Indi Skies, a Pittsburgher originally from Salt Lake City, Utah, is competing this weekend at the National Showgirl Pageant in Kissimmee, Florida.
Skies has always been someone who has ventured into gender play. She recounts that at a young age she knew she was different and often questioned gender. “I always felt a little off in that regard,” she said. “I did like to dress up and I did get in trouble a lot from borrowing heels, dresses, lipstick, and all that kind of stuff from my mom.” Despite any obstacles, she says she always had a strong sense of self.
Being an Indigenous person, Indi felt a sense of empowerment with this identity while not meeting many other Indigenous queer people. Growing up in the Mormon religion she felt a lot of shame from religious teachings that reinforced racism and other forms of discriminatory hierarchies. With the Two Spirit identity celebrated in Sioux culture, Skies found refuge in her identity.
Skies entered the drag scene in Salt Lake City doing charity events. Her first event was catered towards those for whom it was their first time performing in drag. She says that although this was her first Pride event it felt like a logical path to follow in their queerness. Skies says that she has “always been interested in either illusion or exploring my identity as a person.”
Indi and her partner, Luna Skys, are the founders of S & S Productions in Pittsburgh. Founded in 2019, S & S Productions has been planning events from private drag shows to makeup classes and now to youth events. It’s through these events that S & S Productions is creating a sense of community. Similar to how Skies got her start in drag through charity work, she says creating these safe spaces and representation in the community is not only rewarding but “something I’m fulfilled through and able to express my art.” Community is something that Skies finds incredibly important. “To some degree, we are all outcasts. If we can band together and make each other feel good about ourselves that’s the best thing we can do,” she explains.
This weekend Skies will be competing in a Las Vegas, Mardi Gras style drag pageant – the National Showgirl Pageant. The competition follows the same general structure as other pageants. An interview with the judges getting to know contestants and exploring their platform. A contestant’s platform is how they want to explore growth within the system and represent the drag community. Next comes the showgirl portion.“You just put on your biggest, brightest, shiniest outfit and try to make everyone else a little less amazing than you,” Skies explains. Following this is the talent section to highlight whatever talent the contestant chooses to highlight. Finally, is the evening gown portion – a lighter model of the pageant girl portion. Skies says that the pageant is not truly about the competition. “It’s a comradery and a partnership and a social event…everyone in general at this level has the best intentions not only for themselves but for the community in general,” she says.
We wish the best of luck to Indi this weekend at the National Showgirl Pageant! We are proud of you!