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Lip Sync Contest with Gaysha Starr at Neighbours
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Lip Sync Contest with Gaysha Starr at Neighbours

by Shaun Knittel - SGN Staff Writer

For over 25 years, Neighbours nightclub has been a stable establishment of the Seattle LGBT community. What's more, their stage has launched the careers of some of Seattle's biggest drag names. From the Court of Seattle to the newest up-and-coming drag sensation, Neighbours has been there to provide the lights, sounds, and support. Nearly 17 years ago, Seattle got its first look at Gaysha Starr. After paying her dues, winning a slew of drag titles and hosting more shows than Dick Clark, Gaysha Starr is back hosting the Legendary Lip Sync Contest, Wednesday night at Neighbours.

"The contest is a great excuse to go out on a Wednesday night to see some new faces and familiar friends," Gaysha told SGN. "The drag queens love an audience so every week we promise to give you our very, very best!"

The Neighbours Lip Sync Contest is open to anyone. Gaysha said anyone can enter as long as they are at Neighbours by 11 p.m. with their music CD. The first six contestants draw numbers to see in what order they will perform. The contest is done in two sets, with a dance break and guest performance in between. The winner is announced at the end of the show and receives $100 cash and is advanced to the finals where they compete for a $250 cash prize. In addition, Gaysha says they have weekly giveaways from the show's sponsor, AJAXX 63, a local t-shirt company. "To date, since July 15th we've awarded over $3,000 in cash prizes," she said.

The show is heading into its fourth cycle and, according to Gaysha, the judging format has changed. "The new format is 100% audience response. So contestants, bring your friends," she said, adding, "The finals will still be judged by celebrity judges from the community." Each cycle lasts approximately seven weeks and there is no cover charge at the door.

"This is my second run hosting the contest," Gaysha told SGN. "I used to host the show ten years ago."

According to Gaysha, the contest became so popular it was standing room only. Organizations like the Imperial Court of Seattle and the Leather Community would come to cross promote their events because of the captive audience. Gaysha is hoping to build that fan base again.

"The contest is where I learned how to do drag. It was the 'American Idol' of its time," said Gaysha. "This was before the popularity of social networks on the Internet and we turned in our music on cassette tapes. Some of Seattle's biggest drag names came from the contest like Marcy Kraft, La Vanda Dela Rosa, Shelby Sapphire, Whitley Lexington, Fendi, the House of Starr and the House of Lane."

Gaysha says that for one reason or another, the drag community started to lose momentum and isn't as visible as it once was. Gaysha said she has found an ally in Steve Tracy, general manager of the club. The two have been friends for a number of years, and working together they say they hope to "bring visibility back to the drag community and give them a venue to perform at."

"When I first started we got paid through tips and we did it for the art and the friendships we formed," Gaysha recalled. "Now, it's become more business minded. I am fortunate to have seen both sides of the coin."

"Steve has done a lot of great things," she said. "Neighbours is one of the best laid out dance clubs in Seattle with one of the best sound systems."

The best thing about the Neighbours Lip Sync Contest is that it is community based. The entertainers come from our own backyard and that makes the show that much more enjoyable. Gaysha says she knows how important it is to have a venue for new entertainers, as well as seasoned drag queens in search of an audience. "I would not have had the opportunity to get where I am today without Steve Tracy and Neighbours almost 17 years ago," she said, "I hope to continue to serve and entertain you as long as you let me."

With the new cycle of contestants heading into the second week, Neighbours Lip Sync Contest on Wednesday nights is one show you won't want to miss. "The show serves as a launching pad and stage for drag queens, drag kings, Transgender and celebrity impersonators who want to develop their skills and gain popularity in the bar community," said Gaysha," A lot of the entertainers have a high level of creativity and skill that keeps me excited each and every week. I look forward to what the Neighbours Lip Sync class of 2010 has in store for us!"

For more information about Gaysha Starr visit her official website at www.gayshastarr.com.

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Lip Sync Contest with Gaysha Starr at Neighbours
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