the incredible work of the Trevor Project. He is dedicated to helping anyone in need, but his passion involves the youth and families.
|Board Liaison: Gene Fraikes (TGRA)
I first got involved with IGRA when I joined the Texas Gay Rodeo Association back in 1998. I competed in my first rodeo and I was hook. Over the last 13 years I have competed in many many rodeos and have won several buckles. I have been invited to IGRA Finals rodeo numerous times. But above all of this I learned the meaning of friendship and helping others.
In TGRA I have served in most positions at the Chapter Board level as well as Vice President and Trustee on the TGRA State Board of Trustees. In 2000 I got involved with TGRA’s royalty program and became Mr. TGRA 2001. Then as some of us Mr’s do I ran for Miss TGRA 2007 and became 1st runner up. Can you believe it, I got beat by a REAL drag queen…go figure.As Vice President of IGRA I hope to bring a unique combination of contestant, royalty and operational experience to IGRA and continue a long legacy of great accomplishments. Be looking for some new ideas and amazing results from IGRA in 2012.
(Click on the images to view larger)
- Official IGRA Photographs with black background courtesy of Frank Harrell
- Miss IGRA Victoria Weston’s photograph compliments Terry Thompson Photograghy - Dallas, TX.