Paul Winkler is a sweet kid. A sweet kid with a secret, and a not very well kept one at that. Mr. Winkler, of no relation to the Fonz, competes in male gay beauty pageants. He was recently named Mr. Congeniality in the Mr. Gay America pageant and sat down with Karl Marxxx of the Big Shoe Diaries to "tell all" about gay men competing for crowns.
BSD: What compelled you to enter the Mr. Gay America competition?
PW: What compelled me to enter the Mr. Gay competition was my willingness to try something new.
I was in Philly hanging out with my friend Alec [Mapa], who was doing standup for the QComedy Fest. We had lunch with the show's producer Bruce Yelk, who coincidentally
produced Mr. Gay USA as well, and he asked me on the spot if I would would be interested in replacing one of the contestants who dropped out. I was flattered but I thought, "Me? No way. I'm not a muscle guy." But Bruce got my number and continued to pursue me via text. Finally, I consulted my friend Eddie Rabon (who won the previous year) and he told me to, "Do it." The rest is history.
BSD: What are the most difficult challenges a competitor faces?
PW: The most difficult challenge in the competition is the one-on-one Q&A with the judges. You have no idea what they'll ask, and you have to be ready for anything!
BSD: Is there a critical or complementary relationship to the Miss America system? Do people even talk about the similarities/differences to the pageants?
PW: Well, we do have the swimsuit competition! I would say people don't take the competition as serious as Miss America, but it feels just as stressful. LOL With the Mr. Gay competition, there is a lot more room to be yourself and have fun.
BSD: What makes you laugh?
PW: Unexpected real-life funny moments! Nothing is funnier.
BSD: Are the celebratory responses of the winners actual or rehearsed? Be honest. ;)
PW: For me: A little bit of both. The entire week leading up to the competition, I was listening to the Recording of the Broadway flop Smile, about a Beauty Pageant (I'm a total theatre nerd). "You didn't jump up and down when Sandra won. And you didn't even cry when you won yourself. The judges are looking for lots of emotion, give them emotion!" I mean, when I won Mr. Congeniality, I was genuinely surprised and elated. Seconds later I found out that I was not one of the final four. So that was tough, but I of course started jumping up-and-down and clapping.
BSD: Would it hurt the chances of winning for a contestant if it were revealed (or known) that they had done porn?
PW: Are you kidding? This is Mr. Gay USA. They would probably win! Randomly, I'm friends with a handful of Porn stars. I should have lied and said my porn name was Hugh Jacking or Neil Patrick Harness. Maybe then I would have won the main title! LOL
BSD: Any relation to the Fonz (aka Henry Winkler)?
PW: No relation. Get that all the time. He's tweeted me before, but that's about it. Trying to get him to say on twitter that we're not related, so people finally believe me. (@hwinkler4real)
BSD: What's next for you, Paul?
PW: I'm auditioning and I have a few projects coming up. Also, I'm writing a gay-themed TV Pilot. We'll see...