The Jacaranda Queen Contest

The Jacaranda Queen has become the premier event on the gay social calender in Zimbabwe. Despite the annual dramas, it sure has come a long way, baby.

Jacaranda Queen was by no means the first drag beauty show to be held in this country. Drag pageants were fairly common in the late Seventies. In the early Eighties they used to be called Miss Gay Zimbabwe and they were held at the old Chicken Run club in Tynwald. These were basically very small and clandestine affairs, and the Coloured Queens always won. It took the Ms Outrageous contest in 1986 to blow drag out into the open. But these lasted only two years. After that, drag went out of fashion in a big way.

But in the gay Nineties, drag was undergoing a revival all over the world, thanks to fabulous queens such as Ru-Paul and the wicked Lily Savage. By 1993, Zimbabwe was ripe for another drag pageant. The name Jacaranda Queen was thought up, because the pageant was to be held at a time when these totally flamboyant, and totally lavender trees, were in full bloom. Also it was an inside joke, because in the late Seventies, in the dying days of UDI, there used to be a Jacaranda Festival with the model of Rhodie pulchritude being crowned as Miss Jacaranda. But she could never compare with the Coloured Queens!

The first Jacaranda Queen Contest was held in October 1993, in the courtyard of the Red Fox Hotel. It was a comparatively small event, but it was fabulous. The first queen was Evangelista, who also had the distinction of winning Ms Outrageous in 1986. The next year, the contest moved on to bigger and better things. The Harry Margolis Hall, no less. The best event must definitely have been the 1995 event, where Yvonne Chaka Chaka made her tumultuous debut, and when the Lemming Sisters were at their peak. 1995 was also special, because the contest happened a couple of months after Mugabe's homophobic ravings at the Book Fair. The mood was defiant and triumphant. Other highlights were Ms Trash ripping off all her clothes in 1993, and Yvonne falling through the stage moments after being crowned in 1997.

The Jacaranda Queen has grown from strength to strenth, and has not been without contraversy within the gay community. But despite all the differences within the community, most people would agree that the Jacaranda Queen is the place to be in October every year.

Riki, Miss Bulawayo 1995

The Late Lorne, crowned in 1995

Brandy,Queen in 1994

Miss Vac Pac, 2nd Princess 1994

Naomi Campbell, Queen in 1998

Chelsea, Queen in 1996

Yvonne, Queen in 1997

Brandy strutting her stuff

Radiant Rosie

Another Outrageous Cock in a Frock

A former Supermodel with Miss You-Know-Me Campbell aka Blanche Devereaux

Mmmm, well yes

Queen Naomi